I went through a process of self-evaluation to understand better how I test, how I think about testing and the tools I use. This paper discusses the tool strategies I use and is an introduction to the world of free and cheap tools available to help us do testing.
A related stickyminds.com paper is Being Resourceful When Your Hands are Tied which was co-written with Danny Faught.
This page is the supporting page for a talk, and paper, on Alternative Testing Tools.
On various pages on this site you will find tools mentioned that are not part of the mainstream cannon of testing tools. I tend to think of these as Alternative Testing Tools. But I wanted to investigate what that phrase really meant to me.
Is an open-source testing tool like Bugzilla an alternative testing tool? If so, what makes it alternative.
It is an alternative, but does that make it alternative? I wanted understand what I meant by alternative, because I had the uneasy suspicion that for me, bugzilla wasn’t as alternative as some tools I use. This does suggest that alternative may be the wrong adjective but as I have been using it so long I’m sticking with it for the moment.
So I sat down and thought that the best way to figure this out is to do some testing, and observe what tools I use, and try to figure out why I use them, then generalise and question my observations.
And the results are on this page. All the papers below are still in draft, but most are readable. Consider them in ‘pre-alpha’, they are not ready for beta testing, but if they provide some value and you can tolerate their obvious bugs then that is great.
We have 4 papers, Alternative tools in X:
- Alternative Tools in Theory
- Alternative Tools in Action
- Alternative Tools, The List
- Alternative Tools in Retrospect
And you can download the presentation slides as pdf.
There are extract movies showing a subset of the tools in action. These are the movies used during the presentation.
The session movies are on a page here. These are flash exports and most should be viewable over a modem connection. The largest is 3meg in size.
I only actually presented the first 5 or 6 slides, but the complete presentation acts as a summary of the information in the papers.
Alternative Tools In Theory
This paper documents my thoughts on Alternative Tools, in general:
- Discusses the nature of alternative tools
- The personal test process
- Process tools vs Task Tools
- How to find tools
- Introducing alternative tools into your organisation and personal test process
Alternative Tools In Action
In order to come to any conclusions, I did some testing. This documents the test sessions that I conducted, the tools used and makes various observations on the user of tools. Topics Covered Include:
- Installation Testing
- Monitoring Applications, Files and Registry entries
- Having other tools find defects in the AUT while you browse
- Easy environment maintenance and automation
- Using Screenshot tools in conjunction with Clipboard tools to have a robust, cheap and failure resilient test log
- Session based testing
- Statistics, the easy way, and an alternative to Excel
- Over 20 alternative tools used
Alternative Tools, The List
- A summary list of tools used in the sessions,
- Detailed descriptions of each of the tools,
- links to where you can find them and how much they cost
The Tool Extract Movies
I have extracted and edited out information about some of the tools into smaller movies for use during the presentation, these are available here.
The Sessions Overview and Movies
These movies are edited views of the test sessions that were conducted. I don’t use these movies during the presentation but if you want to see any of the tools that I mention in action then this is the place to look.
These are flash exports and most should be viewable over a modem connection.