We’re often asked whether our books are suitable for people who don’t yet know anything about testing. Another question we sometimes get is along the lines of “Why don’t your books contain in-depth explanations of systems thinking, coverage, oracles, model-based testing, performance testing, <fill in your favorite testing technique here>?”
Agile Testing and More Agile Testing cover testing in an agile context in great depth – that’s why each book is over 500 pages! We explore many different areas of testing in each book. We aren’t experts at every kind of testing in every context, so our books include dozens of personal stories from expert practitioners with different specialties. We’re gratified to hear from so many people who find our books to be an indispensable resource. But for certain topics about traditional testing techniques, you’ll need to learn more from other sources.
Our books cover many skills needed to add value to an agile team – especially thinking skills, which many people refer to as “soft skills”, as well as the technical competencies testers need to communicate and collaborate with other team members. Our goal is to help teams nurture a culture where they can design experiments to learn better ways to build quality into their software. Our books are NOT a step-by-step how-to manual for every testing skill and technique that exists. (Just imagine the size of THAT book!)
We included detailed information on a wide range of testing and quality topics. We cover some areas in less detail. In all cases, we’ve included references to go learn more about each area. Kristine Corbus digitized our More Agile Testing bibliography and made it available on her blog. We’re so grateful she’s provided this wonderful resource.
Here’s a summary of what you can learn from our books, and what may require you to seek other sources.
Finding your agile mindset
It’s not easy for people used to finding bugs after coding is finished to make the mental shift to focusing on bug prevention rather than detection. Our books will guide you through this often-confusing transition.
Principles, not procedures
Over the couple of decades that we’ve worked with both teams transitioning to agile, and highly experienced, high-functioning agile teams, we’ve learned that every team is different; every product has unique characteristics, and every business and its customers have different needs.
That’s why our books don’t include cut-and-dried procedures for you to follow. Instead, we explain principles, key success factors, and confidence-building practices that will help you and your team find the process that works for your unique situation.
How do testers contribute on agile teams?
Our books provide many examples of what testers do together with their teams as they plan releases and iterations, learn from customers, slice features into stories and develop them, test before, during and after coding, deploy releases to production. We do not include detailed instructions on how exactly to do each and every activity.
For example, we recommend trying Lean measurements rather than metrics used by traditional phased-and-gated project teams, and we give examples of useful Lean measurements, but we recommend the books by Mary and Tom Poppendieck to learn more about how to use those metrics.
Lines between “roles” are blurred on agile teams. Every team member gets engaged in testing, and every tester engages in activities not traditionally seen as the job of a tester. There are several excellent books on testing basics. The goal of our books is to help teams succeed with building quality in and help testers add maximum value.
Models to help you think
You’ll learn how to use some tried-and-true models to help your team plan all the different types of testing activities you’ll need to do for each release, feature set and story. For example, the Agile Testing Quadrants provide guidelines as you figure out what people and resources you need, where you need to automate, when to engage business stakeholders. We don’t prescribe exactly how you should do each testing activity, who should do it, and whether it should be automated. We even show you how others have already adapted some of these models.
Building shared understanding
You can use the frameworks we provide to help customers articulate their needs and enable your team to deliver the right thing. We describe ways to focus on business value by eliciting examples, asking good questions, covering many different quality attributes. If you need a dictionary of testing terms, use our reference lists.
Exploratory testing skills are crucial to agile testers and teams. Our books include contributions from leading exploratory testing practitioners. You’ll learn ways to teach exploratory testing skills to non-testers and get your team exploring together. We explain where exploratory testing fits in agile, and include some leading approaches, such as Elisabeth Hendrickson’s test charters.
We provide excellent references to dive deep into different exploratory testing approaches. Obviously, our books are not a complete guide to exploratory testing on their own. We want you to read other books and articles to learn more.
Agile teams can’t successfully deliver value frequently, at a sustainable pace, without a great deal of automation. Teams who want to practice continuous delivery need automation to maintain the right level of quality. In our books, you will learn useful frameworks and models to help your team create an automation strategy.
We provide guidance on when to automate and how to get the whole team involved, useful patterns for maintainable test automation, and how to choose tools. New test automation libraries and frameworks appear all the time – which is awesome! Our books are not a how-to manual for using a particular automation tool. Fortunately, there are many good how-to books for many excellent frameworks and libraries.
Testing in different contexts
Agile is practiced by teams in a wide variety of industries and all sizes of organizations. With the help of expert practitioners in these different contexts, our books share insights into how to meet the unique challenges of each. If you work on a distributed team, if you work in an enterprise corporation, if you’re testing embedded software or data warehouses, or your team needs to comply in a highly regulated industry, you can find specific information to help you.
What you won’t find in our books is a textbook for specific testing techniques such as pairwise testing or equivalence class analysis. Our bibliography will help you find books, articles and videos on traditional testing practices.
Testing and DevOps
DevOps as another way to look at the whole-team approach to agile testing and quality, a collaborative approach. More Agile Testing includes a chapter on testing and DevOps which includes contributions from several experts in this area. If we could update our references list for DevOps, we’d include Katrina Clokie’s A Practical Guide for Testing in DevOps.
Our books are not a guidebook for testers who are afraid that others will infringe on their testing role, who want to appear indispensable. They’re for testers and teams who want to learn how to solve testing and DevOps issues together and work towards goals like continuous delivery.
Shared experiences for many testing challenges
We feel that the best part of our books is the stories of how real agile teams have approached challenges such as localization, concurrency testing, regression testing, UX testing, A/B testing, UAT. Our books aren’t a manual for how to do each of these types of testing – imagine how long they’d have to be! You will find a solid introduction, with references to dig deeper into each one.
Agile Testing and More Agile Testing don’t offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, they include many examples of common testing and quality challenges that agile teams encounter, and how real teams experimented and overcame those challenges. We want you to design your own experiments to help your team get better at building quality in. We want you to check our bibliographies – especially in More Agile Testing – to learn more about specific testing practices that you feel might help your team. Use our books to guide your team’s learning journey and discover what works best for you. You don’t have to read them cover to cover – read the sections and chapters that apply to your context.