Mapping before learning

I switched teams recently, and due to some personal commitments, I had 2 weeks between jobs. I decided to be uber-productive and focus on learning as much as I could in my down time.

I started with lots of enthusiasm but not much of a plan. My usual method of learning is as a response to some problem I encounter at work, and for the time being, I had no work. I started haphazardly clicking tweeted links to dig into the latest hot topics in testing. I quickly realized that this shotgun approach would not provide any retained knowledge - just voluminous retweets and favorites.

Skills mapping

As I came to this realization, I stumbled onto Dan North’s Introduction to Delivery Mapping presentation. If Dan North is teaching something, then I could probably benefit from learning that thing, right? I decided to ‘give it a go’ . Buried in the middle of his presentation was a short section on Skills Mapping - not a new concept, but one that illuminated a light bulb over my head.

My personal short-term learning plan

While Delivery Mapping looks at Skills Mapping as a team-level exercise, I started thinking about my learning opportunity in terms of my skills: skills I need, skills I want to acquire, and skills I want to sharpen. I guessed at the most important skills I will need for my new team, so that list is short and sweet. The other lists were very long - I always have lots of things I want to learn - so I crossed off things that did not seem relevant to my new job. This is what was on my final list:

  • Skills I need:

    • Windows 10
    • Security testing fundamentals
  • Skills I want to acquire:

    • Runscope
    • Xamarin/Calabash
  • Skills I want to sharpen:

    • Exploratory charter writing
    • Exploratory testing reporting
    • Communication

Anchors Aweigh

Voila`! A learning plan for me. Now I needed to find reputable resources. Of course, I went to the Software Testing Club/Ministry of Testing site. I was especially interested in security testing topics in the Dojo, so I made the easy decision to become a member. Bonus - I figured spending my own money on the membership will encourage me to get my money’s worth. Double-bonus, you get soothing British accents in most of their videos.

I appreciated Dan Billing’s Getting Started in Security Testing, both for its content and the excellent recommendations for additional learning. I waded through the video and the recommended links, and felt like I had a decent grasp of security testing challenges - not an expert, but at least now I know what I don’t know, and know where to go to get more information. I call that a success!

Next I was ready for some hands-on learning, so I turned to Runscope. Runscope is a SaaS for API tests. I expected to be able to take my Postman collections to Runscope and schedule them for continous testing (within my budget limits, of course). No surprise here - worked like a charm. I also played around with some Google location APIs for a side project. Debugging API queries is a bit easier on Postman, but perhaps that’s because I’m more familiar with the Postman interface.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a ghost lurking on runscope - actually, Ghost Inspector. Ghost Inspector is a simple UI testing tool that records tests via a Chrome extension, and then you edit the test to add assertions. You can schedule your ghost inspector tests to run continuously. Hidden in its capabilities is the ability to compare screenshots across test runs. Yay for adoption of visual diffing.

And then, sadly, I was out of dedicated learning time. I took some time to reflect on my last team experince and percolate on my personal priorities with my new team, and will write about those soon.

Thanks for reading!