Testing in isolation Martin Jansson

I often promote that testers should sit close to or with their cross functional teams. Still, I am very fond of working in an isolated testlab environment where it is possible to shout, scream, play music and play out dramas that would otherwise disturb the regular office tasks.

The office landscapes that are open seem to be quite common. For agile teams, the environment can be setup so that everyone in the whole project is working close to each other. This is excellent in many ways, but perhaps not all.

I have, at several occasions, worked in a testlab which was isolated from the rest of the project or line organisation. During these times we were working closely with the developers, business analysts and product owners, they were never far away. Each of us had a space of our own where we could focus on tasks that needed no interaction. The testlab was where we had joint efforts for collaboration on test activities or experimentation.

Sometimes we used different types of music to affect our mood and indirectly the way we were testing. When we played music such as Queens of the Stone Age and Ministry it affected our mindset to be a bit more speedy, aggressive and non-forgiving. When we played music such as Nick Drake or anything bossanova, we instead took another direction. Still, all in the team had their own preferences for music and were naturally affected if they did not like it.

The testlab is a place where there is action, noise, interaction and collaboration. If you need to work on your own, that is probably not the place to be in at that moment. I believe that many projects need this kind of an area where it is ok to scream out in delight when you find a valuable bug or where the bass from the loud speakers beat with a steady rhythm while testers in their best way slam the system.

I confess, I am delightful when I find really vicious bugs. Sometimes I scream in dispair when the build is broken for the 50th time in a row. I like to express my feelings in the testlab, an area of free will and emotion. After this emotional disruption I can calm down and gather up the proper evidence so that I can present it to the stakeholders in a professional manner.

For those of you who have missed out on this, I urge you to create this area for creative test recreation.

Long live the isolated testlab!

3 Comments
Stefan Thelenius November 16th, 2012

Ministry and Nick Drake is included in my testing soundtrack as well :-)

When finding obvious bugs (for the 50th time), a scream in the office landscape is ok I think…

I have worked in isolated test labs before and I sure miss them nowadays…

I love how you guys used music to influence your mood and the testing.
Kind of miss working in a test lab, it’s been years since.

Great post

Fredrik Liljegren December 14th, 2012

When infrastructure permits, I definitely prefer to test in isolation (but with easy access to the developers) since I feel I can focus better, “get in the zone”, when I can listen to music out loud. Currently I’m sharing a lab with several other test teams so I’m confined to earphones and an iDevice. Sure, the music is still present, but it’s not the same.

The music I choose to get in the zone is mostly rock’n'roll and 80′s metal. That’s what I grew up with and it still sticks with me. The never listen to new music (new to me) while testing, since it can pull focus from the actual work at hand. No, music that I know by heart and that gets me in a good mood is on my playlist.

Unless there are actual testing of sounds and signals, then my trusty earphones have to rest. Of course.