Misunderstood Soap Opera Testing Rikard Edgren

Some years ago I read about Soap Opera testing too hastily, and started using it at work being convinced that it meant the following:

A soap opera test involves normal operations, but a large amount of them, for a long time. As in the TV shows, they go on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

We use it regularly by having a document that is edited, saved and sent around the team of testers. It is unscripted, on-the-fly, and contains operations that should be stable, on their own.
It is a collaborative effort that often finds issues we might, or might not, have found otherwise.

Now I know that Buwalda’s “real” Soap Opera testing rather focus on condensed histories with exaggerations and the strange things that happen in soap operas, e.g. ‘suddenly the unknown son appeared, but now with the name Lucy’.
Anyway, either method (or the combination) is useful in software testing, to capture issues that happen in scenarios, but not in isolation.

Note: If you only are looking for functionality/stability issues, you might benefit from a test monkey; automated random execution in long sequences.

One Comment
Henrik Emilsson September 28th, 2010

I have used Soap Opera testing (in both ways as you describe it 😉 ).

It was especially useful at a client who was in the Financial business (loan and leasing).
We designed long, condensed, exaggerated and rather complex Soap Opera scenarios that was really powerful. It tested a lot of functionality and integrated very much of the total system (which included 10 subsystems that was standalone applications from different vendors). The tests were designed with the help of subject matter expert from all departments of the company, which are involved in all phases of a loan life-cycle.
If we hadn’t done this, I guess that it would have been really hard to actually test the system efficiently in a credible way that follows the life-cycle of both the customers, the loans, and the involved roles in the company.
During “acceptance testing” this can be used to see if there are any issues with the system’s capability of solving the problem; and especially it can help you identify problems in those areas where a loan is transferred to another department.

I can definitely recommend it if you are in a similar situation.