March 2010 QASIG Meeting

Reducing Test Case Bloat

Presented by Lanette Creamer

We may think we are ready to move onto new and innovative features. However, if we do not deal with the past, it can easily come back to haunt, slowing down new projects, and robbing our testing time unexpectedly, often to the point that testing becomes the bottleneck that slows innovation to a crawl.

For those of us who work on software that already exists, exciting new functionality and improvements are the main things that drive upgrades, as well as compatibility with new platforms. However, if end users cannot trust the quality of the legacy features they rely on, they will be reluctant to upgrade, or worse, your new versions will get a reputation of being unstable – harming overall adoption. In some cases users may downgrade their software to an earlier version because they are unhappy with the quality of the newer release or request an earlier version they feel is reliable.

This paper presentation is about the subjective and difficult part of testing which has no provable mathematical correct answer. It is about risk management, test planning, cost, value, and being thoughtful about which tests to run in the context of your specific project. The discussion covers identifying and reducing test case bloat, when it can be done, who does it, along with a few examples used in practice. Further, it will cover one untested but under test theory, experiences shared in significantly reducing test cases to cover more than three times the applications when the test team reduced from sixteen to four testers. When facing increasingly complex software and growing software, we must balance testing existing features that customers rely on every day with new features and interactions. When balanced in a sensible way, the best of the legacy test cases can be maintained, using existing knowledge to reduce risk as much as possible.

About our speaker: Lanette Creamer is a test lead with 10 years industry experience ranging from product feature testing on early versions of InDesign to leading collaborative end to end workflow testing across the Adobe Creative Suites. Most recently Lanette has been testing on an agile team that is automating the software production process between a product build and actual shipment, to be used on all Adobe shipping products in 2010. Lanette has two published technical paper “Testing for the User Experience”, voted best paper by presentation attendees at PNSQC 2008 and “Reducing Test Case Bloat”, PNSQC 2009. Her magazine article “9 Ways to Recruit Testers for Collaborative Test Events” was published in Software Test & Performance Magazine, in the January 2010 issue. Lanette started writing a testing blog at in 2006 and has been writing and collaborating with the online testing community non-stop since.

January 2010 QASIG Meeting

Presented by Detective Brian Stampfl

Detective Stampfl from the Seattle CSI unit will be joining us to discuss the business of Crime Scene Investigation – a discipline not unlike bug investigation, with processes often used in software testing. We’ll talk about parallels and get some insight into what Crime Scene Investigation is really like, straight from the source.

Detective Stampfl will cover the following:

  • The make-up of the Seattle Police Crime Scene Investigation’s Unit
  • The type of crimes that they respond to investigate
  • Steps necessary to properly document a crime scene
  • The differences between the real world and how investigations are portrayed on television, and a current and look into the future of Forensic technology

Detective Brian Stampfl has been involved in law enforcement for over eighteen years. He began his career in 1991 in Southern California with the San Bernardino Police Department, and later joined the Seattle Police Department in 1995. Since joining SPD, Detective Stampfl has worked in patrol and was a field training officer, tasked with training new officers who had just graduated from the academy. Detective Stampfl went on to become an academy instructor and when the opportunity arose, he acquired the title of detective and worked for over three years in the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit. Then in 2005, the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself as the Seattle Police Department sought to create its own Crime Scene Investigations Unit. Detective Stampfl was one of seven detectives chosen not only to staff this new unit, but to assist in the building of this unit from the ground up, which started simply as an idea. In addition to hours of training associated with Crime Scene Investigation, Detective Stampfl is a graduate of the National Forensic Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee and is an adjust faculty member of Seattle University where he teaches a course in Crime Scene Investigation.

Quality Assurance Special Interest Group