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I'm Hunting Sasquatch – Finding Intermittent Issues Using Periodic Automation

TestBash Revisited
with Paul Grizzaffi

What You'll Learn

By the end of this workshop you'll be able to:

  • The complexity of most current software systems all but guarantees intermittent issues.
  • Running automation on non-event boundaries can help catch intermittent issues.
  • While periodic automation evolved from academic-research, it also has real-world applications.
  • We must be mindful of “failure fatigue” when adding automation runs

About This TestBash Revisited

In American pop culture, Sasquatch (also known as Bigfoot) is likely a non-existent, ape-like, creature infrequently seen in the Pacific Northwest of North America. In the software realm, we have our own version of Sasquatch: that irritating, "intermittent issue" occurring in the system. These kinds of issues are typically difficult to find and often blamed on anything other than a product defect.

We typically run our automated tests on event boundaries, i.e. when we have a successful build and deployment; we look for problems when we think we may have introduced problems. Logically, these points of change are when we expect to have injected new issues, so, we only look for issues at those times. This approach alone, however, only gives us limited opportunities to reproduce our intermittent issues. If we also ran our automation periodically, we would have additional opportunities to reproduce these types of issues; we simply call this approach periodic automation.

Using a real-world example from his own experience, Paul Grizzaffi will explain how this periodic automation can help hunt down these elusive targets. For additional context, he will explain how this approach relates to High-Volume Automated Testing (HiVAT), as well as some HiVAT basics and examples. He will also explore some considerations of which we need to be mindful when implementing periodic automation in order to avoid desensitisation to failures.

Though we may never find “the real” Sasquatch, applying periodic automation increases our chances of finding our own intermittent issues.

Your Speaker

Paul Grizzaffi

Paul Grizzaffi

As a Principal Automation Architect at Magenic, Paul Grizzaffi is following his passion of providing technology solutions to testing and QA organizations, including automation assessments, implementations, and through activities benefiting the broader testing community. An accomplished keynote speaker and writer, Paul has spoken at both local and national conferences and meetings. He is an advisor to Software Test Professionals and STPCon, as well as a member of the Industry Advisory Board of the Advanced Research Center for Software Testing and Quality Assurance (STQA) at UT Dallas where he is a frequent guest lecturer. Paul enjoys sharing his experiences and learning from other testing professionals; his mostly cogent thoughts can be read on his blog at https://responsibleautomation.wordpress.com/.

Your Host

Mark Winteringham

Mark Winteringham

DojoBoss

Mark Winteringham is a tester, toolsmith and the Ministry of Testing DojoBoss with over 10 years experience providing testing expertise on award-winning projects across a wide range of technology sectors including BBC, Barclays, UK Government and Thomson Reuters. He is an advocate for modern risk-based testing practices and trains teams in Automation in Testing, Behaviour Driven Development and Exploratory testing techniques. He is also the co-founder of Ministry of Testing Essentials a community raising awareness of careers in testing and improving testing education. You can find him on Twitter @2bittester or at mwtestconsultancy.co.uk / automationintesting.com