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  1. #1
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    Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    I am taking a survey sort of, more like looking for opinions and experiences of a topic:

    Which dept has the responsibility of bug isolation in finding out what could be the problem behind an error message?

    How far would you go, as a tester, to isolate what is happening?

    How many years of experience doing testing...this is important because I have found the answers above are related to the level of experience, whether it's domain knowledge, system knowledge, software testing etc.

    Thanks.
    Going out of your comfort zone requires failure. True genius is measured by your recovery.

    ...Jean Ann
    www.perfectpitchmarketinginc.com
    http://on.fb.me/PPM100
    www.projectrealms.com/

  2. #2
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    I currently have under 1 year of software testing experience. However, I will stand on the shoulders of more experienced testers and quote from a software testing book that was referred to me via this forum:

    Book: Perfect Software and other illusions about testing
    by Gerald M. Weinberg

    Chapter 4. What's the difference between testing and debugging?

    Under "Common Mistakes" point number 4 says: "Demanding that testers pinpoint every failure: Testers can help developers with this job, if their time has been scheduled for it, but it is ultimately a developer responsibility. At least that's what I've seen work best in the long run."

    My personal opinion would agree with this. Developers have been able to assist me in isolating bugs I could not reproduce myself.
    Software Testing, Second Edition: "Intelligently weighing the risks and reducing the infinite possibilities to a manageable effective set is where the magic is."

  3. #3
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    Thanks for that answer. It was helpful.
    And I understand Gerry's point but he is writing for generic situations in testing, perhaps a specific kind of testing. Therefore...

    I should also add one more thing to this survey:
    What kind of testing are you doing/experienced? Example: web applications, client/server, single application, database or data mining testing, mobile device testing etc.
    Going out of your comfort zone requires failure. True genius is measured by your recovery.

    ...Jean Ann
    www.perfectpitchmarketinginc.com
    http://on.fb.me/PPM100
    www.projectrealms.com/

  4. #4
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    Ohlordy, 10 years already as a tester? Whee.

    That having been said, how much I dive into isolation depends on what I'm working on, how much time I have to spend on it, who the developer is that wrote the code, how familiar I am with the application environment, and to be honest, how I'm feeling at that particular point in time.

    If it's ETL code that I'm testing, I'm usually pretty good about narrowing things down. But then again, our main developer and I have been working together for nearing three years now. If I can't narrow it down in the first 10-15 minutes, I'm usually standing in her cube with what I've gone through up to that point. We can usually nail things down within about an hour of combined effort. Though, every now and again (six months on average), we'll run into a nasty little bugger that will take a bit more time.

    If'n it's a web app that I'm working on, then how much I isolate will depend on how much access to logs, config files, and databases I have. (Current environment: I haven't had the need to look at config files and haven't had a desire to chase them down.) I try and look at app logs to see what kind of errors are being thrown. I try and look at data to see if there's something that's not as we expect it (i.e., wrong or missing data.) And some things I can just look at app behavior and know that something was missed in a deployment.

    You'll notice that there's a bit of an emphasis on data. For me, that's a target-rich environment to find issues.

    Besides, in three weeks, I'm moving over to being a full-time ETL developer. So, I'm a big fan of data.
    Jason Trebilcock

    "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

    -George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner, 1856-1950

  5. #5
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    Over 15 years and counting. I firmly believe it is up to the tester to locate and describe the defects as well as possible. But the tester's time is dedicated to validating the application and all things associated with that. The tester is not responsible for isolating or fixing a defect unless it is in the job description. Especially in automated testing.
    Personal Comment

    Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
    ~ Winston Churchill ~


    ...Rich Wagner

  6. #6
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    Zero years as a full time professional tester, but 26 years as a professional software developer with plenty of testing thrown in.

    Firstly, I'd say not all bugs equal, and my weapon of choice for hunting down different types of bugs will vary greatly based on the animal I'm dealing with. For some of the really nasty ones, you may need a combination of testing and development skills. I'm currently tracking down a pretty nasty crash related to some mult-threaded code as described here. Under automated testing, repeatedly running a pretty large automation suite across three PCs yields a crash about once every two to three days, which isn't acceptable. I'm attempting to isolate the issue by having the automation run against the software running under a debugger. Once a problem occurs, the debugger stops all the threads, and we can carry out forensics on what happened. For intermittent bugs, where it is either difficult or impossible to document the steps required to reproduce a bug, I've found this collaborative approach to be an excellent mechanism for finding the root cause of a problem.

    So I guess the responsibility for isolating a given bug should really have more to do with required technique and ability than departmental title. Some bugs will need developer input to track down, many others wont. IMHO, the responsibility should be collective, as an organisation, not to deliver a buggy product. Given that you are involved in the embedded domain, my guess is that you will be encountering bugs that will be much more efficiently tackled in conjunction with the developers, rather than passing them backwards and forwards between departments.

    Sometimes a tester will do in minutes do what would take a developer days, sometime the reverse is true. Horses for courses and all that.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    8 years. But for 4 of those years I was working consistent 60-hour work weeks. Does that count as 10 years, then? Or do I still only get credit for 8? Once again! Metrics fail me!

    I work with embedded and application software and they are miles apart as far as time spent debugging a problem.

    For application software, I always tell my team to spend no more than 15 minutes unless you're hot on the trail. If you've already spent 15 minutes on it and it's going to take you a couple more, go for it. Otherwise, it's probably not worth it. Chances are it's an exception written in by the developer and they know exactly where it is [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    As for embedded, I find there is a finer line. Since it's related to hardware and the driving software, I usually try to reproduce the issue on two pieces of hardware and then from there I bounce it back to the embedded guys. Unless it's clearly a hardware-related issue, like it's spewing flames from exhaust vents, lol.
    Brent
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    9 out of 10 people I prove wrong agree that I'm right. The other person is my wife.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    Hi,

    3 years and almost a half testing software.

    My approach will be a mix between Jason's and Brent's point of view.

    If I know the software architecture and have easily access to logs and databases, I will clear the path to developers by pinpoint the error without spending too much time.

    Else I just report the error.

    Robin,
    There is no age to learn.
    And life is an learning adventure.

  9. #9
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    Been doing this for almost 15 years now, and I have always believed in getting as much to the root of the problem as possible. A couple of times I've given the Dev's more information than they needed, and a few times I've even seen the bad line of code and suggested a fix (one of which was taken).

    If I don't have a good grasp on the situation or the language I will go as deep as a I can, then ask the Developer if they can teach me a little more in troubleshooting so I can do better next time.
    - M

    Nothing learns better than experience.

    "So as I struggle with this issue I am confronted with the reality that noting is perfect."
    - Unknown

    Now wasting blog space at QAForums Blogs - The Lookout

  10. #10
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    Re: Bug Isolation - looking for opinions/experiences

    I think these answers are very much in line with my expectation of answers. I do agree what kind of testing you're doing, client/server, embedded play a significant part in the tester's role with bug isolation vs reporting symptoms. Also the level of experience in that software team with subject matter as well as system architecture will dictate who does what. More importantly project schedule will play a large part in who does what.

    Shane, yes, I do embedded testing as you know, so I do think that has definitely affected my opinion. But all of my testing experience has involved multiple levels of systems, servers, communication and isolation of where the problem lies has been critical in assigning to the appropriate developer. I test configuration software, communication software, low level operating system for a mobile device, data analysis software, a UI, database on a mobile device are among some of the levels and a developer for each one. And I wasted a developer's time for 2 days because I didn't take the extra 30 min to look beyond the error message which was reported in the configuration software but turned out to be an OS issue.

    I see a trend for software testers doing tests involving more than one application so the system becomes a collaboration of different types of developers. And as such the bug isolation role might become more and more prevalent in the testing side of things rather than development only.

    Is anyone else seeing this as a trend?

    BTW, this question was generated because I am doing a presentation in Aug on this subject, how to increase your skills in bug isolation, how to recognize what is a symptom and what isn't. Am collaborating with a QA Manager in ASU, we're presenting at CAST, Conference for Association for Software Testing. Please ping me if interested in finding out more about the conference.

    THANK YOU for your invaluable posts. Keep 'em coming!
    Going out of your comfort zone requires failure. True genius is measured by your recovery.

    ...Jean Ann
    www.perfectpitchmarketinginc.com
    http://on.fb.me/PPM100
    www.projectrealms.com/

 

 
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