Monthly Testing Newsletter -- February 2000

Software Development Process (requirements, project management, methodology, etc.)

Site: UseCaseHelp

This site is a good resource for information on use case modeling and how to apply use cases. Has links to a number of whitepapers, many of which discuss the pitfalls and traps of use cases. One of the best features is a checklist for evaluating use case quality.

Article: The Practice of Programming: A War Story

When programmers socialize, they entertain each other by telling "war stories," amusing anecdotes about spectacular or intriguing failures of computers and programs. These stories are part of the collected wisdom of programming, little parables that capture lessons about the good and bad engineering that goes into software. One of the reasons we wrote The Practice of Programming was to re-tell some of these stories and to pass on the experience they illustrate.

Article: Listening to the Customer's Voice: Identifying Requirements Through Use Cases

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing the software developer is sharing the vision of the final product with the customer. All stakeholders in a project-developers, end users, software managers, customer managers-must achieve a common understanding of what the product will be and do, or someone will be surprised when it is delivered. Surprises in software are almost never good news. Therefore, we need ways to accurately capture, interpret, and represent the voice of the customer when specifying the requirements for a software product.

Software Testing & Quality

Article: Bugs: How they breed and the damage they do

Multi-part article about software bugs, what causes them, and the consequences. Includes a section on "10 great bugs of history". This article won't change the problems, but it may give you some insight into what could have been done in terms of development processes and testing to prevent them.

Project: TestTalk, A Comprehensive Testing Language: Write Once, Test by Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere, with Anything

We are developing TestTalk, a software test description language designed for describing software test cases and test oracles in a manner natural to the software testing process rather than the programming or development process. The goal is to make software tests readable, maintainable, and portable, yet executable. We are also building a toolset to accompany TestTalk and have currently prototyped a parser and translator for what we consider the core test description language. We have used this to experiment with a simple application, which already demonstrates the versatility of our planned approach.

Article: Selecting Test Cases Based on User Priorities

The road to more reliable software is paved with customer intentions. A profile built from use cases can guide you in testing system functions and eliminating defects users encounter the most.

Article: Data Warehouse Quality

The quality of data obtained from a data warehouse represents one of the many risks that must be managed when designing, developing and operating a data warehouse.

Article: Effective Test Strategies for Enterprise-Critical Applications: Life-cycle testing of a critical Java-based financial application—A case study

Found by Laxmi Prasad

JAVA HAS QUICKLY evolved into more than a simple-minded language used to create cute animations on the Web. These days, a large number of serious Java developers are building enterprise-critical applications that are being deployed by large companies around the world. Some applications currently being developed on the Java platform range from traditional Spreadsheets and Word Processors to Accounting, Human Resources, and Financial Planning applications. Because these applications are complex and use rapidly evolving Java technology, companies need to employ a vigorous quality assurance program to produce a high-quality and reliable product. Quality assurance and test teams must get involved early in the product development life cycle, creating a sound test plan, and applying an effective test strategy to insure that these enterprise-critical applications provide accurate results and are defect-free. Accuracy is critical for users who apply these results to crucial decisions about their business, their finances, and their enterprise.

List: Tester's Rights and Responsibilities

A very nice common sense list of the rights and responsibilities that software testers have in doing their jobs. The page has a number of humorous anecdotes, as well.


Tutorial: What is IP Telephony?

This tutorial contrasts several alternative architectures for an IP/IN integrated network, considering the advantages and disadvantages of each. An introduction to the relevant industry standards work is also presented.


Career Development/Miscellaneous


This site has dozens (over 150) of free full-text online books. You can read them online and even create your own "virtual library" of frequently used texts. Topics range of basic programming references to databases and communications/networking tutorials.


Telecommunications Industry

Reference: Internetworking Technology Overview (Cisco)

Online reference to LAN/WAN networking principles and technologies, particularly protocols. While oriented toward Cisco products, it is a good generic reference to the basics.

Article: Local broadband: Merger partners bring wireless home

SPRINT EXPECTS to announce next week that it has completed a series of acquisitions that form the cornerstone of its plan to provide broadband services directly to homes and businesses with MCI WorldCom.

Useful Utilities

WebFerret 3.0 (free!)

WebFerret is a metasearch tool that runs on your local machine. You specify search criteria and WebFerret does a parallel search on a variety of popular search engines including Altavista, Yahoo, Excite, and Infoseek. It returns the results into a window with a brief description. You just click on a result to display it in your browser. It handles Boolean searches and even has filtering capabilities (to leave out pornographic or other undesirable results).

T.O.A.D. -- the Tool for Oracle Application Developers (free!)

Awesome freeware alternative to SQL Navigator. GUI and functionality is remarkably similar to that of SQL Navigator. Even has some great enhancements over SQL Navigator. Although the application is freeware, you must download updates/patches every couple of months to keep the application from expiring. Of course, they try to entice you to buy the professional version when you get the updates.

TreeSize (free!)

TreeSize shows information about the amount of drive space used by all of the folders/directories on a drive/volume. It allows you to sort by amount of space consumed or alphabetically and can display file size, allocation size (based on clusters), or percent used. In addition, it can display the amount of wasted space due to cluster size considerations.

2xExplorer (free!)

Windows Explorer replacement which has dual-pane display allowing viewing of two directories simultaneously. The utility is very fast and supports drag-and-drop between panes. Some of the handy features are "bookmarks" which allow you set a directory that you need to return to quickly, a history list of viewed directories, a basic text search utility, directory synchronization, and folder "statistics" including size of files and sub-folders.

ThinkFree Office (free!)

Free (registration required) web-based, Microsoft Office-compatible applications suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.). The site includes 20MB of online storage space. This service allows you to work on a document, spreadsheet, etc. from anywhere without having to take a copy with you. The document that is created can then be downloaded and used in the appropriate MS Office application.

Productivity Tips

Display styles in use in MS Word

Word can display the style that is currently used by each line of text in Word. This is useful, if you can't always remember which style to apply to certain level of heading or text because you can quickly glance at the style used elsewhere in the document. To use this feature, change your document to the Normal View (instead of Page Layout or another view). Then select Tools | Options from the menu. In the Options dialog, select the View tab and change Style area width to 0.5". Press OK. The currently used styles will now be displayed in the right margin. The vertical bar can be dragged to adjust the width of the style area.

Delete words quickly in MS Word and Outlook

In MS Word and Outlook, the entire word to the left of the cursor can be deleted by pressing <Ctrl>+<Backspace>. This really beats pressing <Backspace> multiple times. Likewise, <Ctrl>+<Right Arrow> and <Ctrl>+<Left Arrow> can be used to jump forward and backward, respectively, one word at a time. Just add in a <Shift> with these two and you can select entire words.

Add a command to Explorer context menu for "unknown" file types

In many instances it would be nice to open an "unknown" file type (a file whose extension is not associated with any application) with a text editor, such as Notepad. Windows allows you to add an application to the Explorer context (right-mouse) menu for these unassociated file types. For example, to associate Notepad with unknown files, copy the following lines to a text file and save the file with the .REG extension (e.g., Open_With_Notepad.REG). Then open Windows Explorer and double-click the file. Voilà! Next time you right-click on an unassociated file, such as TNSNAMES.ORA, you can select Open With Notepad.


[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\shell\Open With Notepad]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Unknown\shell\Open With Notepad\command]

@="notepad %1"

Timesaving keyboard shortcuts in MS Excel

Excel has many useful keyboard shortcuts. Here are eight shortcuts that you may find useful: