Resume seminar The Magic of Testing

Magic, a power that allows people to do impossible things. On June 30, 2016 ALTEN and IBM brought together seven Gandalfs and Dumbledores of testing to tell an enchanted audience about their craft. The location: the Efteling, of course, the most magical place in the Netherlands (actually, it was the Efteling golf course, which is slightly less magical than the park itself). Eric Haesen welcomed the audience, then passed the floor to Joachim van der Vlis, who hosted the event.

Coen Bertens, operational director of the Efteling was the first speaker. He told the audience about the history of the Efteling and the importance of not just putting an attraction down, because it looks exciting, but that a good story is necessary first.

The next tale was told by Corné van der Pol, who dazzled the audience with a show of arcane language called programming code and how tests for it could be written with Test Driven Development. Then André Verschelling interrupted with the question of how all these actions on the deep code level could be applied to the whole system? Together they answered: by focusing on the behavior of the application through Behavior Driven Development. Not everyone should have to be fluent in coding, so the use of natural language in the form of Gherkin was introduced to help stakeholders tell their stories.

The magic wand was passed on to Marcel Berkhout. He touched the painful fact that test data was often poorly managed and that even though the king forbade it, many companies still used privacy sensitive data for testing. He then showed how IBM had created mystical tools to help mask data and create workable, maintainable subset of data, which could also be refreshed at a moment’s notice.

After a short break, Ard Kramer and Eric de Graaf dove into how Test Automation Engineers stood out. At their assignment for Delta Lloyd, they had run into both the need for the use of natural language as well as the demand by law to mask the data. The amount of work demanded that much of the work would be automated, which required a whole new set of sorcerous skills.

The final wizard to take the stage was professor Pieter Koopman of the Radboud University in Nijmegen. He told the audience about three fairy tales that software engineers had used to believe (and some still do):

  • that we can make what is specified,
  • that we can specify what we want
  • and that our needs are fixed in time.

By using the craft of model based testing, he showed that it was possible to have automated testing without having to maintain two full development projects (the actual application and the test framework), because simplified models could be used to generate test cases from.

Then the audience woke up. The many spells that the wizards had cast left them inspired, but also hungry. Luckily a great feast had been prepared by the many cooks of the Efteling. After much merriment, everyone went back to their homes, back to the mundane world, but they all kept a spark of the magic of that day.

And they tested happily ever after.


Author: Gwen Calluy,

Test Consultant ALTEN Technology