My Testers Playbook?

Ok James Bach tweeted about his 'Testers Playbook' a while ago, I don't think I fully understood what he meant (maybe I should ask him more! - hey James what do you mean by a tester's playbook, do you actually mean a book? can you give us some examples and why do you think it's important? How does it help you? other people you are working with?)

Anyway it made me think about whether I had used a 'testers playbook' or not. Aswell as trying to understand what James means by a tester playbook I'll try and explain what I mean by my 'testers playbook' and what it means to me. So I looked back at some of the things I've tested and looked at one of my notebooks - I'm not sure if James actually means a notebook but I did find some interesting things in mine.(not a notepad, a notebook), you know the ones? The one's with a hard back, the one I looked at was red and reminded me a bit of 'this is your life...' although the coffee ring stain on the front cover ends that similarity.

I did take pictures of my notebook that I had intended to publish here, but after some thought I'm not sure I could publish them without censoring a lot of it, which could take a long time..(although I still intend to do this)

I'll try and share however the essence of what is in my notebook. This is not all encompassing, it is just what I have for the particular testing I was doing at the time. I hope some other people can share their notebooks or playbooks.

I've categorized what is in my notebook, based on what I think I'm trying to do.

So here are some of things in my notebook:

Lists - The particular thing I'm looking at in my notebook here is a list of stored procedures
The list is actually ticked, and some items in the list are different colours
Also things that are important - Risk? some I have put an asterisk at the front of some are coloured red so they stand out.

Tester's Models - My model/my own take on how things work - A diagram/text/flows (some serious working out of flows)

Tables - A configuration table / a risk table - or perceived risk table (again I have a table of stored procedures with frequency of use, importance of operation and complexity Is that risk? - note: I only use this as a guide not to necessarily follow to the letter...

Tech Notes - Notes from technical meeting(s)

Questions - Questions that I wrote down- That can be about the above but about anything I'm not sure about.

Scenarios - Me trying to work out some scenarios, lots of crossing out a re-work trying to get to a 'compelling story'

Collaboration - Any of the above with interaction with someone else - I have extensions or extra explanations of the above. The instance I'm looking at in my notebook is where a programmer wrote directly in my book, we were discussing something, I showed him my diagram he was explaining and added to it to, a sketchpad. - Note there were lots of pen points on certain aspects of the page like where we were using the pen to point to stuff -important stuff? is that an indicator for me to look there? ;o)

Environment stuff - Stuff I need to remember. The thing I'm looking at in my notes is an important registry key. It's right here in my notebook to remember and refer to. Hey what if the registry keys not there :o) Oh and stuff on scalability.

Reminders - In my notebook I have actually got some test reminders - they are Test strategy heuristics for me to remember, Yes I know a mnemonic should do that for me, but sometimes an unlikely reminder in my notebook does it for me..

Bugs - or are they just the questions as above, repros

Doodles - Thinking doodles...shapes and stuff...Can someone tell me if doodles are important? Are they a release of energy or something?

Feedback notes on Testing - How we think we're doing? Improvements?

I'll try and elaborate in future posts on the above a bit more to indicate how I think it helps me.

Do you have a 'testers playbook'? A notebook? What are you noting, writing, sharing?


  1. yes I do.. I call it my thinking boook. I put things down and then go back and clean it up. It has anything and everything that I think I need to work on/fix/updated/etc. It has lots of useless stuff too.

  2. Hi Shilpa,
    Thanks for the comment.
    A thinking book, excellent! I think we may be on similar wavelengths. Are there any specific things that you put down in your book? How do you clean up things?