Beyond the Black Stump

In Australia, the black stump is a metaphor or the edge of civilization., an imaginary beyond which point at the country was considered remote. 

There’s a whole lot of value of testing what we know. It helps create a mental model of what the system does. We can start making sense of what the system is supposed to do and how people want it to behave. It’s a useful building block to help us better understand. 

If we’re looking for new knowledge about how our system behaves in uncertainty, then we need to look beyond the black stump. Boundary Testing is one way we test beyond what we know. Here are some other ways:

  • perform the same action multiple times (in rapid succession)
  • load the system with data and then test 
  • send  ‘invalid’ data through a system 
  • reduce the memory, diskspace, bandwidth
  • turn on logging to maximum capability 
  • Perform a sequence of crazy ‘no user would ever do that’ actions 
  • Combine these tests with other tests 

You can apply these ideas beyond your ‘product’. Infrastructure is a vital part of product delivery. So how would your pipeline cope in these situations?  What if your system went down and couldn’t release. What if every developer went to commit at the same time? 

Do you have a favourite black stump test? Why not share it below?

charrett blogging on the bus
Blogging on the Bus Series

One thought on “Beyond the Black Stump

  1. I have lots and lots of those. I even write them in a notebook. I have pages full of them. Some examples:

    Start at finish, finish at start
    Front to back, b…
    Maximum at once
    More then maximum
    Tesla 369
    Etc etc etc
    Pages and pages.
    If you consider yourself a true senior tester then to my opinion jou don’t have those examples only in your head. You can show them to the world.

    Keep up the good work and nice blogs Anne Marie

    [AMC] thank you 🙂

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