Friday 16 March 2012

Stubs, Pies and Lighthouses

This week at Autism Works has seen me take another turn with my software testing training. In last week's entry, I talked about how aspects of the ISEB Foundation in Software Testing Training Course reminded me of previously gained knowledge from university experiences as well as the principles of Buddhism. Having now completed the six lessons of the course, I have started to see aspects of software testing come into my work, including writing this blog and have also benefited from some creative use of training material, similar to what I advocate in my workshops on Asperger's Syndrome for Employers.

When learning about software testing within a life-cycle of a software product, I have come across special-purpose implementation of software components in existing software products, or stubs. this has provided me with a different approach to writing my blog whereby I list 'blog stubs' to expand on, which, I am finding, is very conducive to the way I think in relation to Asperger's Syndrome in a visual and structural sense. The list of blog stubs provides me with a structure, giving me a visual image as to how paragraphs and content will be structured, as well as occasionally enabling me to come up with an image to explain what I am writing about. Autism Works' Test Manager Grayson Cobb did this very effectively in explaining the techniques of statement and branch testing coverage using an image of three pies, to explain the workings of the following code:   
    If A = 3 then
    Display_message A;
    If B = 2 then
    Display_message B;
    Display_message C;
    Display_message D;

Unless one has an IT background, the above code is unlikely to make sense initially, as much as it didn't to me, not to mention the relationship with the pies! The first two actions (A=3 and B=2) are both specific and have an equally specific outcome while the next two actions (else) are open. So to do a 'statement test' to ensure the specific actions work you would need to test two actions (A=3 and B=2), but to do a 'branch test', you would need to test all actions. How this works in relation to the pies is that of the three pies, one is mince and the other two are steak, but is unknown which is which, so one would have to taste all three pies to see which one was mince and which two were steak, performing three tests. It became much clearer to me after Grayson used his previous experience as a chef in explaining the process!

Many people with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism, including myself and, perhaps most famously, Temple Grandin are largely visual thinkers, often benefiting from use of images to understand different working processes, hence the title of one of Temple Grandin's best known works Thinking in Pictures. In relation to how I think visually, I find it especially helpful when learning a new theory or task, in this case a software testing technique, it helps to use an effective visual image or to act a task out enabling me to see the workings of it, and so that I am able to replicate the task effectively.   

Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn,
the world's first electrically-lit lighthouse
Away from work, I have continued with my training for this year's Bupa Great North Run, including doing my first extended outdoor run, running along the coast between Seaburn and Whitburn from lighthouse to lighthouse. My run started and finished at the Old Lighthouse in Seaburn running up to Whitburn's Souter Lighthouse, the world's first electrically-lit lighthouse, before coming back to seaburn, a round trip of six miles. Once I got going, I really began to enjoy it and couldn't stop! Hopefully it will be like this come September 16th 2012! For more information on my challenge, click here

Stay tuned to Adventures with Autism Works to see how both my Great North Run and ISEB training progress, as well as how Autism Works continues to develop. 

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