"Testing on the beat - the importance of domain knowledge in software testing"

Software testing requires versatility from practitioners in the face of fast changing focuses and trends, or when starting a project in a complex new domain. Should testers become domain experts for every new project? How much depth of domain knowledge does one need to test effectively? How can testers reuse what they already know about gathering information and organizing their explorations?

In this experience report, Alexandra describes how she changed as she refocused her testing on music production software and hardware. She’ll describe what she learned over her first year, how she re-evaluated her understanding about the importance of local and situated knowledge, and how she was inspired to do new experiments by ideas from Domain-Driven Design and the book "Seeing Like a State".

She’ll show you how she:

  • Uses analogies to domains where she had more knowledge
  • Models a feature in multiple ways to understand it better
  • Gets close to the implementation level
  • Approaches discussions with curiosity and an open mind - by providing a structure to come up with useful question.
  • Used Elizabeth Hendrickson’s testing cheatsheet, and an Outside-In risk analysis structure from James Bach to provide a structure in the test planning process which used ideas from every team member.

Alexandra specializes in exploratory testing using heuristics and testing techniques adapted to context. She enjoys coaching and mentoring other testers, shaping team and company-wide testing approaches, as well as doing hands-on testing.

Currently she is testing music production software at Native Instruments. She occasionally teaches the BBST online testing course series.

In her free time she enjoys learning about security analysis, improving her programming and hacking skills, and cultivating critical thinking around.