Black Box Test Machines
The following freeware machines are testing puzzles - crosswords for testers. Open one up and play with it. Try to answer these three questions: What's it doing? What's it doing wrong? How can I be so sure?
I use similar machines for teaching (particularly exploratory testing), but these are just for fun. I expect that you will be able to find out more about the machines by using systematic exploratory techniques - if you're not using them, try to watch yourself as you play (or have someone watch you) and describe your techniques so they can be generalised and transferred. Or just click around randomly, and wonder if you could have got further. Most of these machines have a built-in session timer to allow you to experiment with session-based test management. Download the award-winning paper "Adventures in Session-based Testing" for more information about this effective approach to managing exploration.
You could use these machines to trigger discussion, for a testing competion, for self-training, or as part of a team exercise. Send them to your colleagues or friends. I'd be very interested to hear what you use them for.
The machines are built in Flash, which allows them to be tiny, pretty, and run on a range of platforms. You'll need the Flash 5 player to use them - computers built since 2000 are likely to have this (or better) as a default. By all means download the files; they'll run on your own system if you pick up the file and drop it into a browser. Macromedia also make stand-alone players for some platforms. Go to Adobe's Flash Player page for the bits you need.
Warning - these machines may change the way you test! For coaching in sustained and effective exploratory techniques, book my course on exploratory testing, which uses machines designed to support the learning process.
Puzzle 8 (download)
Puzzle 7 (download)
Puzzle 6a (download)
Puzzle 6 (download)
Puzzle 1 (download)
Puzzle 2 (download)
Puzzle 3 (download)
Puzzle 4 (download)
Puzzle 5 (download)
More machines coming soon!
These puzzles have not been designed with known bugs (unlike the tutorial machines). However, they intermittently demonstrate some interesting behaviours:
- Slider seems 'sticky'; moves after the user has released the mouse button
- Sliders are sluggish
- Following slider problems, Flash may freeze (sliders and buttons no longer respond - including the help and WPL information buttons). Other movies are unaffected. Reloading the page resets the machines and restores functionality.
- One browser crash has been observed following a Flash freeze.
From anecdotal evidence, we believe that these behaviours are most common on computers with later versions of the flash player (version 7+), but have no firm evidence of particular OS/browser/player combinations that are at risk. Puzzles without sliders don't manifest this problem.
If you can't read the text, download the movie and throw the file into a browser window for a resizable machine.