How I became world champion software testing with the “Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters”

Together with Rob, Gerard and Klaas, I can call myself the world’s best software tester for the next two years. We became world champion at the

Software Testing World Cup in Berlin on the eve of Sinterklaas. And yes, I’m quite proud of that. As a coach, I tell others how to best test software in my daily job. But who am I? Being able to answer that question with “the World champion software tester”, was for a long time my motivation for winning that title. Well, now I succeeded and I’ll tell you how I got there.  

                     

In 2014 I was asked to be on the jury of the European championship software testing. Yes, of course I wanted to be on the jury. It’s my area of expertise. How great is it to assess others with my expertise and together, take this world the next level. During that process however, I started thinking: why am I judging others? I want to be on the other side! I soon realized I was only going to do one year of judging; the next year I would compete for the European title.

I formed a team together with Rob van Steenbergen - the Dutch champion of software testing - and Klaas and Gerard. With this team, aka the ‘Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters’, we tested over fifteen apps and websites over the past two years. From the Lingo and Roadmap apps to the websites of MijnObvion and SnagTracker.

Our working method: learn, experiment, make mistakes, adjust and try again.

After a few months of testing and experimenting, we slowly became a well-attuned team. In 2015 we won the European championship - also in Berlin. The test report we made for Roadmap, a user-friendly diary for travelers, was praised for its overview and its insight into the approach.

So carry on, we thought. We kept meeting in Amersfoort and continued working on a winning formula. At the end of November, we received an email from the organization with the first instruction for the world championship. The subject: hardware & software requirements. The message: only Android phones with Android 4,1 or higher are permitted. 

I blinked a few times. Android? But... I never tested an Android app before! I sprinted to the shop, bought an Android device and started testing it like a maniac. I carried two phones for a week. I wanted to know all there was to know. Surely, all those efforts of the past two years would not have been in vain?

Well, let’s hope for the best. Unfortunately, there was another hiccup. My plane had a four-hour delay so we had to skip our ‘aligning meeting’. Right then, let’s get a beer and relax. The next morning, on the 5th of December, we got up at 7.30 am. At 9.30 am we were in the test room, five hours before the start of the competition. You can understand we took it seriously.

Subsequently, we started testing our devices and test software in the room. We didn’t want to leave anything to chance. The next setback presented itself soon after: man in the middle, software that allows us to test security issues, didn’t work. Shit, our expertise just went out of the window, we thought. One of our specialties. We’d used the software a thousand times and never encountered such a problem. Of all the days, it didn’t work today.  

Alternatively, we completely focused on the app’s usability. We brought small and big Android devices with high and low resolution. In that regard, we were well prepared. An hour before the start of the competition, we were told we had to test the Moovel Android app, a combination between Uber and 9292 ov. At 2.30 pm the games began.

Our most important findings after three hours of testing:

  • -       It’s not possible to order car2go with the newest Android version
  • -       It turned out it was impossible to book rides with a Dutch phone with data roaming,
  • -       The input validation didn’t prove to work correctly

The jury’s verdict: together with the Bug Terrier team, we had the best report. Our bugs eventually made the difference. Wow, so cool! It was a great feeling to contribute in this way. Even the back-end people of Moovel liked our findings. They invited every team to dinner. All in all, I loved to participate and win together with my team. Rob, Gerard and Klaas, you rock. Furthermore, I would like to thank the organization for an amazing event. On to the next world championship!

Pascal Dufour