26-29 May 1998, San Francisco, California USA


Purpose of BOFS

The purpose of a Birds-Of-A-Feather Session (BOFS) is to let QW'98 participants share the stage and mutually swap information about topics they're interested in. QW'98 provides the time and the place to meet. You supply the input and gain from others' inputs and ideas and suggestions. Volunteer moderators will be there to direct the discussion.

A tentative list of topics is included below. Below the tables is a list of abstracts for the topics which give you a better idea of how the discussion will go. Some abstracts also suggest some references for you to use to be better prepared for the session. But remember that the abstracts are just guidelines, so the sessions will be adapted to the needs of the participants.

Please contact BOFS Co-Chairs Danny Faught at faught@rsn.hp.com or Brian Marick at marick@testing.com with any ideas that you have about how to make BOFS the best possible experience for you at Quality Week '98.

Birds-Of-A-Feather Sessions--Wednesday, May 27, 1998
BOFS Topic  Volunteer Moderator  Room 
1Load Testing - Simulating heavy loads in client/server testing Keith StobieSeacliff
2Setting Up and Running an Independent SQA Organization John F. DavisMarina
3Consultant Liability in the Year 2000 Cem KanerRose
4Useful Measurements (What Do You Measure and Why?) Johanna RothmanTwin Peaks
5Can Software Reliability Engineering (SRE) work for any software? John MusaConcert

Birds-Of-A-Feather Sessions--Thursday, May 28, 1998
BOFS Topic  Volunteer Moderator  Room 
6Planning a Test Automation Effort Brian MarickRose
7Everyone Will Be a Y2K Tester Greg DaichConcert
8Web Site Quality Issues Ieuan E. JonesTwin Peaks
9OS and Embedded System Testing Mark WileySeacliff
10Issues for "Immature" QA Organizations Steve GoldsteinMarina

Birds-Of-A-Feather Sessions--Thursday Evening, May 28, 1998
BOFS Topic  Volunteer Moderator  Room 
E1 Testing Career Issues Mark Wiley Seacliff
E2 Uniform Commercial Code Article 2B
Proposed New Law of Software Quality
Cem Kaner Rose
E3 Working Effectively with Developers Brian Marick Concert
E4 Testers in Cyberspace - Finding Help When You're on a Budget Danny Faught Marina

When do BOFS Meet?

BOFS meet during the lunch break on Wednesday and Thursday. Lunch starts at 12:00pm. BOFS will be 12:30-1:30pm. A new feature this year is pre-scheduled evening BOFS on Thursday, 6:00-7:00pm. Also, check the BOFS bulletin board in the registration area for ad-hoc BOF topics that attendees propose during the conference.

Breakout rooms will be available Wednesday and Thursday evening after the other scheduled events have completed. Participants may propose BOFS topics by filling out a form on the BOFS bulletin board at the conference. A moderator must be identified at the time the BOFS is proposed. Rooms will be assigned based on the number of people who indicate an interest, or participants may find their own accommodations, perhaps at a nearby restaurant.

BOFS Abstracts

Load Testing: Simulating heavy loads in client/server testing (Moderator: Keith Stobie) [Top Of Page]

What software is available to load test client/servers (web, database middleware)? What hardware is needed to run it? What are some of the gotchas and pitfalls? How do you plan it? During this session the participants will share tips on how to load test that helps testers increase their body of knowledge and get their job done.

Participants are encouraged to:
(1) Read the Load and Performance Testing FAQ at http://www.stlabs.com/marick/faqs/t-load.htm
(2) Read the QW98 paper: System Testing for Java-based Internet Applications: How, When and Why? (3S1) and
(3) Visit the Vendor Exhibits and ask them about their load testing tools.

Setting Up and Running an Independent SQA Organization (Moderator: John F. Davis) [Top Of Page]

Participants in this BOFS are invited to share experiences in establishing an independent SQA organization, one that can attract and keep customers by meeting their perceived and real needs. There will be questions raised like "My customers won't track the cost of rework; they just keep on paying salaries until the project ends or is cancelled. How can I sell the need for SQA on their next project?"

Consultant Liability in the Year 2000 (Moderator: Cem Kaner) [Top Of Page]


Useful Measurements (What Do You Measure and Why?) (Moderator: Johanna Rothman) [Top Of Page]

There are lots of measurements we can take about our work: about the software and tests we produce, about the software we test, about the process. Do you have a favorite set of metrics? What do they tell you about the product, the tests, or the process? Participants are encouraged to bring their stories about things they measured, what they were trying to do with the measurement and what happened with their measurements.

Can Software Reliability Engineering (SRE) work for any software? (Moderator: John Musa) [Top Of Page]

Software Reliability Engineering (SRE) has been used effectively in the telecommunications industry, but some testers in other software arenas have been skeptical that it applies more broadly. Do you want to do reliability testing but believe there are reasons for avoiding SRE? Or have you overcome obstacles to successfully apply SRE to non-telecommunications software? Come and join a constructive discussion of the possible roadblocks that might prevent SRE from working effectively in your area of interest and how the roadblocks might be overcome.

Planning a Test Automation Effort (Moderator: Brian Marick) [Top Of Page]

Many projects contain a mix of manual and automated testing. The proportions depend on how you prepare early in the project: how much you spend on buying tools, customizing tools, training people, and generally creating infrastructure that makes automation tractable. You can prepare too little, in which case automation becomes so hard little can be done (or, worse, it's done in a way that produces a maintenance disaster). But you can also prepare too much. Some infrastructure might go unused (or, worse, people might feel obliged to use it even in cases where manual testing makes more sense). This session is about how you strike the right balance.

This session follows Brian's QuickStart session "When Should a Test Be Automated?", which discusses how a tester should use infrastructure once it's in place.

You will find "Improving the Maintainability of Automated Test Suites", by Cem Kaner, to be good background for this BOF, as is "Test Automation Snake Oil" and "Useful Features of an Automated Test Suite", both by James Bach, both in the ST Labs Tester's Network archive. I also recommend Bret Pettichord's "Success with Test Automation", which you can find indexed on his Software Testing Hotlist along with other test automation papers. Cem Kaner and Elisabeth Hendrickson both had useful papers in the 1998 STAR conference.

Everyone Will Be a Y2K Tester (Moderator: Greg Daich) [Top Of Page]

When the Year 2000 comes, many systems will fail that were considered year 2000 compliant or ready. This will require that everyone using computer-supported systems to watch for date-processing problems. However, we need to expand our watch to include the systems we often take for granted in the facilities we use, including those we depend on in our personal lives. The problem involves several issues, as follows: (1) we have an initial personal responsibility to assure that the systems we use are year 2000 ready, even though the ultimate responsiblity for some system failures may be with the vendors/developers of the systems we use (or may have to be settled in the courts), (2) we don't have time to "reinvent the wheel" - we must take advantage of prior efforts and information, but is this information accurate?

How do we best use or time and information (personally, as an organization/company, and as an industry) to minimize duplication of effort and also assure ourselves that all date-impacted systems that we use won't have serious problems and cause us a significant loss of time and money or life because of problems caused by incorrect date processing?

Web Site Quality Issues (Moderator: Ieuan E Jones) [Top Of Page]

With business becoming more reliant on the web, the quality of what is encountered can make the difference between a satisfied customer and a dissatisfied one. So, what marks a quality site? How can best practices be captured ? How can best practices be disseminated? Should we be looking at guidelines or the design? Be prepared to share, warts and all, so we can move website quality out of the folklore domain and into the 21st Century.

OS and Embedded System Testing (Moderator: Mark Wiley) [Top Of Page]

Testing operating systems and embedded systems presents some challenges beyond application testing where you can at least depend on the operating system. Testers of any kind of operating system and other embedded software systems are invited to come and discuss the unique challenges of this activity.

Issues for "Immature" QA Organizations (Moderator: Steve Goldstein) [Top Of Page]

How does a QA organization evolve? How do you change the culture of a software development organization to support a more "mature" approach to quality assurance? As a QA manager, which practices will should I try to bring to my company first and which will be more appropriate later? This session will draw on participants' common concerns in these areas.

Testing Career Issues (Moderator: Mark Wiley) [Top Of Page]

Is your job challenging or a dead end? How have you advanced in your career? Is there something you wish you'd done differently? Is there something you'd suggest for everyone? Come exchange your career triumphs, tragedies and concerns with your peers.

Uniform Commercial Code Article 2B -- Proposed New Law of Software Quality (Moderator: Cem Kaner) [Top Of Page]

It is now almost certain that Article 2B will reach state legislatures in late 1997 or early 1998. I think that this bill will be a serious setback for software quality--it essentially immunizes software publishers from any form of liability, even for serious defects that they knew about when they shipped the product. This is an organizing meeting. I will brief attendees on Article 2B, and I will try to recruit volunteers who will help me battle this in the state legislatures.

Working Effectively with Developers (Moderator: Brian Marick) [Top Of Page]

This session is for testers who find bugs in developers' code and QA people who advise developers on process. People issues invariably make our jobs harder. From the point of view of the tester, developers can seem arrogant and dismissive, which means that important bugs don't get fixed. Developers often simply ignore QA people. In this session, we'll trade tricks and tips for avoiding, detecting, and solving these problems. In my role as moderator, I'll steer us away from a gripe session and toward constructive suggestions, so bring a positive (though perhaps Machiavellian) attitude.

Testers in Cyberspace - Finding Help When You're on a Budget (Moderator: Danny Faught) [Top Of Page]

"I'm looking for information about X, or a tool that does X, and by the way, it has to be free". This is a common plea from academia, and lately, it's just as common in the commercial world. During this session the participants will share tips on how to find things for free on the Internet (assuming the Internet connection is a sunken expense) that help testers increase their body of knowledge and get their job done. Participants are encouraged to read the comp.software.testing FAQ before attending.

This page last updated 13 May 1998.

QW'98 BOFS's Co-Chairs are:
Danny R. Faught
Technical Lead at Hewlett-Packard
QW'98 Advisory Board Member
Brian Marick
Testing Consultant
QW'98 Advisory Board Member