The Tomato and Exploratory Testing

 There is a lot of talk about techniques of Exploratory Testing, about what is required from the tester,; that he or she should plan the tests, learn about the program, and perform the tests at the same time, and so on. Lesser is the talk about how one can enter a state of mind that will enable these high demands.

In a soon-to-be-published article, about Mindfulness and Exploratory Testing, I turned the spotlight, so to speak, into the emotional state of the tester. For example, she or he should not take feelings, fears, and concerns into the test process, only activate the consciousness of the present moment.

This time, I will talk about tomatoes, and fruit which incidentally I do not really like (yes, fruit, but I am willing to compromise on that).

It all started with Italian student Francesco Cirillo in the late eighties. This guy found the method that gives the best results when it comes to the ability to concentrate and perform tasks.

Francesco understood that it is more difficult for us to concentrate a long time. The optimal amount of time, in his opinion, is one of 25 minutes. Then we lose concentration. The good news is a little break might bring back us into a state of concentration.

So how to get focused over time? These are the steps:

  1. Set the task (e.g. charter of Exploratory Testing).

  2. The length of the mission is set in parts of 25 minutes. With Exploratory Testing, for example, because of the high demands from the tester, you may want to perform for an hour and a half at most. That is in our case three parts (if you are missing 15 minutes - soon you'll understand why).

  3. Take a timer and set the time to 25 minutes. The Italian student found in the kitchen a timer-shaped a tomato, Pomodoro in Italian (hence the name - Pomodoro technique).

  4. Work without interruption on a task. If something else comes to mind (related or unrelated to the task), write it on the page, but continue to work on the task. In our context, things that jump to mind are the examples of other tests not really relate to the current charter, a potential bug that we do not want to follow now, and more.

  5. When the timer goes off, give yourself an undisturbed rest for five minutes. Mark that one section is over.

  6. Continue on another part of the 25-minute work, 5-minute off.

  7. At the end of the third time, after an hour and a half (including breaks), you can proceed to the next task, which can be a summary task of the tests we performed.

According to the original technique, if the task requires more than two hours, or if the general number of tasks for longer than two hours, we should consider making a long break after two hours in length of 15 to 30 minutes.

By this method, we will remain at the peak of our concentration and achieve the best results.

Does it work for you? One can always make minor adjustments at times (Minor. Work 5 minutes and rest 25 might get you in trouble with the boss).

Timer can be found here:

Video of 5 minutes in length explaining the method: