Look past the bug

I have a couple of stories based on a bug I was passively investigating the last few days (“passively”== an “issue” showed up on an alias I was on and I took a closer look). The lessons learned, as far as I’m concerned, come from the investigation (or lack of), and not the bug itself.

The issue at the center of the discussion was with one of our internal web sites. Someone discovered that videos weren’t playing. Someone else went just a bit further, and noticed they weren’t playing in a few specific scenarios. At this point, I was alarmed to see that several people on the alias jumped to conclusions and were looking at server configurations and permission issues in an attempt to “solve” the problem.

Pause for a moment now if you’re a tester. Do you know enough about the problem to send someone off investigating server issues?

Of course not – because if you read this blog, you’re a good tester. You probably want to understand why the videos won’t play. In this case, there was a really long URL pointing to a file location – e.g. <a href=file://. . .>link</a>. There was a lot of other decoration in the original link, so the first thing was to strip all of the decoration, then try again. Then, to rule out permission issues, I reproduced the issue with the local file system. Finally, I also tried files with different extensions on both the local and network file shares, and observed that other files opened.

Now I know more. It looks like a configuration problem playing video files. At this point, I can confidently say it’s not a permission issue or a network issue. So, I poked around a bit with some settings and discovered how to “fix” the issue.

I think it’s important – no, critical - for testers to investigate beyond the actual problem. Even more importantly – they need to want to investigate beyond the actual problem. If, in my opinion, you don’t have that fundamental curiosity, you don’t have any business being a professional tester. “Figuring stuff out” is a pretty important skill that I hope testers don’t ignore.

Anyway, I reported the information to the alias – case closed correct?

Nope – the team owning the web site said that the information was interesting, but they were going to continue investigating permission issues, server configuration, and network issues.


I think I stopped them, but I probably wasn’t as nice as I should have been. Oh well.

Comments (1)
  1. Peter says:

    How about this one: team spent a couple of days trying to prove issue was not in their code, instead of actually investigating the issue. In the end they figured out that issue was on their side.

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