Coming up with a heuristic

When working with James Bach a few weeks ago, we spent a lot of time talking about heuristics. I have been using Jame's heuristic test strategy, but it's not mine so I struggle sometimes with remembering all the mnemonics, where they come from, and why they are there. James recommended that I try to develop some of my own heuristics. So I of course asked him how. Here are the general guidelines he gave me:

  1. Attempt to solve a problem.

  2. Conceive of a need or desire to add structure to that attempt.
    Notice a pattern.

  3. Look for a pattern in the problem you are solving.

  4. Try to understand the pattern as best you can:

    • What's the essence of this pattern?

    • How can I simplify this pattern?

  5. Label it.

  6. Try it (experiment with it).

    • Be a skeptic.

    • Vary your label.

    • See if you actually remember your heuristic when you need it.

He pointed me to his general functionality and stability test procedure for a detailed example.

So here is my first stab at a heuristic. My heuristic is for test reporting:


Based on the test reporting post - with Neill's suggested change - the mnemonic stands for the following:


That covers steps one through five... now I just have to use it and see if it helps.