Two quick rules for when you find a bug...

Last week I was working on an article for InformIT. As part of the article, I was testing Google Earth using heuristic test oracles (which happens to be what the article is about).

In the course of my testing, I came across an interesting bug where Google Earth lost resolution (the picture became fuzzy when I zoomed in). When I had started my testing, zoom was crystal clear. Indianapolis was a bright shinny city!

Towards the end of my writing session, after switching back and forth between my article and Google Earth repeatedly while doing my testing, I noticed that resolution was not what it once was. Indianapolis was now dull and blurry. Not at all like I remembered it. My inconsistent with purpose heuristic kicked in. I now had another bug for my article!

By this point, I had a good list of bugs. Four or five I think - a good number for an article. But this bug was a beauty! It affected the largest piece of functionality in Google Earth - rendering a map.

Enter the two rules for when you find a bug...

Rule number one: Don't get cocky

I had spent about a total of ten minutes actually testing and I had a nice list of bugs. I was feeling good:

"What do those guys at Google know that I don't know? Hah! I rock!"

Well, as it turns out, they probably know quite a bit more then I do, because I then made an amateur mistake due to my over confidence. A silly mistake that cost me my prize catch. I figured since I had found the others so easy, and clearly I had found this one, I could reproduce the bug. I even thought I knew what the problem was.

I closed Google Earth and restarted it. I tested for about 20 minutes. Nothing. No dice. I tried everything I tried before. No good.


Rule number two: Take a screenshot

Because I didn't follow rule number two, I am now writing about an experience where I made a mistake instead of writing about my cool Google Earth bug I found. All I needed was a screenshot. Simple proof. Maybe not permissible in court, but certainly permissible in blogs - earning me valuable testing "street credit."

Oh well...

Keep in mind that rule number two can be a bit more involved then taking a screenshot. Anything that sets the scene of the crime is good to keep: log files, screenshots, data used, system state, video, DNA samples - whatever. Stay humble and collect the evidence. You'll end up using it in your defect report either way...