Writing test cases in such a way that your brain does not escape

Writing test cases is one of the most exciting parts of being a tester. Honestly, not a day goes by when I don’t think “Gee golly whillikers, if only I had more test cases to write!”
Ha ha. Do you see what I did there? That’s sarcasm, or possibly irony. Maybe both. Anyway, I’m a liar – writing test cases is one of the most mind numbing tasks you can ever have to do. The problem is that once the human brain has been subjected to something so boring for longer than 5 minutes, it will try to do one or more of the following things:
  • Fall asleep.
  • Escape out of your own earholes using your ear hair as a rope.
  • Crazily distract you with absolutely anything else, like “OH MY GOD IS THAT PEN BLUE???”
Unfortunately, test cases are very important, so you have to find a way around this. The trick is to let your brain choose option A then set it on autopilot. You may experience some “missing time” using this method, but I believe some may find it to be a form of meditation if used properly. So what you want to do is to make the task as simple to follow as possible so that you don’t need your brain at all.*
The way I do this is by using the exact same format for every single test case I write. It goes something likes this:
Pages: [this part lists out the pages that you will have to mainly be looking at when following the test case]
Description: Verify that when [condition here – optional], [something else happens].
The description is usually a direct quote from the related requirement. Sometimes though, you will get a requirement that makes absolutely no sense at all – logically OR gramatically. I highlight these and leave them until last. No sense it waking my brain up prematurely, it tends to get angry if you do that.
* Okay so this is not strictly true, obviously you’ll need part of your brain, but it’s the part that is content to do tedious things. Everybody has this part of their brain, otherwise they’d get bored doing stuff like breathing and pumping blood through their systems when their brain goes “Man I’m sick of this, maybe I’ll start pumping blood THE OTHER WAY for a change today!” And then we’d all die.

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