Lost In San-Francisco Depot

Posted by Albert Gareev on Nov 17, 2015 | Categories: HeuristicsWTAmericasWTToronto


We held a joint Weekend Testing Americas / Weekend Testing Toronto event last Saturday.
Great session, high attendance, intense engagement!
Our theme was guided structured product exploration. We used SFDIPOT set of heuristics in the context of a free web based game.

What is “SFDIPOT” or “San-Francisco Depot”? It’s a mnemonic standing for Structure-Functions-Data-Interfaces-Platform-Operations-Time; developed and taught by James Bach and Michael Bolton in Rapid Software Testing workshop.

If you’re not familiar with all this, you might be a bit overwhelmed by now.

Probably, you feel a little..


So were our participants. And this is what I want to blog about.

Confusion is good.

It’s a heuristic. A reminder to pause and do a bit of learning.
We get confused – when our mind is trying to make sense of the new information. It’s trying to connect it with the existing body of knowledge.
Let it do the job. Help it to do the job.

Testing is learning. Learning about the product, among other things.

To learn, one has to admit that something’s been unknown.

Unfortunately, many people have a hard time admitting that they don’t know something.

It might be rooted in a school guilt. I admit I had it for a while.

It might be a lack of humility, as Michael Bolton says (quote: “[..] testers cannot know the deep truth about any observation or test result [..] Any program that looks like it’s working may in fact be failing in some way [..] To defend against that, you must proceed with humility and critical thinking.”).

It might be a question of awareness, though. In fact, someone asked this question exactly.

Aren’t these things go unsaid and being thought of anyway?

Why yes, I’d agree. To some extent, if it catches our attention, if our awareness is not bounded, and we manage to remember it, some of these things may “go” in. And, maybe, consciously or unconsciously, testers will evaluate their observations asking – “is there a problem?”. Though it feels like we’re relying on a chance a little too much..

We may observe information in more or less organized way.
We may process information in more or less organized way.

If we’re on the path of the professional craft though, I’d argue that we must learn to do it in a skilled and structured way.

Heuristics (like SFDIPOT) give the guiding structure. We must practice and learn to apply it skillfully. Don’t get lost or discouraged. Confusion is a part of learning.


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work by Albert Gareev is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.