BBST vs. RST

After my last blog entry I got a question from Martin about how the BBST Foundation course compares to James Bach’s Rapid Software Testing course. As Martin is probably my most faithful reader (I can prove that he has read my blog twice :-)) I will of course comply to his request as best I can.

ASTs BBST Foundation course is a basic introduction to black box testing. It introduces some basic concepts and approaches for testing. During the four weeks of the course the students view several video lectures, read a few papers or articles related to the topics discussed, and participate in group discussions to answer assignments given. During the course there are quizzes to help the student evaluate his or her understanding of the topics discussed, and there are separate forums for discussing or asking questions.
In the end there is an exam to be answered in essay form as opposed to multiple choice.
An important part of the course is that every student will review the answers both from the other groups and also the exam from two of their fellow students. These discussions and reviews makes for an excellent opportunity to learn about the topics discussed but also to gain insight about how people interpret things differently.
Due to these factors the “experienced” tester (or manager, or whatever) should not be discouraged from attending just because of the fact that it is a “foundations” course. And of course, it is a prerequisite for the later courses from AST.

The Rapid Software Testing course by James Bach , in the words of James himself, “…introduces you to rapid software testing, a complete testing methodology designed for a world of barely sufficient resources, information, and time.” Follow the link above for more details about Rapid Testing and the course itself.
My impression is that the exact content of the course will change somewhat depending on the students on that particular session. Topics are discussed and questions, or challenges, are not only welcome but encouraged. The result can be that matters that is more important to the students gets a more thorough treatment (I have only attended this once so I might of course be wrong about this). In addition to the lecturing and discussions there are a few well placed exercises and challenges to keep the audience on its toes.
While I’m sure any tester would benefit from this course, I’m sure James adjusts things on the fly to make the most of the time, my personal view would be that it is more of an advanced course and that you would be able to get more out of it if you have some real life experience to relate the discussion to.

Both courses emphasize the importance of critical thinking and the value of good communication. They are founded on the idea that testing is indeed a mental challenge and not some brain-dead zombie task. Your skills and knowledge are great assets, so build them and use them.

Now, Martins question was regarding how the two courses compare to each other. My take on this is that while the BBST Foundation course provide building blocks for test design and execution, the RST course provides more ideas and suggestions for how to make the most of your tools and building blocks in the action packed life as a tester.

8 Responses to BBST vs. RST

  1. Saam says:

    Hi Geir,
    This is very interesting. In your opinion is it better to attend the BBST course to meet new people (new perspectives, stories and ideas) or would it also be benficial to attend the course togheter with ones current collegues? What I am trying to ask is if you think this course is good also for group-study and not only for self-study.

    • Geir says:

      The opportunities to meet and discuss with new people is obviously a good thing with any course I think, and one disadvantage with sending all your people on the same course at the same time could certainly be missing out on this to some degree. That said, people are different and it can be a bit daunting for some to jump into unfamilar waters all by one self. I would for various reasons have preferred having someone I knew on the course with me, its always easier to discuss problems with someone you know. Also, I would imagine the instructors would be willing to put in the little extra effort to make sure you and your colleague was placed in different groups for the team assignments.

      So, basically; If you are considering having a group of testers attending this, I think I would send them two or three at the time. The classes are about 20 students for each course so that would not be filling the class with your guys.

      Also, the course can take quite some time so if you have something like ten testers on your team and send them all, don’t count on them working much long nights that month 🙂

  2. Saam says:

    Thank you Geir for a thorough answer!

  3. Good thoughts.

    Why do you go to a course? Why did someone book a course that you needed to go to?

    In some cases it might be that you wanted to shake the testers from the current believes, so that they question where they stand. After that you might consider:
    http://thetesteye.com/blog/2010/04/where-are-you-going-with-testing/

    If you are satisfied with where you are and are content with everything you know… it is hard to get moving. I think James does this in an excellent way with RST.

    I was already on the move after reading Cem Kaners Ongoing Revolution of Software testing many year earlier.

    I’ve gone to several testing courses, where just a few actually gave me anything. I would like to go to the BBST courses. They seem to focus on good things.

    • Geir says:

      Thanks Martin, and sorry for the late response.

      Questioning, or at least thinking about, the reasons for your choices is certainly a good thing to do, not only in testing.

      As Saam comments to that post you link to it is easy to be driven (or even easier to be limited) by where you come from and what you already know or do. In order to grow and develop yourself and/or your team it is quite necessary to be open to new (at least to you) ideas and information about how things can be done. I think growth in general need some external influences to get started, and benefits from the occational kick in the butt to keep going.

  4. Joe says:

    Thanks for bring this topic and did the comparison for BBST vs. RST. This makes me clear now.

    • Geir says:

      Hi Joe, thanks for the comment.
      I’m glad you found the post helpful, and good luck if you are starting the BBST series of courses. They are really good.

  5. It is very human NOT wanting to break what you have just built so I do think you need testers that do good manual exploratory testing.

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