Orienteering for Software Testers – The Cunning Planner

What do you know about orienteering? If you are not familiar with the sport here is a Wikipedia definition for you: “Orienteering is a group of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain whilst moving at speed.” If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it! In this blog series I talk about orienteering from amateur’s point of view and link these observations to professional software testing.


The map above is from a local orienteering event in my hometown of Oulu, Finland. We discussed about the map in previous article. Now I’d like to draw your attention to the controls. They are marked with a circle and a number and there is a total of 19 of them. These controls form a course. A route from which the orienteer is expected to find all the controls in predetermined order and preferably as fast as possible.

The planner is the person who plans the courses. Controls are often put in places that are not the easiest to find. In addition, the order of the controls is thoroughly thought of to give the orienteer extra challenge. For example, the terrain between two controls might be difficult to advance and the direction you are closing in to a control does not help finding it.

Consider that these controls are the features that needs to be tested. Places you have to visit in the software during the testing session. In this context, are the controls challenging enough and in what order does the tester visit them? I am quite sure that often testers do not set additional challenges for themselves. Suddenly the planner is the tester’s best friend giving the tester the opportunity to cut corners.

Orienteering lesson 2: Testers need to form a challenging course for themselves. A friendly planner gets caught sooner or later.

Orienteering for Software Testers series:

  1. A Map Full of Nothing
  2. The Cunning Planner
  3. Are You a Racing Snake? 18.6.2018
  4. An Army of Donkeys 25.6.2018
  5. More Coverage from a Relay 2.7.2018
  6. Bulletin of a Champion 9.7.2018

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