Those who know the history of The Social Tester will know there are two reasons for choosing the “Social” alias.
One: I like to socialise. Two: I’m a fanboy of social media.
So here’s the first in a series of posts about how we can use social media tools in our testing world. This post is about social bookmarking and website tagging. It may seem miles away from your testing world but the fact you are reading this is evidence you use the web. Many people test on webapps – how do they manage their websites? What about all of those reference lists, solutions to problems, cheat sheets, blogs, learning source? Saved in your browsers bookmarks? Shared with the community?
For this post I’m going to explain how using a Social Bookmark like Delicious could really help your organisation of bookmarks but also help you share them.
Social Bookmarking is a way of “tagging” (Tagging is a system of classification, often referred to as Folksonomy) content and sharing it with others. Delicious lets you tag web pages and keep them private too, but generally the idea is to mark content and share it with others via rss feeds or the Delicious main page.
I did the same thing with my accessibility links on a previous post here: http://thesocialtester.posterous.com/accessibility-testing-and-ownership At the end of the article I included a link to my Delicious bookmarks as a way of sharing the content I’ve found. If people have already gone to the trouble of searching out information on specific testing topics then it’s nice to share that with others.
If you check out the Software Testing Club homepage there’s a little section at the bottom right which aggregates all Delicious content tagged with the tag : softwaretestingclub. So this is other users, like myself, who find something we think might be interesting to the Software Testing Club audience and we tag it with “softwaretestingclub” – it then shows in the feed.
But how else is it useful for me?
Well, every day I find new information that I might not want to digest there and then. I also find stuff that is essential for my learning or stuff that I use as a quick reference. So I tag it and I can quickly find that new information at a later date.. fast.
But why not print it out or save it as a Standard Bookmark?
I still use standard browser based bookmarking for my work links and every day browsing links. I use browser “sync” tools to sync these bookmarks between machines. But I find it gets overwhelming to manage when I add lots of webpages. I often used to find myself in a dilema over which sub folder to include the link in. Is it an agile link? Or a testing link?
I also used to spend hours sorting through them and re-organising them so they made sense. I could still spend minutes trying to find the right link. Delicious means I actually now don’t care about structure of bookmarks. I just tag something. It also takes seconds to find the link (assuming you can find the right tag)
I also used to print out cheat sheets and reference lists but I felt guilty about killing so many trees and as is always the case, I could guarantee that when I needed the sheet of paper I was either not at my desk or I simply couldn’t find it.
It seems that more and more of my life is moving online so why not embrace the tools to make it easier to manage this process?
So how do I get started?
Simple. Head over to Delicious and sign up.
How do you access your Bookmarks?
It’s a simple no brainer for me. I use Firefox web browser for my everyday surfing so I use the very excellent Delicious plug in. But I could just use the Delicious website. Other browsers like Chrome and Opera also have Delicious plugins/addons. Best way to see if it works for you is the trial and error approach. I was lucky, the Firefox one just worked nicely first time.
Can you give me an example of how to use it?
Sure. The example here is using the Firefox add-on. The example assumes that you have added the two toolbar links to the browser (one is Tag and one is Bookmark). As shown here:
The example also assumes you are signed in to Delicious. The techniques shown here are pretty much the same no matter which plug-in and add-on you use.
Let’s choose a topic of learning. How about….Exploratory Testing? I want to find out more about Exploratory Testing, so I’m going to do some searching and then social bookmark each resource for future reference.
First I search for Exploratory Testing using Google.
First of all I’ll check out wikipedia. So I open it in a new browser tab. Seems interesting. Seems these people called James Bach and Cem Kaner are responsible for much of what’s happening in the world of Exploratory Testing. Interesting article with loads of links in it.
I’ll open in a new tab a few of the links:
- Session Based Testing
- An external link “James Bach, Exploratory Testing Explained”
I’m also now intrigued in James Bach and Cem Kaner so I’ll google them and open their home pages.
Excellent. Back to my original Google search. I’m now going to open the following return:
NOTE: your return results may differ depending on country searches etc.
I’ve now got 6 tabs open.
At this point it’s time to bookmark them for future reference. So here’s how to do it using delicious.
First page would be the original wikipedia Exploratory Testing Page. When the page is open either hit the “tag” button on the browser toolbar or use the shortcut combination of CTRL+D.
This pops open the following dialogue:
- Number 1 – This is the URL of the webpage you are bookmarking
- Number 2 – This is the page title (you can change this if you like)
- Number 3 – These are the tags you are giving the page. Use whatever comes to mind and use as many as possible. It means searching for it later is easier and more effective. Any tags you have used before will appear in the drop down as you type.
- Number 4 – This is the checkbox for keeping this bookmark private. Check this box and it will not appear on your public bookmark list.
- Number 5 – This is who you are signed in as
Then hit the save button.
I went through the remaining pages and gave them all suitable tags. Out of the tags I gave them they all shared the following three tags in common:
After closing all open tabs I then hit the “bookmark” icon on the firefox toolbar or use the shortcut combination of CTRL+B. It opens the following dialogue:
- Number 1 – This is the search box for entering keywords that may match your tags. It also searches on keywords in the title and description too – which is super useful.
- Number 2 – This is the tag sort list. You can sort this list in a number of ways
- Number 3 – This is the actual tag list. Clicking on a tag in here will show all pages that match it
- Number 4 – This is the list of all matches. So when you select a tag it will show all pages that match it. If you do not select any then it will show all.
- Number 5 – This is the sort filter for the webpages
As soon as you start typing in to the search box the tag list will start filtering.
Right clicking on a tag gives you the option of opening all of the matching pages in tabs.
Right clicking on a webpage result gives you a variety of options.
Clicking on any one of the matches will open the page in the currently selected tab.
In our example we used the three tags Testing, Exploratory and blogsample
- Number 1 – This is the tag testing
- Number 2 – The tags that match the word testing and the subsequent highlighting of the exact tag of “testing”
- Number 3 – The list of pages that match. As this is my real account there are already a number of pages that match. The keen eyed amongst you may have noticed that James Bach’s homepage is not in the list of matching pages. This is because I had already bookmarked this page a few years back and so it already had the tag.
Next one: Exploratory
Next one: blogsample
So now we have all of the pages we tagged showing in the delicious side bar within the browser. Type the word > Find the tag > Click the link > Web page opens. As easy as that.
What shows on Delicious?
If we now go to the Delicious home page and log in I can now see all of my tags on the web:
- Number 1 – Tag search box
- Number 2 – Pages that I’ve bookmarked
- Number 3 – The tags applied to each bookmark
- Number 4 – The controls for adding new bookmarks and editing existing ones
- Number 5 – My top ten tags (notice the tag “bookmarks”. This is because Delicious very cleverly bookmarks ALL of your existing browser bookmarks. Best to go through afterwards and delete any you don’t want public)
- Number 6 – The expansion box for opening all tags
So all of our tags are now on Delicious and all of the pages that match the tag are available for all to use. We now just need to share that tag url (http://delicious.com/maximumbobuk/blogsample) and let people see what we’ve found (unless it’s marked as private). Or alternatively just tag everything with softwaretestingclub and go to the Software Testing Club homepage to get your testing feeds. 🙂
Why do it this way?
The next time I quickly need to get the Robot Framework user guide I can type in robot and I’m there : http://code.google.com/p/robotframework/wiki/UserGuide
Or I might want a good laugh and re-read QAHatesYou’s improvisational agile. I’ll just type hate and I’m there : http://qahatesyou.com/wordpress/2009/02/you-want-good-improvisational-agile-training/
Or I may want to find out more about Dark Metrics and how to lie with them, so I type Dark and I’m there : http://www.softwarequalitymethods.com/Papers/DarkMets%20Paper.pdf
How about using the standard Python libraries with Sharp Develop and Iron Python. Type python and I’m there : http://community.sharpdevelop.net/blogs/mattward/archive/2009/03/01/UsingPythonStandardLibrary.aspx
You get the idea. I’ve gone from bookmarks in the browser which got messy, to searching using keywords which just made my whole learning and web content bookmarking a whole lot easier.
I’m not saying this will work for you, maybe give it a go and see. And as usual. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on.