I want testers to stop trying to “solve” the problems they’ve allegedly been trying to solve for decades now. I want testers to start looking at testing as a discipline that has a broad-focus, wide-angle lens. I want testing to start solving the real problems, including the ones that it has painted itself into. I want testing to get out of the reductionist and into the ecological. Let’s talk about this a bit.
In our testing industry we’ve borrowed ideas from the physics realm to provide ourselves some glib phrases. For example, you’ll hear about “Schrödinger tests” and “Heisenbugs.” It’s all in good fun but, in fact, the way that physics developed over time certainly has a great deal of corollaries with our testing discipline. I already wasted people’s precious time talking about what particle physics can teach us about testing. But now I’m going to double down on that, broaden the scope a bit, and look at a wider swath of physics.
It has been and continues to be my contention that many test and quality assurance interviews these days are handled terribly. I have seen, and participated in, interviews where candidates were barely tested for the wider aspects of how they think and approach problems at a human-focused level. Instead the focus is almost entirely about how they think and approach at the code level. So let’s talk about that.
In a previous post on test dogma and tradition, I talked about the famous “test pyramid” as an example of what people cling to as means of explanation. My concern there was that people often run too far with this or draw the wrong conclusions from it. Let’s look at a particular example of that.
In the United States we are currently going through one of our normal rounds of political craziness as we move towards a new election. This is not a political blog and I don’t want to add to the crazy. Thus this post will not discuss current political viewpoints, whether for or against, and will have nothing to do with current candidates. Rather this post will discuss one specific aspect of politics that has a historical context that relates to how our testing industry has evolved and continues to evolve.
As many automation engineers know, we’ve been dealing with Marionette, the successor to the Firefox Selenium driver, for some time now. We’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, I’m finding a lot of teams are still struggling with what all of this means. Here I’ll talk real briefly.
Awhile back I talked about what makes testing complicated. To be honest, that post is embarrassingly written as I look back on it. That said, I think there is some value in what it says. But to show how my thinking has refined, as well as become a bit more operational, let’s piggy-back on my previous “code as specification” posts and look at why testing is challenging.
This post follows on from my code is a specification. I highly recommend reading that post to get the context because here I’m going to add a bit to the sample code from that post. This is being done to illustrate the idea of test code and production code working together to act as an executable specification. Here I’m going to focus a bit on how this has relevance to the business as well.
Early on I talked about business needs becoming specs that become code. More recently, in my modern testing posts, I talked about the idea of production code being the specification of behavior. I wasn’t necessarily very descriptive in all of that, however. Let’s see if I can do better here.
It’s become tradition — with a bit of dogma — to point to triangles and quadrants to “explain” things about testing and development. A good case in point is presented in the article Agile Testing Automation. My goal is not to critique the article but rather to use it to highlight what I see as some of the problem. So let’s subject tradition to some rational inquiry and let’s subject dogma to a bit of scrutiny.