Spec Workshops, Collaboration, and Test Writing

I’ve found myself in a position lately of having to explain a lot of concepts that are “obvious” to me. I found myself getting frustrated but then I considered my own words regarding the “obvious” nature of Quality Assurance and I realized that maybe I wasn’t establishing the context of what I was talking about. So I took step back and I started to look at whether many of the testers I work with and meet these days are aware of, much less practice, the idea of requirements being tests; of acceptance test specifications that drive development; of specification workshops. As it turned out, no, most testers were not practicing these concepts and many were not even aware of them as a shift in the dynamic of how testing can be done.

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Specifying Application Workflow Activities

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of specifications and by that I mean test specifications. And by that I mean the specifications you tend to write in tools like Cucumber, SpecFlow, Lettuce and so on. What’s been interesting is deciding at what level of intent to write at.

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Tests as Specifications

In Testing’s Brave New World, I ended up talking about BDD and the concepts that testing, acting as a design activity, has to work within. That was a post fairly heavy on nomenclature concerns. I sort of skirted around the issue that it’s the tools we use in our BDD type activities that are often forcing us to consider this terminology. Even if you are not using a specific tool, but rather a technique like spec workshops — which is a “BDD activity” — you are still wrestling with these terms.

So let’s put this in some context.

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