"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Using "testing" || Abusing "testing"

As you have started to read this post, before you continue further, I'd like you to listen to a podcast - The Word Test . If you are skipping the podcast, it's OK but it might be a good idea to not skip.

Also, don't read this post while you are mid way listening to the podcast, it's more bad than not listening to it.

One of my student who works for a leading IT services provider from India, asked a question to testers in the organization he works for - "Is it good to stop testing after a couple of years of experience or after promoted to a lead or a manager?" [ My intention of this post is not to answer this question that my student asked but ... ]

There were responses like:

One need not do hands-on testing all through his/her career.
When you test all by yourself, you are adding a value of say 'X' to your project. When you manage say 5 Testers, you are letting your skills, knowledge and experience on Testing percolate to 5 other members and you would be adding a value of 5 times X to your project.


Whatever you have said is ok for a resource working in a team which uses tools for testing. For someone who is into manual testing where is the career growth? For those wouldn't management be a blessing to be grabbed with both hands?


You cant be a tester for all your life. Same is the case with development. You need to manage things at one point in time. But when and where, you need to decide yourself......


more such.

All of these people ( including my student ) and maybe testers who are sitting nearby your cubicles while you read this mean "testing" as test execution. [ You wouldn't be surprised at this, had you listened to the podcast ]

Here is my question to those people: If testing means test execution, under what category does - test planning, test data collection, finding bugs, reporting bugs, triaging bugs, test set up, test bed creation, test documentation, thinking of test techniques, exploring, investigating bugs, reviewing test results, test reporting, modeling, diversifying test approaches, etc... fit in?

Well, when the word testing could mean so many things, why are most of us thinking only about test execution when someone uses the word "testing". This makes me question, how many people who claim to be testers really know little about testing that is enough to communicate with people without such ambiguity?

A lot of testers' only thinking is -- every thing in this field is defined pretty well and no need to think beyond it. A definition, in my opinion, should be viewed as a help for a human to think further on it and not in stopping to think beyond what it states.

In another context, if you ask them what "testing" means, they'd love to share their own impractical definitions like:

"Testing is a process of making a product bug free" OR "Testing is a systematic approach towards delivering a quality product" OR "Testing is about following quality processes to ensure bugs don't leak to customer"
and more such stupid stuff !

That's an evidence that the word "testing" itself is context sensitively used by the whole world out of which most of them might disagree with the context driven testing community about their approach. Funny world!

Ben Simo, in a recent conversation, helped me become conscious of the fact that the word "test" is both a noun and a verb; and that one feeds the other.

If one doesn't know what "testing" means, how will they ever know when they are stopping to do it?

If you think you have benefited by this post, here is a "test" you might want to take:
  • What would you say, when you want to communicate that you are doing test execution?
  • What would you say, when you want to communicate that you are stopping to execute tests?
  • What word would you use instead of "testing" to communicate any specific activity that you do as a part of testing?
  • When someone uses the word "testing", what would you want to ask them?
  • When someone says "test", would you be curious to know if it is a verb or a noun?
  • What would you want to know if someone said, "I want to do testing"?
  • Would you be interested to pass this learning to someone with whom you have been communicating on "testing"?
If you think you haven't been benefited by this post, here are things you could do:
  • Read it once again ;-)
  • Listen to the podcast, if you have missed it ;-)
  • And then exit. It's just not worth one more glance, for today.
As testers we use the word "testing" so many times in our life without ever (knowing) wanting to know if we abused it, too. I have done it, too. There is nothing wrong in abusing the word "testing" as long as you don't know that it means a lot by itself and in different contexts.

Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - +91-98451-76817 - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com

"The test doesn't find the bug. A human finds the bug, and the test plays a role in helping the human find it." --