Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is Testing Dead? Dunno, but the Context-Driven School Is

Well, I'm sure this is a bit of a shocker for many of you, but the following quote comes from the "about page" of context-driven-testing.com hosted by Cem Kaner:

"...However, over the past 11 years, the founders have gone our separate ways. We have developed distinctly different visions. If there ever was one context-driven school, there is not one now..."
This is Part I of a series of entries on this topic. Links to subsequent parts will be added to the bottom of this entry as they are posted.

Of course, this doesn't  negate or erase the Context-Driven Principles, and Cem has committed to keeping the original content on landing page of the revised site:
"...When you land on this site, you see the context-driven-testing.com landing page (the Principles) as it was when we originally published it. I’ll keep it that way (with the same set of Principles), because several people have found it useful..."
To my way of thinking, the *most* important point made by Cem on the About Page is the following:
..."This notion of evolution comes with a built-in assumption: If my thinking will evolve to something else in the future, it must be wrong today. Progress on my path to better understanding and practice of testing (and of anything else that I’m serious about) includes discovering what needs to be changed in my thinking, and changing it.
This is an important aspect of science. We don’t run experiments to confirm what we already know. We run experiments to prove that what we think we already know is wrong. And to help us develop something better..."
This is the point I'd like folks to focus on.
Context-Driven thinking and approaches are not going away & they have served many of us well. Naming them has also caused some interesting, many unfortunate, and some downright detrimental effects on what I like to call "TesterLand". As my regular readers are aware, I've self-identified as Context-Driven almost since I first heard the term -- not just when it comes to testing, but as a description of my approach to life in general. That is true whether or not there is an official School, whether it's popular, or whether helps or hinders my reputation.

When it comes to TesterLand, the question is... what comes next? Does a new school form? Do folks collaborate or compete for the new rallying cry? I have my own thoughts that I'll share in a subsequent post, but for now, I invite you to ponder this and decide what it means to you.

 Part II: With the Context-Driven School "closed" what's next?
Scott Barber
Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
Director, Computer Measurement Group

Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Author, Web Load Testing for Dummies
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, and How To Reduce the Cost of Testing

"If you can see it in your mind...
     you will find it in your life."


Simon Morley said...


On the point about evolution - my understanding of evolution (by natural selection, in species and also the way I apply it in my work) is that modifications (mutations) and changes are tried - the ones that are successful are kept. Less successful ones are discarded (or not selected).

This doesn't build on the assumption that if I improve what I am/was doing must be wrong - it might be quite good for that context.

Need to digest this some more...

Robert Sabourin said...

Thank you Scott

Context driven is one thing but Testing schools are a very different notion ... Why generalize.



Jason Strobush said...

At first, reading just this blog post and the selected quotes, I found myself wondering.. "
I'm not sure if I entirely understand -- how can a entire school of thought die?" .. but then, following the source link, I see that Cem has done exactly what I would have expected -- in his own words -- Controversy good. Polarization bad.

Some days, it feels that we're ignoring the context.. that it's much more important to be "Context Driven" than it is to be aware of the context.

It's good to see this spur discussion. Complacency is the death of new ideas.

stefan said...

It is natural that people with great careers and minds go on separate paths. Their work remains a piece of art. It's like a great rock song that lives long after the band had split.

I have recently read "Lessons Learned in Software Testing" and it still is the best.
It made some physical changes in my head. I have suffered a brain mutation while reading it.
This happened to me also when I read the work of Aristotle.
But not many other books had this effect on me.

P.S. Aristotle's work is still valid today, that is 2300 years after his death. Let's see how long the context-driven ideas will last.

Mark Crowther said...

I think the whole Context Driven experiment, movement, school... has been (remains) a major milestone in the maturation of our profession.

Like you Scott, I immediately identified with what I understood it to be about. Like all things, it was refined and further described, practiced and made more robust.

Not sure it'll be there in 2k+ years Stefan but right now I think it gives us an alternate path to teaching the testing basics in terms of an alternative to sequential/prescriptive. Though I don't think that is going away any time soon either, there's benefit in those 'fundamentals' too.

I see the Context Driven > Test is Dead discussions as a emerging next phase of our growth.