Testing is

Reflections from TestBash Brighton - Testing is?

For my talk at TestBash Brighton Essentials (see ref below for slides and more) one of the things I covered was what I believe testing is. Over the last 6-months or so I have been mentoring a new tester on their journey and to start that journey, I had to explain what testing is.

There are a many, many attempts to explain testing and I even referenced one of my favourite descriptions in my presentation.

Testing is the infinite process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous so as to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous.

James Bach

Over time, the more I looked at how different people went to great lengths to explain the craft, the techniques, the mind set and from other perspectives. I though, there must be a simpler way of beginning the conversation as it is my opinion that when trying to explain what ‘testing is…’ we do ourselves a disservice and answer instead, ‘what testers do…’ or a close variation.

My belief is when we do this, we confuse ourselves and others and we would really help our craft and each other if we simply said;

Testing is part of risk mitigation for the product or system.

Now I know that might sound overly simplistic when we are sometimes put in the position of defending our profession and craft. But, we should follow up with;

And we do that by…

This way, when we talk about critical thinking, observation, problem identification and solving; explain why automation helps but isn’t a solution in of itself; offer advice about bias, empathy and inclusion; offer opinions on observability and testability and ask unexpected questions from the, ‘but that would never happen’ category, there would be a clear concept that all these things help us identify and reduce risk for the product or system we are helping develop.

I would be really happy to hear others opinions on this way of thinking. Please let me know in the comments or follow up on Twitter @CricketRulz




Talk link to be added later, may be Pro or attendees only, to be confirmed