A recent Tweet about the BugBuster product again made me realise what a long journey we have as a community to educate the wider populous about what “testing” actually is (and is not).
The BugBuster website, for example, says this on its “Features” page:
Who said testing meant writing and endlessly maintaining test cases? BugBuster runs smart software agents that explore and test your website automatically. That’s right, no need to write test cases! The agents … test the various elements of the web app as if it was done by a human being.
The emphasis on the tool doing the same thing as humans is such a common perception of what testing can be reduced to, the “checking”* mentality is everywhere. I have no issues with using tools to help with testing, with automation to perform mundane checking, to help speed up development (not testing). But I do take issue with the idea that testing is dehumanizable.
They raise a good question here: “who said testing meant writing and endlessly maintaining test cases?” I spent too long thinking this was my job too and it’s almost unbelievable to look back at that time and think that I was adding any value to anything. The realization that testing really isn’t this but is in fact intellectually challenging and can add incredible value to the process of delivering great software for our users took me too long to reach, but at least I got there (thanks to Michael Bolton and the life changing experience that was his Rapid Software Testing course back in 2007).
How do we help others in this industry come to the same realization when they are bombarded with messages that dehumanize what “testing” really is? The context-driven testing community is full of great thinkers and their ideas about how to do great testing, but how do we in that community get our message across to the masses? While we do already have organizations like AST and ISST flying the CDT flag, what else can we do to broaden the wider community’s knowledge of what “testing” really is?
* Want to know more about the “Testing vs. checking” distinction? Start here with this Michael Bolton blog post.