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About the bright future of testing and the value of conferences

  • 24/10/2011
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

Attending a high-quality test conference now and then is worthwhile! I recently read a discussion on Twitter and the EuroSTAR blog about reasons to attend to conferences. The reasons to go to a conference are, in my opinion, to learn more about testing, get new ideas and make you think about your own work. Considering this, there is one old EuroSTAR presentation that really made me think; ‘The two futures of software testing’, by Michael Bolton in 2008 in The Hague. First I was very enthusiastic about the Michael Bolton’s message, later I realized it’s not as easy as Michael Bolton puts it (or: says it is).

First: what was the essence of Michael’s presentation? He showed us two different futures of software testing: the dark future and the bright future. In the dark future we stick to our plans and processes, we favor standardization – we need to have all information upfront before we start and we lack flexibility. In the bright future results are more important than planning, we accept that clients run the project, we are open to new ideas and approaches and we are very flexible. The best part of the presentation is Michael saying: “the worst thing about the dark future is: it’s so much like today”. Michael really made me think here. Do I really contribute to the organizational and project goals with a certain activity? Am I really open to change?

Do I totally agree with Michael Bolton? No! In one part of the presentation Michael starts picking on making test plans and test cases upfront. He said something like: ‘When I take a plane, it doesn’t have flight cases! When someone goes to school there are no learn cases. So why do we make test cases upfront?’ Then he starts an impassioned plea for exploratory testing. At first I thought: he is right! Why make exhaustive test cases upfront, when we know the test basis isn’t complete and things will change? Later I thought: wait a minute, when I take a plane there is a flight plan containing detailed actions, when my daughter goes to school there is a learning plan containing detailed actions. So why not make a test plan with detailed actions upfront? I agree with Michael about not sticking to a plan no matter what. We should be flexible and project success is more important than following a plan! But with a plan and a set of test cases (that both should not be too detailed) we can estimate the impact of changes and react properly to those changes.

So, I agree with Michael Bolton for 95%. But that’s not the point I want to make here. The point I want to make is that Michael’s presentation during the test conference made me think about the way I do my work. And that made visiting this conference more than worthwhile. Thanks Michael! I hope to make your visit to my presentation ‘Tester, get out of your cave’ on Wednesday 23th of November just as worthwhile!

P.S. Michael: can I invite you to come to my presentation and give your opinion afterwards?

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