July 25, 2007

Keys to Innovation

Posted by Ben Simo

Lee Copeland's CAST keynote address referenced in a previous post was not only about books. Good books was one of the items on Lee's list of eight recent innovations in software testing. Lee's complete list is shown below.

Innovations in Software Testing
(Lee Copeland's List)
  1. Context-Driven School
  2. Testing Specialties
  3. Test-First Development
  4. Really Good Books
  5. Open Source Tools
  6. Session-Based Test Management
  7. Testing Workshops
  8. Certification

I was glad to see most of the items on this list. I am especially happy to see the Context-Driven School and Session-Based Test Management on the list. I believe that these have had a significant impact on software testing and have great potential that has not yet been realized.

Tester certification may be an innovation but I don't think its impact has been good. In my opinion, the current certification options are bad. (There was a certification debate hosted by AST at CAST this year. Please take a look at Tim Coulter's review: AST Certification Debate.) Most of the certifications show nothing more than one's ability to pass a certification exam. And, many of the certifications are based on context-free and outdated views and techniques. I reviewed some ISTQB sample questions with a group of very smart testers and we could not identify a correct answer for many of the questions. We could, however, make a good guess at what we thought was expected by the exam writers. Matters of opinion and guessing at implied contexts should not be the basis for any exam. I think the following statement summarizes this concern quite well.

We don’t mind that some people hold (and teach) views or techniques that we consider antiquated. We do mind that in prep courses that teach you how to pass “objective” exams, there is no place for presentation of controversy or thoughtful analysis of the fundamentals.
- Cem Kaner and Tim Coulter

Now back to Innovations...

In typical CAST style, Lee asked the audience for things they thought he missed. The audience came up with the following additions. Yes, Model-Based Testing was mentioned twice -- followed by applause from Harry Robinson. :)

  1. Collaborative groups
  2. Model-Based Testing - specifically model-based automation
  3. Testers help define what is correct - testing is more than comparing dictated expected and actual results
  4. Model-Based Testing
  5. Fluidity - not freezing plans - recognizing the need to be adaptable
  6. Study of software development and testing history - learning from the past
  7. Toolsmithing
  8. Ethnomethodology - the study of common sense (guess who this came from)
  9. Test management as project management
  10. High volume semi-random test automation
  11. Academic research in testing techniques
  12. Prediction based on source code

What would you add to the innovations list?

What innovations do you think might be just over the horizon?


1 Comment:

July 29, 2007  
Shrini Kulkarni wrote:

I am currently discussion with James and Matthew Heusser about "modeling". In James' detailed reply to my question, I noticed that studying about Modeling, Philosphy, General systems thinking is imporant part of tester's study and education.

I belive, linking Testing to General systems thinking, philosphy is an inovation in itself.

How many of current and upcoming testers know that these are important for tester's education?

Do they realise what are they missing by not studying them?