The last couple of days have been quite tough, as I had to read a lot of stuff on blogs, discussion groups and websites. But all for good! I have consolidated the views from different experts in three categories – Views in Favour, Views Against and the views which I found to be neutral in nature. For my previous posts on Schools of Testing, you can check the posts under the Schools of Testing Category.

Let’s get started.
Cem Kaner in his blog says -“I think this division helps me interpret some of what I read in articles and what I hear at conferences. I think it helps me explain–or at least rationally characterize–differences to people who I’m coaching or training, who are just becoming conscious of the professional-level discussions in the field.”

He relates a story of his friend, who was not in favour of the concept and carried out a survey. Talking about that survey he recollects,”…what I saw in the summary of results given to me looked consistent with what I’ve been seeing in the field for 23 years–we have basic, fundamental, foundational disagreements about the nature of testing, how to do it, what it means to test, who our clients are, what our professional responsibilities are, what educational qualifications are appropriate, how to research the product, how to identify failure, how to report failure, what the value of regression testing is, how to assess the value of a test, etc., etc.”.

He gives another essential insight – “We have a vast literature. There are over 1000 theses and dissertations in the field. There are conferences, magazines, journals, lots of books, and new links (e.g. TDD) with areas of work previously considered separate. It’s not possible to work through that much material without imposing simplifying structures. The four-schools (I prefer five-schools) approach provides one useful structure.”

Ainars Galvans in his response to the above post, on Cem Kaner’s blog, says,”I would like stress out that there is other benefits in agreeing of the “schools” notion besides helping communicate leaders and boost the community progress (for example doing one-school-conferences).”

Talking about the additional benefit, he says, “So when you are on either side in hiring process (hiring a new tester, applying a new job or changing projects) – one of the key factors are to make sure employee vision of testing fits the project or he is willing to change it. And never be upset if you are not hired although you are an expert tester – maybe the project simply needs different school proponent.”
Jonathan Kohl in his blog, while talking about TDD as the fifth school acknowledges the Schools concept as “This breaking down of popular testing ideas into schools is a thought-provoking concept, and just reading his presentation notes should get testers thinking about what they do on projects.”.

Further in the post he puts forward a question and the answer follows – “Is it helpful to make distinctions of testing schools like this? Here is one area where it certainly helps: when communicating testing concepts. When a word can mean different things depending on how a practitioner defines their role, it helps to understand where they are coming from.”
James Bach in his interview, while insisting on the idea of schools of testing, specifically for the context-driven school, he says “In the far future (30 years or so) I believe the values of context-driven testing will supplant the other schools of testing and be recognized as simply “skilled testing.” The context-driven label will become unnecessary, because educated testers will consider it obviously true that context dominates practice.”

He is quite clear in his words, when he says,”For me, the concept of the schools is about community, primarily, not ideas. We don’t need the schools concept at all to develop the ideas. We need it for community. Therefore, membership is important to me. I invest my time and effort in people who are part of my community, and not in people who live by other values.” This statement was made in the context of a member of software-testing yahoo group, asking as to why the group is confined to context-driven approach. Building testing communities and conducting workshops which are focused on a particular school of testing, in the benefit of the attendees, has been one of the key statements of the proponents of the concept. It can be found in various forms, stated at several places on the web.

Bret Pettichord in his presentation cites the reasons for classification of testing ideas into schools as –
” * Understand why testing experts disagree
* Improve the basis for debate”, and then puts in italics “But it can also be used to dismiss ideas you don’t agree with.”

Shrini Kulkarni in his comments for Bj Rollison’s post says, “Here are my thoughts on your stand on “schools of Testing”

1. Being a Big fan or aligned to a particular school does not appear to be a matter of choice. Depending upon your Testing philosophy, Object of testing, approach to Testing – you will *automatically* and *implicitly* identify yourself with one of these schools of testing. You need not have to explicitly proclaim that fact.

2. Here is a deal- you describe a testing practice, a testing philosophy or a test professional, with a great degree of certainty, I (like many others in context driven school) will be able to identify the person, testing approach and philosophy to be one of these four schools.

3. There is nothing wrong or objectionable to be labeled to be a thinker or proponent of a school of testing. You are a *professional Tester and have a philosophy hence belong to a school. What is wrong here? Pragmatic submission to a school of testing helps one to identify the strengths and weakness of the school.

4. I would say, identifying oneself to a school of testing (it is OK to come up with your own school, if you feel you need a school of your own) is a “community responsibility” of a *professional* tester.”

Shrini further points out that – “What is wrong with “us versus them” debate? It is important to understand, recognize the differences, strengths and weaknesses of testing philosophies as exemplified by the schools of testing. Please do not confuse this debate with general Dev-Test or any other collaboration related issue. Here the debate is over values and philosophy of Testing – it is good to have such debate so that testing discipline as a whole gains.”
In a discussion in the software-testing yahoo group, Shrini Kulkarni, while talking about people who do not like the schools concept, says –

1. When people accept their “membership” to schools like Factory/Quality school – they feel uncomfortable about the emptiness or hollowness of their school of testing in comparison to others. They feel “exposed”.
2. I have not heard anyone saying “assertively” – “I believe in Factory school or Quality school” … The best they do is “refute” and reject the concept of schools of testing.
3. People who say that “they would like to pick the best of each school” are kind of “fence sitters” and the ones who are most confused. They don’t know whether to accept or reject the notion of schools in testing… Unfortunately or fortunately huge chunk of people are in this group.

Cem Kaner adds to the above thought and says, “I think the reason the concepts of the schools has been harshly received is that many of the leading consultants in the field want to sell themselves as all things to all people and absolutely do now want to be pinned down. Characterizing their work in any way that might interfere with their broad marketing is unwelcome.”

These were the strongest statements in favour of schools of testing, which I could find on the web. These in no way encompass all dimensions of the concept and its benefits. I segregated these based on the level to which these statements could convince me. In other words, if tomorrow, I say, I am for the concept of schools of testing, then these statements will be one of the governing factors.

In the next post, I will consolidate the views of the experts against the concept of Schools of Testing.

Rahul Verma

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