Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Very Core of Testing

Testing is a subject about which people can argue all day. "Real testing follows the same steps every time." "Real testing let's testers follow their noses." "Real testing requires you to know the expected result first." "Real testing can't be done on a developer system." And so on and so on ad infinitum.

Other than the highly amusing use of the emphatic real testing, these arguments are in the end orthogonal to the problem they purport to solve. Arguing like this actually takes us away from the heart of what testing really is. In the end testing is simple.
  • Create a state in the system you're testing
  • Perform some action
  • Identify the resulting state of the system.
All the other arguments are about how we perform those steps, or what we do with the information we've gathered.

So let's stop arguing about whether something is testing, and start arguing about what we really can improve - how we're testing.

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