This Testing Thing

A recurring question in discussions, tests, books, interviews, and blogs is “How would you test this?”.

But two questions of perhaps equal importance is “why would you test this?”, and “what do you actually mean by test”?

In order to give a meaningful answer to any of the three questions I think it would be useful to reverse the order of how they just appeared in the intro to this post:

* Only if we have a somewhat congruent idea about what we mean when we talk about testing can we hope to come to some useful agreement as to why we would want to spend our scarce resources on doing this “testing” thing.

* Only when knowing why we want to test (and thus what information we are interested in) can we make good and valuable decisions about how we would test something.

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking over the summer but not not a lot of writing. I’m trying to correct that now… be warned.

7 thoughts on “This Testing Thing

  1. Then this is an interesting start, Geir, it is all about the “why” question: no risk no test for example and if you know the why, then you need to have to knowledge, attitude and skills to see how you mitigate the risk and testing is one of the possibilities. Then you have to agree on the question; what is testing?. Looking forward to see how you go in your ‘quest’

    1. I have to think about this a bit but it seems like a great point. Agreeing on what “this” actually is and what it entails is necessary in order to avoid shallow agreements about the scope of work.
      Thanks for making me think more.

  2. “what do you actually mean by test”? So what is your suggestion how we can find out if my understanding matches your understanding of what is test?

    1. The short answer; be aware and recognise that people may have different understanding or opinions about what testing might constitute. Then, communicate, talk, ask, discuss; e.g. “you say you want me to test this for you. I assume you mean “X”, does that cover what you are looking for?”
      Bolton and Bach’s “Testing and Checking Refined” ( may provide some ideas about the different components of testing people choose to focus on.

      The longer answer consists of the follow up blogpost that I still intend to write one day. I just got a bit caught up in joining the ranks of the employed again shortly after writing this one 🙂

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