Talk About Quality

Tom Harris

Don’t Call it Testing

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Recently I went to a workshop on Exploratory Testing given by John Stevenson. Just as exploratory testing finds the unexpected, so I learned something unexpected. Every time John used the word “testing”, he meant it as (re)defined in Michael Bolton’s Testing vs. Checking. It’s a powerful redefinition, and simpler to say than what I’ve always meant by “adversarial testing”. Here’s how the redefinition works:

  1. Notice that many tests don’t find defects
  2. Decide we need a new definition for the word “test”
  3. But the current definition is useful, so move it to the word “check”
  4. Now the word “test” is open for redefinition
  5. Define “test” as in Testing vs. Checking

Quick summary of new and useful definition:

Let  “test” mean an exercise of the software under test that helps a thinking tester answer the question, “Is there a problem here?”

Written by Tom Harris

November 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

Posted in Testing

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