Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Testing 2.0

Andrew Johnston [spelling corrected] is looking for best practices in test automation (dodgy permalink).
"I am looking for one of my clients into how costs can be reduced, or quality increased, by increasing the extent to which testing is automated."
Jonathan Kohl thinks he has the answer: Software Testing 2.0.
"The Context-Driven Testing School is a small, influential community. ... One thing this community has done is build up and teach skilled testing, and has influenced other communities. Everywhere I go, I meet smart, talented, thoughtful testers. In fact, I am meeting so many, that I believe a new community is springing up in testing. A community born of experience, pragmatism and skill. Testers with different skillsets and ideas are converging and sharing ideas. I find this exciting."
Although Jonathan's evident enthusiasm for systems thinking is infectious, I think there are some problems with a Testing 2.0 approach that seems rather reliant on a concentration of rare skills. I think that Web 2.0 introduces some entirely different (and equally radical) opportunities for transforming software quality and testing.
  • long tail
  • publish/subscribe (RSS/Atom)
  • community of users
Back in the days of component-based software engineering, I proposed some ideas about component testing that relied on information flows between users, and from users to developers. More recently, I described a pull model of documentation and support, where documentation evolves as the user community grows. Common to both proposals is a radical rescoping of software quality. Software testing could cease to be based on an US/THEM split, but become a complex collaborative process instead, in which the diversity of use-contexts is seen as an asset rather than a liability. Testing never stops - every time the software is executed, some new test results are produced. Massive sharing of test data and test results - instead of MySpace, think MyTest.

One of the supposed advantages of Open Source is that you have a large community of people not only testing the software, but fixing the bugs. But with the right platform we might possible get some of these advantages with Web 2.0, even without Open Source.

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