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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Software testing misunderstood

I recently read a nice blog post by James Bach where he discussed common misinterpretations of software testing specially in agile teams. While agreeing with most of his ideas' the following statement made a lot of sense to me

Avoid labeling an activity as a “test” unless it represents a sincere effort to discover a problem in a product 

In my software testing career, large number of people I have worked with, regardless of  their QA or development background, misinterpreted this basic concept. I do not have to explain how dangerous it is to claim that a feature of your product "works" just by running it. "Testing" is NOT merely running the product. A good test should uncover some sort of problem of your product/feature. Objective of testing should be to finding bugs. Just wearing QA hat and running the product does not do any good. It just claims that your product runs in one way but it will not be the only execution path. Interpreting "running product features" as "testing", destroys the quality of software in many ways.

- False claims contribute to draw a wrong picture about the status of product. The release plans, schedules everything is decided based on those untruthful information
- Large number of bugs uncovered in production use
You, during development cycles, update many stake holders of your project that the feature is running properly. You may also do multiple demonstrations of your feature to various parties. You must understand that the demonstrations of the feature or training sessions of the new feature just executes one or two of the hundreds of execution possibilities. Hence, it should not be interpreted as an indirect test execution and comes into conclusions that the feature works perfectly.
- Building a deadly trend among fellow developers/testers that quality is not important factor
When people start to believe that "running" the feature as "testing", then it like a virus spread across whole devs/testers of the organization. People just focus on happy path (positive testing) which eventually ruins the quality of the product.

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