Example-driven School of Testing

Some years ago Bret Pettichord defined four schools of software testing: The Analytic School, the Standard School, the Quality School and the Context-Driven School. These ideas were incorporated into the book Lessons Learned in Software Testing: A Context-Driven Approach by James Bach, Cem Kaner and Bret Pettichord. Later on Bret included the Agile School of testing. Some days ago I realized that the name for the Agile School of testing is rather poor. This is the hypothesis and I would like to propose a new name based on the insights of the last few years for the thing Bret called the Agile school of testing. Read up on this in the extended body. Bret’s initial hypothesis was based on Agile Software development being mostly about test-driven development with massive usage of automated regression tests while the code is written. That’s why he included the following core beliefs of the Agile School of Testing:

  • Software is an ongoing conversation
  • Testing tells us that a development story is complete
  • Tests must be automated
  • Key Question: Is the story done?

Some time later Brian Marick wrote down what already was in the heads of many people: Tests in the Agile world are based on examples. Additionally Brian raises the point to renamed test-driven development to example-driven development, since this reflects testing in the agile context more appropriately.

A bunch of techniques ending in ‘dd’ for ‘-driven developenment’ appeared – mainly inspired by the Agile School that started with test-driven development. Among these are Acceptance Test-driven developement, behaviour driven-development or Domain Driven Design (yeah, right, this one does not end in ‘development’).

Back in February I was introduced to the Specification By Example by Gojko Adzic, who transferred the idea of Agile Acceptance Testing based on examples to a process of specification. As pointed out in one of his presentations on FIT and Agile Acceptance Testing, examples elaborate requirements or specifications. On the other hand examples can also become tests – and this is basically what the Agile School of Testing teaches us. Testing is based on noting down examples in order to test that you’re done with developing the feature in your current iteration.

Based on this I propose to rename the Agile School of Software Testing to the Example-driven School of Software Testing. On the other hand this would also make the statement clear that it’s not just about Agile, but rather about examples as Brian Marick initially pointed out. Another benefit of this term would be the distinction towards the Context-Driven School. I raise the point that we must truely understand that there is no either Example-based or Context-Driven, these two can be adapted together or one of them alone of neither of them. From my point of view these two school are able to co-exist and complete each other when applied together.

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