Thursday, 7 January 2010

Testing Terminology – definition or context?

Hello and Happy New Year

One of my New Year resolutions was to start using twitter more so that I could micro blog some of my thoughts.

One interesting topic that appeared to be going around was one of changing testing definitions and descriptions. This caused quite an animated debate amongst testing twitters.

So I thought I would use more that 140 characters and put across some of my thoughts and views on the subject of testing definitions.

I used to have the view that it was good to have a set of definitions for testing terms such as what is Acceptance testing, What is black box testing etc. The ISTQB has a document for this on their website (

The problem with this glossary is that it applies testing meaning with no context and that is the problem I find with trying to define testing terminology to do so requires context. If I wish to be somewhat controversial I should state that this is the problem I find with the ISEB and ISTQB examinations especially the ISEB foundation level which is based upon multiple choice answers. Some of the questions could in certain situations have multiple answers but ISEB only accept their definitions and do not allow the natural questioning skills of the tester to debate the answer.

For example let us look at the testing term ‘Acceptance Testing’

ISTQB define it as

Formal testing with respect to user needs, requirements, and business processes conducted to determine whether or not a system satisfies the acceptance criteria and to enable the user, customers or other authorized entity to determine whether or not to accept the system.

However if I would add the following context to Acceptance Testing:

The development team requires some form of automated Acceptance testing (Yes Michael I know if you are reading this it should be checking not testing - on the build machine before signaling that the build is suitable for release to the testing team

…would the above definition hold true?

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