Testing is a means to an end. The ultimate goal is to produce quality software regardless of the methods, techniques or philosophies a tester uses to achieve it.
But that hasn’t stopped testers from arguing about it. Loudly.
The ISO 29119 software testing standard (and the ensuing Stop 29119 petition) have stirred up a contentious war of words over whether the standard is valid, which testing techniques are worthwhile, and which schools of thought are right. The context-driven testing camp that created the petition sits on one side, and the so-called risk-based testers pushing the standard are on the other.
(Related: The software testing schism)
The standard bearers claim “consensus” on the narrow set of testing techniques and philosophies represented within, and the protesters more or less say that everything in the standard is, as Bobby Boucher’s momma in “The Waterboy” would put it, “the devil.”
The whole controversy is painted as black and white, when in reality the challenges of modern testing are varied and complex. Limiting oneself to a single perspective is misguided and inefficient, especially given the rapidly evolving testing landscape. Accelerated software development through Continuous Delivery has sparked a meteoric rise in automation. Birth of techniques such as test-driven and behavior-driven development, and the advent of hybrid Dev/Test philosophies, show a testing world that can’t be defined by a single set of standards or a dogmatic school of thought.
It’s not either this or that. It’s all of the above. Testers must come at complex problems from a variety of ways, combining strategies that make sense in a given situation—whatever it takes to mitigate risks and ensure code and software quality. The means don’t matter, only the ends do.
The grand joke around the entire ISO 29119 hubbub is that the vast majority of testers have no dog in the fight. The vocal factions on either side of this software testing schism—those who’ll adhere to the standard to the letter and those vehemently opposed to it—are the equivalent of two boxers duking it out in the ring over a standard most testers will never even see because it’s behind a paywall.
As the fighters trade blows, the testing community at large sits in the stands, silently chuckling to themselves, giving a bemused shrug and getting back to work.