"Two Futures of Software Testing"

Michael Bolton, DevelopSense

When: March 22nd, 2005, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Where: Atomic Object, 941 Wealthy Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Niels Bohr, Woody Allen, or Yogi Berra (and perhaps all three) once said “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

Michael Bolton rises to the challenge and dares to present TWO futures of software testing.

In one vision of the future, testers are the gatekeepers, responsible for assuring product quality. Testing follows a rigourously controlled process, and ad hoc testing is banned. Testers are kept separate from the developers to foster independence and objectivity. Senior testers work from extensively detailed specifications, creating plans, drawing state diagrams, and compiling test scripts from the inception of the project until coding has finished. At that point, any tester, no matter how junior, can read and follow the scripts-testing can even be entirely automated-so that management can be sure that the code is bug-free. All decisions will be based on solid numerical data. Changes to the product will be resisted so that risk can be eliminated.

This vision, which contains a number of truly bizarre fantasies, is the DARK vision of the future.

In the other view, testers are active investigators, critical thinkers, and highly skilled, valued members of the project team. Testers neither accept nor desire responsibility for releasing the product; instead,testers provide important, timely, credible information to managers so that they can make sound and informed business decisions. Testers work collaboratively not only with the developers, but with the entire project community, and are able to report at any time on product and project risks. Testers have an extensive understanding of tools and automation, and decide when-and when not-to use them. Most importantly, testers embrace challenge and change, adapting practices and strategies thoughtfully to fit the testing mission and its context.

Where are we now, and where are we going? In this interactive presentation, Michael shares his visions of the futures of software testing, and the roles of the tester in each of them. The presentation includes a brief exercise and a dialogue, encouraging discussion and debate from the floor.

Speaker Bio

Michael Bolton provides training and consulting in Rapid Software Testing. He writes about testing and quality in STQE Magazine (most recently in the September 2004 issue), TASSQuarterly, and in his own newsletter.

He is the only person authorized and endorsed by James Bach to teach his Rapid Software Testing course. Michael was an invited participant at Cem Kaner and James Bach’s Workshop on Teaching Software Testing in Melbourne, Florida, 2003.

He is Program Chair for the Toronto Association of System and Software Quality, a presenter at this year’s Amplifying Your Effectiveness conference in Phoenix, and a member of Gerald M. Weinberg’s SHAPE Forum.

Michael can be reached through his Web site, http://www.developsense.com