Saturday, October 23, 2021

Context Above All

The other night I attended We Need To Talk About Testing, a panel discussion featuring Cassandra Leung, Alaine Miller, Richard Bradshaw, and Rob Meaney, hosted by Codecraft.

With an audience of software crafters rather than testers, it made sense that the conversation was guided through a set of greatest hits topics including automation, the need for humans in testing, confirmatory vs exploratory, testability, the testing triangle, and observability.  

The panelists spoke eloquently about all of those things from positions that demonstrated both expertise and experience, and a sense of humour.  I couldn't help thinking about Brian's mum when Richard urged us not to drive testing with the automation pyramid: it's not a strategy, it's a triangle.

I was familiar with the majority of the content but I do enjoy listening to knowledgeable people speaking on a subject they care about. One of the things I particularly like about these kinds of events is having someone else's lens on a topic I know too.

This is probably why I found myself noting how many of the answers referred to context. It's a given in the context-driven testing world that the value of a practice depends on its context. However, it can be hard, when you're trying to get a foothold in a new domain, use a new stack, or talk to new teams to know quite what the important aspects of that context are for the task at hand. And it may not be cheap to find out.

So perhaps a key point, when we need to talk about testing, is that we need to talk about investing the right amount of effort in understanding the context to guide testing of the right kinds of things, in the right kinds of ways, at the right kinds of times, for the right kinds of costs.

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