Know our places, for worth is wordless
Evanescent, this writing on the wall
Brother, stay this descent to madness
Come and save us, catch us before we fall
To the Edge, FFXIV Shadowbringers
The above is a passage from a song (To the Edge), it serves as a main theme to an MMORPG called Final Fantasy XIV. I find that passage to be particularly relevant in the world of software testing. Call it an ode to the tester, we work with products of ever-shifting quality with ambiguous requirements that never manage to draw a complete picture (hence they are seemingly evanescent). The last two lines are a little melodramatic, but I think we already occupy a world in which projects have descended to madness with obsessive automation and test case addiction.
Context Driven Testing. That is what I try to practice. Every day is a challenge to push myself to exemplify the principles that make for good context-driven testing. Most days I fail to live up to my own expectations, but I’d like to think that I have been slowly adapting over time. How long have I been testing? 31 years. How long have I been paid to test? Just 3. I like to think that the experiences of our lives can always be re-examined to glean insights into how to be a better tester. Such an activity isn’t something any individual can do in the course of a day, it’s a decompiling activity – you break down certain experiences to gain insight on what you learnt and how you learnt it.
A common question I keep seeing asked within the context-driven school of thought is “What materials can I read/watch to learn about testing?” What the answer tends to be is mainly a direction towards philosophy, this also extends to other professional fields that exhibit qualities that testers should be transforming to make part of their own testing culture. My sources are not so… academic, though I did study philosophy at university, I do not find it to be the fountain of knowledge that my hobbies currently occupy. I would consider this blog a success if I could inspire people to look at their own life experiences and discover just how intertwined testing principles are with every day life; with the human condition. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go and read the musings of some of our esteemed philosophers, but it doesn’t have to be a starting point to orient yourself in the world of testing.
Testing for me is immutably an art; it is perfectionless. One no more masters testing than develops their own deft style of testing. As the painter flicks their brush, in the same stroke, the tester engages in assessment. While our canvases may be different, the weight and stature of the problems we face are all too similar…
If you find your interest piqued, then read on, friend!