A couple of days ago, Huib Schoots published a very interesting blog post titled “Adaptability vs Context-Driven“, as part of an ongoing discussion between himself and Rik Marselis. This blog post represents my initial reaction to that discussion.
To me the answer is… no. In fact, I believe TMap and the context-driven school of thought live on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Context-driven testers choose every single aspect of how to conduct their testing by looking first to the details of the specific situation, including the desires of the stakeholders who commissioned the testing. It starts with the context, not a toolbox or a ready-made, prescriptive process.
TMap and other factory methods seem to start with the toolbox and then proceed to remove whatever parts of the toolbox that doesn’t fit the context (“picking the cherries” as it’s referred to in Huib and Rik’s exchange). At least that’s how I’ve seen it used when it’s been used relatively well. More often than not however, I’ve worked with (well-intentioned) factory testers who refused to remove what didn’t fit the context, and instead advocated changing the context to fit the standardized process or templates. So, context-imperial or mildly context-aware at best. Context-driven? Not in the slightest.
When I’m faced with any testing problem, I prefer to start with the context and then build my strategy from the ground up; testing the strategy as I’m building it while making as few assumptions as possible about what will solve the problem beforehand. I value strategizing incrementally together with stakeholders over drawing up extensive, fragile test plans by using prescriptive templates that limit everybody’s thinking.
I’m not saying that “cherries” can’t be found in almost any test framework. But why would I limit myself to looking for cherries in only a single cherry tree, when there’s a whole garden of fruit trees available all around us? Or is that forbidden fruit…? (Yes, I’m looking at you, ISO/IEC 29119.)
Well, now that’s surely a can of worms for another time. To be continued.
If you haven’t already read Huib’s post that I referred to in the beginning, then I suggest you do that now.
Thank you Huib and Rik for starting this discussion and for making it public. Testers need to engage in more honest exchanges like this.