This is the fourth post in the series of “The Big Fight – Schools of Testing”. For my previous posts on Schools of Testing, you can check the posts under the Schools of Testing Category.

I had not thought to include this topic as a separate post as per the plan of posts and contents. But through the course of reading stuff about schools of testing and the questions that people asked on different forums, I realized the importance of this question. Frankly speaking I too had this question (Now when I have the answer, I have some thoughts, but I will spare them for the post My Final Thoughts, which you will find on this blog towards the conclusion of this series.)

Context-Driven school by definition and as the name reflects too, preaches “no-best-practices” approach and tells its followers to assess the context, and then decide on the approach or technique which has to be applied to a testing problem.

Based on the above I found following common questions being asked by different practitioners –

1. “I assessed the context, and used a technique, which as per me belongs to net school, so do I belong to Context-Driven or net school?” (This is a generalized form of questions asked by many people on different forums)

2. Asked by Shrini Kulkarni in response to the post on Context-Driven Methodology in James Bach’s blog-
“Can I consider context driven thinking as collective thinking of the all other schools of testing as described by Bret with context assuming the prime significance?
What is your opinion about following equation?Context Driven thinking = Analytic thinking + Quality Thinking + Factory thinking + CONTEXT (with first three components of varying proportions depending upon the context and in some cases, one or more at ZERO)”

3. This is the question asked by R.Rao on software-testing yahoo group
“Do I understand then that the context-driven testing is a meta-school ? You choose the other schools depending on the context. Or are there any specific tools and techniques which distinguishes the context driven testing folks from others?”

James Bach answered both – the second and the third questions – which in turn addresses the first question as well.

For the second question, James says –
“No, the schools are independent belief systems. Each stands alone. I don’t do factory thinking.” I might select a factory-like method, but not for the same reason is a Factory school partisan.
Do not confuse a school with the practices it tends to use. A Christian and a Muslim and a Hindu may all drive the same kind of car, but that indicates nothing about the overlap of their belief systems.”
For the third question, James’ reply is –
“No, it’s not a meta-school. It’s just a plain school.

When people think it’s a meta-school, it’s because they are confusing school with methodology. The schools are not a set of techniques, they are a set of fundamental beliefs about the the Way Things Work.

Any school can use any methodology– the only restrictions are the beliefs and values of that school. To be context-driven is to do what works in a given context. To be anything else is not necessarily to think consciously about the relationship between context and methodology.”
Wonderful questions and Wonderful replies! I believe in these answers, because these are from one of the founders of the concept of Schools of Testing. My further analysis will take this as one of the base points.

It’s very tempting to express my thoughts too here in this post. I will somehow spare that temptation for a while, till my turn comes to express My Final Thoughts. I am eagerly waiting to write that post, because when I finish writing that, I will have my opinion as the outcome. So, not for the world, but for myself, I want to know my opinion. As of now, I get the status-line as “In-Progress”!

The next couple of posts will consolidate various views expressed by different experts so far on the broader subject of Schools of Testing.

Rahul Verma

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