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So far it has been about what I found on the web as published views. As you can observe in the previous posts on the series, the only tester from Indian Testing community who found a mention was Shrini Kulkarni. I did not feel quite comfortable with this. I being a part of Indian testing community wanted more people from it to comment on Schools of testing. I wanted to assess what Indian testers have got to say about the subject.

I started working on this in two angles. First, I contacted some testing experts via emails. Second, I tried to arrange for some brainstorming sessions on the subject. The above was a partial success. I got response from some but not all via emails and brainstorming sessions were conducted in two different organizations – one a testing services company and second a product company.

I have planned to publish the views in two separate posts. This post contains the views which were communicated to me via emails by Srinivasan Desikan, Pradeep Soundararajan, Shrini Kulkarni, Dr Sukanta Bhatt and Debasis Pradhan.
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I had a detailed discussion over phone with Srinivasan Desikan, author of the best-seller Software Testing: Principles and Practice. Later he wrote to me his views on the subject of schools of testing. Following are some excerpts:


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“…..As discussed I am not for “schools of testing” concepts from Indian context……I think these kind of concepts may have commercial motive and hence I am not for it. There is nothing new I could think of in this concept for matured Indian testing community. India is a country where majority of software testing is done for the IT world and this doesn’t happen without people having “Analytical abilities” “Basic concepts in testing” “Quality process knowledge (Majority of SEI CMM certified companies are in India)” “Context-driven approach” or “Agile thinking”.

It is not like those days where people enter into Indian organizations without knowing what software testing is. Software testing and software engineering are taught in several colleges and universities in India and good number of people know very well the basics of testing when they enter the organization. If they don’t, then they go through induction training where these things are taught. Being the author of one of the best selling software testing book in India, I have always seen the best comments/understanding on the subject from students and suggesting innovative techniques to be included in the book. I myself visit colleges every Saturday for free classes on software testing and found that testing skills are improving on all perspectives mentioned in above paragraph.

The school of testing has to evolve from multiple perspectives with some of them being dynamic and just having 4-5 categories of schools of testing would be unfair to the vast area of testing and hundreds of perspectives that it has to embrace to do justice to the topic…..”
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Pradeep Soundararajan (Consulting Tester, Satisfice Inc), author of the most visited and sought after blog from Indian Testing community, finally agreed to express his thoughts on Schools of Testing! I have always observed a Context-Driven tester in him through his writings, so I was quite interested in knowing what he has got to say on the topic. I expected some strong thoughts in favor of schools of testing, but what I got in reply was much more than that. He charted out a complete picture about applicability of schools of concept to Indian testing community. Here are excerpts from the email which he sent to me –

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Schools of Testing – whenever I have seen this topic and it’s discussion, I do infer that it’s an experts discussion or an upcoming experts discussion who are very few in number when compared to the thousands and thousands of testers worldwide.

Let me speak of those testers in India, whom I have come across, who belong to the thousands and thousands of testers that I mentioned — They aren’t bothered if they belong to school number 1 or school number 2 BUT they would be bothered, if testers in school number “N” make more money than the school to which they belong.

Indians today identify themselves falling under each sub set in the categories: Caste, sub caste, God, way of prayers, way they eat ( Halal or Haleel ), religion, creed, color, political party, language, education, money, status, influence, style, culture, respect, patriotism, freedom level … < thousands more, maybe >. An Indian tester who has so many co – ordinates in mind, wouldn’t mind identifying himself in a School of testing and wouldn’t be bothered about being in or out of it.

Schools of testing, is an illusion, in my opinion. Maybe by saying this I want to learn more. We can live without knowing what school do we belong to as testers, as long as we are doing a great testing and whatever we do is fulfilling our passion to become an expert in the field.


Saying all this, I associate myself with Context Driven Community, just because there a flock of experts whose discussion, helps me build and re-build a lot of things. I see everyone as experts and it helps me respecting everyone, gaining respect and learning something from them, be it from Context Driven or Certification Driven.

The word “school” has a lot of meanings. For me, the moment someone says “which school”, I think about the schools that I studied in during my childhood. If you see, my mindset about “school” is – a place where education is imparted ( and thinking on own is encouraged [ but very few think and question the rules of the school ] ). In testing scenario, we identify ourselves as testers of a particular school having done testing for years AND after knowing of an existence of a school that matches our mindset or matches the mindset that we are trying to frame.

I strongly feel that the concept of “Schools of testing” in India isn’t a good thing to Indian testing community since it’s immaturity level is higher than the countries to whom we serve.

Agile, ( or the famous Agile ) itself is undergoing some restructuring ( http://www.exampler.com/blog/2007/05/20/help-me-stir-things-up/ ) but people in India who claim to follow Agile, misinterpret in their own ways. A tester who claims to work on Scrum ( a version of Agile ) said to me a few days back: We are following Scrum for our project. It’s very tight work and that’s why I was not able to reply to your e-mail.

I wonder, if these people would ever understand that things like Scrum or XP came up to ease their work and not mess it further.

Hence, “Schools of Testing” doesn’t do any good to immediate future of Indian testers, in my opinion. [ I am not attacking anyone here, I am attacking the topic and not an individual ]
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One can not miss Shrini Kulkarni when it comes to Schools of testing. By far, he is the only Indian tester who expressed on the subject in various places on the web. He is the author of one of the most powerful testing blogs. Following are the excerpts from his mail –
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“….every one in todays testing field (in India or otherwise) run a risk of being labeled as belonging to one of the schools of testing by “Context Driven” fanatics like me. So before some one labels you — you decide where you belong and declare as one there.

If you need help deciding – ask me I can help you – Just send me your definition of Testing (it helps if it is your own. But if you adopt some one else’s that is also fine)

So key thing here is concept of school helps in developing your community and hence the ideas and practices. Reluctance to acknowledge the existence of schools is really like shooting one on their own foot – an act of suicide.” Elsewhere he expressed — the same as.. “People who say that “they would like to pick the best of each school” are kind of “fence sitters” and the ones who are most confused. They don’t know whether to accept or reject the notion of schools in testing… Unfortunately or fortunately huge chunk of people are in this group.”—-
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Spare me for the repetition, but this post will be incomplete, if do not include his views expressed elsewhere on the web (these have been published in my Views in Favor post) –
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1. Being a Big fan or aligned to a particular school does not appear to be a matter of choice. Depending upon your Testing philosophy, Object of testing, approach to Testing – you will *automatically* and *implicitly* identify yourself with one of these schools of testing. You need not have to explicitly proclaim that fact.

2. Here is a deal- you describe a testing practice, a testing philosophy or a test professional, with a great degree of certainty, I (like many others in context driven school) will be able to identify the person, testing approach and philosophy to be one of these four schools.

3. There is nothing wrong or objectionable to be labeled to be a thinker or proponent of a school of testing. You are a *professional Tester and have a philosophy hence belong to a school. What is wrong here? Pragmatic submission to a school of testing helps one to identify the strengths and weakness of the school.

4. I would say, identifying oneself to a school of testing (it is OK to come up with your own school, if you feel you need a school of your own) is a “community responsibility” of a *professional* tester.”
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I had attended a presentation – “Journey of the Highly Effective Test Professional” by Dr Sukanta Bhatt, Senior Architect at Philips Electronics India Ltd at STeP-IN SUMMIT 2007. He puts things in simple but powerful words. I contacted him to know his views on the subject of schools of testing. Following are some excerpts –
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“…somehow the testing practice has been very adhoc in most of the places primarily due to no academic program in this area (I think that’s why this year EUROSTAR has the theme – “Defining the profession”). Many “landed up” in testing for various reasons. And in due course some emerged as experts in the western world naturally. I have read them all – useful experience and common sense tricks mostly…….
….What we should do is have bi-monthly informal gathering of interested people in testing……and come to the basis understand of practice and concerns……..And then slowly emerge our own Indian flavor as we have some unique strength and experience of working with western customers. In fact this is what I heard Ivor Jacobson once saying in Bangalore – “so many people in sw here, but no new ideas!!”
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Debasis Pradhan is the author of a recent blog dedicated to software testing (but his blog is still older than mine by a couple of months). If you spend some time on his blog, you feel good about his seriousness and his passion about software testing. He was little hesitant about expressing on the topic. I felt the same hesitation when I started compiling this series. All this is to say thanks to Debasis that he agreed to express on the subject despite his hesitation. This is what he has to say –
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“….I became aware of the existence of different Schools of Testing very recently (roughly 1 year back to be precise). And it was not because I wanted to be a part of a School of Testing. Rather, I must admit, I came across them by chance. And it was Dr. Cem Kaner’s blog ( http://www.satisfice.com/kaner/?p=15) that introduced me to the concept of Schools of Testing. But interestingly, when I tried to fit myself into any one the 5 schools (Factory school, Control school, Test-driven school, Analytical school and Context-driven school) I found it very difficult (if not impossible) to do! I wished if there was a sixth option for schools called “All of the Above”! In fact I was following (and to some extent following till date) a mixture of those beliefs. But when I tried to take a closer look, Context-driven school was the one that grabbed my attention. It had got so many things that were almost matching my mindset, perception and beliefs about testing. Moreover, I saw many great testers (whom I personally try to follow and respect a lot) associating them with this School of Testing. So till today, I have subscribed to Context-Driven School of Testing. And hopefully continue to do so until I find another School of Testing that matches my beliefs in a better possible way.

Having said that, I am not sure if there is a need for a tester to subscribe or associate herself with a School of Testing in order to become a good tester. I feel it is more important to build our testing skills and develop our lateral thinking abilities. I think as long as we are able to perform excellent testing, it should not matter much as to which School of Testing we subscribe to. It can be very much possible for a good tester to spend her entire life without ever realizing the existence of any School of Testing at all!

Although the concept of Schools of Testing might be a good idea to differentiate the various kinds of beliefs (NOT techniques or methodologies) amongst testers, at the same time these are only beliefs and should not be exaggerated. I believe that it is quite possible to live without beliefs ( e.g. I don’t believe in ghosts, super-natural things, UFOs, to some extent god and the list goes on). But that does not necessarily make me a different human being! Similarly if I don’t subscribe to any of the Schools of Testing, that does not make me a different Tester either!…..”
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The above is a glimpse of what Indian Testing community thinks about Schools of Testing. As per me, even in the five voices, we can see different aspects and perspective.

In the next post, I will compile the output of the brainstorming sessions which I initiated on this subject.

This is the ninth post in the series “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.

Rahul Verma

www.testingperspective.com

One Response to “The Big Fight – Schools of Testing – Views of Indian Testing Community – I”

  1. Shrini Kulkarni

    Any takers for my deal —

    Just Give me your definition of Testing – I will tell you which school you belong.

    Those against of schools concept may say – “I dont belive in the school concept at all”. My response to that you would be you could possibly belong to any of four (or five) schools – but are hesitant to admit it.

    Good debate — let us continue

    Shrini

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