Posted by Stan Taylor on January 04, 2009
Context-driven testers choose their testing objectives, techniques, and deliverables (including test documentation) by looking first to the details of the specific situation, including the desires of the stakeholders who commissioned the testing. The essence of context-driven testing is project-appropriate application of skill and judgment. The Context-Driven School of testing places this approach to testing within a humanistic social and ethical framework.
Ultimately, context-driven testing is about doing the best we can with what we get. Rather than trying to apply “best practices,” we accept that very different practices (even different definitions of common testing terms) will work best under different circumstances.
It's good that Cem, Bret and James are trying to define this concept, but I thought that context-based testing, like risk-based testing, was self-evident. It's good to have principles to follow, but I would never dream of following the prescribed process without evaluating its appropriateness to the situation and adapting it appropriately.
One example where context-based testing is necessary is automated testing. I absolutely believe that as much testing as possible should be automated, but developing automated tests takes time and effort and there are other contentions for the resources. With functional automation, this often results in a phased automation strategy: start small, expand based on priorities over time.
It is not self-evident, except to problem-solvers. To "task-doers" it is self-evident that they should memorize practices and ignore context-- because they will say that context doesn't really change or matter much.
Posted by: James Bach | January 4, 2009 09:54 PM
Thanks for the comment. Your observation is fair enough. As I was thinking about context-driven testing, I was thinking similar thoughts: I know there are people who value procedure over context, but I've rarely worked with them. I guess I've been fortunate to pretty much always work in groups (mostly very small companies) that encourage and reward problem-solvers like myself.