Testing in the 2020’s: Postmodern

It is time to get serious about the field of software testing. In the last decade, software started to power our day-to-day lives, infrastructure, and the economy. The software testing community fragmented as it grew. Under-resourced testing teams, scattered around the world in isolated cubicles, started each new project from scratch, and worked on increasingly complex and diverse software. Software is far more useful and amazing than ever in 2020, but people encounter software failures nearly every day. It is time to get serious about software testing in the 2020’s. If you are reading this — the world needs you.

The term “Postmodern” is borrowed from the world of art and architecture. Like testing, these worlds have had different ‘movements’, tools, fads, and schools of thought. In the world of art think of “Impressionism”, “Baroque”, “Romanticism”, “Futurism”, and even “Dada”. Similarly, software testing has “Analytical”, “Risk-Based”, “Quality Assurance”, “Modern”, “Context-Driven” and other schools of thought. Each school of thought has its insights but also has its blind-spots. Postmodernism in the art world means artists free of any single school of thought, leveraging the greatest aspects of any historical school, and combining them with newfound creativity to build something unique. Our profession has spent to much time debating which school is ‘correct’ and should instead combine the best aspects of all schools, plus some individual artistic creativity, to solve the testing problems of this new decade.

By definition, postmodern testing isn’t ruled by some central authority, single personality, or company. Postmodern testing is simply the obligation of every software tester to learn the work of the past, understand the latest tools and techniques, and combine them with creativity into the best possible testing solution. There is evidence this is already happening as new waves of testers realize that no one-school answers all their needs, and experienced testers have bounced between several schools and are now quietly constructing their own hybrid testing approaches. Postmodernism is emerging all around us, it just hasn’t had a name. No tester worth their salt these days will speak absolutes or claim their own approach is ‘perfect’ or ‘complete’. Welcome to our postmodern world.

What will emerge in the early 2020’s is the more prolific, honest, and humble sharing of what works and especially what doesn’t in various testing situations. Situations can be everything from the type of software, the programming languages, deployment environment, organizational context, resourcing levels, criticality of the software, etc. There will be ever more constructive criticism of different schools as the profession sorts out the good from the bad. The more this institutional knowledge is shared and discussed, the better prepared Postmodern testers will be for their specific testing and quality problems. The more innovation and sharing of tools and infrastructure, the more creative Postmodern testers can be. The more widely distributed the notion of Postmodern testing is, the more likely and faster it is to be supported by software organizations. Postmodern testers will emerge in the 2020’s, ever-refining patterns and anti-patterns. Postmodern testers are ‘free’ of the old schools of thought.

The Postmodern Manifesto: http://bit.ly/2thDXNN

— Jason Arbon



blending humans and machines. co-founder @testdotai eater of #tunamelts

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