Thursday, 10 November 2011

Testers are rock stars!

Teemu Vesala wrote in his STC blog comparing testing to poetry. It began a thought process where I found myself comparing testing (noun) to classical music. "Testing is like composing classical music with all the nuances involved" was pretty much the message of my. This was the beginning of tweeting that went like this:

Teemu Vesala:
Poem writing and #testing has plenty of common. See my blog entry @ #stc

Pekka Marjamäki:
@teemuvesala #Testing is more like composing classical #music: even the tiniest sounds change the feel to it. And testing tells a story.

Teemu Vesala:
@pekkamarjamaki Acctually #testing is much like any art. No matter if it's poetry, music or painting. All have same properties.I love'em all

Testing is comparable to the art because they are basically built of same thing (both in their respective context). But which would not be comparable to art? What is art?

Wikipedia (ah! the an inexhaustible source of information!) describes art like this:
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect.

Can testing be culture? Can there be testing without it being part of the project contextual (I made up the term. Wonder if there even is a term for a thing like that…) culture? Testing is THE element that offers information about the pretty much anything, because testing occurs on so many levels: from unconscious questioning and doubt into systematic examination of the whole system both dynamically and statically. So, yes, testing is a significant part of the culture (the context) in which the testing is done.

Testing is a set items (techniques, approaches, tools, strategies, etc.) that are deliberately arranged so that they form a basis to achieve a wanted result. As we implied before, the test can be performed adhoc, but as art, it does not always reach the goals that are sought. Testing is at least partially subjective, because it is the opinion and interpretation of the task at hand. By removing the subjectivity of art it is possible that ideals of beauty or a non-intelligent interpretations of things are forced to the spectator. The subjective nature of art is a force that makes art – well – art. The nature of the testing is subjective, which is definitely an asset to testing itself, because different people interpret different things in different ways. We can always say that "This thing is X. Period!", but it is not necessarily correct in context. The contexts makes subjectivity important.

We can not underestimate the importance of what feelings are to testing and testing to feelings. Both of these are factors that affect each other. In art, the composer, painter, choreographer, sculptor, you-name-it have feelings or emotions. These are driving forces that will create art. Of course there is art done without feelings, but is it art? Or is the lack of feelings a feeling itself? Is all that is art on some level? In addition, there is an art that does not affect the feelings (in a given context and subjectively). Art is trying to be bi-directional with the emotions. Testing tries that too: feelings (understanding the risks, prioritization, etc.) drive our testing forward and testing is guided by the feelings to help in our decision-making.

Art is expression, communication, statement and pleasure / annoyance. This is true for testing, word for word! Testing is expression: we express the current quality of the system by testing. Testing is communication: There is no other way to express and inform the quality to the stakeholders. Is there? Can quality be expressed by programming? It creates the quality which the testing expresses. Testing does not make quality. In addition, when it comes to pure communication, testing is a social event where communication between groups is important! How can we express the quality, if we do not communicate it to the stakeholders? And testing makes a statement: Michael Bolton said "Testing is defending the quality of the product." Testing comments the quality, testing defends the quality of the product. If testing doesn’t do that, who will?

What comes to pleasure, to me, every day of testing a great pleasure (my testers have undoubtedly noticed that). Every day that I can to promote the triumph of testing both organizationally and the genre produces pleasure. Every day that I learn more about the testing produces pleasure. Every time when I find a new bug system it produces pleasure (displeasure for the project manager ;) ).

To summarize: Testing is art. Testing will be appreciated as art. There are mathematicians, which state that mathematics are the greatest art (graphs based Fibonacci numbers, chaos theoretical curves and fractal art). Testers are therefore artists. We testers who respect ourselves and our skills can hold ourselves as the Rock stars of the IT world (or as Leonardo da Vincies). We bring the joys and the sorrows, we express feelings, even beauty. For me, the test is the biggest art.

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