Home > agile, testing > Agile testing – Traditional testing perspective

Agile testing – Traditional testing perspective

If you haven’t read my post about bridging communities, please start there.

In many of the places and discussions I have been this year, people have been trying to define what Agile testing really is. And it is quite interesting that even 3 (almost 4) years after THE book on Agile testing came out, people are still trying to define what it is. What has interested me more is the fact that I’ve seen the area evolve in different communities, and that is what I want to share. I will talk about some extremes in communities, so forgive me if I step on toes. I am emphasizing other peoples opinions to make my point.

Traditional(ish) testing communities

I might not be completely fair to all the people involved in the communities of TestZonen and SAST, but now that I want to make my point I need to be relentless. Even though I don’t agree with Jagge that Agile testing is “an activity”, reading between the lines shows his actual understanding. Thank you Jagge for triggering me to explain what has been boiling in my head for quite some time.

As much as I don’t want to admit it, they still exist, the traditional testers. People in this category are traditional to different degree. But there are just too many people out there that still think of testing as document driven standardized activities to assure quality in software. Preferably in a setting where programmers and testers are on separate teams so they are not biased from the others and software is thrown over the wall to be retaliated by bug report ping pong games.

Agile testing?

That is when the test team preferably gets smaller pieces thrown over the wall but by smaller agile teams of programmers, resulting in more numbers of pieces that haven’t been integrated before the wall throwing. And of course we need a test specification done before each and every piece and iteration resulting in more work than ever. And hey, lets create a high level definition of this in the ISTQB syllabus that no one can relate to anyway: ”Testing practice for a project using agile software development methodologies”. Nothing more, nothing less than just traditional testing of stuff created by agile teams.

And if the problem of discussing this definition (see comments) lies in not being able to get out of your own context and thinking about the difference between static vs dynamic testing (probably related to another syllabus problem), then getting over to Agile testing is a big leap in discussions.

Another example was when I attended a SAST evening seminar (about 2 years ago) about “Agile testing in Scrum”. My guess would be that less than half of the audience knew the fundamentals of Scrum, so the speaker had to explain it, taking half of the time from the actual subject. Moreover, the speaker himself explained it wrong! It was just so awful that I just could not sit there without explaining at least the fundamentals so that everyone was on the same page. Even if knowledge in Scrum is a bad example I consider it relevant in this case.



  • The knowledge of Agile in itself is lacking or,
  • You are stuck in irrelevant definitions or,
  • You cannot relate to other things than your very own context,

Is it possible to try to make out a definition of Agile testing? Or even get close?

  1. December 20, 2012 at 10:49

    Tror du har missförstått diskussionen i kommentarerna lite. Tråkigt.


    • Sigge
      December 20, 2012 at 15:10

      Hi Johan, and thank you for commenting. I might as well have misunderstood some things within the comments. If you want to point out specifics of misunderstandings, please do and we can talk about them.

      The next couple of days I will post a couple of other perspectives, which will also point to details but where I want the general discussion to move further.

  2. December 22, 2012 at 11:45

    Hi Sigge, I’ve read your post but I don’t understand what your trying to say. Are you saying that it is impossible to define “Agile testing”? I can agree that defining concepts that are changing (agile-testing is evolving) is hard. Fine, that’s why we’re having the discussion 🙂

    Until their is some consensus about a defintion the best we can get is a high level abstraction. How useful is such a defintion? Not particularly. However, it can be useful for starting the discussion.

    • Sigge
      December 25, 2012 at 22:24

      Hi Hebbe, thank you for commenting. Especially since I hi-jacked the post you both were commenting on, I appreciate it. I am hoping to post a couple of more perspectives that I have seen in other communities, which hopefully will become a whole in itself. I have just not gotten those posts ready yet. So please stay tuned for them, and after that I have some conclusions I want to make, as I really want to bring this discussion further. As you say, we are not there yet.

  1. December 27, 2012 at 19:47
  2. December 28, 2012 at 17:14
  3. January 3, 2013 at 01:19
  4. January 15, 2013 at 22:58
  5. February 1, 2013 at 00:12

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