Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hot Cold Topic "Standards" : I'm not a Judge; I'm an advocating Tester -- Part 3

You expect me to be judge and say, "that is wrong!" or "that is bad!" ?  Or you expect me to be a tester and say "it looks to be unfair for these reasons" or "it looks to be fair for these reasons" or "with these information from investigation and tests I have carried out, this is what it looks like" ?

I remain to be an advocating tester and I cannot say upfront ISO 29119 is bad or wrong. Let me say, to do this, I need to have enough details, investigations, evidences, record and analyze the opinions of WG26 members of ISO. I don't have enough data on these or from these. How can I say it is bad? If said, will my opinion look rational to opposing groups, supporting groups, WG26 and ISO? 

Wait! But, I can try to analyze "why and what" in what I'm seeing, to an extent. I will say what I'm observing n this post using what I have got for testing and analysis. And I will leave it to reader in me, to learn what is missing than coming to point "good" or "bad"

Guidelines no more; Rules, it is? When?

Have I noticed the set of defined guidelines in any public place (bank, temples, church, mosque, Government office, hospitals etc.)? Have I come across contexts and situations when these guidelines becoming the mandate rules and as a convention to follow? If yes, then what is guidelines? Is it a reference of conduct and execution mentioned in Standards?  For example, every one should be punctual to office and has to be by 9 AM, is a guideline. Yes!

That means, anything said or accepted as "Standards" or "Guidelines", it will have the capabilities to become the convention rules or mandate rules based on the circumstances. So can I assume or also take that ISO Standards or any other Philosophies of Practice are no exemption from this and it has capabilities to become the mandate rules to use for execution and code of conduct? Yes!

Now, if a group of software testing practitioners opposing ISO 29119 by believing it is not up to mark or it has no base at all to be guidelines and it if is used, software testing practice will not be better, they have a point. Because, the guidelines can become a rule. The same with group of people who support ISO 29119 and if they are happy and convinced with their philosophy of practice. Isn't that fine? So what should I do? See the concluding part of this post after reading all the sections in this post.

I want to repeat this again, "I'm not saying, I'm opposing ISO 29119 or supporting it". I'm trying to learn the happenings around here and find what is missing here, and then come to a stand of my first opinion on this.

Software Testing industry, how young it is?

Before asking this question, do I know how young the words "Standards", "Guidelines", "Industry", "Software" are? I'm too young and inexperienced to talk about industries age. But,"Standards" is older than "Software Testing"?  I read this post on UTest and the same information I had read four years back. If I take this as a reference, a bug was found in 1947. And, let me also take the reference of when was the first book on Software Testing got published and has any techniques got added or updated other than Black Box, White Box and Grey Box? While I believe, we are staying at same place in few aspects, we practitioners are advancing and have advanced in other aspects of the subject.

Is this an indication of how young is Software Testing in the industry and as an industry? And, the task we do while building software cannot be seen as a 'mass production' or 'mass manufacturing' because it is from design to implementation. Can I define this is the standards which one should follow here while building software or while testing it? I believe, it cannot be done if it is a mandating one. Design activity can have set of guidelines to know what should be considered but not a mandate or rules saying this is how it should be for every case. And I see same for implementation. 

Post implementation that is when the software in production or ready for production, can it be replicated or mass manufactured? May be, yes. For example, Windows OS CDs sold by Microsoft. I have a copy which can be deployed and I can install it on multiple locations doing contextual change (setup change of programs and tests for it). But still, I think, I cannot bring in the defined set of standards to tell this how it should be done in case of Software Industry. But having a reference is no harm which says this has to be followed to avoid such problems later. Mandating it as rules to build or execute, saying this is holy book or papers, can be fatal for craft, stakeholders, practitioner and academic group of Software industry, if it is accepted blindly.

Building and testing the software for banking, manufacturing, industrial automation and trading, should have standards? I believe and expect, people who are involved in building software for these areas has to know if there are any Standards defined and does the software adheres to those Standard.

Any field of study will have at least two group of people -- Academic group of a subject and Industrial practicing group of a subject. Can there multiple groups among these two groups? Yes, there can be multiple groups within these two groups. Should all these groups agree and have same opinion? Not necessarily. Should all these groups agree to "Standards" drafted for subject they practice? This is tough question isn't it? 

Any job and every job will have design, implementation, mass production or mass manufacturing is an art. To wind up this part of discussion, can there be mandate rules or enforcing standards for an art? 

Having a guidelines to say, these should be covered for avoiding the problems that might come up in business or trade or exchange is no harm. It is a heuristic. Should, Software Testing industry to have this no matter what is its age? This is yet another tough question, isn't it? Outcome is very clear with an example of ISO 29119 and opposition for it saying there is no base in it. 

What is in petition STOP ISO 29119 ?

Here is the petition.  The petition says to suspend and with draw all drafts of ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 Software Testing standards, saying

It is our view that significant disagreement and sustained opposition exists amongst professional testers as to the validity of these standards, and that there is no consensus (per definition 1.7 of ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004) as to their content.
Let me consider, Software Testing subject having at least two groups i.e. Academic Students and Industry Practitioners. These two groups can come from any philosophies of practice. If these two groups forming significantly bigger number as per ISO Consensus Guide and also disagreeing to ISO 29119 standards, ISO has to pitch in and evaluate the standards formed.

What is in disagreement and what is not acceptable should have been elaborated in writing the petition. I read the comments in these petition and it makes sense when I look from the perspective of petition supporting group.  

For tester as me who does not understand the standards because it is not public and not getting enough data to understand what is clear, unclear and missing, I cannot make any decision on, whether ISO 29119 is good or bad. There are missing stuffs for learning this (good or bad) in case of ISO 29119 before making a decision, it is good or bad. Isn't it? 

With this, I look, there is problem else where as well which is keeping the software testing practitioners apart. For first, this has to be addressed before getting into solving ISO 29119 problems. Yes? May be fixing that problem for first, might help to see if there is a need for standard or not. If it says it is required, then I know what it should have and why so, and what not to have and why so. 

Invitation and price for Standards, becomes a ? mark.

Did not ISO team invite these opposing practicing group for this task? I don't know. Inviting the members to review and working group publicly and making it as an announcement will be helpful to ISO to avoid such happenings. If said it is done publicly, did the opposing group knew that? Did we write or copy for them as a reference? If not, they have point in opposing and saying we re not included. If they had given the invitation and none bothered to join, then anyone opposing or questioning, if hasn't participated upon invitation, whose problem it is? 

Which are the places where the invitation should be displayed publicly, is important because the standards are being formed to an industry and every one should know that. Where are the places I should disclose the notification, invitation and message? ISO has to consider this seriously, if there are opposing groups. Otherwise, it is waste of ISO's money and time in forming standards which does not get accepted or at least to get reviewed by academic and industry practitioners groups.

If said about these standards in the conferences alone, it is not that much useful. In my country, conference price are no small amount which can be paid by a practitioner who takes 10000 to 30000 INR as salary every month. May be leads, managers, VP's, and CxO's will be in these conferences. What is the use? Standards should be reaching to last node who implements the design and thoughts. ISO, isn't it? Speaking about standards and giving the publicity for drafts in conferences alone is not enough helpful as per me.

And as said in last section, Software Testing industry is still young when compared to other industries which has ISO standards. Having the minimum price to obtain the Standards drafted for Software Testing industry, looks like not acceptable in a perspective. If you ask why, what amount of software building and testing tasks comes to small companies than to the Tier 1 companies? Can these small companies invest their money right away on all these purchase? Let us say, they should invest, but will they? Probably not. But if still insisted, it might happen that standards drafted will be only for who can afford it. Do you see any impact here?

Yes, ISO is non-profit organization and it has to bear the cost for every activity in forming the standards. But, it should also know the context of industry to which standards are being formed. Giving the ISO 29119 draft for free until, there comes a common opinion to have standards or not, may be helpful to ISO, academics and industry practitioners groups. Otherwise, draft will have such opposing petitions leaving the few practitioners with no clue in knowing what actually is in standards and being out of such discussion.

I could not afford to pay and obtain the ISO 29119 standards draft and I requested for it. ISO replied with a mail to contact WG26 members in my country and know the choice of purchase. I cannot afford to purchase it for now and hence I did not wish to proceed further with this. I respect ISO for writing a mail and listening to that voice of me.  I don't know what is in the draft other than knowing its topic of it from here. With this, I cannot say it is bad or good. Doing that is fair enough testing from me being a tester?

Reply from ISO for above tweet of me

Concluding Part 3
  1. I being a tester, do not take job of judging an aspect as "good" or "bad". Instead, I'm trying  to analyze and investigate by presenting my advocacy here. Let the reader in me decide, is there something actually gone bad or I'm seeing this happening for having no oneness among the practitioners for improving the subject Software Testing.
  2. Any guidelines or standards can become a rule. The guidelines or standards will have this capability if the context goes uncontrolled and unexpected. This can become a nightmare to practitioners and industry. May be for this few oppose.
  3. Software industry before it starts the task of mass production or mass manufacturing, it is an industry where most of its time are spent in design, analysis, implementation and continuous evaluation of output. Contexts and technology which comes or changes unexpectedly will make the scenarios much more challenging here.
    • With this, standards might not fit in so soon if it used as a rule.
    • If used as a guideline, it will be a corner document in physical drive of disk.
    • Software industry is still young as per me, for all this.
    • But the registered organization in a country will have standards to adhere with Quality Management Systems.
  4. Support of academic and industry practitioner groups of a subject is very essential for forming standards in the subject. Do we have that? 
  5. I did not invitation for working ISO 29119 is not evident to be public at this time of my writing. ISO has to think about giving the publicity of its work.
  6. Pricing of ISO 29119 draft, is not convincing in this context and I expected the first few drafts of it to be be free until, academic and industrial practitioner groups accepts and support the standards formed. I could not read as I could not afford it.
  7. With all these points, I cannot convince myself to support the STOP ISO 29119 or support WG26 team for their work.
  8. Before saying it is bad or good, there are stuffs which has to be done and it is not yet started. These are mentioned in above sections.

-- End of Part 3 --

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