August 21, 2014

Forming a resistance against ISO 29119

Here are the headlines: #Stop29119 petition, Professional Tester's Manifesto. Want more juice? Read on...

ACT I: CAST 2014

There's been a storm brewing in the world of testing for some time, which was finally brought into the open at CAST 2014. James Christie's presentation (available in slide format, or via the video below), entitled "Standards - Promoting quality or restricting competition?", focused on the anti-competitive implications of the forthcoming ISO 29119 testing standard. It's a great primer for those who aren't already aware of it.

If you watched the presentation, you will have noticed that during the Q&A (at the 40:45 mark) Karen Johnson made an impassioned plea for action. ("We could actually do something... I don't want to talk about this any more!")

True to her word, action has been swift and surprisingly effective. As Karen outlined during a follow-up discussion on CAST Live, a group formed of Fiona Charles, Iain McCowatt, James and Karen (along with, as I understand it, support from the ISST) produced two documents for conference attendees: Firstly, a petition to the ISO, calling for a recall/review of the under-construction standard; and secondly, a "Tester's Manifesto" espousing the ways in which we can excel at our craft without resorting to overgeneralising written standards.

ACT II: Now it's up to us

The two documents mentioned above are now available electronically, for testers to read, review and (if they agree) add their signature.

I've merged the two together for my current desktop wallpaper. This helps to remind me of the importance of the battle. (Click the thumbnail below for a full-size version.)

Stop29119 Wallpaper

You can help by raising awareness on Twitter/LinkedIn; discussing this at your local test meetups or Lean Coffee event; and seeking to engage in discussion with those who are currently forming the standard. (Though for the latter, I'd argue that we have strength in numbers, and that individuals are too easily dismissed as - and I can't believe this is actually a term which ISO use as an insult to us - "rogue craftsmen".)

ACT III: The shape of things to come

It's clear that this is going to run and run, and I'm hoping that I can play my part in raising discussion and awareness. It seems that the battle lines are being drawn - there has already been some opposition to this opposition on LinkedIn (and, much as I hate to get drawn in by linkbait) Professional Tester magazine has accused us of being "book burners" who want to "suppress heretical ideas". What's now clear, thanks to James's talk at CAST, is that there is a growing group of renowned testers who want to see frank and open discussions about our work, rather than a boilerplate approach to testing which only suits a small group of individuals who hold vested interests.

Further Reading

Many respected authors are now espousing about the perils of ISO 29119. Many have been inspired by the discussions at CAST, but there's also analysis which pre-dates the conference. Here are a just a few of the best:

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