The Commandments of Testing

  1. Thou shalt not take the name of the Tester in vain
  2. Thou shalt perform Excellent Testing
  3. Thou shalt plan Efficiently
  4. Observe the Milestone and keep it holy
  5. Honour thy Customer and thy Company
  6. Thou shalt not be Nice
  7. Thou shalt learn from History but thou shalt not Repeat it
  8. Thou shalt document Sufficiently

These concepts represent what we as testers should be capable of and comfortable doing. The role of a test professional, predominantly, is to ensure that the quality and suitability of a product going out the door is known. Not assumed, not estimated, but known. Contrary to popular belief, testers are not responsible for the quality or suitability of a release – we are primarily responsible for communicating and quantifying that information of the release to all concerned parties.

We must be happy with our station, clear on our mission, effective in our practices, and do just as much process-type stuff as we have to – and no more.

Keep these commandments in mind – and if you’re wondering why there ain’t ten of ‘em – well, let’s let James explain it:

We might assume that just because they are ‘commandments,’ there have to be ten of them. Since we know the assumption to be true (because that’s the nature of an assumption) then we convince ourselves that there is no need to ever bother checking whether the assumption may become false.

Assumptions are a very bad thing for software testers. Assumptions can reduce productivity and undermine an otherwise good project. Assumptions can even undermine a career. Good testers can never assume anything. In fact, the reason we are called testers is that we test assumptions for a living. No assumption is true until we test and verify that it is true. No assumption is false until we test that it is false.

Any tester who assumes anything about anything should consider taking up development for a career. After all, what tester hasn’t heard a developer say ‘Well, we assumed the user would never do that!’ Assumptions must always be tested. I once heard a test consultant give the advice: “Expect the unexpected.” With this I disagree; instead, expect nothing, only then will you find what you seek. – James Whittaker

We should borrow and amend a credo that developers have long known: ASSUMPTIONS CONSIDERED HARMFUL. If it makes you feel better, you can just imagine that I cracked the donkey joke, but it’s not actually going to happen in my lifetime.

The next few entries will go into each of these commandments in more detail.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering why there’s no obvious take on false witness? Well, really – if I have to specify that you shouldn’t lie while doing your job, perhaps it’s time to just give up on humanity in general. Next you’ll be saying “hey, what about murder? Murder’s HOT.”)

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