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Simple Documentation for Software Testing

Posted by Matt Archer on June 24, 2008

I was recently accepted to talk at the UK Software & Systems Quality Conference in London, on the 29th of September. My talk is titled “A Thinking Framework for Context-Driven Test Documentation” and with only a few weeks until the material needs to be submitted to the organisers, how to get my messages across has been at the forefront on my mind. One of the first points I intend to make is that… It’s OK to be confused about test documentation, because lets face it, there are so many options it makes test documentation confusing! In fact I think a lot of testing projects fail (or to put it a nicer way, could do better) if they thought more about what (and how) they were going to communicate using written media. (If you were wondering, I do intend to go on and talk about how to work around this confusion and not just leave the audience hanging 🙂 )

One of the reasons I think it can be so confusing is the vast number of phrases, terms and definitions that can come up during a conversation about test documentation. With this thought in mind I started making a list. I must confess, I got to about 20 items and then run out of steam so I turned for inspiration to the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) glossary, an old ISEB Practitioner course syllabus and a copy of the IEEE 829 standard I have as PDF. I’ve added the list below.

  • Test
  • Test Plan
  • Master Test Plan
  • Project Test Plan
  • Stage Test Plan
  • Phase Test Plan
  • Level Test Plan
  • Iteration Test Plan
  • Test Schedule
  • Test Handbook
  • Test Script
  • Test Log
  • Test Idea
  • Test Idea List
  • Test Case
  • Abstract Test Case
  • Concrete Test Case
  • Low Level Test Case
  • High Level Test Case
  • Logical Test Case
  • Test Case Specification
  • Test Procedure Specification
  • Test Specification
  • Test Case Suite
  • Test Charter
  • Test Design Specification
  • Test Interface Specification
  • Test Execution Schedule
  • Workload Analysis Model
  • Test Data
  • Test Results
  • Test Strategy
  • Test Policy
  • Test Automation Architecture
  • Test Environment Configuration
  • Defect Management Plan
  • Incident Management Plan
  • Problem Management Plan

I knew there was a lot, but this is crazy and I’m sure there are many others that I’ve missed! No project needs this much documentation – Not if they want to get some actual testing done, that is. Lets hope with the aid of a good thinking framework projects can get to a simple set of documentation for software testing.

I’ll upload the material once it’s finished, but if you want to listen in person, you can register here.

Update (08.08.08): I’ve just finished the slides for this presentation and how to whittle down the vast number of possible testing documents into something useful hasn’t made the final version of the presentation.  Instead, it’s focused on how to decide the level of detail we should write our Test Case.  I would’ve liked to cover both areas as they’re a nice link, but with only a 40 minute slot, there’s only so much that can be covered 😦

Update (04.09.2008) : This post (“Simple Test Management: Testing like a Scrum Master”) is a spin off from this original post.

5 Responses to “Simple Documentation for Software Testing”

  1. mikemacd said

    Don’t forget “unit test” 🙂

  2. mattarcherblog said

    When I created the list I was thinking about testware that I typically see written in “English” rather than code, so “unit test” never crossed my mind 🙂

    I was also trying to list testing related documents that could be dramatically shortened (or even ignored!) by focusing on the essential pieces of information and leaving out any obvious information, such as that held within the tacit knowledge of the team. It would be difficult to do this with a unit test because it either exists or it doesn’t (with no range of descriptive detail in between). That said, I’m sure a good developer could write a unit test in 6 lines of code, which may take a lesser developer 20 lines of code, but I see this being fixed through a more efficient use of the unit testing framework (as an example) than encouraging a conscious choice of descriptive detail.

  3. […] Simple Documentation for Software Testing […]

  4. Prem said

    Good article, i really like it. I am doing a bit on research about software testing and i found also macrotesting to be very good source.

    Thanks for your article

    cheers

    Prem

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