Monday, 31 October 2011

Build your own model of software testing – or rediscover one from several thousand years ago

I was working out the kinks in my high level software testing model, and, through a process of speed reading and stichomancy I found that I have re-created an early Buddhist doctrine.
In “The Story of Chinese Zen” by Nan Huai-Chin, I find listed the five Skandhas:
  • form
  • sensation
  • conception
  • activity
  • consciousness
I was boiling my model down to:
  • model
  • observe
  • intent
  • manipulate
  • reflect
I’ve re-ordered my list to  tie in more closely to the Skandhas.
Quite a useful coincidence.
Below I list a simple set of my correspondence ‘tween the lists.
I have ‘model’ instead of ‘form’ because our world comes to us from our perception of it, not from it itself. Perception allows us to experience bias and hallucination, and provides the scope for us to change how we perceive.
As testers ‘sensation’ comes to us through our awareness, with our observation. We have to learn how to expand our range of observations and utilise tools to help us observe. Acts of observation can help us turn noise into data and subsequently into information which we can act upon.
When we test with intent, we bring purpose into our testing. We know what we set out to do/explore/check/exploit/etc. We often move off the beaten path and open ourselves to surreptitious happenstance, but only if we observe that happening can we utilise it.
Manipulate – the favourite ‘bad’ word of the hypnotist, although even as a hypnotist I felt happy using it, and as a tester I do it frequently. Shaping the system through my action.
Reflect, if all we did was progress from our initial intent then we would not learn. We reflect, to learn, move on, ever better, and more deeply.

And so, dear reader. Did you create your model yet? If so, see where else you can find it!

Follow on Reading:

Thanks to James Lyndsay for the recent chat about correspondences between my model and his.


  1. Interesting - especially as I started making notes on a five-element theory of software development process a few days ago. Reassured by your post that mine might not be as crazed as I thought at the time :)

    Mild disappointment that the skandhasexplan.htm link wasn't as exciting as the filename might suggest, however :(

  2. Thanks Chris, I'm always pleased when my posts help people feel more comfortable with their own level of sanity.

    Having read your blog I don't think a potentially crazed model would have stopped you in any way. :)



  3. [...] Alan set up the session by showing us his MoRim model of software testing [...]