Model Based Testing – The Yellow Brick Road

The future was here – now it’s the past. I am, however, wiser about the ways-of-the-model-based world. Still taking baby steps really, but starting to stand up on my feet. The real-world turned out to be a whole different ball-game from what I had envisioned (and read and expected) but it has been a fun, FUN ride and the road ahead looks fascinating – though long.


In the eons since I posted my original introduction to model based testing, a lot has happened to the world. For e.g. Wikipedia now has an article on MBT. There is an Association for the Advancement of Model Driven Quality Assurance (though they don’t actually state how one can join them!). There are a host of companies dedicated to doing only model based testing (for e.g. Reactive Systems and Confirmiq). There is an IEEE workshop on Advances in Model-based Software Testing (scheduled for Nov 2006 and looks really interesting – would love to hear from someone attending it!). There is even a new acronym for the technology – MDQA for Model Driven Quality Assurance (that’s when you know something has really taken off – when people call the same thing by different names!). I find all this amazing and reflective of the direction in which the testing industry will be moving in the next 5, 10, 20 years.


So what have I been doing all this time? Well, in a nutshell, simply using MBT to actually test something that gets shipped – in this case that happens to be portions of Commerce Server 2007 that I worked on (that should be another selling point used by the sales team and on our info sheet – “Tested Using Bleeding Edge Model Driven Testing Technology”). Along the way I cleared the hurdles and burnt my fingers while trying to keep the eye on the ball – which is always simply to test as best as you can. I now plan to expound in future posts on how to adopt MBT better, what to expect and more importantly, what not to expect from this fascinating methodology.


For this post, I will just mention the most startling thing I discovered – that this dream is going to take a long time to realize. By “this dream” I refer to that futuristic world where model based approaches are entrenched in our processes and systems. Where a tester thinks first in a model based approach whenever he/she is given something to test (even a regression!). Where the metrics are tailored to encourage testers to adopt a model based approach. Where the feature teams contribute to and strive to keep their models up-to-date. And where the tools have the features and reliability that is crucial to be able to develop models and have high levels of confidence in them.


All of these are non-trivial problems and there are no easy answers that anyone can give. But maybe that’s part of the challenge? So, all in all, buckle up and put on some good music – it’s gonna be a long, FUN ride and we’ll change the world on the way!

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