After watching Elisabeth Hendrickson’s CAST 2012 Keynote (I think), I briefly fell in love with her version of the “checking vs. testing” terminology.  She says “checking vs. exploring” instead. 

I love the simplicity.  I imagine when used in public, most people can follow; “exploring” is a testing activity that can only be performed by humans, “checking” is a testing activity that is best performed by machines.  And the beauty of said terms is…they’re both testing!!!  Yes, automation engineers, all the cool stuff you build can still be called testing.

The thing I’ve always found awkward about the Michael Bolton/James Bach  “checking vs. testing” terminology, is accepting that tests or testing can NOT be automated.  Hendrickson’s version seems void of said awkwardness.  She just says, “exploring” can NOT be automated…well sure, much easier to swallow.

The problem, I thought, was James and Michael’s testing definition was too narrow. Surely it could be expanded to include machine checks as testing.  Thus, I set out to find common “Testing” definitions that would support my theory.  And much to my surprise, I could not.  All the definitions (e.g., Merriam-Webster) I read, described testing as an open-ended investigation…in other words, something that can NOT be automated.

Finally, I have to admit, Hendrickson’s term, “exploring” can be ambiguous.  It might get confused with Exploratory Testing, which is a specific structured approach, as opposed to Ad Hoc testing, which is unstructured.  Hmmm…Elisabeth, if you’re out there, I’m happy to listen to your definitions, perhaps you will change my mind.

So it seems, just when I thought I could finally wiggle away from their painful terminology, I am now squarely back in the James and Michael camp when it comes to “checking vs. testing”.


Per Elisabeth Hendrickson, I’m one of the 80% of test managers looking for testers with programming skills.  And as I sift through tester resumes, attempting to fill two technical positions, I see a problem; testers with programming skills are few and far between!

About 90% of the resumes I’ve seen lately are for testers specialized in manual (sapient) testing of web-based products.  And since most of these resumes are sprinkled with statements like “knowledge of QTP”, I assume most of these testers are doing all their testing via the UI.

And then it hit me…

Maybe the reason so many testers are specialized in manual testing via the UI is because there are so many UI bugs!

This is no scientific analysis by any means.  Just a quick thought about the natural order of things.  But here’s my attempt to answer the question of why there aren’t more testers with programming skills out there.

It may be because they’re too busy finding bugs in the UI layer of their products.

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