Seven Software Testing Plots

Christopher Booker says there are only Seven Basic Plots. In our microcosm called the software testing community we also have some basic story plots heard no matter where we may work. Ever wondered what these storylines look like? We’ve outlined our seven favourite plotlines just for you.

Software Testing is/is not Dead

The ontology of software testing has been in existence pretty much since Grace Hopper coined the word bug. The storyline tends to go along the lines, software testers are no longer required now software developers do all the software testing. This plotline tends to be a favourite every time there’s a significant change in how we develop software. A definite popcorn watcher.

Manual Versus Automation Testing

This one never seems to go away, though try doing a search on any major jobsite and you will be stretched to find the role of ‘manual tester’. Still, that doesn’t stop the plot being pulled apart and dissected. After all, any good story needs a villian, and test automation or manual testing is the perfect candidate.

Context Matters

We love a storyline that explains why our work requires the smarts. The context matters storyline neatly explains away why your software testing was not providing value and offers the solution, “Hire me, I’m smarter”. This storyline has loads of subplots, heroes and villains. Spoiler Alert, the story ends with “It Depends”

Tester Conflict

I’m guilty of over telling this story. The plot summary is: Tester loves profession, discovers software testing is harder due to many reasons. For instance, you realise most outside of the profession don’t recognise it as a ‘real job’. You also realise that telling people bad news all day sucks, and finally, change is hard. Conflict ensues, until the software tester either becomes a BA or moves into devops.

Testing is easy/hard

Most software testers will go at lengths to explain why its so hard to find bugs. The ‘testing is easy’ storyline tends to come from those outside of the testing community. While the storyline is fairly simplistic, this storyline is a box office smash hit, with CTO’s and Heads of Engineering queing up to drink the kool-aid and automate and/or outsource all the things.

It’s all about the tool

This plot is the fairytale story of all testing plots. Sometimes it’s described as Test Automation Snake Oil. It’s a simple story with a happy ending. The plot describes how one test automation framework can save the day and change your life forever. To be honest I don’t know many die-hard software testers (still in the profession) who buy into this BS. They are too smart for that (see plot Context Matters).

Testing Versus Checking

Boy oh Boy, when this storyline came out, the feathers of a thousand black swans were ruffled.(Fun fact, did you know black swans have white feathers under their wings?) This storyline had all the makings of a blockbuster with famous authors and convincing plot but somehow never took off. It died, quietly buried in the elephants graveyard with other ideas that seemed great on paper but in practical terms not helpful.


Genre: Horror Story

Jeez, did the software testing community get their knickers in a twist over this one! Certification is/was the devil’s work, with people quietly turning their certification to the wall for fear of being ostracized. This plot was heavily sponsored by people invested in selling their non-certified training. This is one story that has retired to the land of myth as mostly the software development industry finds the topic irrelevant.

Yes, I lied there are eight!