Automated Test vs. Check and one time when it made a difference.

The Test vs Checks in automation discussion is heated. I hope it is going to join Religion and politics as the subject that gentlemen don’t talk in public forum.

Last week I was at two meetups: MoT Dublin and ShareIT meetup.

Question out of place

A the MoT meetup where the developer Colin Graham spoke in front of the testers (kudos to him for that!). One of the members 'assaulted’ him with an infamous question about testing and checking.
That question was completely not in place there. Automated testing wasn’t the main subject of his presentation. It was in the background at best. Putting speaker on this spot led to a long uncomfortable discussion. I only hope that Colin won’t be dishearted by this and will continue to speak and attend meetups.

My personal opinion on this subject is: There are places where that distinction is useful – but there are few and far between.

This is a story of one case when this distinction was helpful for me:

I was speaking At „share IT” meetup about What tester can learn in support  I have also written the post on this subject.

During networking part of the event, a nice guy came to me with the particular problem. He was working on the 3rd line of support and was afraid they are underutilizing their tester.

Some time ago tester joined his team just to see if that can improve work of the team. He was afraid that this experiment is going to fail. They don’t know how to use this testers skills.
I asked some questions it took me some time before I understood his situation correctly.
Finally, we got to point when he told me that they want to write test automation. My argument was: Since they have devs that are fixing bugs some automation will be useful.
But He told me that that is not what they want. They know that there are quite serious bugs in application logic. What they are hoping is that automated test will find them.

And here we arrive at the core of the issue. Not understanding what testing is. The textbook example of a problem that Automation Checks evangelist warn us.
It was the first time when I could use Test vs Check distinction. I’ve used it to explain to him that it does not cost efficient way of finding the bugs.

My interlocutor agreed that this is an answer to his question.

So the point is a distinction between testing and checking is necessary, but as with every tool, there is a place and context to use it. But please let’s avoid making from it flame war and pointless discussions.

You can read more relation from events here.

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