Public test patterns and test data Martin Jansson

Test patterns, quality patterns, Q-patterns or whatever we wish to call it. I am referring to test ideas that can be reused in similar contexts. This could for instance be File Handling, Data Types, Installation, Upgrades etc. There is nearly an infinite list of areas that could test patterns could be available for.

When you start a new project with test areas that you are not all familiar with… you wish to have some test ideas or test patterns that you might be able to apply easily. Experienced testers usually have this documented or in their heads. The test patterns created for one company is usually proprietary, so you are not allowed to bring it with you.

So when you start from scratch at a company there is a lot to wish for. You try to use what you have and need to adopt to possibly new systems. Eventually you will notice that you have almost started from scratch. You start redoing the same things that you have done before at previous companies.

I have asked some of the major test consultancy companies about how they do with test patterns and test data. So far all of them has looked at my strangely and said that it is not possible to reuse the test cases they produce. Also, that these test cases are property of the customer.

Imagine that consultant companies with a few thousand testers start assisting each other with test data, test patterns and experiences. Generally, it seems like they are not doing this at the moment. The smaller companies would have a hard time to compete if this was the case.

If there was a public website where these kinds of data could be stored it would make things easier for all testers. Perhaps it is a dystopia, but I see no reason why we need to rethink our test ideas each time we get to a new company. I can understand that these test patterns in themselves hold great value to the company and that they would like it to be theirs alone. Still, I think it should be possible to have the general areas more public.

If anyone have thought of this before and know of a place where to find these so called public test patterns and test data please assist me in pointing me in the right direction. If not, is this something we should take the initiative in starting?

Rikard Edgren August 26th, 2008

Vipul Kocher presented similar ideas at EuroSTAR 2005 with his Q-Patterns:

I guess most attendees thought that a Wiki would be great for a collective collection of test ideas, but I have not seen it happen yet.
I guess you need to work for a company that cares more for product quality than for being ahead of competitors.

Rahul Verma,, has a Wiki and might be interested in an initiative for test idea collaboration all over the world?

Henrik Emilsson March 10th, 2009

I am a bit ambivalent by the idea to create a public repository of test ideas.

It is like having a repository of possible food ingredients categorised by the type of food (soup, meat dishes, fish dishes, bread, etc). It would still require that you know how to cook, and how much of each ingredient that would be sufficient to become a recipe.
It is no guarantee that it would make anyone a chef…

And the tests are often the only delieverable that testers (consultants or not) produce, so I can see why it would seem like a threatening thing to many testers or testing consultants. I.e. the tests still have a market value.

Also, the customers that pay for consultants would not be happy if they knew that the tester is documenting tests on a public site that might come from their products (even if the tests wouldn’t have anything to do with the customer or their products). They pay for your exclusivity and you sign with an NDA.

On the other hand, it would be an extremely good thing to have such public repository if we want to improve the testing done in the industry today; and if we want to learn from eachother it would be a fantastic foundation.

So, if such repository became public I would gladly participate as much as possible. But I would not mention my contributions to my customers.

Henrik Emilsson March 10th, 2009

BTW, what do you mean by “test data”?