How the Study of Art informs my Testing

I study art in my spare time, including perusing art related blogs and attending classes. The thing that intrigues me is how much overlap I find between some of those topics and several aspects of what goes in to thoughtful, skilled testing to me:
– Intentionality
– Observation
– Practice
– Focus on the final customer, not just the immediate one
– Use of different tools to achieve different effects

Intentionality concerns a wide range of ideas in not only planning but also in creating both art and software tests. Better practitioners will be conscious of the tradeoffs they make in planning as well as mindful (a la Ellen Langer) in their execution. They consider the overall design of their work and accept their tradeoffs quite explicitly. Everything that is there is there for a reason and the unnecessary has been pared away. They are acutely aware of the cost of muddled vision- once things are sufficiently entangled in purpose or form, you need to stop to clarify goals and re-focus before you can progress.

A painter would never expect to mix clear colors on a palette already covered with the remnants of the previous day’s work. Why would we want to start a new set of tests in a befouled data environment or from a point of instability in the application? It takes time to clean and reset everything, but the alternative is a plate full of mud!

Up next time: How to Steal Like an Artist

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