Cem Kaner, who controls www.context-driven-testing.com, has announced an interesting change in his view of the Context-Driven School. He says he prefers to think of it in terms of the Context-Driven approach, not a school of thought. This is a significant change from his original view, which was that CDT is a different paradigm.

That means I’m the last of the founders of the Context-Driven School, as such, who remain true to the original vision. I will bear its torch along with any fellow travelers who wish to pursue a similar program.

Polarization? No. Paradigm!

One of the things that concerns Cem is the polarization of the craft. He doesn’t like it, anymore. I suppose he wants more listening to people who have different views about whether there are best practices or not. To me, that’s unwise. It empties the concept of much of its power. And frankly, it makes a mockery of what we have stood for. To me, that would be like a Newtonian physicist in the 1690′s wistfully wishing to “share ideas” with the Aristotelians. There’s no point. The Aristotelians were on a completely different path.

For me, Context-Driven thinking is delightfully about listening to people and talking to people about practices and dynamics of software testing. But this must happen within the humanist framework that we laid out in the seven principles of the Context-Driven school. That’s our world.

Polarization is beside the point. Polarization is a natural consequence of the fact that our world view is simply different. We are a different paradigm. Our paradigm cannot be explained or contained by any other testing paradigm, such as the Factory School, or the Analytical School. We must have the stomach to keep moving along with our program regardless of the huddled masses who Don’t Get It.

Why Is This Division Happening Now?

Cem’s change of position is happening partly because, after 16 years, he and I are no longer collaborators. Due to a simmering personal dispute (nothing to do with testing) that blew up last year, we no longer can stand to be in the same room with each other. Alas, I don’t think this will change. What that means, professionally, is that the conversations that we once had– the passionate arguments– which led to mutual accommodations and syntheses, no longer happen. This is too bad, because the Factory schoolers, who greatly outnumber us, will make good rhetoric out of any appearance of confusion between Cem and I about our visions of testing.

Meanwhile, I will say this about Cem: He’s a great man. His contributions to testing have been enormous. I disagree with him on some aspects of testing, but by and large he does great work. I’m sure if he weren’t so furious with me and I were able to talk to him without feeling an overpowering urge to kick holes in walls (I mean that literally), we would still be able to develop testing ideas together. However, I trust that whatever he does will be worth looking at. And I do have many other bright collaborators, so I’m going to be fine.

The Context-Driven School continues, because I, and those like me, are compelled to pursue excellence wherever it leads us, even if that means breaking with “conventional” software testing thinkers. I wish Cem luck as he consorts with those guys, but I fear his time will be, for the most part, wasted.