Please sign the Petition to Stop ISO 29119

Please sign this petition:

I rarely rant about software engineering standards because it seems like a waste of time. Many of the participants in the software engineering standards movement are fine people who I respect. Some of them I call friends, or would be happy to have as friends. But several groups stand to benefit from being able to claim that they are following, selling, or training a collection of processes that are simplistic and easily described, even if they are ineffective and enormously wasteful. These groups can afford to invest a lot of money dominating the standards committees that, in turn, have come to serve their interests. They can also afford to invest a lot in public relations to promote the perceived legitimacy of those committees’ work.

My experiences with the IEEE software engineering standards (which are the main basis for these ISO standards), began when I first came to Silicon Valley in 1983. They have been uniformly negative. I finally left IEEE in 2010 or 2011, at that point a Senior Member who had been recognized by IEEE for my work on their standards and even been appointed by Congress to the United States’ Election Assistance Commission’s Technical Guidelines Development Committee at IEEE’s request. (TGDC wrote technical standards and much of its work was guided by an IEEE standard that I had worked on.) I left IEEE as a protest against a software engineering standards process that I see as a closed vehicle that serves the interests of a relatively small portion of the software engineering community.

Context-driven testing developed as the antithesis of what is being pushed through ISO. They represent opposite points of view.

Standards are political documents and sometimes legal ones. The existence of a standard makes it easier for a court (or a regulator) to rule that the standard-approved approach is the professionally correct one, and the non-approved approaches (or the ones that conflict with the approved one) are professionally incorrect and therefore improper. The imposition of a standard that imposes practices and views on a community that would not otherwise agree to them, is a political power play.

If ISO 29119 is adopted and then broadly accepted as a legitimate description of good professional practice in software testing, then context-driven testing will be an example of something you should not do, a way of thinking you should avoid.

I don’t think it will do much good to sign a petition against ISO 29119, but I would rather say that I protested against it than simply accept its consequences in silence.

I recommend that you do the same.