ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119: The New International Software Testing Standards

Once published, these new software testing standards are expected to form the basis for tester qualifications and test process assessment and improvement approaches.
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Nov. 22, 2012 - PRLog -- In May 2007 ISO formed a working group to develop a new set of standards on software testing – a new area for ISO – these standards are now due for publication starting in May 2013.  

Although there are several testing standards already available, they currently provide only limited coverage of the testing discipline.  Probably the most popular is IEEE 829 Software Test Documentation, which was the first testing standard published in 1983 - the latest version was published in 2008. Also useful are two testing standards published by BSI in 1998; BS7925-1 is a testing vocabulary, while BS 7925-2 is a component testing standard, the main contents of which are definitions and examples of test case design techniques.  The ISO initiative is closely-supported by IEEE and BSI, both of which have donated the above standards as source documents to the project (these standards will be retired when the new standards are published).

The new ISO 29119 standards should fill many of the existing gaps – there are currently four parts.  The first covers ‘concepts and terminology’, the second ‘test processes’, the third ‘test documentation’, and the fourth ‘test techniques’.  Unlike previous standards, the new standards cover testing at all levels; the organizational level (e.g. creating test policy and organizational test strategy), test management (e.g. test planning, test monitoring and control, test completion) and the fundamental test process (but only dynamic testing – static testing will come in a subsequent release).  There are also two further parts in the pipeline on ‘test assessment’ and ‘keyword-driven testing’.

Parts of the new standard have already been released in draft form as part of the rigorous ISO review process – nearly 30 countries are represented on the ISO working group - and many thousands of comments have been incorporated in improving them.  Draft versions are also already being used within a number of multi-national organizations; these organizations are already seeing the benefits of reusing the well-defined processes and documentation provided by standards reflecting current industry best practices.  Once published, these standards are also expected to form the basis for tester qualifications and test process assessment and improvement approaches.  

The standards have been written to be generic – they are intended to be usable on any size project, for projects using any life cycle model (e.g. both agile and traditional and anything in between), and for any application domain (e.g. safety-critical, financial, media, web-based, etc.).  Users can claim full conformance or, if only parts are applicable to them (e.g. they are only responsible for part of the testing as it has been partially outsourced) then they can claim tailored conformance.
If you are interested in the development and/or review of these standards you can contribute through your national standards body.  If you are simply interested in using these internationally-recognized testing standards to improve your testing (or that of your test service suppliers) then draft versions are already available to purchase.
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