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Testing Foundations
Consulting in Software Testing
Brian Marick




Agile Testing

Glossary for Brian Marick's Reviews

Terminology varies greatly among different companies. I've picked one set of terms for these reviews. Whenever I've used one that I think might be confusing, I've put a link to this glossary.


As a noun, it means a newly compiled version of the product. Projects will produce many internal builds before the one that is shipped to customers. Synonyms: baseline, slice.

Build czar

The build czar is responsible for recreating product executables from scratch at periodic intervals (which may range from daily to less often than monthly). A build czar may also be responsible for packaging help files and other online documentation. Build czars typically fix problems that prevent the build from completing. Synonym: build master.


Developers write the product code. Synonyms: coder, programmer.

Development lead

Development leads guide teams of developers. They usually also have development responsibilities.

Documentation lead

Documentation leads guide teams of technical writers. They often divide their time among multiple projects.

Feature test

A feature test is one that concentrates on exploring a particular feature of a product in great detail. For example, someone testing the justification feature of a text processor would try it against many types of text - single words that extend over a line, many small words, breaks on odd boundaries, etc. - without being concerned much about how such text might come about. Contrast to task-based test.

Keeper of product requirements and interface

This person is responsible for the interface that the product shows to the customer. The scope of responsibility may range from delivering a requirements document to producing detailed descriptions (and mockups) of the product interface. This person manages the creation of documentation and packaging, but I'm treating that as belonging to the manager of product implementation. Synonyms: product planner, product manager, program manager, marketer.

Manager of product implementation

The scope of this job varies widely. The development leads report to this person. Testing leads and documentation leads may as well. Synonyms: project manager, product manager (both of which mean such radically different things at different companies that I thought it unwise to choose either).

Process auditor

The process auditor watches product development to see whether the processes agreed upon are actually being followed. The process auditor may also arrange for or perform training in topics like inspections. Synonyms: quality assurance.

Product tester

The product tester executes tests mainly from the user-visible interface, usually with little knowledge of the internals. Synonyms: independent tester, black box tester, system tester.

Regression test suite

A set of tests run against a new version of the product to see if changes broke things that used to work.

Source base

A complete collection of source code that can be used to build the product. There is usually one master source base. Developers use private copies of the source base (sometimes called "sandboxes") for development. When they are confident about a change, they "check it in" to the master source base.

Task-based test

A test that attempts to emulate a typical (or otherwise interesting) user task, in order to encounter the sorts of bugs a user might encounter. Contrast to feature test. Task-based tests often find usability problems and interaction problems among features.

Technical writer

A technical writer creates product documentation: hardcopy manuals, online help, tutorials, web pages - anything a customer reads to help understand how to use the product.

Testing lead

This person is responsible for planning, scheduling, tracking, and reporting on the work of product testers. Synonyms: test lead, testing manager.

Test suite administrator

This person is responsible for running some or all of a regression test suite when a new build of the product becomes available.




Agile Testing

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