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Re: Question on Developing Test Assertions

From: Mark Skall <mark.skall@nist.gov>
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 2004 09:33:48 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Patrick Curran <Patrick.Curran@Sun.COM>, Andrew Thackrah <andrew@opengroup.org>
Cc: www-qa-wg@w3.org

>2) In developing an assertion list, should the text from which they are 
>drawn be "rewritten" to make it more formal and precise, or should we 
>quote exactly the text from the spec?

>I vote for the latter. This opens up the possibility of inserting markup 
>directly into the spec to identify the assertions.
>Of course, if we simply do as we did for this exercise - insert additional 
>(assertion) text into the spec that "interprets" other text, this defeats 
>the purpose.

I think we're straying from the issue here.  You've brought up a different 
(but not really new) issue that we've discussed before.  My position is 
that you need to keep the conformance requirements short and readable by 
the masses.  The test assertions may be in more detail and need to be read 
only by the test developer.  The test assertions should make it precisely 
clear what the test will be and may be quite long.  Additionally, Andrew 
(or perhaps someone else) introduced the idea that the assertions are 
statement of fact about the implementation rather than requirements imposed 
(e.g., the spec contains rather than the spec MUST or the implementation 
produces a file that . . . rather than the implementation MUST).  This may 
be a subtle distinction but one that really makes a lot of sense (at least 
to me).


Mark Skall
Chief, Software Diagnostics and Conformance Testing Division
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8970
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8970

Voice: 301-975-3262
Fax:   301-590-9174
Email: skall@nist.gov
Received on Wednesday, 4 February 2004 09:34:50 UTC

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