My Problem with the Pyramid: Introducing the Round Earth Test Strategy Heuristic

There's a diagram out there called the "Testing Pyramid" (or sometimes the "Test Automation Pyramid"). It seems quite popular among the companies I visit. The Pyramid makes at least one good suggestion, but we can do better than that! In this talk I will tell you my problems with the Pyramid, and why I prefer a more powerful analogy: planet Earth.

The Round Earth model, like the Pyramid, suggests that tools used underneath the GUI level provide better leverage for testing than tools that try to simulate the user through the GUI. But it also reminds us that testing at the GUI level is quite important and should not be neglected. Users "live" on the "surface" of the products we build, and as products are built on top of lower level components, the "surface area" of the product tends to expand. This suggests that we should control risk by maximizing testability, giving testers access to deep layers of the product, using tools to help test the deep product, and yet maintaining focus on the surface, so that we remain in full contact the implications of failure to user experience.


James Bach is the founder and principal consultant of Satisfice, Inc., a software testing and quality assurance company. In the eighties, James cut his teeth as a programmer, tester, and SQA manager in Silicon Valley in the world of market-driven software development. He is a pioneer of agile, rapid, and exploratory approaches to software testing. He is the author of Lessons Learned in Software Testing and Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success.



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