What is a boundary (part 2)?

In this post, I gave a working definition of a boundary. That definition was "a boundary is any criteria by which I factor my model of what I'm testing."

James Bach challenged me to come up with three specific examples and to tell him how they are boundaries. With that, I pulled out my moleskin and drew three different models: a UCML model, a system diagram, and the model I used to test the time-clock application.

I quickly came up with a list of 16 factors based on those three models. It became apparent to me that only 5 of those sixteen factors was a boundary. So much for that definition.

As I looked over the list I tried to figure out what was unique about the actual boundaries I identified. Then I thought about something Julian Harty once said to me about boundary testing. He asked the question, "do all boundaries have a quantifiable component?" (Or it was close to that in my memory. If I misquoted him, he'll let me know and I'll update the post.)

When he asked that, I immediately said no. He then asked me for an example, and I struggled to find one. At WHET #4, Rob Sabourin gave a beautiful example of boundary bugs from an experience testing Arabic to Latin text conversion. So I still think it's no, and I now have an example. However, it's still an excellent question, and remembering it gave me an insight to my working definition.

I have a new working definition:

"A boundary is any manipulatable criteria used to factor the model I'm using for the product I'm testing."

In the definition above, manipulatable means I can change it and it means I can measure/monitor it. Using that definition, when I went aback to the factors I identified from my three models, I was able to include those I felt were boundaries.

(At some point, if I think of it, I'll scan and post the moleskin pages.)