Reflections on the past, present and future

Published in volume 17, issue 1, March 2007
Introduction by new Editor-in-Chief Jeff Offutt

This issue of STVR marks my first as Chief Editor. Shortly before this issue went to press, we unexpectedly and posthumously received an almost completed editorial from the outgoing editor, Martin Woodward. I decided to publish this, his last, editorial as I believe he wished. It includes thoughtful and sometimes poignant thoughts on his many years of experience as Chief Editor. I plan to introduce my plans and goals for the journal in the following issue. The following words are Martin's.

First let me introduce the contents of this issue. Macario Polo, Sergio Tendero and Mario Piattini, in their paper "Integrating techniques and tools for testing automation", employ a number of diverse techniques (including program reflection) to automate the generation of test cases for Java and .NET programs. The main novelty is not in the techniques themselves, but in their integration into a coherent process. An experiment has been performed to help validate the work.

Qiang Guo, Robert M. Hierons, Mark Harman and Karnig Derderian, in their paper "Heuristics for fault diagnosis when testing from finite state machine", offer a useful way to connect testing with debugging in the context of finite state machines. Finding failures through testing has traditionally been quite separate from the complementary job of locating the sources of those failures; faults, or symptoms in the terminology of this paper. Heuristics for fault isolation are presented and analyzed, and a case study has been performed to start validation of the ideas.

As Lee White pointed out in his Editorial for the last issue, both he and I are standing down as Editors. This clean sweep gives the new Chief Editor, Jeff Offutt, a free hand to initiate whatever changes he sees fit, so that STVR can be re-energized and have an even bigger impact on the community it serves. Lee continued his Editorial for STVR 16(4) by being nostalgic about STVR's history. I hope readers will forgive me for likewise reminiscing a little about the journal's past.

When I took over from the founding Editor, Derek Yates, in the summer of 1992, due to his illness at that time, STVR had just changed publisher from Sigma Press to Wiley and there was a notable shortfall in quality material. Things had begun to slip behind drastically. One of my first actions was to agree a three-year plan with Wiley that aimed to publish the journal at rather more frequent intervals than the now familiar three-monthly one in order that the date on the cover could catch up with the actual date of distribution. This involved extensive promotion of the journal to encourage authors to submit papers, together with pro-active commissioning of some papers and a couple of special issues devoted to best papers from the early EuroSTAR conferences which had just started in 1993. The recovery plan succeeded and, by early 1996, the journal was on track with each new volume lined up with the calendar year. In the ten years since then the journal has managed to keep to its publication schedule.

One particular paper from 1996 stands out as particularly deserving a mention, namely "Testing object-oriented software: A survey" by Bob Binder. It caused Lee, myself and Wiley much soul-searching as we tried to figure out how to handle such a lengthy manuscript. Although it was an amazingly comprehensive and scholarly piece of work, its 128 pages were equal to the entire page budget for two whole issues. So that was our solution -- a double issue devoted to one whole paper! Bob went on to develop his ideas and produced the equally comprehensive text on Testing Object-Oriented Systems, published by Addison Wesley in 2000.

Another long paper from the early years that stands out is "Fault coupling in finite bijective functions" by K.S. How Tai Wah. The work involved a theoretical model of fault coupling and seemed to cause a bipolar split amongst those who read it. There were those who thought it was too simplistic and unrealistic a model and there were those who thought it was an inventive and ingenious first step at a difficult theoretical problem. STVR chose to take the latter line and the paper was published at 46 pages in STVR 15(1).

Whether allowing authors the space required to properly describe their work, as with the two papers just mentioned, sent out a signal is impossible to tell, but by August 1999 when Lee and I met in Oxford we had begun to recognize that long papers were becoming a problem. As Lee's Editorial in STVR 9(4) testifies, we agreed to try and encourage submission of short notes. Unfortunately we received very few short submissions in response to this plea and only published two that I can recall. The preponderance of long papers has now become quite acute and frequently we have found ourselves unable to include more than two papers per issue without exceeding our page budget. Whilst subscribers are still receiving their money's worth, the lack of diversity must inevitably make such issues appear less appealing and interesting. This is one of several problems that Jeff is going to have to tackle.

Finally, let me thank all those who have helped me over the years, especially Co-editor -- Lee White, Deputy Editor -- Derek Yates, and Book Reviews Editor -- Rob Hierons. Thanks also to all the authors who have endured my persistence in trying to ensure that their papers appear in their best possible form. I wish Jeff well in his new role as Chief Editor and have every confidence he will succeed in shaping STVR for an even better and more successful future.

Martin Woodward
E-mail: m.r.woodward@csc.liv.ac.uk
22 October 2006

With modest contributions by:
Jeff Offutt
1 January 2007