True Testimony – The Many Hats of a Software Tester
‘Good things come to those who try, great things come to those who Test’ 😊 The web has made a software tester’s task both- difficult and easy, demanding yet rewarding and challenging yet intriguing. Much like blogger’s- appealing from a distance, complex at close proximity. When I started working on this write-up, I was convinced this one is not a cake walk: ‘The Tasks of a Software Tester’. I was persuaded, it is a bagful of testing, retesting, verifying what you have and finally testing what you have verified! But mind you, there is more to a tester than meets the eye. I am attempting to list the many powers of this computer superhero but owing to my own human limitations, I am convinced I would not be able to exhaust the list completely! Reader’s alert: If you ever thought a software tester’s job is MERELY testing applications for bugs (like I did), this one’s for You. The Plan Jet, set, TEST, Go: (Test automation and scripting) The world of software testing is fast changing. Many believe that automated tests are the answer to the tedious process of manual testing. However, testers should not only know how to create automated tests but also choose which tests are most suitable for automation. In other words, creating tests is like working on a jigsaw puzzle! The creator attempts the pieces in his hand to fit perfectly with each other to complete the bigger picture in his mind. Ask and you shall get, Answers (Requirements gathering) A wise tester asks questions until he/she is sure of having acquired all the information needed to effectually plan, prepare and execute an effective Test Program. He/she needs to be wary of falling into the trap of assumptions that leads to ambiguity and confusion. This is very important as it can put the overall success of the Project at a huge risk! A Tester a day keeps the bugs away: (Producing quality reports) What is the core task of a software tester? Identifying problems or potential problems so that further decisions can be made by the team and the Management. But this is hardly the complete picture. Reporting and communicating test results is a crucial job of the tester. Providing sound reports on the exact status of the test ensures transparency with the Management and better coordination of the overall project in turn. This is the key to taking the right decisions. RIGHTting code: (writing code) Spoiler alert: Lots of jargon coming up, or should I say LOADING… Testers require proficient knowledge of coding when they opt for automation testing or white box testing. This is because automation testing involves statement coverage, code coverage, cyclomatic complexity, etc. These concepts stand on the foundation of an upright database and programming skills. Coding enables the tester to evaluate the application microscopically, making it easier to comprehend its functioning and creating tests accordingly. On the other hand, Programming knowledge helps in identifying possible errors in the application code which further reduces the chances of bugs and application inefficiencies. Test before you leap: (monitoring production environments) Testers spend a lot of time building environments that replicate production impeccably. But, hey, frankly, surviving a dashing car arcade is nothing compared to driving through actual roads. The latter has far more bumps. There are more similarities and (hopefully) few differences in the test and production environment. However, even the slightest variation can have a huge impact. This calls for a close monitoring of the production environment. The Execution Duly Noted: (Documentation) A well-documented test process aids both individual testers as well as enterprises to allocate the right budget and resources to a project. Hence, planning and systematic documentation go hand in hand with flawless testing. This skill also helps track the changes in requirements, check test processes and trace deviations and also smoothen the reporting and logging of work. Your wish is my Command -fn + wish: (customer support and training) If you imagined a tester is a force from the behind the scenes, think again! Having followed the test project from the start, the tester is equipped to respond and cater to customer requirements. After all, he has superpowers remember? One of them being an eye for finer nuances and shortcomings that you and I (definitely me) can’t see. Into the Future: (Test data management) The rise of new software development methodologies demanding faster release cycles has created a new set of challenges for Test Data Management. Carefully prepared Test data remains a shield against the danger of an application responding to unusual, extreme, exceptional or unexpected attacks. The challenge is to create data that reflects future production data and how users will use the application. LITmus Test (Analysis of production and other user data) Can’t stop bugging you, eh? Even after production, a tester is bound to analyze the system for checking areas that are susceptible to errors, intrusions or of course, bugs. This is a supremely important function as it lends insights into how the user is using the system and how it can be improved further. Generally, this is done by performing a test analysis of the bugs reported by the user using multiple techniques. This is followed by the elimination of causes that lead to imperfections. Each one, teach many: (Test coaching and consulting) One of the important responsibilities of a tester is imparting useful information to the developers regarding multifarious aspects such as Acceptance testing, Manual testing and Integration testing. While defining the specification of features or work items, this information empowers the developers to write basic unit tests that pass acceptance conditions before those items are marked ready for testing. Test coaching is extremely resourceful as it makes the developer more confident and efficient. Thinking Out of the Bugs: (Being creative) Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and creativity lies at the behest of the tester. Testing is hardly the monotonous repetitive task one would imagine it to be. It opens avenues of creativity and experimentation for the tester. He/ she can design new ideas, improve the old ones and stretch the limit of existing barriers. After all, what is the body of a job without a little of your heart in it! Disclaimer: This blog was not evaluated by any tester for bugs, hence, all flaws in the above writing are solely mine!