What does testing require?

26 09 2010

Testing is not an easy job. In India, software began in a big manner due to the test capabilities that were advertised for gaining a ground in the software field. That does not mean that we were not making good software, but test capabilities were the ones which catapulted us. It is not as simple as just writing a few scripts in shell or for the GUI. As James Whittaker has written, in his article on testing, it takes skill and a good knowledge of the domain that you are testing for. It is tougher than development of the same. Developers need to know the technology and they know the domain. Testers need to know much more. They need to know the workings of the application and the domain, along with how the user will use it.

From the viewpoint of the tester, it is never just a small portion of the feature that is being done work on. He has to know what all inputs can come into the product/feature and what kinds of output are expected by the downstream/next to make it to work. I learnt it that way, and that is why I love the profession of test. I know the product from the user viewpoint and also from the viewpoint of the Dev (the inner workings). Along the way, I made a lot of learnings. Although I would say that I lost the ability to program in any specific language; I learned a lot about logic and analysis of a problem.

Along with the above, testing also requires a lot of understanding of the tools that you need to use to implement the tests. This may be in the form of commercially available tools (Mercury QTP, SilkTest, Rational, WinRunner, etc.) or open source tools (Selenium, Watir, Fitnesse, etc). You can create your own using scripting languages or regular languages. After testing for a few years on different technologies and platforms, you should be able to shift from one to the other, which is not as easy for the developers who are working on a particular technology, but they find it easier to shift domains. What do you think…?! 🙂

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When do we say testing is complete?!

1 06 2010

This is one of the favourite questions asked during an interview for Test Professionals. The answers that I have heard in various interviews have been as varied. The answer to this question could be a simple – “When a tester has exhausted all the test cases he built for the application under test”. But, recounting on my experience, the answer is not this simple. The requirement for ending a test cycle and saying that the product is “Ok Tested”, takes in a lot more than this. It depends mostly on what the team perceives as the “testing” being completed. It may be as basic as running a single command to as complex as creating a whole new suite of test frameworks to check the product/application.

A good answer from my end would be more like, all the basic user interfaces (user can be internal or external, api or ui, etc.) have been verified as working and all the user scenario’s possible (with regard to the business requirements documented) have been validated. This exercise should result in zero P1/S1 bugs and x% of other bugs (as defined differently across projects and/or Organizations), which have been carefully filed and are reproducible with the given steps. Comments to the contrary are welcome 🙂





Regression Testing

28 05 2010

Regression with an automated test suite is a frequently used/abused phrase. People need to first understand what “regression” actually means.

Regression testing in a nutshell relates to the activity, by which we check a new application/product, for all the previous functionality; while keeping the newly added features unused. Basically, we validate that the new code has no effect on the older functionality. Regression is not used/should not be used to check for a functionality which has changed. As a change in functionality means that it is a new feature and needs to be verified first before it is validated.





Personal Issues @ Work

28 02 2010

Should we begin work with thoughts other than work on our minds? Organizations which have matured have started dealing with the employees personal issues also. As they have understood that to have a great working force, they need to be fresh in mind when they enter Office. This makes them concentrate on work and leave their worries behind atleast for the time span that they are in the Office premises.

Most of the time it is the managers job to act as the personal shoulder weep in these situations, but things are changing. We gradually are seeing more professional help coming in with the introduction of counselors, whose job is to make the employees feel at ease. My point here being, why should the managers always be the ones to take care of the personal weeps of an employee. Managers themselves have enough to take care of in the professional front, with all the cost cutting and such activities, having to hold back employees is taking a toll on them. Over that, the extra burden of trying to resolve personal matters is another thing.

I have been going through a lot of this lately and have began to feel that the responsibility of personal matters should depend on the employee and professional help needs to be sort out. Taking recourse on the senior management is not an option and should not be used for matters where they are also helpless than to just give advice and hope the employee can get through with his work.





Appraisal System

14 11 2009

Was talking with a colleague on the current appraisal system that is adopted across most of the Organizations. They usually go with an yearly system, in which the person to be appraised is told to write out his goals for the year and then he gets to finish whatever he has stated in the goals over a period of a year. Well! most of the time, when the final appraisal is done, it is for the work done in the past quarter… and the person who has been consistent throughout the year loses out.





Interviewing the Interview Process

12 10 2009

Do people realize that when they go for an interview on the impression they make on the person[s] sitting across the table, trying to evaluate them? I think not. Most of the people I know ignore the basic fact that they are the ones who are looking out for an opportunity and it is they who need to create an impression. They regard the basic interview process as one in which they just need to write something on their CV and expect the interviewer to understand that although, it is there, they have not really worked on the same.

This practice and activity is predominantly seen with the senior members rather than the juniors. The seniors, when they reach a certain stage in their work career [5 years in Service companies and 7-8 years in Product based ones], they tend to lean towards managing people, rather than managing themselves. Hence, the failure to clear even the simplest of technical questions, which if given to a fresher, he/she would have done the same in a jiffy.





Indian Education!!

13 03 2007

Seems like there is a lot going on on the Education System in India. I had written a short blog on this a long time back and thought would explore it more now that it has become a hot topic. So, would love to add my thoughts on it too. 🙂
The education system here has evolved mostly around a few basic fields of interests – engineering and medical being the main in these. I would attribute the growing trend of these to the lure of a steady life and the money these offer. Parents are more enamored by the life they see of the few who have made it good and the stories they hear of the wealth made in these professions. Although, these days the trend is changing in the larger metros, we still find the young crowd being more attracted towards these professions. In regard to these professions only have risen the IIT’s and IIM’s of India. These are good institutes, but the basis of their teaching here is to make better people out of people who already are!! I ask what is the principle behind these institutes which make the person toil over exams and more practicals and then expect them to churn out the same which has been taught by ‘rote/mugging’ onto the jobs they take up. Yeah! sure these people are chosen few from the various exams which are initially conducted to chalk out the cream muggers from the average muggers. As aptly pointed out by a colleague, these guys destroy their creativity in trying to learn the various heavy books through which are educators are wanting to make us learn on topics which may have little or absolutely no value in the job life. Engineering colleges teach on what not subjects like Compilers and Operating Systems, and the person lands a job creating application software in Java, not a systems job of creating those OS or compiler products. Where are we taking the nation? People have pointed out that these are the premier institutes, but they are more in name than how things are taught. Nowadays the person who graduates from these is looking for more value to himself than to add value to the Organization. Attrition rates have risen and along with that so have the salaries of people engaged in those activities. I don’t say that is bad from my prospective, but it is not a good thing also.
To cope up with these the creative try and emulate them; and they end up getting more frustrated and sending their siblings and offspring’s on the same path where they saw the lesser frustration and more money. I have a friend in IIT doing her master’s, all I hear the lament from her is she has an ‘xam or a practical which is coming up and she is awake for the last 2-3 days working on it??!! Isn’t that stifling the actual creative mind? The teachers these days don’t have time to read the so called ‘xams which the students are put through. So, they adopt a cardinal rule of the thumb. How long is the answer? Does it have any illustration and does it adhere to the kunji or answers that they had given the students in the class!!
If the student tries to be creative in the answers, he/she is punished by a lower grade or a negative marking.
On the topic of IIT’s and IIM’s, whom do they think they are churning out!! Ok, there are a few exceptions who after coming out apply their brains and come up with ideas, but is that enough? Are they really creative or just logically coming to conclusions from their brains which have become mechanical after all that ‘rote/mugging’ sessions? I think the later is more to the point. IIM graduates boast of big salary packages, but are they actually making a difference also? There is a comment on Joel’s site [of Joel on Software fame] about MBA making the Organization bloated and fail!! I agree with him somewhat in that. We really do need to access the kind of education we are imparting and not gloat over the fact that Indian kids are doing better in maths and sciences than the American kids.