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…?! ๐Ÿ™‚

Bidding Adieu to Yahoo!

16 06 2010

It has been an awesome journey for me in Yahoo!. I have made some great friendships, which would last a lifetime and also managed to get to know some good people with whom I would like to be associated with now and in the future. This was a long journey (one of my longest tenure in a single organization), which was filled with a lot of learning and strives, some I faced with confidence and others where I did falter. A good journey altogether, which matured me and made me look at life from the eyes of others who mattered. During this journey, I met the person with whom I plan to spend the rest of my lifetime and have been managing to steer myself through mood swings and great loving times.

Yahoo! as a company, is one Great place to work for. You get all the freedom to do what you want, get to travel (and expense it to company accounts – when you go for Campus or Regular Interviews). You imbibe a lot of learning, most of which is available to you through theย labyrinth, which in Yahoo! yodel, we call the TWiki (the Technical Wiki), although most of the material available freely on it is no where near ‘technical’ ๐Ÿ™‚

The Yahoo! culture is one great learning force, which enhances the knowledge of many a fresh faces and minds. Many have tried to introduce some sort of process into this madness, in the form of ‘Yet Another Technical Place’, but the culture of adhoc’ism prevails and drives the energy and work force to yet newer and innovative levels. (I know I am going to get a reprimand from my oldest mentor, for such a long sentence, but couldn’t help it ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Yahoo! is a brand name, which lives in the life’s of online people around the world, it is synonymous with the Internet, and might have lost its sheen in search, but is still a force to contend with when it comes content. It supplies the best on the web, without doubt. It was “Jerry and David’s Guide to the Web” and has remained “THE Guide to the Web”. Critics have said that Jerry should have taken the decision in favour of Microsoft, but they are not the people who have nurtured the Organization to the stage at which it is today. Yes, Jerry does have sentimental values for a company he created, but he took the right decision. Yahoo! is a BRAND, which stands out on the big bad Web, and Jerry knew he could turn it into a profitable venture. He has brought in the right person to bring about this change. She may be a bit outspoken, but she is making the right decisions to keep all happy.

Ok, enough of this rant. To conclude, I would say that Yahoo! has great internal talent pool and a culture to moot for. Now that is being cultivated to bring about the required changes to make Yahoo! happen.

My colleagues and friends made it a GREAT day for me and I was for once really feeling hollow and devoid of words on what to thank them with. It really does not feel that I am leaving, and saying good-bye to all that I have enjoyed and nourished. I do not wish to do so, specially after 3 1/2 years of being here. But, as they say – “All Good Things Have To Come To An End!!”, so does my really great innings at Yahoo!.

Thanks All for being there and all the help and love rendered over this long fruitful journey!

Adieu, Afscheid and Sustantivo…

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Work Culture

12 01 2010

I am still not sure as to why people want you to be political in the work life. They want you to cut corners, claim credit for what you have not done and generally make you into something which you were not meant to be. My aspirations have been always to grow technically in whatever I do. Since my childhood I was interested in breaking open all sorts of things just to figure out, how in hell did they work. I was fascinated by computer games and miniatures and loved playing with computers (although managed to keep my hands away from opening them) and making miniature things. This fascination led me to join Engineering and carry forward my interests. I skipped getting into the armed forces as I thought it would curb my passion for electronics, but I landed into something worse… the cut throat competitive and politics filled world of the Indian Corporate sector.

People want you to change and start claiming points for what others have done, they want you to cut down others, as to them that is the only way that you can hope to grow. Why I ask? Why should this be the way of the corporate world? Can’t we live life on our achievements alone?

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.

Work @ Big Corporates

20 12 2006

So, I have started work at another one of those so-called Big Corporates which they say have the best policies for their employees. But does the Work Culture and the kind of work being offered also effect the employee’s or are they to be silent spectators in the grand wide scheme of things of churning out one badly conceptualized product after another?
Even the best of organizations are unable to offer the type of employee satisfaction that is required when working. I think it mostly depends on the seniors to ensure the type of quality work and environment which compels the employee to stick around and do the work given sincerely and to his own satisfaction level rather than that of the Organization. We do have a responsibility towards all those who are working with or for us to ensure that they are constantly energized to do the kind of work that is required from them. work and Money do not go hand-in-hand everywhere, but with the rising expectations [on the Money front] of the new breed of IT people who are coming into the field has fueled a sort of a mad rush where everyone just seems to be running for the money and not the work that is offered.
We are ready to take up a downright insulting work to our intellect rather than compromise on the Money part. Then the cribbing starts…
Why do we do this? Have we been ignoring these issues in the past so that the monster has become uncontrollable? I think so, we try to think of everything in terms of Money and in this we tend to spend a lot of it even when we might have not earned it, this way we start looking for avenues to make more and end up in the classic trap of making more Money without looking at the Work we may be doing to earn the same. I think it is high time we understood our priorities and started doing what we really wish for instead of chasing that elusive Money which might never give us the satisfaction we need.

Then again, it is also the prerogative of the seniors who need to start making the Work more interesting so as to reduce the problem of Attrition being faced by all. If we start making work interesting along with the money then we might just manage to curb this fascination of people to splurge and then look for avenues to retrieve back that lost Money. This way we might even manage to save the ever impeding problem of salaries in India crossing the profitability mark for the Corporates and save ourselves from a Big Depression…

Documenting the development process!

17 04 2002

Got a good scolding from my Sr. Manager today on the way I am using to code stuff. Had written an earlier post on how to code or rather begin code, and I seem to have done the exact opposite. Specially I grew excited on creating this first PHP script which was to be the beginning of the Defect Tracking Page and in my enthusiasm to display my created product forgot to follow the guidelines and got it ‘smack’ on… ๐Ÿ˜€ (knew it was coming)
Now I need to really remember the mantra – document, document, test, document, code…

Insecurites Again!!

20 03 2002

Recently I had that brush with not having a job again!!
The Manager asked me and my colleague to pack our things and leave the office. The decision to make us join again will be taken after 2-3 days; when we were supposed to come and take our training certificates… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
Well! Seems like the time tests you again and I had to go through a lot during those three days, along with friends consolations about finding a new job or my thinking on the option of again going for the Army training, which I had missed out on to pursue a career in Software. Anyways! things turned out fine in the end and we were given permanent positions. This again is a problem when all your insecurities go and you are stable, you tend to again go lax after completing a few days of really good hard work.
I am actually not being given that choice as my Manager is a real disciplined person who believes in doing everything right the first time through (can’t say exactly on those terms, but he likes the things to have a lifeline and we need to follow on that). I seem to go along with that, but do also tend to falter on these things and start doing things the way a college student would. This is where I need a bit of a strict hand to steer me back to the defined path…