The Olympics. The World Cup. All grand battles of human strength and wit must come to an end at some point, and the 2014 Summer Bug Battle is no different.
We’re nearing the finish line for our first bug competition in nearly four years, with the days waning to get in your most impactful Desktop, Web and Mobile bug submissions from testing tools contained on our Tool Reviews site!
Testers have just six days left, until Wednesday, August 6th, and only the best battlers will take home all the due glory, respect, and the cash prizes of over $1000 for bugs that are not only the most crucial and impactful, but that are part of well-written bug reports.
As an added bonus on top of the five uTest t-shirts we’ll be giving away along with cash prizes, we have sweetened the pot even more for those that get their entries in by the end of day, Sunday, August 3rd — you’ll be eligible for a bonus drawing of 1 of 5 uTest t-shirts! But only if you enter by Sunday.
Yes, you’ll be eligible for one of the sweet uTest t-shirts you see below that Community Management colleague Andrew graciously models off for us (banana not included).
The long, nobly fought battle is nearly over, so be sure to ENTER NOW!
Every Thursday, we jump into the Throwback Thursday fray with a focus on technology from the past, like the 14.4k modem. These days, we get a little cranky when we can’t stream a two-hour HD movie from Netflix. When this happens to me, my internal dialog sounds a bit like: “How dare you, Internet, for making me watch this in standard definition! What is this, 1991?!”
We are, in fact, throwing it back to that exact year when the 14.4k modem was released.
A dial-up modem, for those of you who have never owned/used/seen/heard one, was the analog way to connect to the web. The word modem stands for modulator-demodulator. According to Wikipedia, it “is a device that modulates an analog carrier signal to encode digital information and demodulates the signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data. Modems can be used with any means of transmitting analog signals, from light emitting diodes to radio. A common type of modem is one that turns the digital data of a computer into modulated electrical signal for transmission over telephone lines and demodulated by another modem at the receiver side to recover the digital data.”
If you were using a modem at home, it typically connected through your phone line, thus making it impossible to surf the web and talk to anyone at the same time. Surfing the web with a dial-up modem took dedication and lots of alone time. It was especially great when I was waiting forever for a web page to load and someone else in my house would pick up the phone and break the connection.
Then I would have to dial in to AOL again (the dominant dial-up Internet provider at that time) and listen to this symphony of technological wonder:
Once connected, I’d have to reload the page and just wait. Again.
At the zenith of Internet connectivity via modems, some households invested in a second phone line so that you could actually talk to your friend while looking at the same horrid Geocities web page for Dave Matthews Band.
Modem speeds also got faster – 14.4k quickly bowed to 28.8k a few years later. Then came the 33.6k modem and, finally, the 56k modem. Modems still exist today (think cable modems, DSL modems, etc.) but the act of analog dial-up Internet access isn’t used by most people anymore, with the exception of remote or very rural areas.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to throw back even more, be sure to check out our entire past library of Throwback Thursdays, from odes to Sega Saturn, to the glory days of AOL Instant Messenger.
Since the launch of the new uTest in early May, we haven’t paused to build new features and functionality that can add value to your software testing lives. We know that you’re busy and keeping on top of the latest news and information in the testing world can be a challenge. Therefore, we’re happy to launch two new features today: Follow Me and Activity Feed.
The Follow Me feature is located on all uTester profiles, allowing you to easily get updates from your favorite uTesters at the click of a button, viewing the Activity Feed of their latest contributions to blog posts, tool reviews, and more.
Following your favorite uTester is easy — just look for the blue Follow Me button in the lower right corner of their banner image. With one click, you will now receive updates every time that uTester posts a new comment, pens a blog post or University course, or reviews a new tool. Don’t know the profile URL of the person you want to follow? Find it here.
The Activity Feed is your one stop to see the latest updates from the people you’re following. Your activity feed is sortable by blog comment, blog post, University course, University comment, and tool review, so you can control what types of updates you see.
The Activity Feed page is also where you can view and manage your follower list. New users are added at the top of the list, so you can identify your newest followers. We’ve also made it as easy as possible to unfollow or block users within the same window.
Not sure where to start with the new Follow Me feature? Here’s a small sample of uTesters to get you started!
- Lucas Dargis
- Caio Borghoff
- Romulo B. M. de Oliveira
- Robert Vasile Pall
- Jennifer Eshet
- Linda Seid Frembes
- Jessica Fleet
- Andrew Takahashi
- Ryan Arsenault
- Tim Fratto
- Andy Merrill
- Inge De Bleecker
- Howard Rubin
- Helen Burge
- Alex Siminiuc
- Tammy Shipps
- Aaron Weintrob
- Marek Langhans
- Steve Greenhill
- Angelos Nakulas
Mention certifications to testers and you’ll run the gamut of responses, from those that have found valuable experience and advancement in their careers by being certified, to those that preach that a certification is no substitute for cold, hard experience.
We all know how testing luminary James Bach feels about them, going on to say that “The ISTQB and similar programs require your stupidity and your fear in order to survive,” and that “dopey, frightened, lazy people will continue to use them in hiring, just as they have for years.” Suffice to say that James won’t be sending the ISTQB a card this holiday season.
Rarely has a topic been as polarizing and heated in discussion, to the point of after five years of the initial topic being launched in our uTest Community on the subject, hundreds of responses have been logged, along with sequel/knockoff threads (sequels that were actually still engaging and not superfluous like A Good Day to Die Hard).
Here are just a few of our favorite viewpoints from these discussions:
Are certifications bad? Not necessarily.
Are certifications that base their exams on multiple choice bad? Most likely.
Do certifications meet the needs of my organization? Perhaps.
Is there even a best practice in Software Testing? Not likely.
Do certifications tell you how good you are as a tester? Hell no.
IMO, the Foundation cert does teach someone the basics of how to test (in addition to what testing is, where it fits in the SDLC, etc). The Advanced level certainly expands on how to test. And yes, it is my belief that these certs advance a tester in their skills and ability – the study material alone should be on any tester’s reading list.
I have no use for certifications. I think they are bunk. My last full-time job had a number of “certified” people in various roles that had no idea what they were doing. Basically they were able to pass a test and get a piece of paper. But it didn’t make them any better at their jobs. I would put more time into learning rather than trying to pass a test. Learn because you want to, not because you have to. You’ll be better for it.
I just recently sat for my CTFL certification, not because I saw the value in it, but I wasn’t getting interviews without it. I have only been testing software for 5 years, and primarily for a single company in a niche market. Therefore though I have the respect and ‘backing’ of people at my company, and in my particular industry, but was having great difficulty breaking into a new field.
Are ‘certifications’ always a dirty word when it comes to testing, or is there a time and a place for certifications, especially at the foundation level where it’s important for testers to have a baseline for core concepts? We’d love to hear from testers in the Comments below.
The discussion reminded me of possible ways for a tester to take his or her career to the next level. There are a few things that can be done.
Staying the Course and Improving Your Skills
The first is to continue to do what you know well and aim at becoming as good as possible. Most of the testers take this road and choose to learn mostly about manual, back box testing.
One image that comes to mind for the tester that pursues this road is the small fish in a big bowl. Since the bowl is big, there are many other fish around, and the competition for space and food is high. For testers that do just manual testing, there is a high level of competition for new jobs, the rates are not that high (due to the size of the market) and the demand is up and down.
Taking the Less Popular Path
Another option for career advancement is to work on testing types that are less popular, like performance testing or test automation.
Coming from manual testing and moving to performance testing or test automation implies usually a long time for training and becoming proficient. But after that, the tester can access a niche in the market that is less populated, with steady demand, often with roles that cannot be filled and that pay much more than manual testing.
These types of testers look like the big fish in the small bowls.
The Combination Approach
The last option for career development is a combination of the first two. These fish are very rare to find.
Alex Siminiuc is a uTest Community member and has also been testing software applications since 2005…and enjoys it a lot. He lives in Vancouver, BC, and blogs occasionally at test-able.blogspot.ca.
Stephen Janaway and Dan Ashby discuss many testing topics over a pint at the local watering hole in their Testing in the Pub podcasts, but security is one that hasn’t been brought up just yet — until now.
The latest podcast features a chat with Dan Billing, a.k.a. the Test Doctor, and gets into what has been a very active subject as of late at the uTest Blog. As we’ve previously mentioned, data breaches, hacking, and other security leaks have been in the news for months now, not limited to instances including New York suffering 900 data breaches last year.
In other words, the subject of this latest podcast couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Be sure to check out Episode 8 of Testing in the Pub right now.
In part II of our latest Testing the Limits interview with James Bach, we tried something a bit different this time, crowdsourcing some of the questions from our uTest Community members. Additionally, James shows us his lighter side and which of his picks won the World Cup — of his heart.
Be sure to check out Part I of our interview, if you already haven’t.
What is the biggest hurdle to testing you see testers struggle with? (Jeff S.)
JB: The hurdles that come with having no credibility. Gain credibility, and every external hurdle gets a lot smaller. If you ever find yourself saying, “I want to do good work, but my manager insists that I test in a stupid way, instead,” then probably the issue is that your manager thinks you are incompetent. Fix that. Then when you politely tell your manager to mind his own business, he will let you get on with your work in the way you see fit.
Do you see the tide changing for development teams modernizing their testing philosophy? Or is entrenched thought winning the day? (Jeff S.)
JB: I don’t know, really. I don’t do polls or anything. I can say that business is good for me and my colleagues, right at the moment.
Which area or skill is best to focus on first as a tester to build a solid foundation or understanding of testing? (Frank B.)
JB: I would say: general systems thinking (GST). See the book Introduction to General Systems Thinking by Jerry Weinberg. Within the realm of GST, I suggest: modeling. It’s vital to gain control over your mental models of products. Models are a prison from within which you test.
Was there ever a time where you wanted to quit the testing field and move onto other ventures? (Marek L.)
JB: All the time. What stops me is that this is the only way I know to support my family while also feeding my hunger for intellectual puzzles, service to society, and teaching. If someone bought my company for forty million dollars (which I think is about one hundred times what it is worth), I would retire from testing entirely and become a consulting philosopher.
What do you do when there are times people start to throw sticks under you, and make your job really challenging…sometimes impossible to continue? (Marek L.)
JB: Well, first, I find out what’s going on. Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding. I have often found that strong-minded people can be made into friends.
If I can’t solve the problem softly, then what I do is threaten to quit. That is a pretty powerful tactic, since I only accept work from people who know and respect me.
And if that doesn’t work, I quit. This is a viable option because I have organized my whole life around being able to quit (beginning with having a wife who knows I can’t work with people I don’t respect).
uTest: Now that our community members have asked some insightful questions, let’s get into some lighter ones now. What’s on Your iPod, iPhone or MP3-like device right now?
JB: You mean what music? It’s been a while since I added any music. The last thing I listened to was a set of lectures from the Teaching Company about the history of the American Supreme Court.
But I do like the Scala version of “With or Without You.”
uTest: Did you watch any of the World Cup? If so, how did your “pick” end up doing?
JB: My pick was the USA. I saw a little bit. I have been in Australia and New Zealand the whole time, and the games were on while I was working. Result: the USA team won the World Cup—of my heart.
uTest: Newest gadget you’ve picked up or are most looking forward to?
JB: I need a new computer. Is that considered a gadget? I’m conflicted, but I’m leaning toward getting a Mac for the first time in a very long time.
uTest: Do you “binge watch?” If so, what’s your poison on Netflix?
JB: Most recent was Derek. I love the work of Ricky Gervais.
uTest: If you had to pick a superhero, which one would you be?
JB: The Big Bad Wolf from the Fables comics. That’s me. Son of the North Wind, baby. Good family life, too.
The 9th Annual Conference of the Association for Software Testing (CAST), held this year from August 11-13 in New York City, is one of the premier testing events of the year. While this year’s edition is already sold out, testers will still be able to tune into all of the keynotes and full track sessions for free from the comfort of their homes.
CAST announced that a live stream will be available from its official site on August 11 and 12, from 9am-7pm EDT each day, so you’ll be able to watch sessions and keynotes from esteemed speakers including: James Bach, Richard Bradshaw, Matthew Heusser and Henrik Andersson.
The theme for CAST 2014 is “The Art and Science of Testing.” This year, speakers will be sharing their experiences surrounding software testing – whether the experience supports testing as an art or a science.
uTest is also pleased and honored to be a sponsor of CAST 2014. In addition to the live stream hosted on CAST’s site, be sure to stay tuned to the uTest Blog and @uTest on Twitter, as we’ll not only be reporting from the event, but sharing exclusive video interviews with some of the major personalities from the show.
Note: The following is a guest submission to the uTest Blog from Nicole Abrahams.
Managing the software testing process is by no means glamorous work, and moving between different test procedures, although interesting, certainly isn’t the most exciting activity programmers ever get to do. But it’s an essential activity, and when you’re looking through all the test management products on the market today, it’s within your best interest to find one that not only looks great, but which displays the three essential features listed below.
Whether you’re an amateur tester or you’ve been working in this field for many years, three essential features you should look for (and ask about) before purchasing any test management software are:
Ease of Use
One feature you should look for in a test management product above all else is: How easy is the tool to use? It may sound obvious, but the easier a particular test management product is, the more inclined you will be to use it on a frequent basis, and the shorter the learning curve will be when moving over from another, similar tool.
You shouldn’t, of course, write off certain products just because they’re complex. Indeed, working with a highly complex tool is ideal if you have given yourself the time you need to learn all of its complex functions (or indeed, just the functions you need to worry about), as you’ll be able to do a great deal more with a tool of this magnitude compared to one that’s designed for individuals looking for an easy-out. When choosing a test management tool, make sure you consider these two points in terms of its ease of use.
Does it feel cumbersome? Cumbersome software isn’t fun to use. Any tool you consider purchasing must feel light and airy, while responding smoothly and in good time.
How flexible does it feel? Put it through its paces; how does it deal with undertaking numerous different testing situations? Flex its testing muscles.
If there’s one thing that increases the personal accountability of those working in the field of software test management, it’s the ability for the testing tool they’re all jointly using to trace their work as they go about it, allowing these logs to be accessed by anybody with access to the tool.
When such a large amount of data is being tested and processed on a regular basis, it’s important for this level of personal accountability to be in place to ensure that the right, useful tests are being administered, as when it comes to software testing, you can’t mistake testing for the sake of it as a quality exercise unless the right questions are being asked by the testers.
When particular bugs and defects are traced throughout the testing lifecycle, it becomes impossible for certain testers to blame others for their own mistakes, as logs of what tests occurred, when, and by whom will be able to uncover this information in seconds. Over time, this will improve the clarity of the tests that need to be done, as testers will be adamant to get their tests right the first time, improving the overall quality of all tests.
Following on from the last essential feature, when you have personal accountability of your testers when using your test management product, and the quality of your tests improve as a result of your testers asking for greater clarity surrounding their specific tasks, it helps if your tool has a task assignment feature that allows you to see which specific tasks have been approved for testing (and by whom; whether a product manager or individual tester). It should also have individual tests that need to be looked at further, being assigned a flag status of sorts, letting a specific team member or product manager know that this test requires their immediate attention.
This makes the human side of software testing less prone to error because:
Testers know exactly what their next task entails: Whether a particular test is flagged for their attention or a new test is due to take place, testers should be able to use the tool to see at a glance what they should work on next.
Project managers can assess individual and team performances: Reports can be generated that put into context the success and failures of recent tests by individuals and teams, allowing project managers greater insight into their current quality of output.
When looking for a test management product for either individual (amateur) use, or for the use of a large software testing team, make sure the tool you settle on is easy to use, allows for personal accountability, and can assign tasks to individual team members.
Nicole Abrahams is with QABook, a division of NMQA Limited. They are dedicated to answering the needs of those looking for a quality test management tool.
There was a time — gasp — that you had to sit down to scheduled programming, tethered to the mercy of the television channels and what they were programming then and there. You wanted an episode of Seinfeld? Sure. Only if you happened to be planted on your couch in front of the tube during NBC’s Must-See-TV Thursday Nights.
Binge watching wasn’t a part of the vernacular. If you wanted to do a 1990s equivalent of binge watching, it would consist of either stomaching four consecutive hours of whatever was on the channel you were on, or a VHS tape full of those great Seinfeld episodes you wanted to watch so bad (in fact, I believe I had a tape like that…replete with all the commercials and poor quality you’d expect of a tape that was re-recorded on, over and over, about 2000 times).
And since there was no concept of the on-demand, free-for-all that is Netflix, you not only had to watch TV live as it aired, you had to have some sort of mechanism to find what was actually on the tube…and no, that wasn’t the Internet. At least the hard, paper copy of TV Guide was as instantaneous as a pre-Internet era could be when it came to wanting to see what was on. Because if you flicked over to the Prevue Channel (later the TV Guide Channel) to see the listings scroll by at a blisteringly slow pace, only to have the channel you were looking for coast by in the blink of an eye…well…these are the things that could ruin an afternoon.
Ah, yes. You kids these days don’t know how good you have it with your binge watching. I have suffered many hardships.
Do you long for the glory days of TV? Or has today’s want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it, “binge-watching” culture completely won you over? We’d like to hear from you in the Comments.
Automation is a sector of software testing that has experienced explosive growth and enterprise investment in recent years. The knowledge necessary to learn about and specialize in automated testing is found at industry events like the upcoming 2nd annual User Conference on Advanced Automated Testing (UCAAT) in Munich, Germany from September 16-18, 2014.
The European conference, jointly organized by the “Methods for Testing and Specification” (TC MTS) ETSI Technical Committee, QualityMinds, and German Testing Day, will focus exclusively on use cases and best practices for software and embedded testing automation.
The 2014 program will cover topics like agile test automation, model-based tests, test languages and methodologies, as well as web of service and use of test automation in various industries like automotive, medical technology, and security, to name a few. Noted participants in the opening session include Dr. Andrej Pietschker (Giesecke & Devrient), Professor Ina Schieferdecker (Free University of Berlin), Markus Becher (BMW), Dr. Heiko Englert (Siemens), and Dr. Alexander Pretschner (Technical University of Munich).
UCAAT 2013, which took place in Paris, attracted 200 participants and included 21 technical presentations held by renowned speakers such as Professor Lionel Briand (University of Luxembourg) and Matthias Rasking (Accenture).
As a special offer to our testing community, you can receive a 5% discount for new registrations to UCAAT. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the special discount code for this and other shows.
Also, be sure to check out the Events calendar for upcoming online and in-person events!
Bug Battles are arguably even more popular than they were since the last time we held this esteemed competition. Companies from Microsoft to Facebook are offering up bounties to testers that find the most crucial of bugs bogging down their apps, and putting their companies’ credibility on the line.
The Bug Battle launches right now, Wednesday, July 23. Testers will have two weeks, until Wednesday, August 6th, to submit the most impactful Desktop, Web and Mobile bugs from testing tools contained on our Tool Reviews site. Only the best battlers will take home all the due glory, respect, and the cash prizes! And speaking of those cash prizes, we’ll be awarding well over $1000, along with uTest swag for bugs that are not only the most crucial and impactful, but that are part of well-written bug reports.
Want to be updated on all of the action? Be sure to follow along on your favorite social media channels so you don’t miss any of the milestones:
We’ll also be keeping you covered on the competition here at the uTest Blog every step of the way, along with the announcement of the winners on Wednesday, August 20th…after the community gets their say in voting!
The competition is only for members of the uTest Community, which…ahem…is totally free, so if you’re not a member, sign up today. Beyond the competition, you’ll also have access to some of the top testing talent in the industry in our Forums, and a wealth of free training content at uTest University.
Be sure to check out all of the full submission details, rules, prizes and deadlines over at the official 2014 Summer Bug Battle site.
Let the games begin!
Continuing in the Security State of Mind here at the uTest Blog today, some of you may remember that we reported last week that the 2014 SyScan conference was offering a $10,000 bounty for any tester who was able to remotely access a Tesla Model S’ automobile operating system.
That open challenge didn’t last too long, apparently.
According to The Register, students from Zhejiang University late last week were able to take control of the automobile remotely while it was driving, gaining access to its doors and sunroof by opening them, switching on the headlights, and, for some giggles, sounding the horn, too.
If you’ll remember, Tesla didn’t play any part in this open challenge to hackers at the Chinese conference, but it did issue a statement supporting “the idea of providing an environment in which responsible security researchers can help identify potential vulnerabilities,” hoping “security researchers will act responsibly and in good faith.” Opening the doors while the car is driving doesn’t sound too responsible to me, but that just underscores the fact that this is something definitely worth looking into on the part of Tesla.
I know a little company that could help.
Data breaches, hacking, and other security leaks have been in the news for months now. Earlier this year, the Heartbleed bug affected the data security at big names like Google, Yahoo, Instagram, Pinterest, and Netflix. Organizations of all sizes from coast to coast are constantly dealing with security threats and breaches. New York suffered 900 data breaches last year, according to a report from the State Attorney General. In California, an insurance company inadvertently exposed the social security numbers of 18,000 doctors on a public web site.
It seems that the trend of big data breaches making the news is not stopping. This PC World article points out the 5 biggest data breaches of 2014 so far and the list includes recognizable names like eBay, Michaels Stores, and the Montana Department of Public Health. All of this media attention puts the security industry – and security testing – in the spotlight.
You can get up to speed on security testing using our course track, which includes:
Introduction to Security Testing
The Security Testing Mindset
What Is Network Topology?
TCP Ports and Security Testing
Using Routers, Firewalls, DMZs, and Tunnels in Security Testing
Manual Penetration Testing
Security Testing with Apache and IIS
Common and Legacy Services in Security Testing
How to Conduct Security Research and Identify False Positives
Free and Open Source Tools for Security Testing
Security Encryption Basics, Part 1: Understanding Cryptology
Security Encryption Basics, Part 2: Symmetric and Asymmetric Encryption
You can also easily add the series to your To-Do List by going to the course tracks page and selecting the Security Testing track.
uTest University (uTu) is free for all members of the uTest Community. We are constantly adding to our course catalog to keep you educated on the latest topics and trends. If you are an expert in UX, load & performance, security, or mobile testing, you can share your expertise with the community by authoring a uTu course. Contact the team at email@example.com for more information.
James Bach is synonymous with testing, and has been disrupting the industry and influencing and mentoring testers since he got his start in testing over 25 years ago at Apple. Always a great interview, James is one of our most popular guests and we’re happy to have him back for his first Testing the Limits since 2011. For more on James’ background, his body of work and his testing philosophy, you can check out his blog, website or follow him on Twitter.
In Part One of our latest talk with James, he talks about a future that involves a ‘leaner’ testing world, the state of context-driven testing outside of the United States, and why you’re “dopey” if you’re a manager using certain criteria in hiring your testers.
uTest: We know you don’t enjoy certifications when it comes to testers. In fact, in a recent blog, you mentioned that ‘The ISTQB and similar programs require your stupidity and your fear in order to survive.’ Do you feel like certifications are picking up steam when it comes to hiring and if they’re becoming even more of a pervasive issue?
JB: I don’t have any statistics to cite, but my impression from my travels is that certifications have no more steam today than they did 10 years ago. Dopey, frightened, lazy people will continue to use them in hiring, just as they have for years.
uTest: Speaking of pervasive problems, what in your opinion has changed the most – for better or for worse – in the testing industry as a whole since we talked with you last almost 3 years ago?
JB: For the better: the rise of the Let’s Test conference. That makes two solidly Context-Driven conference franchises in the world. This is related to the general rise of a spirited European Context-Driven testing community.
Nothing much else big seems to have changed in the industry, from my perspective. I and my colleagues continue to evolve our work, of course.
uTest: In a recent interview, you mentioned that you see the future of testing, in 2020 for instance, as being made up just of a small group of testing “masters” that jump into testing projects and oversee the testing getting done…by people that aren’t necessarily “testers.” Do you see QA departments going completely by the wayside in this new reality of a leaner testing world? Wouldn’t this be a threat to the industry in general?
JB: I’m not sure whether you mean QA groups, per se, or testing groups (which are often called QA). I don’t see testing groups completely going away across all the sectors of the industry, but for some sectors, maybe. For instance, it wouldn’t surprise me if Google got rid of all its “testers” and absorbed that activity into its development groups, who would then pursue it with the ruthless efficiency of bored teenagers mopping floors at McDonald’s (a company as powerful as Google can do a lot of silly things for a very long time without really suffering. Look at how stupidly HP has been managed for the last 20 years, and they are still, amazingly, in business).
Remember that railroads existed for many years without reliable braking systems until the 1889 Armagh rail disaster. Dangerous sweatshops were normal in America until the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Credit default swaps were all the rage before the great economic collapse of 2008. It sometimes takes catastrophes to make companies take risk seriously.
In many innovation-oriented companies, I think it would be healthy to see smaller groups of testers who were better trained and more serious about their craft. I don’t think that is a threat to the industry, because I don’t believe that an industry full of fake-certified knuckleheads is anything to be proud of. It’s those unambitious testers who will lose their jobs in the world order I envision. That’s okay, because it isn’t the number of testers that matters—it’s whether there is a market for every serious, skilled tester who wants a job. I think there will be such a market.
uTest: Continuing on testing departments for a bit, if there’s one constant amongst all testing teams that managers don’t get right when building out their teams, what is it?
JB: There is no constant among all testing teams, really. But one common problem is that they don’t establish a system to develop and assure craftsmanship in their teams. They don’t train. They don’t comprehend the skills of good testing.
uTest: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a tester when it comes to preserving the tester-developer relationship?
JB: Build your credibility. With credibility, you will get the support and access you need to get your work done.
uTest: We know that as a context-driven tester, you’ve called “best practices” a “hyperbolic propagandist’s phrase.” Are you against the idea of best practices in general, or just best practices in testing?
JB: If you are asking that question, then I guess you must not understand why I make fun of people who say “best practices.” Okay. I understand. You haven’t read my blog posts on this. That’s cool.
I’m against people for whom incompetence is a lifestyle choice and who seek to protect their lifestyle by dumbing down a vibrant intellectual craft with flowery protestations of unfounded excellence. All competent thinking professionals know that they didn’t get that way by blindly following others. And there is no reason for the phrase “best practice” other than to encourage uncritical acceptance of an idea that would not otherwise stand on its own contingent merit.
Whenever you want to say “best practice,” just say “practice” instead.
uTest: You’re a presenter at Let’s Test Oz in Australia in September (an event for which uTest is offering uTesters an exclusive discount), a conference that has context-driven principles at its core. How is the state of the context-driven community in areas like Australia? Are we still at the point where it’s an emerging set of values in testing communities outside of the US?
JB: Australia does not yet have a strong skilled testing culture. Local heroes such as Anne-Marie Charrett, David Greenlees and Richard Robinson aim to change that. Let’s Test will help that process.
uTest: Any other events coming up that you’re excited for – testing or not?
JB: I’m going to China for the first time, very soon. I’m quite nervous about that. You know, in the best of circumstances, I am routinely misunderstood and misquoted. Whenever anyone teaches something out of the mainstream, their words will be filtered through an “autocorrect” filter that does alarming things to their message. But with China, there are three additional problems: they haven’t encountered my work before, they don’t speak English well, and their culture is not one which routinely celebrates free and independent thinking.
Frankly, I’m not sure why they want me to teach there. If I were them, I think I would hate me.
But this is very important. China is an emerging technology market that I have to assume will get bigger and bigger. I have to try to make my “buccaneering” message work in their context.
Be sure to stay tuned for Part II of James’ interview next Monday, where James will field questions from our tester community.
So it comes as no surprise that in a recent blog, James provided some fodder for a great discussion in the uTest Forums, arguing that there aren’t enough intellectual testers in the field — that is, testers that are willing to challenge themselves or the status quo:
“The state of the practice in testing is for testers NOT to read about their craft, NOT to study social science or know anything about the proper use of statistics or the meaning of the word ‘heuristic,’ and NOT to challenge the now 40 year stale ideas about making testing into factory work that lead directly to mass outsourcing of testing to lowest bidder instead of the most able tester.”
While there was a fair amount of pushback to this, a surprising amount of uTesters tended to agree, including one tester that even went so far as to call it a “pet peeve” of his. However, while agreeing with Bach’s assessment, these same testers argued that it isn’t necessarily their fault — it’s a product of their environment:
“To conclude, I believe that the issue lies with how projects are managed. If no time is left for more robust testing, then it almost doesn’t matter how intellectual or technically savvy a tester is if all he/she is going to have time to do is create and execute tests against specifications. In other words, intellectual testers don’t have much opportunity for more intellectual testing. A strong tester would not be able to showcase those skills in this environment.
“To James’ credit, we as software testers owe it to ourselves – and to the integrity of the profession – to stay educated on the latest techniques, then attempt to blend/incorporate these techniques into projects. The problem lies with the organization, however. The organization has to be mature enough to embrace exploratory testing.” – Jay M.
“Some of this also comes from the ‘unspoken’ acceptance of this behavior by management…there is no encouragement given to the testers to learn, management just maintains the status quo.” -Teresa P.
So let’s bring this discussion out of the Forums a bit and into the greater community. First off, do you believe that the lack of ‘intellectual’ testers is a pervasive problem in the industry? If it is, do you agree with our testers that change needs to come from the top down in organizations before testers can actually seek to change themselves? We’re interested to hear what testers think, so please let us know in the Comments below.
Oh, and speaking of James Bach, be sure to stop by at the uTest Blog Monday for Part I of a brand-new interview with Mr. Bach himself.
If there is sexy side of software testing, it is likely Security Testing. I know this because it’s the only type of testing (aside from game testing) that Hollywood seems to care about. For some reason, the hackers portrayed in movies always are always trying to access vital intelligence contained within the mainframe.
The truth is that mainframes – which are essentially just large scale computer systems – are actually throwback tech and today most companies don’t use them. According to the Huffington Post, “the manipulation of massive amounts of data, once the hallmark of mainframe computers, can now be done by server farms which easily connect to other systems, cost far less money, and require less training to administer.”
OK, so companies don’t really use mainframes anymore. However, early computer systems must have been easy to hack, right? Well it looks like Hollywood got this mostly wrong, too. According to Stan King in his article, Hacking the Mainframe: Fact or Fiction:
“Data communications, based on Binary Synchronous Communications (BSC) or Systems Network Architecture (SNA)/Synchronous Data Link Control (SDLC), used analog circuits. These were so difficult to hack that they were never seriously considered as a major point of entry for illicit activity. That is quite the opposite of today, where the common backbone network—the Internet—links everyone to everything, creating a tremendous number of possibilities for attack. In the ’60s and ’70s, establishing a high-speed circuit with conditioning from New York to Los Angeles required coordinating with several telephone companies across the continent, and waiting six months or longer. Now worldwide connectivity is as close as your local ISP and the wall jack in your office.”
However, much to no one’s surprise, factual accuracy is not something with which Hollywood is concerned, and besides, “hacking the mainframe” just sounds cool.
Note: The following is a guest submission to the uTest Blog from Sanjay Zalavadia.
Despite the general consensus among software developers that agile methods offer the best approach to quality assurance, many organizations continue to struggle with their implementation. Because agile practices differ so much from traditional waterfall processes, it’s understandable that some teams may run into obstacles during the transition. By keeping these top agile best practices in mind, struggling QA teams can get on the right track and begin to appreciate the benefits of the methodology.
- Be agile - This sounds like a no-brainer, but many programmers and testers lose sight of what it means to be agile. With all the different processes and tasks that agile teams carry out, individuals and organizations as a whole can get bogged down in the details. As IT service provider A.J. Boggs explained, it’s important to stay true to the spirit of the approach and not the nuts and bolts of the methodology. For instance, if a team is finding that its daily Scrums are difficult to coordinate and are not providing much of any value, maybe QA leaders should consider dropping them. Be agile, but don’t be beholden to the process.
- Gather feedback - Like any other change in management style, feedback will be critical to the success of an agile transition. FCW suggested that agile teams talk with everyone involved and see what works, what doesn’t and what needs to be improved. This process should include obtaining feedback from end users as well. Ultimately, software will be judged by how well it performs once it is in the hands of these individuals, so their insight is absolutely critical. If software quality has dropped since making the switch to agile, that’s a clear indication that something has gone wrong in the process.
- Support communication, collaboration - One of the most fundamental components of agile is the idea that everyone involved in the development process, from programmers and testers to C-level officers, should be in constant communication. Agile seeks to tear down the silos of traditional waterfall practices that can impede software development. QA members need to be in constant contact with one another, working together to improve the quality of the product. With a test management system, these individuals can quickly and easily share important updates, resources and information with relevant parties. For instance, testers can upload a new bug report for a test script in real time, making it available to everyone without delay.
By adhering to agile best practices, QA teams can make a smoother transition from waterfall methods and successfully transform into a leaner business unit.
Sanjay Zalavadia is the VP of Client Services for Zephyr, who offers a real-time, full-featured test management system. Learn more about Zephyr right here.
The software testing world can be a complex maze, especially if you are new to the industry. There are various testing types, testing methodologies, and testing schools of thought, as well as guidance about bug reporting, project etiquette, and working on a testing team. The amount of information can be overwhelming, but we’ve outlined a few ways you can easily get your bearings and start off on the right foot in software testing here at uTest.
Read About Testing News
The Software Testing Blog is your source for news and information about the testing world. You can find posts about events, careers, trends, and specific testing types like mobile and security. The blog also features Q&A sessions with industry experts like Stephen Janaway, Craig Tomlin, and Dave Ferguson, along with upcoming interviews with leaders like James Bach.
Connect With Other Testers
The Software Testing Forums is your place to meet fellow testers from around the world and discuss the hottest topics in testing today. The forums includes over 80,000 posts in more than 5,000 topics. Take a poll, share your favorite testing quotes, or just introduce yourself to the community.
Attend An Event
The Software Testing Events calendar is a comprehensive listing of testing events happening around the globe. You can find both in-person and online events, as well as new courses available to testers. Some show organizers also offer discounts for members of the uTest Community. See event listings for more details.
Take An Online Course
Software Testing Courses at uTest University are free training opportunities available to members of the community. The courses cover a range of topics, including mobile testing, web and desktop testing, and courses that include video for visual learners.
Get Familiar With Testing Tools
I think we can all agree that development and testing are two essential parts of any successful software project. Both roles are unique, have separate skill requirements, and a special way of thinking to get the job done right. There is an overlap in understanding, though, and they both have the same goal – to release quality software projects that make their users happy. But, can developers be good testers?
I’m not asking whether or not developers can be good at testing their own code (or whether or not they should – which I discuss in a previous blog post). Instead, I am asking whether or not developers, in general, have the skills and abilities necessary to switch hats with their tester compatriots. Do developers innately have what it takes to be good at testing?
My answer is, in short, it depends entirely on the developer in question. I do not think that being developers grants us a special insight into the world of testing. In fact, I think that in some cases, being a developer can hamper being an effective tester. If we understand and know innately how a piece of software should work, or have very strong views around how it should work, then we are not going to be able to break it properly. We’re going to overlook bugs simply because our brains fill in the blanks when something doesn’t work or read the way we think it should.
Take this image, for example. Did you catch the error? Our brains will automatically “fix” issues with things we are familiar with, even on a very low level. Even if you have never read this sentence before today, there’s a high likelihood that your brain fixed the error while you were reading.
Here’s another example. Once you begin reading the text in this image, your brain realizes what’s going on and adapts accordingly, so that you are still able to read the words even though they are completely wrong.
In my opinion, testing software can be just like this. If you understand too much about what should be happening (either because you programmed it or you have programmed, or even used, something similar in the past) then you could be missing very important defects in what you’re testing. Even seasoned testers who have been working on the same project too long will have these sorts of problems – they will have a harder time finding bugs because they’re too familiar with the application.
So, can developers make good testers? Of course it’s possible! I am both a developer and a tester, after all. But I am careful not to work on projects too close to things I have developed so that I do not miss vital issues in the software. I have to be very careful what and where I test, and I have to separate myself from the developer mindset in order to test effectively.
Tammy Shipps has experience working with testers as a developer and marketing engineer at Applause. She also is an active uTest Community member and tester herself.