Thoughts of a new(ish) Software tester


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Are you a Comfortable Tester?

Having been a tester for over a year now I am beginning to feel comfortable with the role.  But is this a good or a bad thing?  It depends what is meant by comfortable.

If comfortable means doing the exact same things in the same way every day then that is not a good thing in my book.  Perhaps you are a poor soul who has not been given the opportunity to do anything other than test scripts from which you must not deviate.  In this case I sincerely hope you are not comfortable in your role.  If you are then you are unlikely to progress very far in the testing industry.

When I say I’m getting comfortable I am not talking about things becoming easier because they are repetitive.  Of course, there are always some things you will have to do in a certain way, such as Bug reports; need to contain all the relevant information, and Gherkin tests (should always be written in the Given, When, Then format).

My comfort comes from gaining a better understanding of the product, the environment, the people, the resources, and test techniques.  That is not to say there is not still a lot to learn in all of these areas.

One prime area where complacency can easily happen is regression testing.  Our product is continually changing so we can’t stick with the same tests every time, I have to adapt and update regression tests to match the product state.  Do this by removing tests no longer needed and adding new tests for newly coded areas.  Obviously this is not a black and white task.  It can be tempting to remove tests which always pass.  It is not always clear from the outside what parts of the product are interlinked so you can never make assumptions that some tests will always pass.  Sometimes it might be better to think of the product from a black box point of view as if you are a customer who has never used the product but is tasked with testing as many areas a possible.   It can be a dangerous trap to fall into to think you know the product inside out and therefore do not respect the possibility of unforeseen change.

I never want to feel that I know it all and that there is no need for me to keep learning.  I think your days are becoming numbered as a tester as soon as you start to feel this way.  I believe the test industry is one of the fastest changing industries in existence so you can never rest on your laurels.  I always want to be reading about the latest test techniques and tools and spending time with people from whom I can learn more.

So for want of a better phrase I believe to be a good tester you should always try to remain slightly uncomfortable.