5 Ways to Improve Your Testing Skills
There is a huge demand for Software Testers in today’s booming IT Industry. Here are 5 simple steps that are sure to help you improve your testing skills and advance your career.
Behind every great software delivered is an equally great testing team. Once a product reaches a certain point in its development the developers must hand it over to the testing team to see if it works (or doesn’t work).
Testing plays an important role not only in the development of new products but also in maintenance of the products.
Software testing is challenging. You have to keep yourself updated with the latest in technology, domain knowledge and you also need to provide inputs to make your products better. It doesn’t help that testing is a end of life-cycle process – any slippage on upfront processes (like development) effects schedules provided for testing. The onus of delivering a quality product finally rests with testing team with all the constraints.
How can we, as testers, keep up with this kind of stress? How can we improve our testing skills to ensure that we stay relevant and provide the best possible value to the development?
We present a simple set of practices that can make you skilful at handling the testing tasks. This is not a one-off step. You need to keep at these and practice them daily.
Learn to Plan
You may be one of the people who considers planning as a bore. All said, jumping into a task has it’s own adrenaline rush. Planning seems to be an inconvenient step before the fun starts. However, planning can be a great help to any one.
One of the best known planning methodologies for individuals that is known to work is David Allen’s Getting Things Done. There are lot of articles and tutorials available online that can help you learn planning using GTD. The following are some of the resources:
Read - a Lot
We can’t stress the importance of reading. We do not mean only the Software Testing related books – though you should read those also. Why is reading such an important skill?
With so much going on with reading, it is unwise for us not to make use of this skill. Keep aside a time (if you travel using public transport to work – that might be a great time) for reading. Take a book, any book, and start reading now. Keep at it and you can feel the change that comes along with better communication and perception.
Keep a Work Journal
One of the beauties of software development is that we reinvent wheel – a lot. The same steps you used for an earlier product to find a bug may, if repeated, find a bug in the current product. Keeping a work journal not only helps you to chart your learning journey, but can also help in reusing your knowledge. What do you note in a journal?
- Write about your activities. What did you do today?
- Note your decisions. Why did you try that method instead of something else?
- Record your learnings. What did you learn today?
Learn to Write Detailed Bug Reports
If there is one testing skill that is critical for our success it is to create good but reports. Always write clean and detailed bug reports. The people who will read your bug reports will not understand or see what you did to expose that bug. When you write in detail, you allow the rest of your team and the developers to save an enormous amount of time by not having to guess any part of your environment.
One of the ways to improve our testing skill to write good bug report is to read old bug reports along with developer comments. One such resource is BugZilla maintained by Eclipse. Being one of the most used and actively developed products, eclipse bug reporting is very active. Looking at some of those reports and reading the followup discussions gives you ideas about how you yourself can write good bug reports.
Learn a Programming Language
We strongly believe that testers need to understand programming concepts, have working knowledge of (some) scripting languages and it is a great advantage to know a programming language. Knowing programming, understanding the technology stack, ability to discern what goes in software development helps you become a more skilled tester.
You get many benefits by learning to code.
- Even if you are performing manual testing currently , at some point automation may be needed. Be ready when the opportunity knocks.
- Knowing some shell scripting simplifies your efforts. Specifically knowing text processing commands like grep, sed, awk etc. tends to be very useful for verification of text based results.
- You may need to set up different test environments. Your knowledge of programming and technology stacks helps you in these tasks.
- You may find it beneficial to automate some parts of the testing, even if it is manual.
If you are already comfortable using shell scripting and commands, you can start with a scripting language like python or ruby. Selenium and Selenium based libraries are becoming de facto standard for web application testing. Learning Java surely helps you as you move forward.
There are many online tutorial that can help you in learning one of the languages.
More Ways to Improve Testing Skills
Marathon Integrated Testing Environment – MarathonITE, is an affordable, easy-to-use, cross-platform test automation tool for Java/Swing™, Java/FX™ and Web applications. Using MarathonITE you can quickly automate your daily tests.