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Newbie Tester? Enquirer within upon Everything #NewbieTester

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Are you new to testing? So new you are struggling with the terminology and don’t know where to start. So far all you know is that there’s more to it than just ‘playing’ with the software. In fact you may be so new you’ve not started testing yet. For you it’s a dream job that means you’d get to try out cool new stuff. Foxy-Tester is here for you.

What does a Tester do exactly? 

Ahem!

Well it depends.

There are two schools of software development. Just like in politics we have a Left and a Right. 

On the Right we have Old School where everything is planned and designed ahead of time, and a date chosen to release the software. Then it seems like a competition where the developers deliver too soon and you find so many bugs you wonder if they even tried. But at least they left you with time to test. Alternatively Developers can take so long you have almost no time to test. Again bugs are found in test, but it all seems a bit manic. This approach is called Waterfall. This suggests a process that trickles down where important decisions are made early on in the process. But the tester’s role is simply one of verifying that the software delivered meets the specified requirements. 

On the Left we have the shiny new approach called Agile. A list of work is made and divided up into small features. Principles can be adopted or ignored, but are often not fully understood by all. Development is chopped up and delivered in ‘Sprints’. Developers and Testers get a chance to say that each Feature will take this long in comparison with some arbitrary Fibonacci scale. Over a series of sprints the lessons learned make the estimating easier to get right. Testers and Developers become the masters of their own fate.

In the Waterfall situation, the Tester is either given the Specifications or Requirements as a large document outlining the rules and features that the software being developed is expected to include. If you are lucky, you have time to plan and write tests before you get the software. Unlucky? You have to wing it until you find your first Showstopper bug. Something that makes everything you just tested obsolete and you can do no more testing without the fix. This buys you the time you need to be better prepared for the next wave (or Test Cycle). As a cool tip, where you found the bug is a good place to dig deeper. 

Agile leaves you no place to hide, but at least you had a shot at guessing how long the testing would take up front. At least you have a nice little feature to test then move on to the next. Ok. The picture is not quite that pretty. You still get bugs, cycles and ‘wash, rinse, repeat’. Eventually though the small pieces of work stack up and progress is tracked. You have a chance to say how it all went and what could be done better next time. Where the Foxy-Tester is recognised as a valuable member of the team, the whole process is collaborative. Things gradually evolve.

In the next #NewbieTester post: I’ll explain What is testing exactly? and as a Newbie Tester / Foxy-Tester-in-the-making What you’ll need to focus on daily.

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