Are You Really a Software Tester?

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Summary:

This article explore's the mindset of a true software tester, and how a tester uses his knowledge to improve the lives of others around him.

The adventures of Super Tester! (Episode one)

Are you really a software tester? Not just by job title. I mean, deep down, is software testing in your blood. Do you think like a tester?

OK, I admit it, I was bored. Our scene opens at the local bookstore–a late, cold winter day–a Sunday if I remember correctly. As my wife and kids were off looking at books and CDs I ventured over to the Computer books (Symptom 1). Not being able to find the book I was interested in, I went to the nearby computer terminal to do a quick search. While the search seemed to take forever, it did ultimately report back that the book I wanted was not only in stock, there were 2 copies of it, and it identified the location. Excited, I returned to the precise location identified by the search–nothing! Hmmm.

I started asking myself those tell-tale questions (Symptom 2–Do you ever find yourself saying: "I wonder what would happen if I...."?) I abandoned my search and without entering a nearby phone booth or men’s room, donned my tights and cape and became "Super Tester!" I figured I'd run a few rudimentary tests, inform management of my results, and then reap the rewards that they were sure to bestow upon me! ( I was hoping for a free cup of coffee)

Test 1–Data Validation. Identify a title, it's location, and the number of copies available on the shelf, then verify the search returns the correct results. I went to a randomly selected section of the store (Travel), picked a random section (Europe), and a random title ( Frommer's Germany 2005 ) d noted the number of copies available (4). I then returned to the search terminal and did a search on that book. Eureka–the test passed! The system correctly identified the title, location, and number of available copies. Not satisfied (my tester's intuition told me I was just lucky)–I tried again. This time–Mexican Food Cookbooks (I was hungry and craving chimichangas). Same test–I identified the title, noted the section and number of copies, and returned to the terminal to conduct my search. This time the results were semi-positive. The title was correctly identified as in stock, and the section was correctly identified. However, the inventory was incorrect (the system showed 2 available–I only found 1). Hmmm. It could have been in a customer's shopping cart and they had not checked out yet. I made a quick note (logged the defect) and moved on to Test 2.

Test 2–Data Validation, part 2. This was actually the reverse of Test 1. Do a search for a title on the system–note the section, and number of copies listed, then verify the results by correctly locating the book and number of copies on the appropriate shelf. Nothing! I found the correct section but not the target book. Hmm. I once again made a quick note before moving on to Test 3–Negative Testing! I admit it–negative tests are my favorite. Surely, this test alone would confirm the existence and secret identity of Super Tester!

Test 3–Submit an Empty Search Form. I was somewhat giddy at this point. Visions of being hailed as Customer of the Year, and having my true identity exposed entered my head. Surely my picture would be transmitted nationwide and would appear on the company website. But I regained my composure and moved on. After all, a good tester doesn't let the expected glory influence their test results. I returned to the computer terminal, went the Search page and without entering any data, clicked the Search button.

About the author

David Whalen's picture David Whalen

Dave Whalen is currently an independent software test consultant, working in the metro-Denver area. He has served as a hardware and software tester, test lead, test manager, and test consultant for more than twenty years and has worked with government, private, and public organizations to help them improve their test processes. Email Dave at david.whalen@comcast.net.

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