I am sure lot of people in software testing might find this write-up offensive. But I have seen many people claiming to be in software testing for a long time and I find them lacking the basic skill sets required in testing! And at the same time I come across many freshers trying to find a job in testing and some new comers in testing, with far better testing skills. So I keep wondering if years of experience has anything to do with the skills required for software testing. Or is it the testing skills and passion for testing that matter?
I am not disputing the fact that experience helps one to grow in his profession (that applies to software testing too). But to me, it’s the number of hours you spend testing an application that matters, rather than the number of years. One might have spent years sitting in front of his office desk. But it’s the time spent on testing a piece of software, which matters and adds to his experience in testing. But the irony of Indian software testing industry is that here the employers pay more attention to a candidate’s years of experience than his testing skills. And that is one thing that constantly keeps bugging me!
Here I would like to share one of my experiences with my readers. In my earlier testing days, once I was given a website to test. And there was an image upload feature in that. And it was supposedly already tested and passed by a senior tester. I had to just verify it once again to confirm his belief that this feature was error free! So before I could start, I tried to get some test ideas to test the feature! And these are some of those test ideas which looked fair enough to be used as test cases:
1. Test uploading different types of image files (like .jpg, .png, .gif, .bmp, etc) and see if I could upload them.
2. Test uploading other files (like .exe, .dll, .mpg, .mov, .mp3, .wav, .rm, .doc etc) and see if I could break the uploading process.
3. Test with an image file with size other than the specified limit (the maximum allowed size was 500KB. So I had to try with 0 KB files, 1 MB image files, 5 MB files etc).
4. Try uploading a virus infected image file [You can use EICAR (European Institute of Computer Anti-virus Research) test files. These files are not actually viruses but behave as virus files] and see if the web server could detect the virus and stop the upload!
5. Test typing in a wrong path (like typing ‘F:\ walpapers\aamir_khan_001.jpg’, in place of a correct path ‘F:\ wallpapers\aamir_khan_001.jpg’). Look at the wrong spelling of ‘walpaper’). This can easily happen if a user is entering the path of the image file to be uploaded instead of browsing and selecting the image file. I had to see that the system was capable of detecting the wrong path name of the file.
6. Test cancelling an upload process and see what happens.
7. Test with a slower network speed and low system configuration.
8. Test with corrupted image files (wrongly encrypted files).
When I tested the feature, to my utter surprise, most of the above tests failed! It was because the person, who had tested this upload process, had only tested the positive cases and had not bothered to use the negative conditions which might have broken the feature. And let me tell you, at that time we were not using any test case document for testing. So we had to test the features with our own test ideas.
So how did he miss these things? I am not trying to prove that the tests that I used are the best tests to test the image upload feature. There might be still better and more effective tests. But to me, these tests seemed (and still seem) as basic tests to test an image upload feature. Although the person who had already tested the feature was *senior* (in terms of number of years of testing experience!), still he missed these feature errors. At the same time, I think the reason I could catch the errors because I had more testing experience than him (in terms of number of hours spent in testing)! So that helped me to test the feature better than him.
So it does not matter if you are a fresher or a person with some experience. If you have spent enough time testing a piece of software, then that adds to your testing skills. Try spending more time testing something. Believe me that helps a lot in improving your skills as a tester. You might be having long years of testing experience or numbers of testing certifications (I have neither of them :) ). But unless you do some real and passionate testing, you can’t become a better tester. Practice makes one perfect. And that best applies to software testing. So keep testing and try to become a better tester.
Happy Testing …