Our CTO, Kunal Chauhan, and our head of Test Automation, Ramandeep Singh, presented a webinar on this latest trending topic in Oct 2012. An overview of the topic, recording from the session along with the Q&A at the end of the presentation are available here.
As testers, most of us would have started our careers in Quality Assurance running manual tests. We may not have even gotten a chance to start designing tests right away, but execution is typically seen as one of the best places to get started with. Over the last few months I was working with a bunch of freshers in my organization helping them get ready for a speaking opportunity at our annual technical conference, Qualloquium. These are a bunch of very smart freshers who have proven their worth not just on their projects but also taken the initiative to speak at this conference. As I was working with them in preparation for this conference, I was asking each of them for their backgrounds. Some said they started their careers in automated testing – this opened up a question for me on which is the best place to start ones testing career in – is it the world of manual testing or the more technical automated testing space. As for our testers, even though they started off in the automated space, they would have been exposed to a few days or weeks of manual testing as that is where the tester first grooms his testing mind-set.
A good tester is often an inherent tester even outside his work life. He does not acquire his skills purely through training. Training augments his core skills with insights and hands on experience on test techniques, tools and practices. Besides the training, a few cycles of guided manual hands on testing goes a long way in strengthening his base as a tester. Also, just this hands on start will not suffice. Over the course of the testing career, even if the tester is tasked with automated testing (whether functional or performance), a tester should take some time every now and then to play around with the product under test and other competing products. Such exercises broadens the tester’s perspective, forces him to think more from an end user stand point, strengthens his product understanding and also gives him a much needed break from his core automation tasks.
Manual testing is a necessity in the world of testing. In fact, a tester’s mind-set is important for even non-testers as it strengthens one’s debugging and troubleshooting skills. We live in a digital world – surrounded by technology and devices. A curious mind and a hands on trait go a long way in making the digital experience more enriching and rewarding. Manual testing offers unlimited potential to build these traits and it will continue to be a core piece in the discipline of software testing and also the best place for testers to start off their careers with.
Having lived all my life in India and the United States so far, I have never had a language issue. I have been comfortable communicating with people in English. This week I am in Frankfurt for the Frankfurt Book Fair – one of the largest of its kind that draws hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe. I am fascinated by the representation here from people across the globe – all the way from Latvia, to Vietnam, to Africa, to Brazil, to really some of the most remote corners on planet. As I am with all of these people, I see how one can get handcuffed and language constrained which made me additionally appreciate all the work that localization engineers do, more than ever before. Despite the language constraint, I was so connected with the people at the fair from the technology angle, which further re-assures the global penetration of software and devices. This is the bridge that localization engineers have created – a bridge whether you are a developer, or a content maker or a tester.
For example, we at QA InfoTech, specialize in localization testing, providing Quality Assurance and testing services for several clients in scores of languages, none of which we actually know besides English. This experience now gives me a better opportunity to appreciate what our testers do despite not knowing the language – whether it is localization functional testing, or a checklist/nuances to test for various locales, or a repository of keywords to enhance the testing productivity across locales, or working with content SMEs to integrate our testing efforts with theirs etc. All of these tighten the ecosystem to create global applications which have become a necessity off-late for any organization. Thanks to the Frankfurt Book Fair – I will see globalized applications with a greater sense of appreciation moving forward, acknowledging all the efforts that have gone into it, behind the scenes.
Load Testing is an integral part of the performance testing function. Companies have long understood the importance of it and have been giving it the due attention in the overall software testing ecosystem. If so, why do we continue to see issues around handling peak loads? Flipkart, one of the largest Indian online retailers, failed to meet the load that came in on the Big Billion Day sale recently and had to extend an open apology to its customers in its lack of ability to do so. While it is not only a lost business the day such a failure happens, lack of load handling capabilities, result in lost future business on such peak days, more than any other form of quality. What this incident tells me as an individual in quality assurance is three things –
a. Understand your data as you prepare to test – Collect data on business metrics you may have, the load you anticipate, any past numbers you may have (from previous such peak days), what kind of issues you have faced in the past, specific patterns such as day/time/region of load – All of this data is valuable in helping you take into account your current release’s load test effort, rather than carrying on age old performance tests that run release after release
b. Repeat your test a few days before your D Day – Even if you have done a detailed performance test say a few months back and you have an upcoming BIG day such as the one above for Flipkart or the upcoming Cyber Monday post the Thanksgiving season in the US, it definitely is worth to run a repeat test a few days before your D day to ensure you have all your ducks lined up
c. Take the moment to anticipate a customer’s pain individually – For you as an organization that handles a large load, you may miss looking at each customer individually, when you think of the big picture. At times, it definitely helps to push the big picture into the back burner a bit and take the time to understand the frustration an individual customer would face by the lack of your application’s availability on a day that they have planned to shop with you. For them the load you have does not matter. The availability or lack thereof, of your application is what really matters. So flip the coin on their side and take the time to understand individual pains, and help your team also understand this to take the human element into account while planning the load testing effort. This will encourage them to do some additional homework such as what loads are expected in the current shopping season, what competitors are offering, any additional tools to leverage etc. to tie these back to the metrics you have in mind.
Together these above points, will help bring objectivity with a human touch in your load testing effort, giving an uplift to your overall performance testing effort.
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