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A tester's evolution over time

Written by Lucian Bara - 21 December 2016

Lucian Bara
In any field, in order to be outstanding, you must first have knowledge of its history and understand the big phenomenon that stood behind its expansion. Currently, software testing is a fundamental task in the development of informatics applications, with testers working alongside programmers.

software testing screenWitness the beginning

Few people know that software testing is deeply rooted in history. For instance, the use of many often used terms today, such as ''BUG'', date back to the 19th century. Thomas Edison, known worldwide as the great inventor of the light bulb, has been ascribed by testers everywhere as the father of the great notorious "BUG''. Back in 1870, Thomas Edison himself, in a letter to Theodore Puskas, used the term ''BUG'' to describe a defect that may occur in a system.

The life of a tester is an amalgam of tests, starting with simple tests for an ordinary software application to unusual tests for challenging problems and situations regarding everyday life, like for example, purchasing new clothing. Everything looks way too simple, doesn't it? Well, from my point of view, nothing is simple. For instance, when you buy a new pair of shoes you have to ask yourself, ''Is the material constructed perfectly?''; ''Are the shoes symmetrical?''; ''Are there any defects? ''; ''What happens if I bend them?”...and so on.

I am sure that there are only a few of us who really know who the grandfather of software testing is, or at least how he is known today in the world of software testers. Then allow me to introduce you to the grandfather of software testing. His name is the ''Turing Test'' and he is alive today. The ''Turing Test'' first appeared in 1950 when Allan Turing created it to test the intelligence of a machine. The first team of testers was formed in 1958 under the Mercury project, which was the first spaceflight program. The great performances and fantastic results accumulated during this project propelled the development of this new occupation. In 1968, software testing was revolutionized again by a straightforward quote from a speech by Edsger Dijkstra at the NATO Scientific Conference: "Testing shows the presence, not the absence of bugs.”

Write code but don’t forget your testing skills

Looking back at the origins of software testing, testers should be very proud of their jobs because being a tester is not something borne out of modernism or for the sake of inventing something new. Software testing is the outstanding result of a remarkable evolution over the years. Nowadays, testers enjoy a wide range of tools and techniques to counteract bugs. Within a software testing application, testers can use a variety of techniques, types of testing or artefacts and so on, to make testing a dynamic and non-repetitive activity. When I first made contact with the software testing phenomenon a few years ago, I was again witness to strong development. Nowadays, more is required from a tester, and it's no longer enough to find bugs only by checking the functionality from a user’s perspective. The tester must become more technical, not only being able to identify a frontal bug, but also being able to bypass and advance in the pursuit of finding the exact cause or even a possible solution. Automated testing has developed tremendously within the last few years, transforming classic testers into hybrids who can also write code. But there is the possibility that the hybrid is no longer able to function properly, executing correctly and with good results both automated and manual testing.

For a classic tester, the transition from manual testing to automated testing can be a big milestone. As many programming languages and tools can be used for automated testing, the novice should analyze and decide which programming language fits him because programming is like a shoe, if it doesn't fit, it will squeeze you and bring only pain. Unfortunately, there is some pressure for testers to turn themselves into second-hand programmers. We must not forget that the tester is complementary to the programmer and that they should have some specific qualities. Because of the agile phenomenon, the tester is more involved in the project, being the connection between programmers and other developers, between programmers and analysts, and between different applications that will be part of a whole.

Face the future with courage and confidence

In this world, which is developing at extraordinary speed, testers must keep up or they will disappear. Testers need to invest in personal development, social development, cultural development and professional development. We must not forget that a good tester doesn't have only technical and professional qualities, but they also have to work twice as hard as anyone else on the team. A tester's work is not always visible so it must be supported by dedication and a lot of hard work. There is a great quote from John Ruskin which says, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.” I think that we as testers should use all our skills and all the available techniques and tools we have in order to provide the end user with a clean and friendly application. It may be true that we don't make software applications, but for sure we make them better!

Maybe, after the euphoria of automated testing passes, testers everywhere will need a new challenge. And its name could be DevOps!

About Lucian Bara

"Since I am in love with testing, I always make sure that I give a healthy dose of quality to all the applications I put my hands on. It was my choice to become a software tester and I don’t regret it because testing is challenging, complex, and always gives me a reason to boost my passion for this domain."

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