"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pradeep fails BBST & continues to seek the Holy Grail

Yesterday I spoke to Jon Joseph from Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India. He has at least 4 times more experience than I. He had owned a software development company prior to 2002 and now works as a Senior Test Engineer in a company that develops e-publishing software. He will be coming down to Bangalore to attend my upcoming session on 29th September.

It was a great experience to listen to his appreciation of my blog and the impact this blog has made to his life. He having developed software as a start up and has had experience as a Lead for Java based products switched to testing after reading my blog (not because I convey that message).

That's not my achievement, it's his own but maybe what I helped him and he said; "my work and thoughts have got a lot better and your blog is something that I worship".

Well, if that seems too hard for you to believe here is what Michael Bolton said last week: If a test passes in a forest, and no one sees it... and James Bach quoted that line that Michael liked from my blog in Nationwide Insurance Conference in the United States, the same day.

That makes Pradeep a great tester!

Now, here are things that helped Pradeep (that's me) realize he isn't a great tester and Pradeep also wanted to share it with his readers because -- after listening to people who have been impacted by his passion, coaching and blogging, he felt responsible to let all of them know that I fail and I struggle just as they do.

I took up the BBST Foundations online course offered by Dr Cem Kaner, Scott Barber and Jon Hagar from Association for Software Testing in the United States of America. I miserably failed the course, in my opinion, and thankfully the reviewers had the same opinion.

There were bunch of things that contributed to my failure: lack of time, improper time at which I worked the course, over confidence, lack of humility, under estimating the complexity, different method of teaching that was new to me, blindness towards the quality of my answers, lack of math skills, frustration of not performing to my expectation mid way through the course, a sense of embarrassment after looking at others answers, ...

but that doesn't mean I did not learn anything from the course. I think I had a very different and fantastic learning. I also learnt a lot more about testing that I did not know. I was glad that I was honest through the course and I admitted what I did not know and also admitted that I forgot a few things during the exams and exercises of the course, which fetched appreciation from another student who reviewed my answers.

There was another Indian on the course who did perform very well and I am very, very happy about that. My close friend Ben Simo too performed fantastic and would be the person who teaches the course the next time I take it and he deserves it.

I was worried if James Bach and Michael Bolton might be disappointed with my result but I was delighted to know they weren't. They helped me understand a lot more and James said, "I see this as a learning process and would be great for your teaching, to help your students know that you too struggled and faced the pain, which can make them happy that they aren't the alone in facing such problems" and then said, "I would be disappointed if you do not take this up again and pass through it".

I also had another worry: fear of losing credibility with Dr Cem Kaner and Scott Barber, which I have not dared to ask and it is better not to know certain things. However, I have great respect for them and their time and I thankful to everyone who spends time for my learning.

I would be curious to know what you learned from this post?

Here are some things that I decided to do:

I am going to put this failure of mine in the presentation that I am doing this weekend at Bangalore. It is important that people know that I talk about my failure when I introduce myself and helps me in remembering that I am not a great tester yet.

I might not be willing to approve any more comments on my blog that just appreciates me or the post that I write. I am young and I am not wise yet to take such an appreciation not deter my growth. Your true appreciation would be when you let me know that some ideas or all ideas helped you do better testing just as Jon Joseph. He has been my blog reader for more than an year and has never commented but got in touch with me to say my blog has impacted the way he does and think about testing over e-mail or phone.

I am sure this might make my competitors (if any) feel stronger and I don't mind that. All I want to do is to become a good tester.

I wanted to post this on my blog that I can visit any day in future to help me realize my true self.

I also am going to be a little away from testing for a couple of months because one thing that I need to do is to take a break. I haven't taken a break in the last 2 years, which was another contributor of my failure. Too much of anything is bad and to keep myself alive in this industry, I have to be a little away from it for sometime. That doesn't mean I wont blog but it means I will not do a lot of things that you might or might not know for sometime. That also doesn't mean you should not get in touch with me for help. I love to help, especially after knowing that I am not a great tester yet.

Why do you think you are seeing words, "great tester", too often in this post?

It is because I thought I was an upcoming one such and also because I discovered that it is too far away than what I imagined and here is a post to

Don't forget an important message that this post is saying: Pradeep fails + be careful if you are following his ideas and suggestions.

It is also important to note that I don't intend to be a person who can never fail but I am worried about the reasons of the failure. There were things under my control which I should have taken care!

Here is my view of perfection: It is an illusion or lack of experiments that can help in discovering failure.

I think I forgot to tell you that becoming a great tester is like seeking the Holy Grail and I wish I am not as the knights of round table of Camelot to get lost in the quest. Jon Joseph said he shall pray for me and I am sure there would be a handful to do that along with him.

No training course, to my knowledge in testing offered anywhere in India can teach wonderful things that James and Michael's Rapid Software Testing and James Bach and Cem Kaner's Black Box Software Testing (BBST) can teach but I am optimistic about my workshops as they are reflections of these courses.

Time for me to appreciate things as how they are without questioning!

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - +91-98451-76817 - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton


Mark Waite said...

I don't think "pass" or "fail" of the BBST course is a relevant measure for you, or for the course.

I assume your objective in taking the course was similar to mine, "learn new things about software testing from a trio of software testing experts". My objective was met and exceeded because I also learned many things from reading the comments and answers of peers.

I was part of a group of 4 people who took that online BBST course from within the same company, in the same department, on the same site. We had the advantage of discussing the topics among ourselves, reviewing concepts and ideas on white boards, and we had even reviewed some of Dr. Kaner's BBST videos prior to the course.

Even with all those advantages, we still found plenty of things to learn and plenty of ways to teach one another testing ideas and methods.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Thanks for your comment Mark!

I assume your objective in taking the course was similar to mine, "learn new things about software testing from a trio of software testing experts"

Yes and it helped me re-discover myself in a new dimension and a lot of other stuff about myself.

I felt good to admit my mistakes and list the things that I really lacked. I have a responsibility towards my fellow testers who read my blog and are inspired by it and the ideas.

I must not be setting a wrong example of not letting out my biggest mistake and failures.If this blog is alive even beyond my life, there would be a new generation gaining confidence to better themselves amidst biggest of failures they might face.

I am excited that I'd be meeting another set of people from whom I might be learning more new things.

Hats off to Dr Kaner, Scott Barber, Jon Hagar, Doug Hoffman and all dear batch students.

Mukesh said...

Hi Pradeep

I am not agreeing with the term that one exam proves a person's pass or failure. I know exams reveal how much you know but not true always. For example if in exams there are lot of things you know but they are not asked, and there are some things which are asked but you do not know. It does not mean that the things you know are useless.
I understand it very clearly no one can be thundered percent perfect, you have very good power to express yourself and all of us know it very well you are doing it very well.

I am regular reader of your blog and every time I read your blog learn something. I was not good at testing before I contacted you, but I think I have gain a lot in testing after contacting you. And the best thing was that you never did the spoon feeding. You always told me to be self reliant which I tried and still trying that.

I know when I was in the very rough period when I contacted you, and you helped me at that time even you do not know me. What does it mean it mean you want to help everybody. And the way you helped was marvelous. You told me how I can solve my problems myself. When the things were over I was thinking everything was done by me, but the way you told me leads to the success of that project.

So I think one exam does not prove that you are fail. I have not seen any other tester in the India helping others so much. You are sharing what are your experiences. I think you are doing a great task which you should continue.

I would say best of luck for you. I am very happy you are going on a break of two months. You were doing lot of hard work from a long time. Everyone needs some breaks from work because work is made for us we are not made for work. I am sure when you will return from break you will have lot of fresh ideas that will bring us lot of new learning.


Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am glad that I helped you become a tester who can solve problems on his own.

As you mentioned that I have been helping testers solve problems in a way that makes them think rather than stop thinking about it, I also need to ensure I am equipped myself to do a lot better.

How about you thinking this way?

I did help you to think on your own but my true contribution to this community would be when I help you how to help someone else too.

I might be great to many other blog readers like you but I have to also admit that I myself am bad and lack certain skills. Remember, I am young and have a long way to go. If I get caught with the appreciation you people are showering, someday you would feel that I am no longer the same person.

My passion towards this craft is immense and that is why I am undoubtedly one of the most passionate tester this world has so far had.

The course I went through helped me realize more about myself and not what I know and don't know.

I feel ashamed of a few things I did and did not and I admitted the same.

I have a responsibility towards people like you to set a good example and not an example of that Pradeep hid all his failures. Maybe there is something to learn for you in this post: The act of admitting and confessing. It does make you stronger and not weaker.

I have accepted a lot of credit from others. Sometimes I felt I did not deserve it but helped myself to do things to make me feel I deserved it after I got the credit. So, if I can't accept failures then I am just another traditional guy, which I think I am not.

I talked about the break but I am afraid I did not mention "2" month period. I think I would want to take a little longer, enjoy life from a different angle and then get back to this again with the energy that kept me going all these 2 years where I spent most of my time thinking about this craft. I will taking a little more time than 2 months.

As I said earlier a hundred years later when a tester visits this blog it should not just be a record of my success but a journey of my life as a tester.

I thank you and others for the respect that you have and I am sure the person whom you respect will be more stronger after the come back.

Adam Goucher said...

Don't forget an important message that this post is saying: Pradeep fails + be careful if you are following his ideas and suggestions.

This is one of the key themes that keep bouncing around my head (but not just in direct reference to you in particular). Everyone fails sometimes and one should always take someone else's ideas with a grain (or bucket) of salt before integrating them into your own philosophy.

There is 2 ways to look at failure; If at first your don't succeed, try and try again or If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you tried. Clearly you are taking the high road and choosing the first. Good on you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pradeep,

Fist a round of applouse to you as i feel there are a bunch full of people living on this earth to accept their failure when they are at par with other.

Accepting failure one needs courage, and you have lots of those.

tester should take this example and realise that they too need to do a lot of work when it comes to testing and accept their failures.

After all failure is the stepping stone for success.

Still there is a lot to learn....

There is a saying right..."What we have learnt is just our HANDFULL; but what we have not learnt is still like a OCEAN"

All the best for your future endevors.


Amit said...

Hi Pradeep,

I am regular reader of your blog and always keep searching for your new posts. I am in testing but don't have good knowledge. So learning from your unique ideas and thoughts.

" Pradeep is a man with magical words ".

Whenever i read your post it gives me energy to do something better next time... Admitting your own failure needs a big courage.. Here also you gave a clear message to everybody that learn from your mistakes..

Moving forward I request you to give more and more tips and secrets of your testing..

Amit Kumar

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Amith Kumar,

" Pradeep is a man with magical words ".

I love to hear this but as I quoted above it is important for you and testers like you to note that I am not wise enough to take this appreciation and keep myself grounded.

I said I would not approve any further appreciation but I did not realize that it would not stop people like you from posting that but I honor you and your words.

I dream to be a test magician and that's one of the way I want to see myself in the future and you too can help me do that.

I very humbly request you to critique my work and ideas hereafter. I would continue to blog ( and I did not mention that I would stop blogging )and do more magic.

I am sure I have demonstrated courage, frankness and boldness that I claim to have from birth but I also admitted that I lack a lot of other things that I need to develop them better.

Cem Kaner said these wonderful words, "It's easy to gain confidence by being among people who are less experienced" and that has impacted me a lot and shall help me develop myself a lot better.

Moving forward I request you to give more and more tips and secrets of your testing..

Tester Tested blog is yours, don't worry and keep reading it. You might gain from referring the link to others who might be able to critique it.

Thanks a lot for your support and the magical words that can help me word towards deserving such words.

Ben Simo said...


We have not completely failed if we learn from our failures. I find that I often learn best by failing. I prefer to learn by observing the failures of others, but sometimes I have to fail myself in order to really understand.

Don't be too down on yourself. We all fail. Failure is part of taking risks. If we don't take risks we won't fail. If we don't take risks, we also won't grow. Growth requires taking risks. The important thing is to learn from our failures so that we can do better the next time.

Failure brings value to experience. I have asked many job candidates about failures on the job. If an interviewee is unable or unwilling to tell me about a failure and how they overcame it, I sometimes question their experience. If everything they have done has been a success, then I question the value of what they have done. Experience is a great teacher. Experience overcoming past failure is a sign to me that a person can deal with future trouble. Experience with failure is often a better teacher than experience with success.

Great people learn from their failures. I believe you are one of them.

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to always be right by having no ideas at all. - Edward DeBono

Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as his successes. - John Dewey

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Alva Edison

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. - James Russell Lowell

Grab failure by the handle! Learn from it and use it to cut your way through the next challenge.

Ben Simo

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Thanks for taking time off. I am always glad to receive your comment and I know I am not giving up.

I learned a lot about myself that disappointed me in many ways and I wanted to make it public so that people who claim to have been following me knows that there are enough things that I go wrong with.

Working the group assignment along with you was great time and I am sure I can learn a lot more from you next time.

See you on skype, e-mails and ... AST - BBST - 100 - revisited :)

Cem Kaner said...

I don't think it makes sense to talk about "miserable failure" of this course.

The Association for Software Testing will publish a list of the students who pass one of the BBST series of courses (and who ask us to publish their name, not everyone does), but we absolutely will not publish a list of students who do not complete the course successfully.

The fact is that many people start online courses and relatively few complete them. The success rate for many schools' online courses is only 10%, not because the courses are difficult but because they are not what the students are motivated to finish or able to finish on the course's schedule.

Online courses are taken by working professionals. A person starts a course, then two weeks later they run into an unexpected crisis at work. Or they discover that the course workload is more than they expected. When this person leaves the course early, or stays to the end but doesn't submit good enough work, is this a "failure" in the academic sense? I don't think so.

As with the other students who made a serious effort but did not complete the course, we invited you to try again when we offer this course again. We see the AST BBST series of courses as a learning opportunity, not as a risky venture that can stain someone's record.

By the way, Ben Simo will be an instructor for the next Foundations course, but not the only one. We co-teach the courses (partially as a training ground for new instructors, who study separately and co-instruct under supervision before being allowed to lead an AST course). The instructors for the next Foundations course are Scott Barber, Ben Simo, Meeta Prakash, and me.

We are currently working with potential instructors from many parts of the world (including Asia, South America, Europe, and North America).

-- Cem Kaner

Sandesh said...

Hi Pradeep,

Thanks for this blog this was of great value to me

I feel the accepting and Acknowledging the breakdown and sharing is greatest path towards a great Tester which you have have done...

As i have been failing to but now failing is helping me more often towards improvement...

What i feel or learn from failures is create NEW possibilities(=Creativity) out of my failures...Then i can see a new whole world of possibilities ..any aspect of testing or Life as a whole...
Keep sharing ...keep experiencing the dropping possibilities which are in millions around......



Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Dr Cem Kaner

We see the AST BBST series of courses as a learning opportunity, not as a risky venture that can stain someone's record.

Certainly it is a great learning opportunity that has helped me discover a lot more things and skills I can improve on.

I am fortunate to have taken this course and more fortunate to go through it again and I am sure there would be more courses I take up in the series.

SAT said...

I feel that BBST course really tested this tester.

Failures are one such way to know what we know and most importantly what we dont know.

About workshops in Chennai,

We are waiting for that day...

Matthew said...

Pradeep -

As always, you continue to impress with how your respond to personal challenges. My thoughts on "failure" generally align with Ben and Cem's - I'm not sure failure is the right word for it.

It does take a fair amount of courage to come out in public and say "I really struggled with this, I'd like to tell you about it.", and I respect that.

The only thing I disagree about the post is that you think one of your problems is a lack of humility.

From what I have seen of you, you are humble, modest, allmost to the point of meekness. Now meek is a virtue; it doesn't mean to be a wallflower, it means you have enough self-confidence that you don't need to show off or behave badly in order to impress.

Keep up the good work.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Matt Heusser,

It does take a fair amount of courage to come out in public and say "I really struggled with this, I'd like to tell you about it.", and I respect that.

Thanks Matt for your kind words. I feel, if I present just the possible good side of me then I shall misguide generations of tester. Humans are fallible. Most of whom I see in my everyday life project as though they never failed and that surprises me. Maybe that's Earth and some of us come from U45 galaxy.

The only thing I disagree about the post is that you think one of your problems is a lack of humility.

You are likely to remain one among very few who'd say I am kinda humble. Thanks, I have some people to go when I need to boost my ego when I feel burnt by people who cry foul at me.

Keep up the good work.

I shall work hard.