"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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Attractive professions and software testing

When I was a child I never dreamed to be a software tester and always wanted to be a fighter pilot, a naval commander, a cricket player, an astronaut, a doctor, aeronautical engineer, an actor, an army commando, a scientist.

Why didn't I think of being a software tester? Ah! Maybe because there wasn't anything I heard about software in 1980's but what about children today? They still say, "I want to be a pilot, a naval commander, a ramp model, a cricket player, a tennis player, an actor, a Formula1 driver, a Software Programmer, a Scientist"

I was investigating the history of how certain professions and sport are more popular and aspiring to many young people and discovered a few things about it.


Visibility: The idea of what a human does in a specific profession must be visible or made visible to a larger group of people who might not be in that field. For instance, my brother decided he'd want to be in army after he watched a movie "Border" and wanted to fight for the nation. In 1990, I watched "E.T." ( no, not Exploratory Testing but Extra Terrestrial ) and wanted to be an astronaut to be able to talk to aliens. A friend of mine watched Jurrasic Park and wanted to be a software programmer and a hacker. In parallel, I watched Kapil Dev's cricketing skills and wanted to be like him. Today my favorite sport is Table Tennis. Table Tennis has undergone a huge change in last few years to make the game more visible to the general public. Can you believe the ball size has been increased?

If you look at the Bolywood, you would see that one person inspired another to get into acting, music or direction. It was finally a movie ( Edison - The Man ) that changed my whole life downside up where I witnessed Thomas Edison's invention, hardship, work, experiments, challenges. I wanted to be an inventor and so am I, today, an inventor of tests.

Money & Richness: As a child, I didn't know the money behind each of these profession that I wanted to be in. When I discovered that cricketers are some of the richest people in India, I did dream a little bit about it and then the dream changed to movies, and then to something else that interested me at that time - complex electronic circuits. So, I did my Bachelors in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering to help myself earn money being an Electronics Engineer. I am so close to electronics always, you see. When I am typing this, I realize a thin slice of key board separates me from a complex circuit. Being an independent consultant in software testing in India, I must admit I make more money than 98% of testers of my age or years of experience. Forget money, I feel, I am rich with testing knowledge and skills. I admit I am greedy to be more rich this way.

Parents: are a huge influencing factor. My father always talked about science to me. I used to ask him questions about science and engineering and he kept encouraging me in many ways by getting books on science or taking me to a science fiction movie. My mother was interested in Biology but I wasn't. I think my parents helped in fostering my curiosity. For a birthday gift at my age of 11, I got an Electronics - Make it Yourself kit from my parents that I assume as another key factor. So, testing suits me since it demands curiosity. In many countries, I do see the influence of parents on their children. The Bach Brothers ( James & Jon ) despite being software testers are also writers, like their father Richard Bach.

Community Respect & Relatives:
plays an influential role for some people. I have heard during my relatives marriage and other social meeting about people boasting that their son or daugther got a job in IBM as a software programmer or a job with Microsoft at Redmond. So, hearing such words inspire other people to think of it so that they could boast about a similar thing later. They go back home and ask their children to aim for being a software programmer in IBM or Microsoft. Today my parents communicate proudly to their friends, "My son is a tester who is quite reputed for his work around the world." ( Ah! They do know about some of you who hate me and would not agree to that statement. )

Friends: often influence each other by introducing them to new professions that one might not have heard about. I still remember, a friend of mine who influenced me to be more serious about Electronics by showing a pocket radio that he had assembled. I wanted to do something like that and maybe even more. I quenched the thirst during my 3rd year at college by making the first telephone controlled gas stove knob with a circuit a size of Nokia Pocket communicator.

Mentors: During my first year at work, I worked with a tester who was trying to get on to the development team of the same project as he didnt like running test cases. I was influenced by him to learn programming and try my hands on programming. Although the organization who had hired me as a tester didn't want to take me as a programmer because they felt I was being useful to them as a tester, it helped me learn some bit of useful programming. I tried learning programming with the help of a System Architect and a Senior Programmer of the team, they helped me learn how equally challenging was testing activity by testing every program I wrote.

Professional Gurus: Oh! You know this. James Bach and Michael Bolton are my gurus. I have witnessed their testing online and have been constantly tested by them. They helped me clear the darkness I used to see in software testing and become a constant learner and practitioner.

Challenges & Fun: are something that everyone look forward to in any profession they want to be in. What most of the testers and people kept hearing about testing so far is - There is a process, we simply follow it. There is a test case, we simply follow it. There are those two things, we simply follow it. There is a tool we record and play everyday. There ain't any fun there ain't any challenge in following and merely recording and playing.

Exploratory Testing and Rapid Testing is gaining huge ground in places like India, ( ask me how many people are booked for my upcoming Exploratory Testing workshop and from where all they are coming and who are they ) software testing is becoming more fun, more challenging, and testers are constantly exploring lots of new things and discovering and inventing and more...


My analysis of Why Software Testing hasn't been that much of an attractive field so far?

  • It lacked (past tense) visibility
  • It lacked information about testers making money
  • It lacked community respect
  • It lacked parents awareness of the profession
  • It lacked friends awareness of the profession
  • It lacked good mentors
  • It lacked enough professional gurus
  • It lacked enough freedom being given to testers and hence wasnt challenging
My strong conviction of why the situation would drastically change:

Videos like this one which aids more visibility into our profession




and like this one which aids the curiosity of existing testers




and like this one that demonstrates the financial gain




and like this one that demonstrates the fun in being a /thinking/ tester as opposed to being a certified tester




And like this one that demonstrates the challenges

And like this one that demonstrates the exploration of new ideas to find bugs



While you are reading this, a child somewhere in the world might have opened Youtube and searched for E.T and hit this video and might be dreaming of becoming a software tester. I bet this is happening. I realize we haven't seen a father son tester combination but we have heard of Bach brothers.


Today is the foundation for tomorrow. What are we doing today?

23 comments:

Shikhar..K.Singh said...

WoW !! amazing view.
Seriously, a slight change is dimension and a different look is created.
Nice research and observation SIR.
Thanks for presenting so many different dimensional views for a testers.

NOTE* = Views are and will change for testing profession.

Anonymous said...

Me too had the same dreams. But I have not seen the movie "Edison - The Man". I am looking for it.

I could see all my learning days I have moved so far by making mistakes every time, in this blog post.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Anonymous,

I could see all my learning days I have moved so far by making mistakes every time, in this blog post.

Could you please re-phrase that? I need your help to understand that sentence.

Ajoy Kumar Singha said...

Pradeep,
Another nice thought from you. I agree. Testing as a profession is not that attractive as Doctors and Scientists. I have had so many chances to move to programming and leave testing. But I never thought of leaving testing and today I proudly declare myself as a "tester by choice."

Testing will surely gain its shine in coming future. We, the testers, should collectively juxtapose testing as an attractive profession. Warren Buffett said, "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

~Ajoy Singha
http://www.ajoysingha.info

Anonymous said...

"Could you please re-phrase that? I need your help to understand that sentence."

>> I could see all my learning days I have moved so far by making mistakes every time, in this blog post.

Yes, words are always ambiguous and appears to be ambiguous. I wished to say, even I too had those few dreams as you had. I did mistakes each day and had lessons from them every time.

I was able to see all those mistakes made by me and learning from them by me so far, in your writing of this post.

Thanks for writing this post.

Tarik Sheth said...

Pradeep,
Another instance of a wonderful article. Many of times people are not aware about the profession until they enter in to one. It might be because of awareness created in the industry and in society.
One guy asked, "What do you do?"
Me, "I test Software."
Guy, "Why, if developer has developed it, that must be a tested one, there is no need to test."
Me, "I am testing it because developer has developed it and he also tested it..." :-)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Tarik,

One guy asked, "What do you do?"
Me, "I test Software."
Guy, "Why, if developer has developed it, that must be a tested one, there is no need to test."
Me, "I am testing it because developer has developed it and he also tested it..." :-)



That definitely brings a smile on my face. Smart. Thanks!

Pallavi said...

Awesome read... nice article Pradeep very nice...

joke in the comment is too cool...

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Pallavi,

Thanks


joke in the comment is too cool...


If you are going to pass on the joke to several other people, ensure you owe the credits to Tarik Seth ( qtplearning.blogspot.com )

Jeroen said...

great post, my compliments! have been here now for several times, re-reading and re-watching and still enjoying it.
It is worth to have this post also as a permanent link on your site so it ain't that hard to look it up in the future.
Regards,
Jeroen

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Jeroen,

great post, my compliments! have been here now for several times, re-reading and re-watching and still enjoying it.

That comment of yours gives me a a good satisfaction as a writer.

It is worth to have this post also as a permanent link on your site so it ain't that hard to look it up in the future.

Cool. I have been thinking about the permanent link to some of the posts. Time to do it.

Thanks again.

Rahul Verma said...

Hi Pradeep,

I enjoyed reading this post. You have talked about the subject in various dimensions.

Regards,
Rahul Verma

Issi said...

Thanks for the article. I think that almost each tester could relate to.

I once thought about that, and my analogy for testing Vs. development as career goal, is a bit like radiologists and anesthetists Vs. surgeons. No one ever shows how thrilling and challenging is the work of the radiologic in E.R or Grey's anatomy series, but many doctors found these expertise as their careers.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Issi,

Thanks for your comment. I do like your analogy and I think professionals of a specific profession must create a visibility to the general public of how it feels to be in that profession.

That's what I think many testers whom I respect do. However, there is another group of people pulling us down by showing the world - clear a $40 - 40 question exam and you are a certified tester.

The mighty and smart should survive. I am just waiting to see it while continuing to put in my efforts.

Senthu said...

Nice Message. Worth Reading it...
One More Major Highlight is the Joke in the Comment Section.

Happy Testing!!!
S M Senthil Murugan

Akshaya said...

Hello Sir,

Have been reading your blog since I started testing, which is just 6 months back to be precise.
To give you some background information about me, I am a Japanese translator (with an MCM degree) and got into testing out of interest. Thankfully for me, my managers were kind enough to give me an opportunity to pursue testing.

It is only after reading your blog posts and those by a few others that you recommended (viz., James Bach, Cem Kaner, Shrini K) that I realized that the way I tested was similar to exploratory testing :)

Although I do write test cases since its a client requirement, I have realized that I end up testing in much more details than what is mentioned in the test cases. Also, writing test cases to the details in which I test is not possible since I would be spending more time in writing the test cases rather than in testing itself.

I cleared my ISTQB certification last month. Although I realize how strongly you oppose certifications that give a false sense of being a good tester to anyone who clears them (Mostly by going through question paper dumps for 15 days before the exam), and although I agree with all the reasons for which you oppose them, I had to give the exam since it is a pre-requisite in the organization where I work.

Most of the times, when 'm reading a blog or looking at your videos, I end up thinking about what I would have done in a similar situation. Saw the AVG Installation video today. A few things I thought I would have done:
1) Clicking on all the links available during the installation
2) Opening the destination folder during installation
3) Renaming the destination folder during installation
4) Trying and deleting the destination folder during installation

'm sure you must have thought of all these options, I just mentioned them to understand if my train of thought is in the right direction.

Since 'm new to this, any advice and guidance from you will be appreciated.

Thank you so much for all the wonderful posts, its a pleasure reading your blog :)

Akshaya said...

Hello Sir,
Have been reading your blog since I started testing, which is just 6 months back to be precise. To give you some background information about me, I am a Japanese translator (with an MCM degree) and got into testing out of interest. Thankfully for me, my managers were kind enough to give me an opportunity to pursue testing.
It is only after reading your blog posts and those by a few others that you recommended (viz., James Bach, Michael Bolton, Ben Simo, Cem Kaner, Shrini K and many more) that I realized that the way I tested was similar to exploratory testing :)
Although I do write test cases (mostly since its a client requirement), I have realized that I end up testing in much more details than what is mentioned in the test cases. Also, writing test cases to the details in which I test is not possible since I would be spending more time in writing the test cases rather than in testing itself.
I cleared my ISTQB certification last month. Although I realize how strongly you oppose certifications that give a false sense of being a good tester to anyone who clears them (Mostly by going through question paper dumps for 15 days before the exam), and although I agree with all the reasons for which you oppose them, I had to give the exam since it is a pre-requisite in the organization where I work.
Most of the times, when 'm reading a blog or looking at your videos, I end up thinking about what I would have done in a similar situation. Saw the AVG Installation video today. A few things I thought I would have done:
1) Clicking on all the links available during the installation 2) Opening the destination folder during installation
3) Renaming the destination folder during installation
4) Trying and deleting the destination folder during installation
'm sure you must have thought of all these options, I just mentioned them to understand if my train of thought is in the right direction.
Since 'm new to this, any advice and guidance from you will be appreciated.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful posts, its a pleasure reading your blog :)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Akshaya,

Thanks for sharing your story. What kind of guidance are you looking for?

How about participating in Weekend Testing?

Akshaya said...

Hello Sir,

Thank you so much for replying

>> What kind of guidance are you looking for?
I would like to know how I can improve my testing capabilities further. It would be nice to have someone experienced in testing to look at the way I test and suggest ways in which I could improve. Since ive been working as the only tester from the time I started testing, 'm trying to look for a project once my current project is over, where I can work with a team of testers so that I can learn better. But 'm not sure if this is the way to go about it since I don't want to end up in a team where 'm told that this is the way testing is done here, and these are the processes to be followed and this is how you should work as well.

>> How about participating in Weekend Testing?
I would love to do that!! Ive heard of some the weekend testing sessions but 'm not really sure how I can go about it.
If you could let me know what needs to be done I would be more than willing!

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Akshaya,

To participate in Weekend Testing, you just need to sign up and and send a mail to them. That itself would help you solve a couple of problems and you could write to me for assistance.

Akshaya said...

Hello Sir,

Thank you so much. Will be doing that soon :)

software test consultant said...

From what I've seen in this videos, being a Software Programmer is a great job, Maybe your dreams WILL come true someday..

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Softwaretestconsultant,

Which video are you referring to?

I can see ants transporting food from one place to another and get inspired by it or feel they are too boring creatures. Whatever I feel, ants wouldn't change. An ant shall be an ant.