"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, August 08, 2007

How does Testing look from the eyes of Tester Tested?

Michael Bolton, gave me a writing exercise a month back ( to rewrite an article that I wrote without changing the meaning but changing the examples ) when I showed him a piece of my work that was published by Mahantesh Ashok Pattan, a fundoo test professional from Microsoft. Mahantesh currently heads a testing excellence team in Microsoft's Hyderabad campus. Mahantesh honored me when he asked if I could write an article for his upcoming software testing website. So here goes my exercise result ...

How does Testing look from the eyes of Tester Tested?
Version 2.0

Testing - from my eyes looks different, each day. Everyday, I ensure that I learn something new, observe something more carefully, listen to something more carefully, think deep on a topic that I choose to think, ask questions, read what others write about testing, teach testing to someone, learn a skill from someone, test, self critique my own testing, use Wikipedia/Google, practice the skills that I have developed yesterday, day before yesterday and what you might call as “past” and think about the future.

That doesn’t mean I am a workaholic! How can that be?

3 years back, I went to meet a friend in Jayanagar 4th block, Bangalore. While we we were having a walk the talk session, I noticed 2 child rag pickers running towards a food packet that was lying in a dust bin. A dog was running from the opposite direction, trying to grab the food packet before the 2 rag pickers could get it. The dog lost battle and the 2 rag pickers put their hands into the food packet. I was shocked witnessing this scene (without knowing that a bigger shock was waiting for me)

Today I can say, "The two rag pickers taught me a wonderful lesson that I can apply to testing, to better my testing"

Here is what happened: While the two rag pickers put their hands on the food packet, I shouted, "Drop that, I shall get you good food in a hotel" and their body language suggested to me that they would come with me to the hotel.

I started walking towards a hotel nearby to get them good hot food. Minutes before we reached the hotel, I turned back to see if the 2 guys are following and I noticed that one guy still held the food that he could hold picked from the food packet while the dog had a thankful look at me as the guys had dropped the food packet.

I turned to him and said, "Hey, I told I would get you good food but why aren't you throwing that junk food?"

He replied, "Well, what if the hotel is closed? what if you change your mind? what if you played a prank on us? I still have something to eat as compared to the other guy who doesn't have anything."

Poverty might have made him say that but I was shocked by his thinking capabilities. I am sure he has not had any formal education and everything that he learned is through his experiences in life and is also having the same challenge that we face, "survival of the fittest".

When this incident happened, I must admit that I didn't think of a testing lesson that I could learn from it but an year later when I sat relaxed in my chair after a good heavy meal and I thought about the rag picker incident, something that is related to testing struck me.

We testers lose control of things many times that might have been of great help to do a better testing. For instance, I have worked with testers who waited for the requirement documents to arrive although the product ( in some shape ) was in hand.

The boy who had a little food in his hand still had control of the situation and thought of possible situations in which he might have lost everything ( the food packet and the good hot food that I promised ) had he not done that act. Taking control of the situations ( no matter how hard it is ) is a skill that testers need to conciously practice.

An oracle ( not the database ) is a principle or mechanism in which we identify problems. If you learn and start using oracles consciously, I guess you might be in a position to take control of a situation which demands you to test without specifications or with less or poorly documented specifications.

Case 1: I hand over you my mobile phone and ask you to send an SMS and you see the application crashing for that operation; would you call it a bug/issue? (Although you don’t know what the requirement document for the mobile phone that I possess say)

Case 2: I hand over my mobile phone to you and ask you to open each application and exit it. In all applications you use the Right Soft Key to exit whereas one application demands you to exit using the Left Soft Key. Would you have something to say or ask?

In Case 1 and 2, we are using “oracles” of consistency and heuristics (fallible method of solving a problem) to find or discuss about an issue. Doesn’t that mean having diversified set of oracles, heuristics, and test design techniques can fetch great value for the testing you do?

We have a control over the software, platforms, our thoughts, ideas, questions we can ask, skills that we can put to practice or use when such a demanding situation arises, knowledge that we can bring in, use different heuristics and oracles and try reaching closer to the solution than to stay far away by saying, “Where is the spec, I can’t test without it”. You might want to make a note or mention a risk that a specific document that wasn’t available to you could have helped you go more close to what others might call as “great testing”.

Thats how I learned an important lesson from a rag picker!

Now, you could observe that I was actually supposed to have fun while being with my friend and not think about testing. I did have fun and at the same time I was conscious to see if I have missed an important learning that helped me better my testing. I usually don’t miss the fun nor the learning and hence I hardly get tired.

Here is another story, which I shall connect to the above one, in an interesting way.

A tester reporting to me introduced me to her husband by saying, “This is Pradeep, a passionate tester.” I love to be introduced that way since I am aware that I am one such.

Her husband immediately shot a question: “My friends who are into testing say that bringing testing to their life has caused some serious damages to their relationships, how has it been with you?”

Read my reply to that question, as careful as possible: “Thanks for asking me this question. I am probably one of the most passionate testers and I am sure that those who really know, what testing is, wouldn’t mess up his/her life with it. It appears to me that your friends who claim to know testing, don’t know that because had they known, they wouldn’t have got it into their personal lives”

I have enjoyed some great relationships with people. If you claim to be a good tester, it means testing has taught you not to get testing into relationships although testing happens between relationships and lives in a sub conscious level.

“Testing is questioning a product in order to evaluate it” – James Bach

Now the time for connecting two stories: The first story says, “There is always a thread about testing that I run in my mind while or after having fun or watching TV or chatting with friends” and the second story says, “If you really know what testing means, you wouldn’t bring it into your personal life”.

Connecting both of them I want to mean, I try to look for opportunities to learn from things that are happening around that I can apply for my testing activity for which I am paid and *not* to use testing as an approach to build/spoil relationships or systems that others are wanting to use after my usage. For instance, after withdrawing cash from an ATM, I do not intend to perform some quick tests, because it might stop the system and someone in emergency might have to go looking for another ATM.

You have been seeing testing from my eyes, time for you to see it from your own eyes, and I hope you see it in a better way than mine, teach me something and help me to see something different from your eyes. E-mail me at pradeep.srajan@gmail.com


If you have liked this article, you might want to read a different version of the same and here is the link. If you haven't liked this article, maybe you want to read it again :)

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


Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep a very nice post.
Asking questions is directly related to the capability of thinking and that too think differently than others.
Qustions not only make one self thinking but also excercises thinking process.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


I am glad that you posted a comment and I am hopeful that this would be read, liked, enjoyable, learn-able post to many testers.

Thanks for your continued support and encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Who is Michael Bolton? You aren't referring to the fictional movie charactor on "Office Space" are you?

Thank You

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Michael Bolton that I refer to isn't the singer nor the guy in office space. He is a tester, expert, philosopher and my guru!

I recommend that you navigate to the link associated with his name to know more.

Anonymous said...


Yet another thought provoking post.

To summarize, there are two perspectives here

1. Ability to learn lessons on the events happening around.

Only some people will notice these events and store that information in the brainware.

It's true in your case and the the rag picker. You have realized now & the rag picker had old lessons so he didn't drop the food packet just to have an alternative

2. Ability to apply the lessons learned over the context

This is a skilled & intelligent activity that require ability to think and provide the information of the need. It won't let the people go down what ever might be the circumstances. It's true for what ever might be the context.

So, Let me have a re-look at when to comes to What Testing means to me

Testing is about capturing the important information for some one who is in need to take a decision over the situation.

In order to capture that information, people will use different methods

1. My teacher asked me to write a test to evaluate (Is that not a test)
2. I need to buy a house, so i have collated all the information by asking questions for the information required for decision making
3. I give some task to my team member to evaluate how they are functioning...

This is how i see Testing & it worked well for me

Every body in this universe has tested some one else and also gone through many tests.

I don't agree on the fact that applying testing into the personal life is not good.

Some body who is trying to do that must be good at what kind of information he / she needs over the context.

Testing is about revealing the information to improve up on things.

It does help a lot in the personal life too if you how to apply the same.

The relationship between two people will become stronger if their views & interests over some area same. Some one who can identify that info without annoying others (that's a skill)makes good relationships

Does this sound interesting ?
There is great value here & let's communicate the value of testing

Happy Testing,

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Your two perspectives are some of the lessons that this post might be delivering it to the readers.

I don't agree on the fact that applying testing into the personal life is not good.

A friend of mine has split with his wife. He is a tester and his wife a developer. She read in some software testing post that testers bring testing in personal life and her perspective of testing and her tester husband changed.

Will your sentence join both of them?

Every person does testing between relationships and it happens from a sub-conscious level, we better not use the term "testing" for that.

All things that seek information is not testing but testing certainly is something that is an approach to seek information.

Hereafter when you write, "Its ok to bring testing to personal life", please re-phrase it as "Its ok for me to have brought testing to my personal life and what works for me *might* not work for you" ...
which can help others not to take testing to their personal lives because maybe only Venkat knows how to draw a line of safety. Others might lack the skill.

Pramod said...


I feel as testers, if we live by testing , we see testing in lives !! and that is so true in the case that you've mentioned.

Thanks a lot for the post !! Definitly this goes into my Moleskine :)

Also, It was great to see your Photo !!

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Thanks for the comment and I am glad to know about another tester who is using Moleskine.

Anonymous said...

As a new tester I appreciate your blog writings on testing. Especially the inclusion of how non-work events help bring you an insight that can be used in your work. I might not know much yet about being a good tester but I do know that the people who become testers are very interesting people.


Pradeep Soundararajan said...


A few years back when I was a rookie tester, I doubt if I ever thought this way but today I am glad to see a rookie tester acknowledging the fact of non work events helping one to become a better tester.

I am seeing the future, bright!

Unknown said...

nice context and i like to know how many times u met and gone through Michael Bolton