Helping Developers Become Testers

Helping Developers Become Testers

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As software development practices have evolved, the lines between the role of developers and testers are becoming increasingly blurry. As testers, we are now expected to know how to setup test automation frameworks, code different types of test (e.g. integration, functional, performance) and even understand and contribute to the build and deploy pipeline process. Traditionally, there has always been a clear distinction between development and testing. In older software lifecycle models such as Waterfall and V-Model, testing only starts when development work is finished, with few if any automated tests put in place. As years passed, companies have started to adapt a more collaborative and iterative way of working where the testing process is often championed to start as early as the requirement gathering stage.

Even though development practices have evolved throughout the years, I still see, from my experience, that there is always a misconception that developers cannot write tests. This is why specialist roles such as SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test) are created – to bridge the gap between developers and manual testers. I assure you, developers are capable of writing tests. They already write most of the unit tests for their own code. So the question remains …why do some developers not test?

From the different client sites that I have worked with, the following are the main reasons that I have observed as to why this is happening:

  1. No one is asking them to test

If management is not pushing them to do this, then they will think that automating tests is not part of their responsibility. This initiative has to come from the top. A test architect or a technical lead who shares the same vision that developers should write tests will not be able to do this on their own.

  1. They don’t want to test

Most developers still have the assumption that features should be automated by testers. Once their ticket passes peer review, they believe that their work is finished. Some developers hate writing end to end tests because they believe that it is slow and flaky. Developers who do try to write tests often face the same frustrations that automation tools such as Selenium are difficult to set up.

  1. They lack the necessary guidance of looking at their features from an end to end perspective

Most developers work on single components, so they can often lack understanding as to how their components will integrate with the rest of the systems. Also, the requirements that are provided to them is to ensure that all positive scenarios are working as expected leaving negative scenarios missed or neglected.

 

How do we then help developers become testers?

How do we bridge this gap and ensure that we maximise everyone’s potential?

  1. Get support from management

Support needs to come from the top. Make sure that you communicate what the business benefits are if developers also become testers. Quality should be owned by everyone and not just by the testers.

  1. Regular knowledge sharing with the business

For developers to understand how the application that they are working on is used by the business or its customers, a simple yet effective idea is to have regular knowledge sharing sessions with the business. Another good idea is to have these sessions documented on Confluence or something similar.

  1. Documentation on how to contribute to the automation framework

There should be clear guidelines on how developers can help contribute to writing tests. If someone has not used tools like Cucumber and Selenium, make sure that steps on how to automate features are documented.

  1. Introduce pair programming when writing tests

Pair programming is a common way of working amongst developers and this can also be used when writing tests. Experienced SDETs needs to pair with a developers to share this knowledge.

  1. Be a teacher and educate

Point them to resources that will help them with writing tests and show them best practices. Guide them on how to do it but don’t write their tests on their behalf. Peer review their code. Be patient.

  1. Modify your process to include testing as part of a developer’s workflow

Before changing your ticket to done, make it a habit of including automated tests. This is especially useful for new features. Rather than writing the tests after the feature is deployed, write it during the development stage.

  1. Include automation tests as part of the CI/CD pipeline

The more diverse tests that are added to the pipeline, the more visible the results will be to everyone. Utilize an effective test reporting dashboard so results of all the test runs can be easily displayed. By having these tests in the pipeline, developers will have visibility if they break existing features.

  1. Evaluate testing tools effectively

To encourage developers to write tests, the testing tool should be somewhat familiar to them. If you work on a team where JavaScript is the language of choice, there is no point trying to implement the automation framework on Ruby or Python. Speak the same language as the developers. If you work on a company where you are tasked with setting up the automation framework from scratch, ask everyone’s opinion as to what tool to use. More and more testing tools are emerging these days, such as Cypress, which aims to provide an easy on boarding process for developers to start testing.

So what happens when developers become testers? I’ve seen the benefits first hand. At the current client site where I am based, we’ve start to introduce this approach where we ask developers to write the automated tests for a new feature. Not only are we releasing new features quickly, but also knowledge sharing and collaboration between developers and QAs are better than ever before.

Developers should know about testing the same way automation testers know about coding. By getting developers involved with the testing process, we begin to utilise everyone’s knowledge and potential, as well as avoid scenarios where bottleneck occurs.

If you’d like more specific advice around how to help your developers become testers, you can get in touch with us here.

Marie CruzHelping Developers Become Testers
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Digital Women in Tech – DevOps Playground: Hands on with Cypress

Digital Women in Tech – DevOps Playground: Hands on with Cypress

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As part of ECS Digital’s initiative to attract more women in technology, we held our first ever Digital Women in Tech MeetUp in our London office at Bermondsey Street where we did a hands on session about a new automation testing tool called Cypress.

Cypress is a test automation tool created by Brian Mann to help developers write automation tests from a user’s perspective. With Cypress, any actions that users can do can be simulated such as clicking a button, typing values on forms, or selecting checkboxes. It’s a tool that is written purely in JavaScript and is often compared to Selenium but it’s actually different from Selenium. The tool was created to address the issues that developers faced when writing automated tests.

In this hands on session, we went over what Cypress can offer, it’s limitations and key differences with Selenium. We then guided everyone how to connect to their remote machines and how to launch the sample React application that we were going to test. The machines provided have been pre-installed with all the software that they needed to follow the session. Once everyone was familiarised with using Cypress and its test runner, we guided everyone on how to write the test scenarios that we planned for them.

Following this video you should be able to run through this playground from the comfort of your own home.

Thank you to everyone who attended the first Digital Women in Tech MeetUp and for making it successful!

Interested in attending our next DevOps Playground events. Follow us on Meetup to receive a notification about the next event

Marie CruzDigital Women in Tech – DevOps Playground: Hands on with Cypress
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Day In the life as a Technical Test Engineer

Day In the life as a Technical Test Engineer

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Hi there, my name is Marie Cruz, and I’m a Senior Technical Test Engineer at ECS Digital. I’m responsible for providing test services to various clients with the focus of implementing BDD processes. I recently published a blog explaining how I balance being a mother and a woman in technology.

Having a family and an active career in tech, people tend to ask me how I manage to keep up with both. My answer is making sure you understand what’s important, but also ensuring that you are happy with the choices that you are making.

If you’ve ever wondered how a female can handle both a career in tech and a family life, feel free to take a look at my “Day in the Life as a Test Engineer” video. I hope it inspires you to take the leap into technology too!

Marie CruzDay In the life as a Technical Test Engineer
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On being a mum and a woman in tech

On being a mum and a woman in tech

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Like most people, I had a five-year plan after I graduated from university. Get a nice job and work for a great company, get married, start a family and buy a house. Fast forward five years and here I am, attempting to write a blog about how I balance being a mother and a woman in technology while listening to my daughter having a tantrum!

Being a first-time mum, I struggled a bit in the beginning after my maternity leave to get used to the idea of working again. I felt like I had forgotten how to code. Not to mention that I was given the responsibility of a Test Architect role in the client site that I am based at. I had to get myself familiar with new tools that I haven’t used before and somehow, I had to lead the team. It was daunting!

At the same time, I was worrying about my daughter all the time. It was hard to focus at work and it definitely wasn’t the best start (let’s just say that my stress hormones were up to the roofs!). But somehow, I managed to get it to work in the end. It wasn’t easy and there were still some sleepless nights (teething is still a nightmare!) but I’m going to list the things that helped me balance my work and my responsibilities as a mum.

  1. Share the responsibility

This I feel is the most important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and share the responsibility. You won’t be able to do everything by yourself! My husband is very hands-on with our daughter so during his days off, he looks after her. Ask families and friends to help out too. We’re lucky that my mother-in-law helps look after my daughter when my husband and I are both at work. There are also times when my parents pick up my daughter from work, so they can look after her. We pre-plan our schedule and check everyone’s availability so we know who will look after our daughter on what day.

  1. Flexible working is the way forward

If you can work from home or do flexible hours, ask for it. From time to time, I work from home if there is no available babysitter that day or if I need to take my daughter to hospital.

  1. Avoid working outside hours

You might be tempted to bring some of the work home with you if you have tight deadlines but try to avoid doing this if possible. I used to bring work home with me to finish off some tasks, check slack messages and reply to emails but this meant that even when I’m home, I’m still thinking about work rather than just spending quality time with my daughter. This just made me more stressed in the end so if I do have deadlines, I try to be more focused at work and time box my tasks. If it’s something that your colleagues can definitely help, share the responsibility. Again, you can’t do everything by yourself 🙂

  1. Stop overthinking about your children

It’s natural that we tend to worry about our little ones. I used to worry a lot about my daughter at work and text my husband or my mother-in-law to see how she was doing, if she’s eaten or drank her milk, if she’s had her nap, if she’s crying, etc. and I always get the same answers – that she is doing ok. Rather than spending time worrying about things I couldn’t change, I now use that time to be focused at work so I can get home sooner and answer these questions myself

  1. Find time to learn

Now this might be difficult for some of you but if you can, still find time to learn something new every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s just for an hour or 30 minutes. Especially in the tech industry, there are always new tools coming up. So, once my daughter is asleep, I make a habit to read a book, read tech blogs, or do a little bit of coding.

  1. Find a company that appreciates you

I feel that this is as important as the first point. If you work for a company that micromanages and doesn’t give you room to improve, then this might be a red flag. It’s great that I work for a company that is appreciative of what I do and rewards those who have done a great job. Recently, I was nominated for an Outstanding People Award and it has given me a great boost to continue doing what it is I’m doing – I must be doing something right after all!

Achieving a work-life balance, especially if you are a mum, is a challenge, but it is doable. It was difficult at the beginning, but like everything else, it gets easier 🙂

Join our Women In Tech DevOps Playground on 8th November where we will be getting hands-on with Cypress!

Follow other stories from the ECS Digital team here.

Marie CruzOn being a mum and a woman in tech
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