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software testing – Physical, mental, emotional, and social experience

Posted on Posted in Exploratory Testing, Functional Testing, Software Testing

The word experience has become overused. What does it convey when you say I have ten years of experience or five years of experience in software testing? Nothing.

Experience, in my opinion, is a very broad term. Experiences in software testing could be physical, mental, emotional, religious and social.

If I recall my software testing experience, it’s a mixture of all of these.

Software testing takes the form of physical experience when I compare the product with the spec in any form. It can also take this form if I am doing it subconsciously. Few activities which fall under this category are

  • Comparing UI elements on screen against design
  • Sound produced by the application is not according to specs
  • Application is not responding well to the touch screen gestures
  • Application is not working as specified
  • Creation of throwaway record and playback scripts

In a nutshell, the role of my brain is probably limited to comparing actual against stated, and not expected. What I see, hear or feel (with gestures in touch screen devices) dominates my software testing experience.

I have mental experience during testing when I question, think, solve problems, identify risks, find defects, write good test automation, etc. For example, when I try to find answer to questions such as

  • It’s working as specified and design, but is it serving the user?
  • How would a user use this? Where would they use it?
  • What’s the technology stack?
  • Why are they using this? Are there any alternatives?
  • Could there be any problem in the architecture?
  • How devs are testing? Can I not repeat what’s already tested?
  • How can I increase my efficiency by the automaton?
  • Can I make automation more effective?
  • What’s going on behind the UI?
  • How is the application getting / processing data?
  • What are we assuming?
  • Where can it go wrong?

In a nutshell, my mind is driving most of these activities. Everything else, including hands, fingers, eyes, ears, automation tools, etc. becomes an instrument of my brain.

I have emotional experience during testing when I feel strongly about something. For example

  • Frustration, How could I miss this defect?
  • Joy – What a defect? I am pleased I found this one before the customer.
  • Satisfaction – I am contributing to the best of my ability, and team recognizes that.
  • Anger – Why can’t they understand the value of what I am suggesting?
  • Happy – When devs say we need you in our team.

In a nutshell, I have an emotional experience when I feel strongly about the work I am doing. I am not indifferent. I look forward to my next day in office don’t drag myself there to kill another eight hours of my life.

Now before I talk about religious experience, let me explain what I mean by it. When any argument is dominated by beliefs instead of reasons – it’s religious. This definition could be wrong – but hey this is how I define it. So don’t be religious about it 🙂

These days I consciously try to avoid arguments based on beliefs and try to see reasons and context. I do remember following discussions where my belief on what’s good was dominating reasons

  • Priority and severity should be included in defects.
  • Record and playbacks are wrong
  • Automation should be done in the same language
  • Defects should be logged and tracked
  • Number of defects are important

Needless to say, I was wrong in many instances, and I try to see context and reasons consciously these days to ensure that I am not religious about what I believe is right.

Testing is a social experience for me – because it brings me closer to the dev teams, SAs, infrastructure, build guys and so on. Contrary to popular belief that testers sit in a corner to do their job – I find myself interacting with SAs, Devs, Scrum Masters, Managers, People responsible for builds, people responsible for data, environment, third parties and so on.

In my opinion, it is important to find out if you are missing any category entirely. To me, it is important to identify and acknowledge that my software testing experience is physical, mental, emotional and social. Also, I try to avoid being religious and keep myself open to reasons I might not have explored.

How was your testing experience? What type of experience dominates your day to day testing activities? Do you describe your experience in any other way? Please leave your comments to discuss.

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