Oh to be a tester….

Whilst at the Alt.net conference it was pointed out that I have a different view of the role of a tester in a software development team to many other people. It seems a tester, to many people, is viewed as a person who follows manual test scripts and/or monitors automated systems, they are really part of the QA process not part of development.

Now to me this is just wrong. I started, a good while ago, in electronics testing and yes we did have people who sat with test gear and checked circuit boards gave the right voltages etc.; but we also had a test development team who built the test harnesses, scripts  and tools. It is this second group in my option that equate to software testers – they are developers who write code to enable testing. They might do some manual testing but as much as possible this should be automated; we have computers available to us, so make them do the repetitive test work whenever possible.

This all takes some explaining when recruiting as many people do see testing as a bit second rate, just something to do until you get a ‘real’ development job. As you might guess I refute this idea, to me a test role (or should I call it test development role) is where you get to play with the cool tools. If you are doing main line of business development your life is all datasets, standard UI controls and web services. Most line of business work does not thrive on innovation so you are bound to be doing repetitive work.

But the test developers get to use reflection, writing development tool extensions, play in edge conditions and innovate using things like generic algorithms and open source tools to test the boundary of what is possible. They get to think outside the box.

Also there is a great chance to show what you can do in the community. I would say community test tools and frameworks are one the most active areas.

There is also the satisfaction of seeing the whole picture of a project, by the very nature of the build process and integration testing the test developer gets to play in every area.

Is this a view of testing I am alone in holding?

I have convinced you all to become a test developer?