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Being in the field of software testing for a while, I always wondered whats my stand in the testing skills I possess compared to the other testers. This was more of a positive thought as I was more keen on identifiying what I lacked and what I needed to improve. Then I got to know about ‘ 99tests’ from a very good friend of mine.

99tests is the best platform for one to get diversed exposure to test various products/applications.

I registered myself in 99tests and that time around, there was a contest that had started & I joined the same. I was absolutely clueless about what it takes to win a contest and how one needs to fare well in it.

I still remember quite well that in the first contest, I was able to log in just 7 bugs while there were the others who had logged more than 50…Honestly I did wonder how some people managed to log that many bugs in a short span of time…

Thereafter, my journey continued with a couple of more contests. I fared better compared to earlier ones ….but still never could manage to come to top 3 slots.

One day Ajay shared with me that he was planning to write an ebook on the tips to win a testing contest. Ajay has been a great performer in 99tests throughout winning most of its competitions. So I was eagerly waiting for the release of this book and made sure to buy it once it was released.

I started to read the ebook and learnt many techniques in it. And I judiciously applied all the learnings in the 99tests contest that I took part in thereafter and managed to bag the 2nd position. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for the learnings I took from Ajay.

Below are the critical bugs that I was able to log with the learnings from Ajay’s ebook.
(a) Validating a website through W3C Validator
(b) Identifying script errors in the website links when accessed through IE

I sincerely recommend Ajay’s ebooks not only to be read just to win a contest but most importantly to better yourself as a tester.

Read the following blogs on the belwo mentioned site and get to know more details – http://www.enjoytesting.blogspot.com/
(a) Release of my ebook: “What If…”
(b) Release of my ebook: “What If… : 50+ tips to win testing contests”

I was offered to present a topic for the ITB (Indian Testers Board) Testers Meet that happened in Chennai on May 21.

After much thought, I decided to talk about ‘Testers & Networking’.

There is a famous old saying that says, “Two heads is better than one” which essentially emphasizes on how a group of people can brainstorm, generate great ideas and learn more instead of  a single person doing it.

Taking this concept further, I am here to share with you about Testers and Networking.

So what’s Networking?  

Networking – the dictionary defines it as to socialize for professional or personal gain…What I imply on networking is getting in touch with other testers.

And why?

Before actually getting into the details, let me tell you, how I happened to know.

Ever since I started my career in software testing, I always wanted to better myself in this arena. One of the ways that I used to follow most commonly as others was to google for more information related to Software Testing or read testing books.

Also, while I was on my career break, I knew I had to keep up with the latest happenings and trends in the Software Testing Industry. But how would I be able to do it was a big question. Being out of work, I didn’t know how testing had grown in the mean time and how the organization looked at these new trends.

Even though I was able to look up a few things and read it on the internet, I failed to get the complete picture since it lacked the real time experience.

It was during this time, that I landed on Pradeep Soundararajan’s blog site  wherein he had pinned his experiences in Software Testing. This caught my attention and I contacted him. Thanks to him that he was willing to share his learnings with me. Thus the journey of networking began and I happened to meet a whole bunch of many other passionate tester friends and my life in testing has never been the same since then.

My sincere ‘Thank You’ goes out to Pradeep, Parimala, Santhosh Tuppad, Bharath & Ajay who are constantly helping me learn so that I be a better tester .

So Let’s See why we should Network

Getting to know the other testers

When we network and reach out, we get in touch with many others with varied experience be it the number of years they have been in the field or be it the domain in which they are working on. We can share and receive wealth of information.

Gain Experience and Knowledge

I have read in one of the books that if we were to learn from our very own experiences then it would take a life time to learn things. Not guaranteed if it could be learnt by then too! And hence the best way would be follow the steps of the person who has already followed the route to success. Networking among the other testers gives you this advantage.

Isn’t it mind blowing that we get to learn so many different new things from many others in the best possible way?

Build Credibility

As we network and learn and share from the others, we gain credibility. Gain credibility from our own perspective since it would help us to evaluate ourselves and know where we stand and where we need to improve upon.

Gain credibility from the others how? A person who is dedicated and passionate about what he does is bound to be well known and this is so true in this case also. As you start sharing your learnings and mentoring the others, you gain credibility among the others.

Heard about some passionate testers who are well known globally? – Pradeep Soundararajan, Vipul Kocher, Santhosh Tuppad, Shrini Kulkarni, Ajay Balamurugadas, Parimala Shankaraiah, Dhanasekar S. ? Isn’t it an honour that the above mentioned Indian testers are mentioned by James Bach himself on his blog posts?

And how much more worthwhile it is to learn from the leaders themselves..? Please do ponder.

Access to the right information when one wants to learn something new.

Have you ever realized when you want to know something new, how much you crave to access & learn the right thing? Especially when it comes to preparing for the interviews. Of course there are loads of interview websites out there that promises to provide you the needed answers. But what is the guarantee that the answer there is the right one? Only an experienced person in that particular skill set can be able to provide you with the right information on a concept.

So in that case why not learn from them directly and learn more too?

This is more useful for a person who has just started his career path in Software Testing.

I have seen a couple of instances where newbies have learnt about testing incorrectly going by the answers they read on the interview websites and surprisingly some testing institutes too. This is a serious concern that needs to be addressed because it’s a huge responsibility being a software tester since the stake holders rely on the information and feedback we give to them.

If a person doesn’t know the things right in the first place, how do you expect that person to give the right information? Aren’t the quality norms being violated here in the very first step? Then the whole effort of testing has no meaning at all. Think about it friends.

All said and done, now how do we go about networking and leverage its benefits?

(a)    Weekend / Weeknight Testing – www.weekendtesting.com

This initiative was started by group of passionate testers in Bangalore – Ajay, Parimala, Sharath & Manoj wherein they could have a free environment to experiment and demonstrate their testing skills. They used to meet for 2 hrs during the weekend and test an open source application by setting up a mission and deliberate among themselves later and learn.

 Now this has gained so much momentum and popularity because of its learning advantages that weekend testing chapters have come up in Mumbai, Europe, US, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Networking helped me make my break period a more productive one in terms of learning more and acquiring new skills in testing. I came across weekendtesting.com. This is was a perfect platform for me to pitch in and learn in my free time.

And what it takes to join there..? it’s just your interest and passion and spending just 2 hours out of your entire weekend.

 (b)   The Chennai Testers Group

It was started by Bharath to connect all the testers from Chennai. And it’s a great place to learn and share with one another.

(c)    Blogs

Many blog posts are written by globally acknowledged testers and there is a wealth of information shared in their experiences. Reading blogs is one of the very good ways to learn more and equip yourself with good information.

Some of the noteworthy blogs are:

www.testertested.blogspot.com– By Pradeep Soundararajan

http://shrinik.blogspot.com/ – By Shrini Kulkarni

http://www.curioustester.blogspot.com/ – By Parimala Shankaraiah

www.enjoytesting.blogspot.com – By Ajay Balamurugadas

 (d)   Skype, Twitter and Forums

Forums are a great place to learn & share ideas. A few of the well known testers forums are:

http://softwaretestingclub.com

www.testrepublic.com

Well then, how is all this going to help you, me and the testers community?

Constant Learning

My growth curve is now showing a steady progress ever since I started to network with the other testers. I am getting to learn many new things. I am getting to meet new testers too and my network is growing big.

This was indeed a blessed learning opportunity during career break.

I built a good network of other testers and even to this day we are learning and sharing from one another.

I feel as though I have an entire testing institution with me and I can always learn the best possible way. They are always there to help you and support you…….Trust me :-)

Interaction with skilled testers

It’s a vast testing world out there with people with varied experiences. Interacting with them will definitely help us to a large extent since there is so much new to be learnt from them.

Freshers and experienced can improve their skills by taking part in the testing sessions on weekendtesting.com.

Opportunity to improve skills.

As one learns and explores from the others, they are definitely bound to improve their skills. Reading the blogs from the others, we might as well be inspired to do so. I have been and that’s how I started to blog my learnings. And if you are wondering why you should blog, then do check out Pradeep’s blog post on why there is need for testers to blog. Here is the link – http://testertested.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-good-software-testers-should-come.html

Whew! So much of information shared. so then what are the passionate testers from Chennai doing?

Chennai Testing Group – Highlights

This was started by Bharath. There is so much of information shared and learnt.

Bharath came up with the concept and organized Bug-De-Bug testing conference – It was a golden opportunity to meet many others testers from Chennai and outside alike. It was a privilege to meet & interact with the top notch people in the testing industry.

Then we have the ‘Star tester of the month’ wherein testers from Chennai who contribute towards testing community are appreciated and recognized.

Chennai Testing Group also has a dedicated blog site too wherein you can share your experiences – http://chennaitestersgroup.wordpress.com/

Those of you who wish to be part of the Chennai Testing Group, here is the mailing id – chennai-testing@googlegroups.com

I sincerely hope that we all collectively help grow the software testing craft.

Bug debug – The Software Testing Conference in Chennai

The Inception

It was a long awaited dream to do something towards the testing arena from the Chennai Chapter. Finally Bharath came up with the thought of conducting a software testing conference in the city. His rigorous efforts and ‘Never Give Up Attitude” took the form of “Bug debug” in collaboration with the Ria-Rui Society. The conference was scheduled to be conducted on Jan 29 2011. It was great to see people outside Chennai come in too. Such is the passion that drives people.

Pre-Excitement

The excitement for the same began almost a month back with great offerings from the event organizer giving out early bird discounts for the event. Added to this, a software testing contest was held teaming up with 99tests.com and the prizes were a lot tempting to be won. It was a wonderful opportunity to put one’s skill and competitive edge to action. The contest offered a stiff competition, with the contestants being very close to one another to take the leading position.

A Promising Agenda for the Event

The Schedule that was finalized was too good to be missed out. Eminent personalities from the testing industry – Vipul Kocher, Pradeep Soundararajan, Ajay Balamurugadas, Anuj Magazine were roped in as speakers to enlighten the tester participants. The content catered to every section of the audience be it a fresher/student or a professional. Jan 29 2011 The D day finally arrived and I went to the conference venue with a lot of excitement and an open mind with an expectation that at the end of it all, I would have gained rich knowledge. It started with the registration process, and the registered participants were given a participant kit, which constituted the event schedule, puzzle, promotions from the sponsors and a feedback form. Wow, it looked oh so professional that I started to feel that I would be attending a hi-profile conference. Seeing the feedback form, I could sense that the team behind this event were serious about their business and were keen on providing quality service.

From the Speakers Knowledge Treasure Basket

The Key note began with Vipul Kocher, who spoke about the challenges in testing. Speaking further on it he spoke about the following which were truly thought provoking:

  •     Meaning of testing to different stakeholders
  •     Have you tested enough? How much do I need to test?
  •     Oracle Problem
  •     How many test cases should I write?
  •     How do I choose the right set of regression tests?
  •     How do I get developers to do better testing
  •    Do I need coding skills?
  •    How do I teach testing to my testers?
  •    Where is Innovation in testing?

The audience got a quick glimpse of tools like Sahi & Selenium from Narayan Raman & Ruturaj Doshi

Pradeep Soundararajan gave an insight on the skills that a tester needs to possess to better themselves as a promising tester and also the activities that would help the tester achieve this goal. He emphasized that one needs to revolutionize themselves to be a better thinker and a better tester.

A talk on the emerging trend of Cloud Computing and Software Testing by Anuj Magazine was a lot interesting.

This was followed by Ajay Balamurugadas’s tips for being a good bug hunter, wherein he shared his learnings that helped him to be a world class tester that he is today. His topic that said “I Am the Bug Hunter” , made me very curious to hear his talk.

The final presentation was by Praveen Singh, the proud founder of 99tests.com. He spoke about Testing at Startups and it was inspiring when he shared his story of how he came up with 99tests.com. It’s a truly remarkable find by Praveen Singh because personally I felt that taking part in such contests like in those offered by 99tests.com, would make a tester stretch himself out of the comfort zone and motivate him to do his best. Kudos to Praveen on 99tests.com

Also Praveen highlighted that a tester needs to build their testing skills and make themselves known to the world outside their 4 walled cubicle.

In Between the Breaks

The testers were asked to share their testing tips and it was good to see testers penning them down during the tea and lunch breaks. Also they caught up with one another during this time. Not to forget mentioning that the lunch was lip smacking – ‘Slrrrp’ !!!!!!! :-))

All well that ends well

The conference was concluded with raffles and prize distribution. Am happy that I secured a 3rd  place in the contest conducted by 99tests.com :-)

There was a Q & A session wherein intelligent questions from the testers were awarded. All in all, Bug debug was a very informative & successful testing conference.

To top it all, the participants got an opportunity to interact with their testing idols and also build a network with the other testers. So to say, it was as a mind blowing experience or rather should I say that people, who missed out being there, missed out something BIG TIME ! I hope they ensure that they don’t miss out on such events going forward.

I am glad that I attended Bug debug for I walked out with so so much more than what I expected out of it.

Note of Thanks

 I would take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Bug debug team for coming up with this conference. The event was awesome in every perspective. It truly reflected the tremendous amount of hardwork gone behind it. Their hardwork is truly commendable and very much appreciated.

Bug debug Team – Keep Rocking Folks !!!!!

My Heart Longs for More

After getting the feel of what its like at the Bug debug conference, I definitely look forward for many more such events to come.

My Career in Software Testing began in 2002 & it was going along a steady path, when unexpectedly, I encountered an U-Turn in 2007 …Little did I know that this U-turn, would be a major setback for me to get back onto the steady road that I was travelling all along.

I had a take a break owing to some commitments in my personal life. First it was the travel to US for a long term and followed by being blessed with a baby. 2 years passed by. Now I felt it would be the right time to get back to working once again. I started with my job hunt and made sure that no stone was left unturned to search the job. As bad luck would have it, within a month after starting to look out for the job, there was recession which had hit major business areas very badly and IT was one of them. Layoffs started to happen very often in many companies. In this situation, my prospects of getting an interview call became very bleak and as the recession progressed, the thin line of hope that I had too faded away soon.

Still I didn’t quit, and tried calling up many job consultants in the city with the strong hope that they would be of assistance in helping me get a job. One roadblock that I had to face here was that the consultants would always focus on the break that I had, and not on my professional experience and skill set. And without seeking an explanation for the break, they would respond saying – “No one will accept candidates who have a break of more than a year”. I asked them – “For most married women, taking a break becomes inevitable at some point in their life, and they take break for valid reasons, so why take it as a negative thing?” Well, they never accepted it.

A career break is always a flip side to a steady career. Being very much aware of this, I feared its impact on my career growth and most importantly with respect to getting a job again. It’s quite evident that a career break is always viewed as a negative pointer for a professional, but I wonder why it is not given a due consideration, when the reason behind the break is a genuine one. Does this mean that the work life takes priority and precedence over family & personal life? Or is it that it’s blindly believed that a woman can’t perform her best after she returns from her break? Should I call this a stigma in the working world? Whatever it is, it sure did a take a toll on me when I started my job hunt.

I got in touch with few of my friends and ex-colleagues to see if they could be of help. Most of them were of the opinion, that since it was recession time, it would be better that I wait for the market to pick up, after which it was sure that I would get interview calls. Some others felt that my break was the biggest drawback that resulted in my resume not getting shortlisted for the interviews. They even suggested that I need to add in fake experience to cover up that break time.

I am a firm believer that there is no shortcut to success and also believe that anything that is gained by wrong means never last & hence was completely against the idea of faking. I was prepared to wait longer or even settle down for a smaller pay or a smaller company but never wanted to fake. And more so I felt that I had a genuine reason to opt for a career break, so why should I fear to let know the interviewer about the same?

Inspite of all this, the main concern that was worrying me a lot was having a low confidence level due to all this.Though I was constantly reading and updating myself, I still lacked confidence since I was out of real time work. Didn’t really have an idea as to what new technologies were there in the testing field and how the testing field had changed during these years. Since the testing field was growing and progressing rapidly, I knew that there was a different scenario now compared to what it was 3 years back.

I just didn’t want to settle down with mediocrity. I started to think, of ways to make my break period a more productive one in terms of learning more and acquiring new skills in testing. I came across utest and weekendtesting.com. This is was a perfect platform for me to pitch in and learn in my free time. I became an active participant on utest.com and weekendtesting.com. Weekend Testing was awesome because there were testing sessions conducted every weekend and I got to learn, practice and interact with other testers. I learned a lot. I started to gain more and more confidence so much so that, actively participating in these sessions, never made me feel that I was out of real time work. During this time, I got a chance to know  some other eminent testers who were instrumental in my learning and were always there to clarify all my queries. I could always count on them. I also enrolled myself in the testing group of my city and the members of the group too were very helpful. What more can one ask for? I take this opportunity to sincerely thank all my fellow tester friends who helped me gear up.

In the mean time, the market started to gain momentum and slowly I started getting interview calls. Of course, the first question would be “Why a break?” I boldly confronted the reason for my break and much to my surprise, it was accepted and considered.  The best part was that I faced my interviews with a lot of confidence and was able to fare well in them. All this wouldn’t have been possible, had I not taken measures to make productive use of my free time.

Now am happily employed in one of the top IT firms in the city with a good pay scale and designation.

And for all those people who are sailing the same boat as I did once, please remember the following points when you decide to job hunt after your break

         ·            Never lose your confidence.

         ·            Always stay abreast with your field by constantly reading and updating your skills.

         ·            Get in touch with people & friends who are already working and update yourself on the latest happenings in your work field.

         ·            Don’t opt for a shortcut and fall prey to temporary solutions such as faking to land yourself a job. Think of long term and make the right decision to stand by what’s right. It will definitely pay off.

I conclude that the career break had its own pros and cons for me. As the saying goes that there lies an opportunity in every setback, though my break made my comeback to work a little tough, it did provide me an opportunity to learn and seek more. I built a good network of other testers and even to this day we are learning and sharing from one another.

Ever since I started my career in software testing, I always wanted to better myself in this arena. One of the ways that I used to follow most commonly as others, was to google for more information or read testing books.

Sometime back when I was reading some testing content on the internet, I came across Pradeep Soundararajan’s Blog site (http://testertested.blogspot.com/) wherein he had penned his rich experience and thoughts on various testing aspects. Now that left me thinking about testers blogging their experience and learnings.

I have always loved to write, though am not a professional writer. The concept of blogging came across as a blessing to me, since it was a platform that satisfied my urge to write and at the same time share my learnings, & also learn from other testers too. Surprisingly this led me to get connected with Pradeep Soundararajan himself and other good testers from his group like Parimala Shankaraiah and Ajay Balamurugadas. The important awakening that came to me when I started to interact with them and follow their blogs was that, until then I was of the thought that testing was just all about executing the given test cases, finding bugs based on those given test cases and reporting them. Little did I realise that my testing was like a horse blinded folded from seeing nothing other than what is there in front of him! I realised that I was not thinking out of the box! I have just started to blog and learning from others to be a better tester has never been so interesting, inspiring and productive.

Even before I could start with my own blogging, I used to wonder, whether it would be indeed worthwhile to start my own blogging until I read this post from Pradeep titled “Why should testers Blog”.

This post answered all the doubts on my mind. Do read it. Here is the link: http://testertested.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-good-software-testers-should-come.html

Honestly it inspired me to write this post, irrespective of all the many excuses that I had before not to write one. Thanks a lot Pradeep for this post. I am sure this would be an eye opener for many other testers too. As Pradeep mentions in his post -“Why should testers Blog”, I completely agree with him that most often we fail to owe credit to people for whatever we get to learn from them.

I have decided not to fail anymore in doing so and here I offer my sincere thanks to the people who have encouraged me to Blog.

My first thanks goes to my friend Bharath, who constantly encouraged and guided me to start with blogging when I was a lot skeptical to start one. Thanks to Pradeep Soundararajan whose post “Why should testers blog” gave me a clear idea and the importance of blogging. Thanks to Parimala Shankaraiah who continually encouraged me to blog despite all odds.

I wish many testers learn the importance of blogging. I am going to spread this word to all my friends so that they become good testers too….how about you? please help others benefit from this awesome concept of blogging.

Come weekend, its time we eagerly wait for the weekend testing session week after week. Its always the excitement to measure our testing skills and also the eagerness to learn more and something new from other tester friends in the group.

The first weekend testing session at the start of this new year was a very good learning experience. We had to test an application by name “Triangle” that deduced the triangle type and displayed an associated image for it based on the input dimensions. The mission was to find all the bugs we could and could also use any tools if we wanted to. The testers were Mohit, Harisingh, Rahul, Ajay Balamurugadas, Jerald, Manjanna KN and myself. The session was facilitated by Parimala Shankaraiah who did a very fantastic hosting. Thanks Parimala.

The session began on schedule with all the testers being present on time. The time alloted for testing was 1 hour, followed by 1 hour of discussion where the testers had to share the following:

1. Share the biggest challenge you faced in this program

 2. Describe the Best Bug you found – why do you think that it is the best

 3. Were there any traps while you were testing? If Yes, how did you overcome the traps? 

Common findings amongst all was that the application lacked in validation since it accepted characters, spaces, special characters and alphanumeric values instead of numeric values for the dimension. 

My best bug  – when the dimension value was followed by a few spaces, no error message was thrown but the results were computed and it displayed an inappropriate image, a straight line instead of a triangle. 

These are the learnings I got from the session: 

Though the application seemed a familiar one….about triangles which we would have learnt in our school days, I made it a point to brush up on the basic knowledge. Parimala added more to this saying – “Use the internet and your freedom to make use of the resources to find out about things that you don’t know. If more information can help you test better, go for it”. 

When Mohit wanted to know what was the max length the input can take, Parimala gave a very useful tip that perlclip would have speeded up the testing in this case and shared the url http://www.satisfice.com/tools.shtml for more information on it. 

Mohit posed another interesting question – Do we really need logging facility for a stand alone program?. Parimala answered saying – Logging speeds up testing in any program in general. We have a log file for our products which helped us find atleast 50 bugs which we couldn’t find in the GUI. 

The curious part was to know about the traps. The trap that was experimented was a human trap and it was Ajay. He was distracting each one of us by asking unrelated questions. Parimala elaborated saying that the tester needs to be cautious about this. Any communication that helps in testing is fine, but wasting time instead of testing is useless. She quoted – “Nobody keeps testers in the dark. Testers keep themselves in the dark – Dr. Cem Kaner”. 

Ajay Balamurugadas added “simplicity-complexity is also a trap. clearing traps is a skill. recognizing traps is a bigger skill.”. 

We got a clear distinction between a bug and an issue with the definition:

Bug – Anything that threatens the value of the product

Issue – Anything that threatens the value of testing

The importance of asking to know more was emphasized in this session. Parimala encouraged that testers need to ask more and that one need not feel shy since there is no such thing as a stupid question in this world. This reminds me of the wise chinese proverb that was quoted in one of Robin Sharma’s book I was reading that says – ” He who asks may be a fool for five minutes. He who doesn’t is a fool for a lifetime.”. 

Felt a lot good that we got to learn so much from this session. There is absoultely no doubt that weekend testing is indeed a great place to learn and grown as a tester. 

Here is the schedule of the weekend sessions happening. You can chose from any of these. Thanks Ajay for schedule information. 

Bangalore: Saturday – 3pm – 5pm IST 

Chennai:  Sun 3pm – 5pm IST 

Hyderabad: Sat 3pm – 5pm IST 

Wanna be one of the priveleged ones like us? – please come join us in this great and awesome learning tour each weekend at www.weekendtesting.com 

Cheers, 

Krishnaveni

Chennai Weekend Testing

As the famous saying goes that one gains more knowledge when he shares it with others, here is Chennai Weekend Testing, a forum for all those passionate testers who wish to learn more..here, an application either web based or desktop is chosen to test with a mission as the scope for testing. The testers involved, perform the testing and submit the report and meetup for an online discussion wherein they share their learnings.

For me being a part of this elite group and its activities has been an awesome experience since am getting to learn more about testing. With a different mission identified for each testing mission, and a time frame alloted to complete it, helps me to do testing in a diversified way and also to think smart in order to the best testing within that stipulated time.

More importantly, the learnings I get from my fellow group testers during the online discussion is indeed helpful.

If any one is interested to be a part of this wonderful learning and know more about this group, please do send a mail to cwt@weekendtesting.com.

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