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Hello World for Testers: Basics Part One

arleneandrews profile image Arlene Andrews Originally published at distort-roving.blogspot.com on ・3 min read

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Learning on your own is fun: you have the option to chase a concept until you are satisfied that you fully understand the concept, to the level you need it. But that is also the downside: as a tester, you have few public sites that offer a series of exercises to ensure that you can build that mental list of conditions that you need to ensure are covered in a testing situation.

I am slightly envious of my developer friends: they have established problem sets that they can use to upgrade their skills, and assist in learning the tricks of their particular programming language. The sites are set up to allow both individual learning and competition as an individual, or as a group. This, for many people, is a great incentive to do these exercises on an infrequent basis, or to reinforce a concept that you recently mastered, but aren't likely to use again quickly.

But for me, these resources are hiding - they are included in some classes, yes, but not in this form. And I have heard from developers that they are frustrated doing more than functional tests: they look for something similar to the "katas" they are familiar with for practicing code concepts, and ask about them. And fail to find them

So imagine my delight when I found a 'simple' exercise: go to [shopping site], type in [item], add all items on the first page that have [special tag] to the shopping cart. Thankfully, since this exercise was using a live site, they didn't want you to try and check out! I figuratively pounced on it, and asked for more things like this. And rushed off to make a mind map of what I needed to do.

Anyone who does do testing can see where this is going - what looks to be a simple four-step task can turn into a large project.

My first approach was, of course, an Experiential Testing one. There is no way I would be able to figure out exactly what was required to complete this exercise without taking a look at what was needed to complete the steps. Was there a "Buy now!" button, or did you have to go to the item description? Were the tags scattered. or grouped? And how does one find these tags? So many questions! And the only way to figure them out, plus find out if there are other tasks that need done is to go to the page, and find out.

An online mind map, and a notebook, were also available. I set the map with the task, and started listing what I encountered. Notes handwritten to make sure that what I find isn't forgotten, and so I have a list of tags and routes to items. And, after a few minutes of exploring the task, I was thankful that I had a large virtual sheet - the potential for testing both the correct, easy path and all the other areas grew quickly. As was expected: this is one of the fun parts about testing. Not only do you need to figure out the 'correct' way to do things, but find all the other actions that you might do during the task, either intentionally or not!

After about a half-hour, I had the basic plan on how I would, with unlimited time and budget, test this process. Since I'm still learning, I needed to narrow this down to a more-simple item, and build on it. So I explored a bit more on my chosen site, and found a page that had only one item with the tag, and wrote down what I needed to type, and where, to automate this process.

Returning to the groups that I had asked if there were more exercises like this, I found that no one had found a page with these. I was disappointed - how are we going to be able to skill ourselves up, and let others who are looking at a career in software find the delight that is testing to me? I placed on social media that this might be a good addition to one of the sites, but except for a bit of support, I haven't seen it come up yet.

Even if you just challenge yourself, this is still a good idea. Take what you know, and in a limited environment, expand on it to see how much you can do within that framework. You may not find a serious issue, but may discover limits on yourself, your views, and your tools that need to be examined and evaluated for your future.

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arleneandrews profile

Arlene Andrews

@arleneandrews

Recently found the world of testing and how it fits into the system. I still enjoy coding, but I fit better in the testing mindset.

Discussion

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I fully agree that there isn't a centralized content space for those in the Software Testing / Quality Analyst / Quality Engineer (or SDET) space to learn & grow from. It is a huge gap in our technical information space where individuals currently have to piece mill together solutions by leveraging quick tutorials on how to kickstart test frameworks and/or tools. Then dive into the endless amount of available tutorials around a specific programming language used by the chosen framework or tool. It is a daunting task.

Overall i really like the idea and it gives me a solid direction oh where I will take one of my personal projects.

So if there was a sight available with challenges for those in the software testing spaced, what kinds challenges or tasks would you want to take on?

 

I had floated this idea on Twitter a bit ago: and suggested that it be made a part of Test Automation U, by Applitools. But that seems to leave out a section of the testing world, just by where it is.

Once I shared this, I had someone share a link to a small app where you could test log-in, so that's next, once I get through the list for this one!

My wish list for these would be:

  • Able to be tested in most forms (and potential samples of tests in various options)
  • Small enough that they can be done with unit or integration tests
  • A wide selection of testing things (databases, front end, back end, UI, accessibility, logging exercises, tracking tools, APIs, mocking, etc) to work on, at various levels
  • I, personally, don't care for the competition: but this might be a good place to gameify it a bit. Would be great for interoffice competition!
  • A way to record, for yourself, your answers - maybe add a tracking tool to record coverage/resource usage/etc, so YOU can measure YOUR growth.
  • Something that is easily gotten to: there is such a huge percentage (see upcoming blog post elsewhere!) of testers and other devs that are not involved in the social communities: I don't want them left out, or unable to access these.
  • Maybe a special section for bug reports exercises? Following the "DBAJ" (don't be a jerk) rules - let someone put up a bug report, and the get feedback on how it was written? This could be a monitoring headache, so I'd left that out of my ideals for public activities.

And the other dozen or so ideas that I will think of once I hit "send" 🛎

 

Thanks for jotting down your thoughts & ideas. If you have more, please throw them my way.

As I read over your thoughts, it sounds like you are looking for a self-contained hosted web solution for managing the learning engagement. Kind of like a CodeAcademy or other online tutorial based learning sites. Am I right?

How would you feel about a test automation oriented site that can be self hosted [Running in Docker] and all of the Test Automation Challenges & Lessons are on Github? Then you can use the tools of your choice for the creation of your automation learning journey.

Does this really allow the community to learn from each other? There's likely the biggest argument with that.

If you have someone that will assist - or can yourself! - look at codewars.com (you need to do a coding challenge to get in). They have a selection of exercises at various levels.

We are testers - we can decide levels ourselves, but sorting them by topic would help make sure that basic single-focus exercises are in a specific area. As for combining them - I'm not sure how it would work to an advantage.

Great point about not being able to easily leverage the knowledge of others if everything was don't standalone. And I'll take a look at codewars.com this weekend.

Have FUN! That is an interesting site - there are many good people there, doing everything from code golf to "just enough"

For anyone who was following this: we took it to another forum. I still welcome comments!

 

where's this tweet? I havent seen it

That is because, lady, you are busy! I shall see if I can dig it out of the archives, and tag you with it.