Takeaways from ‘Testing without Testers1

Alan page gave a talk at quardev on May 11th titled Testing without Testers. Its a very provocative title for a few reasons

  1. Quardev is a staffing company that has posted that it is looking to hire SDET’s
  2. Seattle area has a strong SDET culture
  3. This talk is given as part of QA special interest group — http://www.qasig.org/
  4. Alan Page was decades long a tester
  5. Ironically he wrote the book titled “How do we test at Microsoft”

He was pretty clear that this may not work for all companies, products or context and especially maturity model for software development. Some of the things that faciliate this transition are

  • A mature CI/CD process — high confidence in test automation suite and ability to deploy quickly
  • Highly sophisticated instrumentation that tells if users are stuck or getting problems during interaction with our software
  • A cultural shift in DEV mindset that they write — unit, functional, UI (some) automation, frameworks and also maintain them.
  • Testing activities — test planning, strategy, automation, performance, reliability, build gates etc all still have to happen but not just by someone with a title of Tester.
  • They are using open-source community driven frameworks which have maturity and testing at framework level — Angular.js in this case has a very strong test-driven mentality and mature protractor framework for UI testing

If there are no dedicated testers on the team he has seen that developers

naturally take up testing activities because the safety net has been taken away

Which means all the things that SDET’s/QA traditionally drive unit tests, code coverage, build gates etc are now being driven by quality minded devs.

Nonfunctional testing performance, security etc are now being championed by specialized generalists. A team with diverse skill set (former testers) is important.

By the end of talk he kind of made his entire argument moot when he said they have

3 onsite vendors and offshore testing team

Well, it just meant that manual/explorotary/human testing is still being performed but not by someone who has a blue badge (full time employee). Increasing companies are not willing to hire and are finding it better to not have someone who is ONLY doing manual testing.

The talk’s video is here and slides are on slideshare. The interpretation of the talk and message is my own but you can come to your own conclusions after watching the talk