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A Day in the Life of a Software Tester

Group of web developers working in an office.

It’s been a while since I realized that my life was a little different than everyone else’s, I began to notice certain abilities and features that set me apart from the rest; a power so great that I began to concern those around me, fortunately I discovered that I was not alone, there were others like me, “Software Testers”.

Day by day, my career began to interfere with my daily life, one of the first things that I reckoned that wouldn’t let me ease, was how my car produced a strange noise, it was the passengers’ window vibrating; what was curious about it was it would only be listened whenever I made a slow turn, and not always; actually, I would ask for the opinion of anyone who rode with me, but almost no one noticed, and they frequently gave me that look thinking I was crazy or something.

Since the car had a warranty, I decided to report it to the car dealer, I took it there and left it so they could check it, a few hours passed and I received the call of the mechanic’s chief saying that they couldn’t find the noise, he told me to return if I heard it again. I went to get the car, drove around and started listening to the noise again, so I called him back and returned to the workshop. It was there for a couple of days; they allegedly ran a computer analysis on it and used all of the Stark Industry’s available technology, I am sure they did everything they could, but again they found nothing. They told me my car was fine, and suggested that I returned when the noise was louder so that they could find the cause, I didn’t agree but there was nothing else I could do, so I took the car home and made ran some tests on my own:

  1. Start the car and drive at 30 Km/hr on a straight street. No noise.
  2. Start the car and drive at 60 Km/hr on a straight street. No noise.
  3. Make a turn on a narrow curve at 10 Km/hr. No noise.

And so I kept running tests, discarding scenarios, until I found one in which you could perfectly hear the window vibrating: Make a narrow turn under 15 Km/hr, on a hot day or at least if the car had been exposed to sunlight for a while.

I went back to the workshop to share my new findings, with the specific directions, the next day I got a call from the mechanic’s chief, confirming that they had identified the noise and that they had to change part of the window’s system, so we proceeded to fill in the warranty form, the car entered the workshop and when I had it back I was able to confirm that the noise was not there anymore; nevertheless I went straight to the street where I had tested it before to confirm that everything was fine, and it turned out, there were no more noises, the flaw had been repaired at last.

As you may see, everything goes through a quality assurance process, when this process fails we find details in the final product in this case, this was my car. The tests that I made to identify the problem is what we know in software testing as “test cases”  and the “bug”, or flaw in this case, would be the vibration on the window.The “testing” area should find the flaws before the product reaches the next client, anyways sometimes developers don’t like flaws to be found in the app they worked with, that is normal, who like mistakes to be pointed out in their work? But we always have to step into the customer’s shoes, if you went to a restaurant and found a fly (bug) in your soup, wouldn’t you return the soup?, the answer is pretty obvious from that point of view, but the chef (developer) can assure that there was no fly in the pot he prepared the soup in.

It is important to work as a team, focused in a common target, when you forget that the customers satisfaction has priority over finding who was mistaken when developing an application, who wrote the code or who registered the flaw, there can be battles that will run for a 1000 years, in which, if an agreement isn’t reached, administration or technical leader will make the decision they think is best; it is then when a good “Tester” must show them the flaws and relevant information about the problem and the consequences it may imply for the final user, so that their decision is right and well informed.

And to be over with this, I leave an advice to those interested in this field: as superheroes have a double identity, testers should take care of their secret identity as well, since if these superpowers are overused in public, you may risk losing those you care for and the people around you, remember that pointing out someone’s flaws is called criticize. Doing it professionally is called “Testing.”

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Aaron Hevenstone

Starting my career as a musician taught me one of the most important lessons about progress. We only get better the more we repeat the things we want to improve. Continuing my career as a software engineer has taught me that the more we practice and share, the more innovative and creative we become.

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