"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

News - Moolya Software Testing Private Limited launched

I have been patiently waiting to write this post. Many times I wanted to but then I postponed it to this moment and I would tell you why. The news is: Santhosh Tuppad and I have co-founded Moolya Software Testing Private Limited in Bangalore.

What this means to customers, you and the testing community?

That's an important question we'd like to answer. We are going to be offering testing services. Take a look at our logo and that would tell you the first part of the story. Do you know what Moolya means?

We wanted our name to depict what kind of testing we practice and offer our customers. The central theme of our testing is "cost versus value". Moolya is a Hindi word which has two meanings: cost & value. We simply loved it the moment we discovered it. Added to that was domain name availability. It was available and we just jumped on it. 

We crowd sourced the logo design and ITdude (as the designer likes to be called) from Philipines did this excellent logo for us that symbolizes what we wanted to depict as our next theme of testing than cost versus value - using brains - thinking skills & not rote procedures. My uncle who has been a logo designer himself, gave a little touch of his own to the logo to add a vibrant color and choose the font and design our business cards and letter heads.

Then on the services part, we choose to target people who value good testing. Fortunate for us, even before our incorporation, we had a customer wanting our services. Our first project was to test a Cloud Based Operating System. We felt blessed to have that kind of a start for our company. The client was and is happy. They have given us more business.

For those planning to outsource their testing work or seek consulting, the services we offer are

  • Offshore testing services
  • Exploratory Software Testing Services & Session Based Test Management
  • Check (Test) Automation & Test Design Automation
  • User Rejectance (Acceptance) Testing & Beta Testing
  • Consulting & Training
  • Staffing++

So what, everybody provides that? As every company says they are different, we'd like to say, we aren't just like those different folks out there. You should consider visiting the Services page for more details.

For testers  

We hire testers, isn't that good news? ;-) More than that, our interviewing isn't going to be traditional or easy. You don't send us your resume, you send us your test report, a contact number and an email id we could get in touch with you. We would discuss about your test report and get you to test software and put you in different contexts. That's our way of hiring. Even if we scale to thousand testers, maybe, in a couple of years, we will hire that way. Right from freshers to senior people, they should be good at testing. If in case you have a certification, we don't have a problem with that. We don't care about your certification because we care for you. We are working hard at planning and creating a women friendly organization. We are also going to be tapping a lot of hidden talent.

We believe and practice what Fiona Charles said, "Lousy customer service often comes from unhappy employees. Treat people well & they'll pass good will on." 

We will treat you well. You may like going through our Careers page

For the community

We are working on putting our office open to all testers during Sunday. We are going to be stocking lots of good books (The Weinberg, The Kaner, The Bach, The Koomey, The Guaspari, ...), providing you power and internet and you may make the best use of it. You may end up meeting other testers who have come in to read books or practice testing, and can enjoy what you enjoy the most - learning to test & continuing to be better at it. You might find Moolya employees on Sunday chilling out if they need with you folks. Wouldn't it be great if we provide free wi-fi to those who wouldn't download movies but use it to learn testing? Yes, it would be.

We currently have a 25 seater office and as our business expands, we'd like to care for more of you. We just hope to make this company a dream company for good testers. We know we will make it.  

Why we think Moolya Testing is special?

Moolya belongs to a very important time period in testing. It is started by those who started their career as a tester, have remained hands on & shall remain hands on. They may hold the designation as the Director or CEO but they can test good if not great. They have at least played a small role, if not big, to stir the beginning of Renaissance in Indian Testing. They know what customers want, they know what testers want. They are young yet experienced, with lots of energy & passion. Most important of all, they have nothing to loose, so they can be crazy, creative, sound jazzy, cool, and do things that other companies just isn't doing. They are the Microsoft & Apple of 1970's. They are the Google of the 1990's. This would probably be the first Indian services company that would not talk about "head count" but talk about "brain count" of their employees.

Our culture

Just because we are testers, it doesn't mean we haven't educated ourselves on anything else. We have put special emphasis on our culture. We have been working on things that can make a great culture to a company. What is that? We'd get our employees tell you those stories, than we letting all of it.

My wishes to Santhosh Tuppad

I'd also like to mention that by having co-founded Moolya with me, Santhosh Tuppad, must have become the youngest tester entrepreneur. Congratulations to him. You are a bravo.

Going forward, India might see more such. As I said, Moolya Testing is the first of its kind company from India that is aligned with the Indian Testing Renaissance. 


A note of thanks to my colleagues Parimala, Sharath Byregowda, Manoj Nair, Dhanasekar S & Mohan Panguluri, Vipul Kocher, Nandan Pujar, Satish Thakur, James Bach & Michael Bolton for the support they have offered so far. Needless to say, without our parents, siblings & family help, we wouldn't have been able to achieve this. 

Follow Moolya Testing

Feel free to join us on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn. Peruse through our website. I postponed writing this post multiple times to be able to write this from the office of Moolya Software Testing Private Limited. We are in JP Nagar 2nd Phase, Bangalore. Feel free to contact us. The story of starting Moolya Software Testing Private Limited will be launched as a book in 2011. It's going to be self-published.

"Consider engaging Moolya for your testing needs, we'd like to put smiles on *your* customers face." 

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Are there any software testing blogs from Indians that are really Indian?

हम क्यू नहीं अपने बाषा में टस्टिंग ब्लॉग नहीं लिक्थे? में जब रशियंस की ब्लॉग दुन्द्था हूँ तब मेरे को रशियंस बाषा की टेस्टिंग ब्लोग्स मिलता हैं. वैसे ही चिनेसे या जपनेसे या गेर्मान टेस्टिंग ब्लोग्स बी हैं. अबी थो जीमेल की गेनेराल सेत्तिंग्स में त्रन्स्लितेरतिओन आप्शन एनाबले किया थो सब भाषा. ( एक इंडियन की स्तिथि ऐसे हैं देखो, मुझे कोंफुसे हो रहा हैं "भाषा" कोर्रेक्ट हैं या "भाशा")

आप इंग्लिश में टाइप करो और औतोमटिक हिंदी त्रन्स्लतिओन मिल जाता हैं. उसमे आपको इन्तेरेस्तिंग बुग्स मिलेगा. अगर आपका मत्हरू भाशा हिंदी हैं, थो आप ही इसको टेस्ट कर सकते हैं. क्या आप सोच रहे हैं की चिनेसे वाले हिंदी भाशा को टेस्ट कर सकते हैं? 

मेरे इंडियन भायों और बहनों, मत भूलो की आपकी भाशा में सोचना और लिकना भूलना नहीं. शायद आप मेरा हिंदी में थोडा गलती होगा, थो क्या? में थो आज सें हमारा हिन्दुस्तानी भाशा में टेस्टिंग ब्लॉग ज़रूर लिकने वाला हूँ.  

ನನ್ನ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಕನ್ನಡ ಬಂದುಗಳಿಗೆ, ನನ್ನ ಹೆಸರು ಪ್ರದೀಪ್ ಸೌಂದರ ರಾಜನ್ ಅಂದ ಮಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ನಾನು ತಮಿಳಿಯನ್ ಅಲ್ಲ. ನಂಗೆ ಇಂಡಿಯಾ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಆದರೂ ನನ್ನ ಮಾತೃ ಭಾಷೆ ಕನ್ನಡ. ನಂಗೆ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತನಾಡುವುದು ಬಹಳ ಇಷ್ಟ. ಆದರು ನೋಡಿ, ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಬರದು ಬರದು ನನ್ನ ಮಾತೃ ಭಾಷೇನೆ ಮರತ್ ಬಿಟ್ಟೆ. ಸಕ್ಕತ್ ಅವಮಾನ ಅಗುತ್ತೆ ನನಗೆ.  ಆದ್ರೆ ಇನ್ ಮುಂದೆ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರದೀಪ್ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಟೆಸ್ಟಿಂಗ್ ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಬರಿತಾನೆ. ಹಾಗೆ ನಿಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಟೆಸ್ಟಿಂಗ್ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಬರ್ಯೋಕೆ ಕೇಳುತಾ ಇದೀನಿ.

ಇನ್ನು ಕೆಲವೇ ವರ್ಷದಲ್ಲಿ, ನಾನು ಬಹಳ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಟೆಸ್ಟಿಂಗ್ ಪೋಸ್ಟನ್ನು ಬರಿತೀನಿ. ನೀವು ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು ಟ್ರೈ ಮಾಡಿ. ತಪ್ಪಾಗಿದ್ರೆ ಪರವಾಗಿಲ್ಲ ರಿ, ಬರಿಯಕ್ಕೆ  ಶುರು ಮಡುದ್ವಲ್ಲ ಅದೇ ಸಾಕು. ಬನ್ನಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಭಾಷಯಲ್ಲಿ ಟೆಸ್ಟಿಂಗ್ ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಬರಿಯೋಣ.

என் இனிய தமிழ் மக்களே, உங்கள் பாசத்துக்குரிய  பிரதீப் சௌந்தரராஜன் பேசுகிறேன் :) நான் பிறந்தது  ஒரு மாதவா கன்னட குடும்பத்தில். படித்ததெல்லாம் பெங்களூர் பள்ளி கூடத்தில். கன்னடம் தான்  படித்தேன் ஆனாலும் தமிழ் மீது ஒரு பற்று உள்ளது. பொறியியல் படித்து திருச்சியில் உள்ள மூகாம்பிகை கலூரியில். தமிழ் அப்பொழுது தான்  கற்றேன். சன் டிவி பார்த்து, சொல்லுவதை  கேட்டு  கேட்டு  படிக்க கற்றேன். இரண்டு சுழி "ண" மற்றும் ஒரு சுழி "ன" எங்கு  வரவேண்டும் என்று இன்னும் தெரியாது ஆனாலும், தமிழில் நான்  டெஸ்டிங் ப்ளாக் போஸ்ட் எழுதுவேன் . 

அது தமிழில் உள்ள பற்றுக்காவும் மற்றும் உங்க மாதிரி தமிழை நன்றாக கற்ற ஆட்களை தமிழில் டெஸ்டிங் ப்ளாக் எழுத ஊக்குவிப்பதற்காக. தமிழில் டெஸ்டிங் ப்ளாக் எழுதுங்க, தமிழையும், தமிழையே நம்பி இருக்கும் இளைர் பட்டாளத்துக்கு  வழி காட்டியாக இருங்க.  வாழ்க வளமுடன் .

For those who don't understand any of the above written languages (Hindi, Kannada & Tamil) and you want to know the meaning, just read the title and you'd get it.

I am asking, why aren't Indian testers writing blog posts in their own languages? I see people from Germany blogging about testing in German. I have come across Russian blogs ( Take both Alexei's for example), I also saw a few Chinese & Japanese testing blogs. Not to forget, Polish, Dutch and even more.

I haven't come across one testing blog that's truly Indian in the language. I have decided to occasionally try writing in the languages I know. Its shame but true that I have forgotten how to write well in Indian languages. I learnt Sanskrit, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and a little bit of Telugu but can't write in any of them as fluent as I can do in English.  

If someone can write in any of the Indian languages and about testing, it would truly be the Indian testing blog. What I have been writing so far is an Indian's testing blog written in a foreign language. See the difference?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Future of Indian software testing looks safe

I have spoken bad about testers in India in the past. I received an applause for it from Americans, Europeans & even Indians. I didn't consider it a sin. There is an equal (no, wait, "much more") applause if an American was complaining about testers in India being bad in testing. I just didn't mind that. That was a few years ago.

2 weeks ago, I had an opportunity to speak at STC2010 conference in Bangalore. The turnout was awesome. About 400+ people. For the first time, I witnessed latecomers looking out for chairs that were vacant. You could simply call it house full.

Critical thinking demonstration

For me, software testing conferences in India is more about meeting interesting people (who don't have a public presence, yet do lots of good work) and less about the keynote speakers or their content. Some talks, in my humble-less opinion were pretty bad but that's why the good ones amidst them were shining and bright. 

Ajay Jain, from Adobe, Noida in particular gave a talk that I stood up and clapped for what he said. He said things like, "If something takes time, the immediate instinct is to automate but how about letting certain things take its own sweet time because there could be a value in it."

There appears to be hungry vultures waiting to find an opportunity to automate something that is taking time and amidst those people, Ajay Jain, is a star because he is thinking critical. I didn't know him before that talk. Later, I went up to him and talked a good deal. There are many undiscovered Ajay Jain's in India.

ET & SBTM experience reports

Moving to a poster presentation by Shaham Yusuf and his lead Vivekanand Suman from Delloite, Mumbai where they published an experience report of exploratory testing & session based test management. They talked about how their exploratory testing influenced the developers and in turn how its doing good to their product. The most important thing about these guys is that they had sought permission from their organization to present some of their actual reports in a conference and allowed more people to know that exploratory testing and session based test management is put in use at large organizations and in large projects. 

Heading the certification campaign by opposing it

I then picked up a conversation with a tester at the conference lobby on certifications. She works for a large organization and is responsible for certifications in her organization other than her usual work to find bugs and report them. I assumed she was certified too but it turned out that she wasn't. She doesn't believe in certifications and had the guts to say, "Don't enforce a certification on me. You want me to be a good tester, I can prove it to you at work. You are welcome anytime to my project and I am willing to answer your questions about my work" to the senior management. When I was thinking that I know of all testers in India who are as bold as me, she proved me wrong. 

So, how is she leading the certification responsibility? She is helping people choose a certification that suits their mindset. When she identifies a tester wanting to improve the skill and not for the sake of getting one, she is making those people aware of BBST course. She said, "If I didn't take up the responsibility of leading the certifications group, then I am not sure if the other person would have suggested BBST for a few to whom I did". 

Fantastic. We would imagine girls in India to be the shy types and say, "I want a 9 to 5 job. Got to take care of my in-laws" but then someone like this (and of course Parimala, Meeta, Jassi, Krishnaveni...) are a blessing to India and its future in software testing.

Testing in Testing Institute, not Certifications

Then I met a person who is running a testing institute. I had perused his website sometime back and after seeing ads on certification, I thought, "Yet another testing institute wooing people with certification" but talking to him changed that perception. He said, "Ah, you believe everything that is there on a website? Shouldn't be doing that" and continued, "Our institute focuses on trying to help people develop testing and thinking skills. We don't stress on certifications or their content but still if they want, we don't say No".

These people are like soldiers in the border of your country guarding you, whose names you don't know. In the above two cases, I feel, you shouldn't know their names. They are doing a fantastic job. I think they should come out and speak in public what they spoke to me after they have achieved some more great success.

For more...

Our own test automation power

I was glad to meet Narayan Raman, the developer and product owner of Sahi, a web application testing tool. We had met more than a couple of times in the past. He was a very special invitee at Google Test Automation Conference 2010. Over the last two meetings, I realize how much important is Narayan Raman for India. He has the zeal, skill and enthusiasm to put India on a higher scale. He is giving a run for tools like Selenium and with his tool starting to support Flex from next couple of months, I think Sahi is a rock star. Check out the comparison between Sahi and Selenium 

Weekend Testing & Weeknight Testing

If you don't know about Weekend Testing, you should visit http://weekendtesting.com and spend enough time there to learn this big revolution started in India and now the whole world seems to be catching up. Americans are extremely happy & excited of having their own chapter. Europeans are enjoying it. It was also featured in Eurostar and got a standing ovation. James Bach had a dream of seeing Weekend Testing becoming Weekday Testing. His dream got closer to reality during London Testers Gathering where Mike Scott proposed the idea and Sharath joined the bandwagon with some other good people to kick off Weeknight Testing. I didn't believe till then that it's only in United Kingdom that (K)nighthood is bestowed to people. The knights didn't wait for the queen though.

Peer conferences

Bangalore Workshop on Software Testing is a peer conference inspired by my own experience with Toronto Workshop on Software Testing. We have been running it over the last two years and the next one is coming up in Feb / March 2011. We are planning 2 days instead of just one by looking at how many more people want to join and how much they are enjoying it. 

Exploratory Testing & Rapid Software Testing

The interest for Exploratory Testing & Rapid Software Testing has grown to a great extent in the last few years. I myself have trained about 1000 testers on it ever since I started doing Exploratory & Rapid Software Testing Workshops. You are seeing a lot more testers demanding freedom and ready to take up that additional responsibility that accompanies freedom because they are working on their skills.

Hands on Testing Coaching for College Graduates

I don't know if you have gone through this report on excerpts of work done by participants of hands on testing training. There were businessmen in India who volunteered to allow me to experiment a complete hands on testing training with hardly one hundred slides for one month of training.

The outcome of of doing this with one batch is, we have Santhosh Tuppad as the multiple bug battle competitions winner who is giving a run for other country testers (and even other testers from India) a real hard run to be able to win the bug battles he is competing. The other people who chose not to write and work as public as Santhosh Tuppad are doing excellent and their employers are way too happy to pay them well.

Good blogs from India

When you were thinking a lot of testing blogs from India are horrible copy paste and plagiarized stuff, you also saw the rise of some good bloggers. Parimala Shankaraiah stands as one who started blogging less than two years ago and people like Lisa Crispin who is the author of the book Agile Testing and has been writing for long, considers Parimala as her  hero. We have many other testers like Dhanasekar, Nandagopal, Vipul Kocher, Rahul Verma, Ajoy Singha, Santhosh Tuppad... joining to the band of good testing bloggers. The last few recently started blogs never had a copy paste but original content. Testers have started to write down their experiences. 

So, So, So, So, So, So, So, So, So?

A couple of years ago, if you heard someone talk bad things about all testers in India and you laughed at what they said because you thought they were speaking truth, you did the right thing. We were bad.

Henceforth, dear other country folks, if you hear someone talk bad about all Indian testers, I still encourage you to laugh but for a different reason that they don't know or are ignorant about what is really happening here.

A note to Indian testers: On a second thought, I wouldn't encourage you to laugh at them if they are from America or Europe or elsewhere because some Heads of Testing in India themselves don't know about all these. Silently giggle if you are working in one such company and get on because you are the future. Ensure, the future generations don't giggle at you because you are not going to know that even if they did. Is your Head of Testing aware you giggled right now? If giggling isn't your types, then go educate them.

Remember, you are the future and work even more harder and smarter. 

Jai Hind!

Who is making software testers, dumb and bad?

Not so long ago, I thought there existed a set of testers called, "bad testers". I hated them. I wanted to punch them on their face and get their face to bleed. I wanted to become a powerful politician and kill them all and escape without being charged for genocide. I wanted to become a superhero and get people to fire them from their jobs. I wanted them to beg for jobs, money and survival. I thought that is the way to get them to open their minds for learning. All this should have shot my blood pressure up while those bad testers remained cool. They were untouched by my criticism and continued to think that I was an asshole.

Whenever I found them, I insulted them as much as I could till I realized that they needed more care from me than those whom I was already caring about. I started caring for them. My world changed and so did theirs.

I was always wondering how these bad testers are happy. Needless to say I thought I am a great tester and still continue to think that way. By "great", I mean, "just what is required". Today, you can be a great tester by being just what is required. Tomorrow, the case might change.

I tried shifting the question from "Why are bad testers happy about themselves?" to "Who is making these bad testers happy?" and "Who is preventing the bad testers to learn that they are doing bad testing?"

That's when I said to myself, "There are no bad testers. There are some who are forced to practice bad testing. The force is either internal or external or a combination of them".

That was an important shift in the strategy that helped me in my exploration of identifying what factors cause a tester to appear bad or practice bad testing.

Internal forces 
I mean, ones that the testers themselves are responsible for or have control over.
  • Money more important than anything else: For some testers who are sole breadwinners of the family, they might internalize the idea that what works for others is a safer route to traverse than exploring new paths and risking their cash flow. They spend their life traveling those peoples route who themselves have followed someone else's route. All finding it to be safe and hence not wanting to change.
  • Fear of losing the job: For some testers, losing a job means unbearable social pressure. These testers don't ever try to speak against anything to protect their jobs. Their whole life is spent on running just one test case - Is this the right time to shut my mouth? - to which the result always remains - Pass.
  • Shallow ambitions in life: For some testers, their ambition is to never do something fascinating but just run the rat race, build a house, buy a car, get married & have kids. They also try to ensure that their kids continue to run the rat race. I am not speaking against taking care of the family but taking care of the family should be balanced with building high ambitions in life and working towards it.
  • Victim of Rutherford-Bohr's experiment: Some testers, no matter what exciting stuff they are presented with, try to return to their most stable state of ignoring all the exciting stuff because their life is already happy (grounded). 
  • Living someone else's dream: Some testers, don't have dreams of their own. They just pretend to have their own while they are living other's dream. Some live the dream of their parents and rest their manager's. Living others dream makes their life boring and they give up on almost everything, forget testing.
  • Taste of early success causing a drift from continuing to learn - Mostly a very dangerous one. These kind of testers think they are on the right path and there is no reason for them to change. 
  • Having learned that good testing is hard - Some testers acknowledge what good testing is but they also learn it is very hard to test well. Out of that, some of them make up their mind saying they are not in for such hard work because they think life is bigger than doing good testing. Nothing wrong but they don't seem to be doing to the big part well, either.

External forces
I mean, the ones who are responsible or has a power or influence to get good testing done.
  • Head or Tails of testing - I have talked to at least slightly less than a hundred Heads of Testing of big, medium and small scale organizations. They have so much power to change things and yet they don't seem to be doing anything about it. I must also admit that some people are doing very well while most don't appear to be. Why don't these people take a break from their work, sit along testers on one of the project and test for just a couple of days to realize how hard it is and what can they do to help these testers do a great job. 
  • The interviewers - At least people in India, when they are out of college, want to just learn enough to crack an interview. When interviewers emphasize on demonstration of memorization than skills, its easy for a billion plus population to crack them. Fakers get in, Genuine people might not.
  • Testing institutes - Business demands scale, I agree. Scaling at the cost of quality of education is in my opinion, spoiling your own country's chances. Please read the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and more specifically Chapter Five - The Three Lessons from Joe Flom. You'd know what your business needs for future if it has to remain scalable.
  • The experts - If you have great ideas, please price them a little lower for the first few years or based on the geography. You won't be considered cheap, trust me. Don't make money an entry barrier to someone who wants to get excellent at testing. 
  • Commercial conferences - If you have have had good deals of sponsorship and paid delegates for a specific year, consider giving 80% discount to 10 people who cant afford it but want to attend it.

Combination of internal & external forces
When the external forces & internal forces combine, its a killer combo for bad testing
  • Lack of speed in firing poor performers - If the people responsible to get good testing done are delaying in firing poor performers then the hope in the poor performer rises that he or she is doing well and should continue doing that. In at least half the organizations I consult, I get the opportunity to consult because they haven't fired the poor performers for a long time and something went kaput.
  • Not paying good testers well - I have been to a few conferences in India where Head of IT or Head of Dev or Head of Testing are keynote speakers. Their speech is usually, "We have come to realize that testing is of great importance" but then they don't match the pay of the good testers they have to their claims. People call that "keynote". Can you walk the talk?
  • Waiting till the year end to spend on training budget - Wondering why many organizations keep their training budget till the year end and not organize a training when the team needs it sometime mid year? As a side note, I wish, in India, the Learning & Development department, which is a separate entity in the organization is eliminated and every department becomes Learning & Development apart from what they do. 
  • The book writers - When you write books that are not different from any other books that are available, you are re-iterating the point that the industry isn't changing. Many testers who accidentally pick up a book and skim through it read stuff that they have read a couple of years ago feel they are on track (and also end up not buying your book). Is that a message your book wanted to communicate?

I am 30 now. I am more curious about my age of 50 and waiting to get there, because I hope, I would have seen many changes - lots of positive ones. Mostly because the generation to which I belong or the generations junior to that of mine would have solved the problems I have listed and might have gone beyond that. I am not discarding the fact that the older generations have not solved it. There are dozens of them out of a population of millions.

When I tried punching just one bad tester I met, blood oozed out. Not on the face but in my hands for it was a mirror that I saw. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Help Chandru to live his testing dreams

I give myself opportunities to meet many different software testers from Bangalore or to the places I travel. One of the ways that's been successful for me is "Coffee with Pradeep". This has brought many testers to my lives who have had a good influence on me. Sharath Byregowda contacted me for a coffee and then we work closely. He is one of the good testers and thinkers I have met. He recently moved to UK and I am already missing him so much.

Meeting Chandrashekar 

On February 10th, this year, Chandrashekar B.N (Chandru) got in touch with me and asked if I would come to meet him over a coffee. I instantly agreed because his emails were showing the passion he had to test. He seemed to give importance to improving his skills. I met him around the third week of March and this guy was silent, taking notes. He and his friend Sunil had come to meet me. Both these guys were mostly silent but took notes of our conversation. Wouldn't be wrong if I say, I liked their seriousness.

When Chandru spoke

At last Chandru spoke. He narrated his story and it was an emotional moment for me. His father died while he was young. His mother, with two kids (Chandru and his younger brother) struggled very hard to get them a basic education. Chandru didn't grow up with any luxury. They lived in a small room for the last 20 years. Chandru got a job as a software tester after his Bachelors and was running test cases. He wasn't happy. He learnt that he has a passion to test and wanted to get skilled at it. He was earning just enough to get 3 meals a day for 3 of his family.

In his situation, someone would have said, "I want to get more money. How do I do that?" but instead he said, "I want to test better. How do I do that?". That was an amazing moment for me. I shall continue to be in India just to meet testers like Chandru who amidst several troubles in life want to test better.

I started to coach him. I got him to network with testers in Bangalore who are as serious as him. He came to Bangalore Workshop on Software Testing. He was enjoying this new found life. His friend Sunil was no less passionate. Both of them didn't stop there. They made a list of books they ought to be reading and went on a book hunt in Bangalore. Chandru quit his job and took up another job with no hike in pay, just to gain more freedom in testing.

When God decided to test Chandru

About 40 days back, I received a call from Sunil and I was shocked to learn that Chandru was diagnosed for Blood Cancer. To be specific it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - with Ph+ve - B cell - Blood Cancer. I was in Gurgaon when I got the call. I tried calling his mobile but couldn't speak to him as he was undergoing some tests. That night, I just couldn't sleep. I felt too bad for Chandru. Just when he was about to rise, he got this bloody cancer for no fault of his. I got up in the morning with the little sleep I had and then said to myself, "Should the people who care for him lose hope. Is that the way I should be? Not at all."

The next day, I was fortunate to be able to speak to him. He knew he had cancer. I didn't know how he would talk to me. I didn't allow him to speak much. I was shouting at the top of my voice, "You are a warrior and you will fight this out. You have a dream to be a good tester and you are not letting down yourself or others. That's the only thing that should be running in your mind"

When Chandru decided to take up the challenge

A few days back, I returned from Gurgaon and directly went to to the hospital. The confidence, the smile, the charm that Chandru had when he met me is one of the greatest things I have seen.


He is fighting well. Doctors say he is doing well, except to the part of the bone marrow which he doesn't have a control over. His confidence is amazing. Its one of the most inspiring things for me. I love this guy and he is my hero. I have started to strongly believe that the mind can control the way body accepts and reacts to treatment. He makes me think of Andy Dufrense of Shawshank Redemption.

Where do you come in this story?

Chandru is the only earning member of his family. He being hospitalized and his medical insurance money long depleted, he has no source of income for his treatment. With his treatment cost estimated about 20 lakhs for Chemotherapy / 50 lakhs if bone marrow transplant has to be done to cure him, he has ran out of options.
So what, he has the testing community to help him. I hope I was right in making the statement.

Help, So far

  • Parimala has donated 25,000 INR (I am so proud of her)
  • Weekend Testing funds of 12,000 INR has been donated
  • Mohan Panguluri has given a standing instruction to the bank to transfer a certain amount every month from his income to help Chandru other than sending a mailer to everybody in Test Republic.
  • Couple of people have tweeted seeking support to help Chandru.
  • Chandru's office colleagues have donated a part of their salary to Chandru
  • Some testers who saw the mailer of Test Republic have donated a few thousands.
  • Ajoy has featured this in his Testing Circus magazine
  • STC 2010 conference has confirmed that they would be announcing it during the conference and make more testers aware of an opportunity to save a testers life.
  • Dhanasekar S has come forward to help Chandru. 
  • I am trying to do my bit to such a wonderful man who is brimming with confidence when others might have almost given up. Letting him down would be our biggest sin.
  • Rahul Verma and I are going to be doing fund raising public workshops and donate the fund to Chandru's treatment. If you are from Bangalore / Chennai / Hyderabad interested to attend our workshops whose funds collected would be given to Chandru's treatment email me at my mail id which is pretty public.
Yet, we have fallen short of funds for the bone marrow transplant. So, I kindly request you to come forward and help Chandru. The best part is - he said he is going to treat every rupee that has flown in as an interest free loan and says, "I will get well, continue to work as a tester and pay back all money". For such a guy, I think, you should.

Go team up with all testers you know, talk about how you can help and get it going. The time is now.

Important links & details

Help Chandru Website : http://helpchandru.com ( Website not fully developed )

Cancer Patients Aid Donation Page: https://donations.cpaaindia.org/?projects=For%20Chandrashekhar or http://www.cpaaindia.org/casefile/index.htm#chandrashekhar
Note: Income Tax concession for this mode of transfer / donation
Important note: While donating through CPAA website, please mention that the donation is for Chandrashekar BN in the projects section

Those of you who want to do a wire transfer from India to his bank account can:
Note: No Income Tax concession on this mode of transfer

Name:Chandrashekhar B N
Account Number:218010015960
Branch:Koramangala, Bangalore
Bank:ING Vysya Bank
IFSC Code No:VYSA0002180

Chandru's Paypal account email id: daysofchandru@gmail.com
Note: Income Tax concession subjected to approval in this mode. Approval pending 

Every little help you do, matters a lot. When you donate, please email sunilkumar56@gmail.com / hariprasad.email@gmail.com and let him know the details, so we could confirm on receiving the same. If you are in Bangalore and have O+ve blood and is willing to donate, please get in touch with Sunil or Hari whose numbers you can find in the website http://helpchandru.com

Please,  Help Chandru

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Software testing black swan bites cause pain

This post is about an experience I had recently. An experience that proves to me that there are more hard working people than me and I shouldn't feel too proud of what I have achieved so far. 

I was at a conference recently. I was at several conferences, so don't get confused with what is shown in my Events page. This conference was not listed and doesn't have a conference page either. It happened in Bangalore on 2nd Nov, 2010, right after my return from Google Test Automation Conference - Hyderabad, India.

Due to my popularity, I was hoping people would come, recognize me and talk to me about their testing problems. It just didn't happen. Some other person was getting all attention and there were people surrounding him and asking questions. There were so many people around him that I couldn't get a chance to see the man who was getting all this attention. I was wondering who is this guy getting an edge over me in India?

I then thought it must be someone who traveled to India from a western country. Only then people forget their local guy. Nothing new to me. I was just waiting for my chance to shake hands with that guy and talk to him about testing. Well, I just wanted to know what makes him so special that he is getting all attention in India. 

Check at my stats, I am supposed to be the popular guy out here. If you are seeing the popularity hungry Pradeep now, I must say; I too saw him.  The difference between us is, you might feel ashamed of having known Pradeep and I don't.

An hour passed by and still I could not get to meet that guy. I saw a tester coming out and asked her, 
"What's about the guy in center?" 
"Oh, you don't know him? He is an expert in test estimation"
"Everybody in here is an expert, din't you know that? So which country is he from?" 
"India" she said. 

What? an Indian? and I don't know him yet? I know everybody who blogs from India. At least, everybody who blogs from India knows me. How come I don't know about this guy who seems to be more popular than me? Maybe he doesn't blog but even then I should have known him.

All this was driving me crazy. Added to that were some of the talks I wanted to attend and it had started. I just pushed myself into one of the track hoping I could catch hold of that guy at one of the lunch tables. I have never waited for lunch so much, not even when I was very hungry. I wanted to meet this guy. He was a challenge I wanted to face.

At lunch, same bloody thing that happened in the morning repeated. People surrounded by him and I just cant get to meet him. My ego hurts me a lot if I have to go introduce myself to him amidst other testers who might think that I am not as popular as they thought. So, I picked up a plate and tried to eat alone. Fortunately, some testers who couldn't get to talk to him saw me and approached to have a conversation. My mind was somewhere else. I guess I don't know if I did answer the questions those testers asked me. Maybe they would have stopped reading my blog as I don't know how crazy my answers were. I just wanted to meet that guy.

Finally the moment arrived. The only way I could corner him was in the washroom. I was waiting for him there adjusting my shirt and trousers making it look to other people as though I care too much about my how neatly my shirt is tucked in. There he came. I didn't mind if his hands were wet but just put my hands forward and said, "Hi, I am Pradeep Soundararajan". He shook hands with confidence and said, "Oh, I know you. I read your blog and follow your work closely". 

At one end, I felt happy that the man who was sought much more than me follows my work but it was still aching as to how this guy managed to be the center of attraction amidst my presence. I took courage and asked him, "How come I don't know you. What's so special about you that these people are flogging you?"

"I have learned to help people estimate their work in a way that makes them feel successful following my advice" he said that with a soft and gentle tone. I put a step towards the door closeby and turned to him and said, "Why don't we discuss this off the washroom?"

My intention was to steal the idea. After several years of hard work, I can't allow someone to steal away the limelight I have been enjoying. When I say I wanted to steal, I mean, I wanted to know what his education was. How different was it from mine? 

We sat on a couch and I asked a question that was designed for deception or to learn about what he has learned

"So, what's your source of learning?"
He had a smile on his face before he said, "I read Bach, Bolton, Kaner, Jerry and you"
"Sounds interesting. I do the same too but how come you seem to be doing better than me?"
"I don't know"
I was pissed off but couldn't let it out because I still hadn't got the secret out of him. 
"So, you are suggesting that you learn something more from them than me?"
"No, I haven't met them Pradeep and they don't know about me"
"Pretty sure because if they did know, they would have let me know about you"
"So, let me stop beating around the bush. How do you help people with their estimation problems?"
"I do it ............................................................................... this way"
"Wow. That's cool"
"Where did you learn that?"
"You are so humble Pradeep. You have read it, too. I picked up ideas from Michael Bolton's Test Estimation & Black Swan series of posts, experimented with them, made my own notes, refined them for a while to arrive at this point" and then he walked away saying he had to deliver a talk and it was getting late.

If you had been to the conference, you would have seen me crying on the couch post that meeting. I wasn't crying because someone gained an edge over me but was crying that I learnt the cost of not reading those lengthy posts just because it was lengthy. 

I finished crying and went around looking for that person to thank him for the lesson he offered. He had already left. The series of posts from Michael Bolton on Test Estimation & Black Swans had been lying there on his blog and I just kept feeling lazy to not read those lengthy posts. I am probably in the Twitter Era. I want people to say anything great or stupid in 140 characters and I also hope they say that around my timeline. 

Walked around with disappointment. I decided to go out of the conference venue. I wanted to go home, have a drink and get a tight sleep to forget all this. I thought I was reading everything by Michael Bolton. When he posted about estimation, I thought I had already read enough of estimation from him and he was packaging the same stuff. Just then, the conference was getting over and the final lightening talk was mine. I was called to the stage. I went on the stage with tears still dropping at 1 drop every 10 seconds, forgot about my talk and asked the audience in a shrill voice, "Have you people read the series of post on Test Estimation & Black Swans from Michael Bolton?". 

The responses were, "Its lengthy", "We didn't find time to go through it", "I got a call in between and almost forgot to continue", "I was too busy with my project". Almost everyone were saying the same thing, "No, I didn't read it because it was lengthy". I laughed out loud and walked away as though I had seen myself in hundreds of mirrors placed in front of me. There are so many Pradeep's in our industry. Some Pradeep might not even have got this far on this post because he might have thought, "Oh, this is lengthy". 

If you don't look like Pradeep when you stand in the mirror, here are the posts:

Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 1) 
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 2)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 3)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 4)
Project Estimation and Black Swans (Part 5): Test Estimation

The next time you don't want to read a post just because its lengthy, remind yourself that if you miss spotting the Black Swan, it doesn't mean Black Swans don't exist.  They bite hard to remind you that they existed and you didn't pay attention to them.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The domain particle

The inspiration

The title is inspired from Angels & Demons where they talk about the "God particle". The topic is  inspired by so many testers asking or answering to, "How much important is domain knowledge?", "Can we test without domain knowledge?", "What happens if we test a product or technology without domain knowledge?" ... 

Every person who writes in public and in forums have been asked these questions about the importance of domain knowledge to test a product. Going through those forums, you'd know that there are answers like : Yes, domain knowledge is very important to test a product OR Oh yeah, you know without domain knowledge I couldn't have found the show stopper I found a few days back...and others saying, "I did manage to learn quickly, so it doesn't matter as long as you too can", "I think it depends on what you are testing"... 

Passing time by failing to respect others time

The question I have to most testers out there is. If we, who reply to all those questions of yours, say that it is very important that you should be an expert of the domain to test the product, are you really going to become one or even try to? 

You are aware that bug investigation skills are important, without we having to say that, what have you done about that? or would you go pick up the test framing skills?

I am convinced that there are many hundreds and thousands of testers who are a trap not just to themselves but to others wanting to help testers. Every testing related forum is infected with people asking questions who actually don't intend to do anything about it despite unintentionally (or maybe intentionally) wasting a lot of passionate testers time & energy. There are genuine people in there but in a rare occurrence. Most genuine people aren't asking questions but answering them and not all who answer questions are genuine. You may want to consider me among those who are answering questions but not genuine, if that pleases your ego.

I have respect for CDT mailing list and Software Testing Club. There are serious people, asking, answering and watching. I just hope there are a few more forums like that.

Why do we have labels?

Some testers are in a trap of calling themselves "Telecom testers", "BFSI testers", "Web App testers", "Mobile App Testers", and what not? The question I have is, should it matter? BTW, I call myself an exploratory tester because its an approach I follow to test any software & not a domain.

As how programming is a mindset and a good programmer wouldn't call themselves "Java only programmer", testing is a mindset too. Oh, there is a skillset along with the mindset.

Henrik Andersson of Sweden is going to do a Webinar on October 12 : Do we need labels? Are we all not testers? I read the abstract of the webinar and was excited. I envy Henrik a lot. He is the guy who is blessed to be in the happening places - be it PSL, AYE or CAST. Other than that he is the energetic test consultant & partner at a testing consulting firm based in Sweden. I think you all should register and listen to what Henrik has to say. 

Henrik made me ask these questions: Why am I calling myself an exploratory tester, rapid tester, and whatever fancy stuff I had been calling myself when I know all testing is to some degree exploratory? What is the need for me to do so?

I need a label to differentiate myself or to communicate to people what I specialize at. My label helps my potential clients to gain interest to check about my services based on their needs. My label acts as a filter. People know what questions to shoot me. So far I have received very few emails from people asking if I can help them record and play QTP scripts. Most emails are about seeking help on how to develop themselves, think & test. I love to talk to them because they teach me things I want to learn.

So, I see label as a filter but I am against the labels that filter my own opportunities to learn. For instance, if I call myself a "Multimedia Tester", I would have blocked my learning on many technologies and contexts that I have experienced. I am starting to use "Brainual tester" these days. I am also giving a lightning / lightening talk in GTAC this year about it. James calls it Sapient and I call it Brainual. We both worship the same God but we call them in different names. I prefer the word "Brainual" because it is quicker to replace the word "Manual" to those who see "Manual" as a hand activity of testers than brain. People are used to saying, "Lets automate those manual test cases" but I expect the reluctance to set it to say, "Lets automate the brainual work thats being done now".  Their own ego would hurt them. They don't want to be seen as a fool.


Being a consultant and added to that the twist and turns I have had in my testing life has got me to test software ranging from wireless, mobile applications, medical devices, multimedia, Retail, CRM, desktop applications, dating applications, billing solutions, video surveillance, stock market, auction systems, kiosks, cloud computing, testing tools, games and what not. I have never bothered what domain each of them belong to as long as I have 
  • An understanding of general principles of how software works (which I constantly refine)
  • A skill to quickly learn and convert the learning to tests & churn more learning out of it.
  • Ability to build models of learning to speed up my learning.
I try understanding how people who invented things might have thought. I fancy thinking that all these technologies have emerged out of observing something. Some of the key observations about human being and living things have led to many inventions and discoveries. Should I tell you that birds were an inspiration for Wright Brothers?

The human connection to technology

# 1 DHCP as to how it has evolved out of human behavior : When we go to the theater to watch a movie, we ask the personnel at the ticket counter to check if there are tickets available for a specific movie (sending request from a client to the server) of what we want to watch and our preferred time (details about client to see if server has anything for us). 

The ticket counter personnel in the theater gives us a ticket based on availability (assigning an IP address from the available pool) with the seat numbers to watch the movie.

In the ticket, there exists a seat number ( IP address ), duration of validity ( lease period ). If you prefer to watch the movie again and in the same seats ( Static IP ) you need to advance book or renew your tickets  
( ipconfig / renew )

# 2 Why do connectors have a male pin & a female pin? How did gender come in to technology without having observed humans and how they interact?

I have a huge list of things that computers/ technologies do which are based on how humans communicate or how humans could have. Think of SIP protocol or a client server host architecture and relate it to human communication. You'd probably enjoy as much as I do.


In Rapid Software Testing class of  Michael Bolton & James Bach, there is an interesting dice exercise. I didn't crack it the first time but on learning the meta pattern, I am likely to crack it for any pattern or will get closer to solving it.

I have my own version of the dice game but with a different learning objective - simplicity. Based on running the exercise on thousands of testers in India (and a few folks outside India), I am making a conjecture that I see people struggling to cope up with simplicity. 

The first set of thoughts that comes to a human mind is not necessarily simple and the next set of thoughts are usually more complex than the previous ones. So, I think humans keep building on the already existing complexity of their previous thought.

Unless you train your brain to think simple, you are unlikely to crack many things you can.

The reason I am telling this here is because those who set out to learn a new domain forget that there are simpler sub systems of the domain they already know either because they also exist in other domains they have tested or have used such products extensively. You may want to figure out the meta pattern of software & how they are supposed to work. 

Practice to be fit

Quoting Parimala, "What you know is not as important as what you can do with what you know". 

I run an exercise in my workshop in which I allow people to do freestyle exploratory testing. At the end I ask them the techniques they consciously used while testing. Although many of them know many techniques to test, at least the first 10 minutes of most testers freestyle exploratory testing is, "Clicking here and there to see if a bug dances out on the screen" If a few bugs do dance, "Wow, you see I did exploratory testing". I think of that as an inferior self standard setting to understanding exploratory testing.  

How do we use what we already know to achieve better results? PRACTICE!

The biggest shame for ISTQB / CSTE certification bodies doesn't come from those who oppose it but from those who are certified & don't show traces of having gained anything from it. I have consulted at least for a few organizations here in India who hire these certified testers. Not a single test case document that these certified testers have produced has anything related to what they might have learned from the certification. 

There is a scripted test design technique that is a best practice and the most widely used one although it doesn't have a name - copy paste a sentence of requirement document into expected results column and then write the test steps accordingly. This is the most successful trick ever invented in testing. 

As a side note: Do you play any outdoor sport? Have you taken a long break from it and then went back to it? You might have been good at it at some point but when you get back after a break, you no longer feel the same comfort you had. If I were to speak to Indian testers alone for a moment, how does it feel to hold a cricket bat and face a fast bowler after taking a break from cricket? 

Bits & Pieces

I admire ants. They have a way to deal with problems. They don't say, "Oh my God! That cake is about 1000 times bigger than my size. How can I eat it?". They break the huge cake into bits that they can process, carry it home and then come back for the next bit. Doing it bit by bit helps them to achieve the goal of moving the entire cake into their colony.

While testing a product whose domain / technology that I don't know, I try to remember the ants. I learn one bit, use that bit to frame tests. The tests I perform with the bit I learned, help me learn about more bits of the system and I choose to eat bit by bit or byte by byte if my mouth has got bigger.

I may know nothing about a system when I start but at the end I can learn so much about it that it would amaze me or my audience if I tell what I discovered going bit by bit. I demonstrated this in one of the workshops where I learnt the user base of the website, traced the kind of users, identified why those users might be coming to the site, what kind of problems such users might be facing, what kind of tests to be run, what could be the most important problems that is making the audience to not give more sales + found 14 issues + 10 questions to the developers - all in one hour. I had enough feedback to the development team that they got busy working on a few things that gave me the time I wanted to go learn what I wanted about the product.

Live oracles

What are the business analysts doing? Are your sales and marketing folks so busy that they don't have time for you? How much do you interact with them? Have you invited them for a paired testing? Have you talked to them about the importance of they being with you for an hour in a month while you are testing?

If that's one set of questions, here is another set: Why in the world do you want to know everything about a domain when you know its not possible for any human being to do that?

Fooled by foolishness

Some organizations who hire testers only because of their domain knowledge, are fooled in other ways such as, those testers probably know little about testing to be called as testers. Its opportunity cost. I have spent all my time trying to be a better tester, you ask me to troubleshoot a network router, I may end up testing it or learning about it by testing it. Ask a network admin to test a router, she may end up troubleshooting or reconfiguring it.

Some organizations who continue to think that domain knowledge is the most important skill for a tester to even apply or be interviewed by them are blind to the fact that most issues that their customers are reporting has probably got nothing to do with having testers with extreme domain knowledge in the team.

There are tons of testing problems these organizations are not paying attention to, while they see their problems are because they don't have enough testers with enough domain knowledge.

Everyone of us choose to be not fooled by something and that exposes us to be fooled by something else.

The domain particle

Do you have a domain particle that makes you think "domain knowledge" is the important thing for a tester to perform well? 

I don't want to take it out. I want it to be there so that I can help you mutate it. If you could help yourself mutate it, and make the domain "learning" instead of "BFSI", "Telecom", "Multimedia", "Whatever"... I think you would have cracked what you are likely to in 20 years from now. That's an opportunity to be wise without needing to age for that.

Did you say that?

Those who speak about exploratory testing are asked, "Are you saying there is no value for scripted testing?". Those who speak about using brains to test are asked, "Are you saying there is no value in automating tests?". Those who speak about Check Automation are asked, "Are you saying checks are not tests?" while the speaker/author didn't mean any of that. Those who speak against certification are asked, "Are you saying people shouldn't get certified at all?". Those who speak about wasteful documentation are asked, "Are you saying documenting is a bad idea?". Reading some of the above paragraphs, some of you might have had a question, "Are you saying all ISTQB/CSTE testers don't know test design?"

So, whatever anyone says, there is a group of testers aggressively waiting to ask such questions. They are not doing anything wrong. They are just being themselves. Some representatives of the group are likely to ask me, "Are you saying domain knowledge is not needed to test the product?" and I am going to punish them by asking them to re-read this big post.

BTW, I am looking to hire testers of Banking / Web Application domain testers. Please send me your resume as soon as possible. 

Also, if you are a tester from Hyderabad and want to meet Rahul Verma, Dhanshekar and yours truly on 27th evening, email me. We wont mutate your particles! We will be attending Google Test Automation Conference in Hyderabad. 

Post bio for my self reference: Took 5 days to write the first draft, changed the style and contents 3 times, 1 external review, 3 self review, 5 hours of editing and finally publishing it. Published from my cousin's place in Delhi. Laptop: IBM Thinkpad