Thursday, December 27, 2007

Automated Testing and Programming Skills

Joel Spolsky's lecture at Yale university makes some interesting points about the dangers of automated testing. Joel is good at latching on to the unintended consequences of latest trends, especially the kind that nerds with Asperger's typically overlook. He speculates that 'automatic testing religion' was what did Vista in. There is an interesting bit about the fate of testers without programming skills at Microsoft:
Microsoft has had a long term policy of eliminating all software testers who don’t know how to write code, replacing them with what they call SDETs, Software Development Engineers in Test, programmers who write automated testing scripts.
I can sympathise with this, having interacted with testers without programming skills myself. If Microsoft's policy were to be adopted in India, there would be quite a few unemployed testers. Joel's article is a helpful reminder of the dangers of overdoing automated testing. But I think the situation in India represents the other extreme - we have lots of testers without any real skills just trying to fill up bug trackers and warming chairs in head-count based projects. Automation is the last thing that concerns either testers or software companies in India. After the dot-com bust, testers have become an overvalued commodity in Indian software companies with clueless managements.

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