There are many technical skills required for software testing today - but which ones are the essential skills to learn, so that you can thrive in the industry?
The development and testing of software continues to evolve to meet the needs of organizations with tight deadlines which must stay competitive to generate further business. Because applications are increasingly sophisticated in development, and with frequent changes, we cannot rely on manual testing alone to assess their conformity. To mitigate risk, improve quality and deliver the application on time, the testing process can benefit from being done on a larger scale by utilizing a range of technical skills. So in this post, we examine technical skills required for software testing.
The modern role of the tester requires a greater level of insight into the technicalities of processes and applications. Organizations are adopting advanced methodologies and automated practices – such as DevOps – so that the software application can be developed, tested, and released much faster. Under these demands, manual testing alone cannot get the work done. Beside analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills, organizations are now demanding higher technical skills from the testers. In this article, we discuss key technical skills that testers should gain to be able to thrive in the current environment.
List of Technical Skills that can Benefit Software Testers
1. Programming Languages
Knowing one or more programming languages is useful in automated testing. There are many options available for creating automated UI tests, and the popular one is Selenium WebDriver. The WebDriver’s supported programming languages are Ruby, Python, Java, and C#. The reason these languages are popular among testers is that community support is widely available across the globe via the Internet. Testers can get help from various online forums for creating an automation framework for the maintainability of test suites. Consider an example where you are asked by the team lead or a manager to design a regression test suite, which includes signing-in and signing-out from the application. What you can do is to formally locate the ID of the respective element in the browser elements panel that you need to automate. Once the ID is found, you can utilize any programming language to write the test script for WebDriver. The essential skill to learn with automation testing is to take command on WebDriver along with any programming language to design automation suites.
Front end languages enable testers to understand the structure of web applications. HTML is the backbone of any web page where all kinds of media and images are added, plus CSS that makes the web page eye-catching and appealing for end-users. The command on front end languages guides the tester in interpreting the code from the browser elements and console pane, which can then be automated. There are in-built developer tools available in all the better-known web browsers, where the tester can analyze HTML, CSS, and JS. An understanding of front end languages can help testers to deal with issues and investigate them further when creating a thorough bug report for the developers.
3. Database Skills
The database is an integral part of any software application where user data, as well as critical business information, is stored. Databases are wide-spread and have become increasingly complex due to businesses that require fast results in minimal time. These days, organizations demand that testers have expertise in database testing so they can maintain the quality, security, integrity, and correctness of data throughout the development lifecycle.
4. API Testing Skills
Today’s software applications are heavily reliant on APIs, and knowing how to test them requires some solid technical understanding. An API (an application programming interface) enables one system to communicate a request to another system that will respond with a positive or negative result, across one or multiple connections without the need for an interface. The aim of API testing is to verify that the correct output is returned and in the desired format within a given timeframe. Along with other technical skills, a tester should understand how an API works and apply scenarios on tools such as Postman, SoapUI, Katalon, and Studio. A working understanding of REST and SOAP APIs is also recommended. Below is a brief overview of these two tools:
- REST: This type of API serves as a communication channel between different systems on the internet. It is an architectural style of web services that allow different formats of data such as HTML, JSON, and XML.
- SOAP: This is a standard communication protocol system that helps communication between different applications used on different operating systems. They communicate via HTTP which is supported by all browsers and servers and permits only XML data.
5. Version Control Systems
For efficient automation testing, as well as knowing how to code, you also need to know about the version control system where you can track and manage changes to your code. If you have access to your organization’s version control system, you will have several advantages.
- You will be able to collaborate on the system, where you can manage your code and go through your history without having to put your code in a zip file or any folder (like a traditional method) and move it from one location to another.
- Version control systems enable testers to start testing early. Usually, testers have to wait for the build to be deployed on the test environment before they actually start testing. The version control system provides the facility to test the branch of code without waiting for the deployment in the test environment.
- Early testing will bring early feedback which allows stakeholders to make informed decisions.
There are various tools available to support version control, such as SVN and Git. All these tools have a range of commands, which testers need to learn how to be able to work around them.
6. Unix / Bash Commands
Unix is a multi-user, multitasking operating system designed to simultaneously share resources with different users. The Unix operating system has a hierarchical file structure which allows users to maintain data in a straightforward way. Many organizations deploy their application servers on Unix, and as a tester, access is needed to these servers to enable certain actions to be performed. These actions could be to install or uninstall an application or program or to view log files and take a backup. It’s recommended that testers learn the basic Unix commands. In addition, the tester should also familiarize themselves with some basic Bash commands, so they can navigate around the base code. With Bash commands, navigating files becomes easy while scripting test cases. For example, if the organization keeps their code in GitHub, the Bash command would help the tester to manipulate the test code and push changes on the Git after the tester has put the code onto the system.
Every tester needs to diversify their technical skills so they can thrive in a competitive environment. As well as understanding domains and applications, knowing how to utilize various tools and technologies will have a positive effect on enhancing their skill set.