When Software Is A Mix Of Art And Engineering

Software developers and testers are critical for accuracy, safety and security of software packages.

In this age of technology, there is a digital way to acquire and achieve most things in daily life.

Among digital equipment, the ones which generally come to mind are computers and smartphones. But there is a myriad of other equipment that also function digitally. And in all these, it is the software inside them that allow them to function as the user commands. Bill Gates, the American business magnate who co-founded Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest personal computer software company, said, “Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering.” Therefore, the software program which is at the core of a computerized setup, and which brings it to life, can be likened to its soul.

With total dependence on the proper functioning of the software to achieve regular or critical results, it is essential to test the software before it reaches the customer. From low code search platforms to ones with traditional coding setup; the software needs to essentially deliver what it promises, be error-free, and defect-free, with no gaps in the software properties.

Besides, history is filled with instances where undetected software bugs resulted in colossal loss of lives and money. For instance, the most expensive unmanned accident in the history of Florida’s Cape Canaveral space launches happened in April 1999, when an undetected software bug led to the collapse of a $1.2 billion military satellite launch. In another software bug disaster, a China Airlines Airbus A300 crashed at Nagoya Airport in Japan, in April 1994, killing 264 passengers and seriously injuring 7 others.

As such experiences added on, especially in the 1990s, a new dimension was included in testing software, focused on quality assurance during the entire software development cycle.

And now, with so many companies deciding to transition different components of their businesses online to integrate day-to-day operations, the error-free and defect-free qualities of the software they use, become paramount to businesses.

However, the issue is that before testing the software, it requires many hours of hard, rigorous, focused attention on software writing, to produce millions of lines of coding.

In fact, a recent online research project by DiffBlue, a company engaging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop software, found that 83% of software developers agreed that the quality of their company’s software could be improved. Furthermore, 40% of software developers said the product quality was poor because of manual processes, 40% said it was due to an unrealistic development schedule and 39% said it was due to inadequate testing of the software. As one study indicated, software developers say they only spend 35% of their time testing software.  Moreover, Diffblue CEO, Mathew Lodge, said, “… software is a cornerstone of digital transformation, yet virtually all software remains hand crafted today. The challenge now is that there is a huge and growing demand for software, with which manual ways of working simply won’t keep pace. That’s where AI comes in. It has reached a point where AI is better at doing certain things than humans.”

While software developing companies are looking to engage AI to save time on labor-intensive tasks such as HIPAA compliance, software testing professionals seek to recruit IT talent to meet the increasing demand for testing, in order to provide well-functioning software to customers.

Primarily, any person aspiring to become a software tester, needs to have an academic background in Computer Science. A BSc in Computers or a BTech/ B.E., MCA, BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications) is the first necessity. If this qualification is unavailable, aspiring candidates need to complete a software-testing certification such as the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) Certified Tester, or the Certified Software Test Engineer (CSTE) certification. These certifications are helpful to learn about software development and testing methodologies.

When new IT talent is hired for testing software, the recruits need to be aware of the skills required for effective software testing, and the capabilities expected of the different levels of experience of different positions.

For instance, a Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst is a fresher with no experience, while a Senior QA Analyst will have 2-3 years of experience. A QA Team Coordinator will have 5-6 years of experience, while a Test Manager will have 8-11 years of experience, and a Senior Test Manager will have 14 or more years of experience.  

Likewise, the following skills are expected of software testers:

* Basic testing skills like Manual Testing, and Automation Testing, which uses an automation tool to accomplish time-consuming tasks like regression tests, freeing up time for higher-value tasks.

* Performance Testing capability to check application responsiveness, time taken to load, maximum load the application can handle etc.

* Bug Hunting Skills, with knowledge of the fundamentals of cybersecurity, experienced in finding flaws and vulnerabilities.

* Domain Knowledge, which is an understanding of the environment in which the target system operates.

* Knowledge of Niche areas in testing, like Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Testing and Security testing. 

* Testers should have a basic knowledge of Database/SQL, as data is stored in different types of databases and will need to be validated.

* They should also have a basic knowledge of Linux commands and hands-on experience as well as knowledge of a Test Management Tool and a Defect Tracking Tool.

* Also, because of the end-to-end business knowledge that software testers have, an obvious career progress path for a tester could be to become a Business Analyst.

 Thus, software developing and testing have become critical careers today, with so many skills and time combining to ensure quality software packages.  

 As software engineer Joel Spolsky said, “Good software, like wine, takes time.”

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