The Future of Testing

Posted Nov 18th, 2010

It’s gratifying to have one’s story mirrored by people like Elisabeth Hendrickson and Chris McMahon, but you've got to wonder if we're all not just drinking the same koolaid. We think there's more to this than sugar, water and artificial coloring. We think there's a fundamental change in software development going on.

The question we pose to you: What's the future of testing?

If you are a QA director or programmer who writes tests and follows Sauce Labs, you probably know agile development is exploding. You also most likely agree that Selenium is the lead technology in test automation programming and that automated testing is transforming software development. These ideas should, in our view, be obvious to development teams who are running hundreds or thousands of Selenium scripts in their deployment process, and perhaps with our browsers in the cloud. This shift doesn't seem to be an opinion or a hunch.

Here’s a bit of evidence that the movement is gaining momentum. On October 20th, Elisabeth Hendrickson from Quality Tree Software wrote a blog post questioning whether the rise in agile is affecting the QA job market in terms of skills and qualifications. She found it did - and that a trend is emerging. On October 29th, Chris McMahon wrote another blog post, referencing Elisabeth Hendrickson and our very own Jason Huggins, in which Chris posited that we were seeing a "general across-the-board increase in demand for technical skills in traditional UI-based software testing". We couldn’t agree more.

Agile development and continuous integration is changing the job landscape for testing professionals, and the technical skills being increasingly demanded is Selenium because the traditional definition of a QA skill-set just doesn’t work if teams want to be agile.

What of "Traditional" QA? "I have seen a number of reports of a radical increase in the rate of adoption of agile practices among US companies of every size and description,” wrote McMahon. “And the agile whole-team approach to software development makes dedicated, siloed traditional Q&A test departments irrelevant." Wow. Do you think that QA departments are irrelevant?

Well, instead of traditional QA departments, we are finding that Quality Directors now know Selenium or Watir, among other technologies. They make sure that their development team uses modern testing practices, and developers write user interface acceptance tests with Selenium for features they have developed. As teams roll out features and fixes, they re-run tests against their applications at blazing speeds, get feedback, make fixes, re-run tests - and soon the new feature is deployed, failure free across all browsers. In other words, the trend we have seen amongst our customers concurs with McMahon.

Automated cross browser testing with Selenium: highly sought? Growing evidence indicates the answer is yes, Selenium experience is a highly sought after skill. Elizabeth Hendrickson set out to quantify the demand for programming skills for a small sample of tester job postings. They found that out of the 187 jobs sampled, 112 indicated that programming was required and 39 jobs indicated that programming was desired. In other words, a whopping 80% of test jobs in her sample required or desired programming skills. Hendrickson’s research then considered test automation technologies. Out of their sample, 27 job ads explicitly said that they require knowledge of test automation tools and an additional 50 ads stated that test automation tool knowledge is a nice to have. We imagine many more actually required automation. Hendrickson’s study makes a case for Selenium being the leader with the counts of jobs specifying an automation technology:

  • Selenium, including Selenium RC (31)
  • QTP (19)
  • XUnit frameworks such as JUnit, NUnit, TestNG, etc. (14)
  • LoadRunner (11)
  • JMeter (7)
  • Winrunner (7)
  • SilkTest (6)
  • SilkPerformer (4)
  • Visual Studio/TFS (4)
  • Watir or Watin (4)
  • Eggplant (2)
  • Fitnesse (2)

The present (and future) of testing is automated. We’ve blogged about Selenium job trends already, so we were not surprised by Hendrickson’s report of Selenium skills seemed the most commonly required test automation technology. Don’t believe us? Just check the QTP vs Selenium Job posting trends from below. Based on these trends, we're going out on a pretty solid limb and predicting that openings for Selenium jobs will overtake QTP jobs within the next two years.

So, if you're QA tester serious about a career in Quality and you don't know a programming language like Java, Ruby, Python, and now JavaScript, learn one. However, you should be adept in automation technologies. We suggest, for obvious reasons, you learn Selenium. And if you are a QA tester who already knows Selenium who hasn't tried sending your tests to our browsers in the cloud? We’re always happy to hear your feedback on our service after you try it. We welcome your comments!

Written by

The Sauce Labs Team


Automated TestingFrameworks