January 24, 2015

What is a QA Engineer?

You may have noticed on your neighborhood software development team a few people where coding the product isn't their main role. They aren't artists, so you know they aren't web designers on the User Experience team designing the user interface. They don't usually gather the initial business requirements, so they aren't business analysts. And every other word they talk about contains the word "test": Test Matrix, browser testing, test strategies, test cases, test scripts, regression testing. They are the Software Quality Assurance Engineers.

Yes, quality is everybody's job, but the QA Engineers are responsible for keeping the software testing effort and the SQA process running smoothly. Quality exists in the minds of all the major stakeholders vested in the software product everyone is attempting to build.

  • They try to keep the wants and needs of the end-user in mind, the person who is going to use the product. Is the product usable? Is it intuitive? Would it work with all the different browsers, platforms and mobile devices required?
  • They try to keep the wants and needs of the software company in mind: Hitting all the major milestones, attempting to estimate testing time correctly, and attempting to fit testing new functionality before the two week cycle (if using the Agile method), and attempting to finish regression testing on time -- testing again that adding the new stuff didn't break the old stuff just before the product gets shipped. 
  • They work directly with the software developers to see if there are any technological pitfalls, and with the designers of the user interface to make sure that the elements on the screen translate well across web browsers and mobile devices. 

The QA Engineer does more than just software testing. They are also involved in software quality assurance. Software testing is actually testing the product while software quality assurance is the process of coming up with and executing software testing.

What are the types of software testing? 

Let me come up with an example of how an individual can test a program:

Let's say you have your typical Login Screen on a web page. It has a textbox labelled: "Username", another one labelled "Password", and a button labelled "Login".

How would you go about testing it?

You could test the functionality of the page:

  • What happens if you enter a valid username and password, and select the Login button? Does it log you into the system with the correct user type (admin, superuser, user), showing you the correct landing page? 
  • What happens if you enter an invalid username and password? Does the error message show up in red underneath the Login button (if that is how it had been designed) or is the error message a clunky popup? 
  • Is the username supposed to be an email address? If so, what happens if you leave out the @, or .com / .net / .edu / .uk /.io / etc, does it clue the user into what is the correct format?  
  • Does the username and password text boxes allow enough characters to be entered? 
  • What happens if you log in and the server is down: Do you inform the user, handling the error gracefully, or is there a white page with "Error 404"?

You could perform UI testing:

  • Does the page layout match exactly what the User Experience team / Web Designer has designed? Are you sure? This includes whitespace between textboxes, logos, designs. Font sizes, and font colors, checking the text on the labels and the text on the buttons.   

You could perform browser testing:

  • Does the Login page look the same in Chrome, Firefox, IE 9, Safari on the Mac, or when using an iPad, iPhone, or Android mobile device? 

You could do database testing:

  • Does the database capture "Last Login Time" for a user? If so, is that field populated with the new data? And is it stored in the requested format (YYYY-MM-DD) or in the requested time zone if the time of login is also captured? Query the database field in SQL. 

You could perform security testing:

  • When an attempt to log in fails, you probably don't want to tell someone that the username is valid, but it is the password failed. 
  • What happens if someone attempts to enter SQL code into the username textbox such as "@DROP TABLES MEMBER", does the code get executed?

From XKCD.com, http://xkcd.com/327/

  • What happens if someone enters <script>alert("Cross-Site Scripting Test")</script> does a pop up window display? 
  • Are successful logins and login failures shown in the website error logs? 
  • After five or so unsuccessful login attempts, do you lock them out of the system and force them to get a new password, if that is the security protocol? 

You could test it according to the spec:

  • If according to the spec there is supposed to be a "Forgot Password" link, and it is not there, it is also a bug.

You could do Performance Testing:

  • How long does it take for the Login screen to display or to be logged in?
  • What happens if many people are attempting to log in at the same time?
  • ... All of these tests could be performed as manual testing, meaning that you as a software tester could perform all of these actions just as an end user would, interacting with the Login screen with a browser, a mouse, and a keyboard. No programming necessary. You may need to know SQL to do database testing, but you don't get to practice coding in your day-to-day activity. 

Now, what is Software Quality Assurance? 

Software Quality Assurance is the part of the process that happens both before and after the software testing. Quality isn't just trying to figure out whether something works or not. It should meet or exceed the expectations of all the major stakeholders. It involves:

  • Examining the business requirements of a new piece of functionality that the business analyst drafted. Make sure it is clear, concise, with each of the requirements being testable. 
  • Working with the software developers to see if there are any technological pitfalls behind-the-scenes where QA Engineer should proceed with caution. 
  • Drafting a test plan giving a bird's eye view of what is about to be tested: Hardware, software, etc, if needed, and get the major stakeholders to sign off on it. 
  • Drafting a test script in MS Word or MS Excel the testing scenarios you are going to cover and what actions the tester needs to do, step-by-step. Have a QA peer-review and a team review of the script. Integrate the parts of the new functionality into the master test script for that component, giving you a regression test script. 
  • Performing a smoke test or an acceptance test on any web app deployed to the QA Test environment. 
  • Manually executing the script on the required browsers, platforms or mobile devices. 
  • Checking to see if operating the web app seems intuitive enough to the end user.
  • Writing bug reports if a bug is found: Description of what is found, steps how to duplicate the bug, screenshots of any UI issues, or error logs uploaded and attached to the bug report. 
  • Performing regression testing just before the release of the web app: When the new functionality was created, did it damage any of the old functionality? Execute all the tests that you have for the web app, running all the regression test scripts. 
  • Making sure that you hit all milestones and deadlines. If you only have two weeks to design, code, and test the new functionality of a web app and isn't deployed to QA a day before the deadline, you have a problem. 

Thank you for stopping by! I'm T.J. Maher, a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer of fourteen years who -- like most software testers, nowadays -- is trying to make the switch from being just a manual tester and get into automation testing.

I started this blog as a way to motivate me to keep on putting in the hours needed in order to research and study the new technologies that have been cropping up as the new standard in the software testing industry these past two years.

That has been my career.

... And just in the past two years, it has changed immensely.

-T.J. Maher
 Sr. QA Engineer
 Quincy, MA


Yasmeen Yas said...

Your information related to software testing is really very useful for freshers....Thanks for sharing this informative blog..Keep posting..
Software Testing Services
Software Testing Company
Software Testing Companies in USA
QA Testing Companies
Software Testing Services in USA

Elliana Taylor said...

Hey Nice blog keep it! up, your blog is very helpful for every person to learn software testing & Thanks for such a knowledgeable post.
Software Testing Services
Software Testing Company
Functional Testing Services
Test Automation Services
eCommerce Testing Services
Performance Testing Services
Security Testing Services
API Testing Services
Regression Testing Services
Mobile App Testing Services

Ethical Hacking Course said...

I truly like only reading every one your web logs. Simply desired to in form you which you simply have persons such as me that love your own work out. Absolutely an extraordinary informative article. Hats off to you! The details which you have furnished is quite valuable. Learn best 360DigiTMG Ethical Hacking Course in Bangalore

rubysimmons63 said...

Good details and really helpful information.
Software Testing Company

kirankumarpaita said...

software testing company in India
software testing company in Hyderabad
Thanks for sharing this informative blog with us.
Keep sharing.

Chad said...

Nice and interesting post, I appreciate your hard work. keep it up…!!!Thanks for such useful information, It is true that now if you want to grow your business you will surely need the mobile app testing services for your business. But for that purpose everyone needs best mobile app testing companies.


I want to to thank you for this great read!! I certainly enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…

KUPZ said...

You are my inhalation, I have few web logs and very sporadically run out from to post .

WAMOS said...

Looking forward to reading more. Great article post. Fantastic. Thanks so much for the blog. Much obliged.

BESTSITE said...

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

majorsite said...

Your explanation is organized very easy to understand!!! I understood at once. Could you please post about majorsite ?? Please!!

Anonymous said...

You have amazing writing skills and you display them in every article. Keep it going!
Choose our Online Course Visit Cyber Security Bootcamp

49ers Gold Jacket said...

The content was really very interesting.

Bengals Starter jacket said...

Thanks for posting some valuable post.

49ers Gold Jacket said...

Thanks for providing such blogs.

bibrave said...

Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one(perchcms plimbi ekademia yoomark coub bioimagingcore rudnik braila-portal devpost)!
Simply desire to say your article is as astounding.
The clearness on your put up is simply cool and that i could suppose you are knowledgeable in this subject.
I enjoy to gain knowledge of more and more.

hawkee said...

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really recognize what you are talking about! This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!!!
Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my site (metroflog

John Wick said...

visit my page. dwi attorney virginia

School Science Lab Equipment manufacturers said...

School Science Lab Equipment suppliers provide best scientific lab equipments online

Science Lab Equipment said...

Top chemical engineering lab equipment manufacturers designed this equipment so that chemical engineers can study and understand chemical processes.

Educational School Science Lab Equipment Supply said...

Finding suppliers for civil engineering laboratory equipment can vary depending on your location and specific needs. we are Civil Engineering Lab Equipment suppliers in India and provide bulk order on online enquiry

Educational School Science Lab Equipment Supply said...

Atico Export leading laboratory glassware manufacturers, supplier and exporter in Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, Uganda, the Philippines, Singapore and other countries. On-time shipment services and glassware lab equipment meets client satisfaction and lab safety standards as per international lab guidelines.

Educational School Science Lab Equipment Supply said...

Explore reliable laboratory equipment manufacturers for quality products. Find trusted suppliers now! | 160

Analytical Lab Instruments said...

Analytical Instruments manufacturer, and suppliers in South Africa. Analytical Lab Instruments Suppliers in Mozambique, Analytical Lab Instruments in Supplier Kenya, Southern African region, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Angola, Namibia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Physics Lab Equipment suppliers said...

Physics lab equipment manufacturer, supplier and exporter Nairobi, Kenya. Get ISO certified science lab equipment for your school, college lab at best prices.

Flash delivery said...

Flash delivery typically refers to a very fast delivery service and mostly used in Washington and Idaho states

Civil Engineering Lab Equipment suppliers said...

Civil engineers with equipment from the best Civil Engineering Lab Equipment suppliers empower them to apply their skills, knowledge, and expertise to shape our world by designing and constructing diverse projects. we provide civil engineering lab equipment all over the world but our clients are mostly in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, East Africa, Dubai etc

local pick up and delivery service said...

Efficient Washington DC courier service from Spokane. Fast deliveries, reliable solutions. Explore our seamless shipping options for your business needs. Schedule A Pick Up by Flash courier

Physics Lab Equipment said...

Physics Lab Equipment for school, collage and any other laboratories from India. Visit for any enquiry on sales (at) aticoexport dot com

double beam spectrophotometer manufacturers said...

We are the leading manufacturer and supplier of Double Beam Spectrophotometer Manufacturer. Now accepting bulk orders for government tenders in every major country around the globe.

FTIR spectrophotometer manufacturers said...

We are the leading manufacturer and supplier of FTIR Spectrophotometer Manufacturers and Supplier. Now accepting bulk orders for government tenders in every major country around the globe.