Q

Do software testers need developer experience?

Software testers offer unique skills and perspectives on the products they work with. Developer experience may help a tester, but testing experience is much more useful, writes expert Karen N. Johnson.

Must a good tester be a good software designer first? Are only experienced software designers able to come up with better ways than any test engineer to test software systems? Is it impossible to become a good tester without software development skills?

I do not believe you need to have designed or built a product in order to test or critique a product.

I do not believe software engineers or system architects design better tests. I believe skilled software testers design better tests.
Consider the number of everyday appliances and devices you might use, from coffee pots to personal navigation systems, that you have challenged or tested without having experience designing or building them.

I do not believe software engineers or system architects design better tests. I believe skilled software testers design better tests. I believe that for those activities we engage in frequently, we become more skilled at and in turn, we may make the skill look easier and easier as our level of competency increases. Point of view, focus, motivation and practice -- these are four advantages testers have over developers in becoming better testers. Developers may have different insights and ideas about what to test and those ideas may originate from their knowledge of the inner workings of the code, but different doesn't necessarily mean better (bug finds).

Software testing resources:
Improving software testing skills and manual vs. automated testing

Cultivating the software tester and programmer relationship

Expanding software testing skills

If you feel uncomfortable about your own level of knowledge, especially on technical matters, I would suggest continued learning to help improve your confidence.

This was first published in September 2008

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