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Interviewing Dave Westerveld: Debugging The Automation Testing Myths, Best Software Testing Tools, & Essential Productivity Hacks

24-Aug-2021

Interviewing Dave Westerveld: Debugging The Automation Testing Myths, Best Software Testing Tools, & Essential Productivity Hacks

Since software testing has turned to be an extremely significant part of the software development process, testing communities as well as software development companies from across the world have started to lean on advanced testing practices like automation. Though the hype has entered into every nook and corner of the IT world, still there are large number of automation testing companies who are struggling to understand the testing best practices.  

As BugRaptors is emerging as the top testing companies in India as well as on international grounds, our team is always excited to build interactions with testing professionals from across the globe.  

This time, we interacted with Mr. Dave Westerveld, Senior Test Developer, working for D2L.  

Dave has 13+ years of experience in the testing industry and has a rich technical knowledge when it comes to testing best practices. Dave is an automation expert with strong grip on solving API test problems. He has extensive technical and exploratory skills that he uses to generate tests offering high value test feedback.  

Besides, his interpersonal and learning skills have shaped him as an expert coach who helps young testers or beginners to define their learning paths while ensuring relevance to the changing dynamics of software testing industry. During the recent interview session with Dave, our in-house expert, Rajeev Verma, tried discussing the most trending and the most important questions related to the world of software testing. 

This includes insights to the learnings that Dave developed during all his years of work along with his perspective of myths surrounding the automation testing techniques. Besides, he shared several meaningful insights related to the testing methodologies as well as his favorite testing tools to help testers community out there.  

Above all, the session brought us some interesting information on how the costs associated to testing process could be optimized without losing a grip on productivity. So, without taking much of your time, let us quickly jump on the interview and have the most of it. 

Rajeev Verma: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned over your career? 

Dave Westerveld: It's always hard to say what the most important lesson is, but I have learned a number of good lessons over my career. One recent lesson that I’ve learned is that there is a lot of business value to good quality software. A lot of companies have a strong emphasis on delivering new features, but sometimes that comes at the expense of the quality of existing features. 

I was recently in a situation where we had some quality issues with some of our existing features and it actually caused some of our clients to start to question if we were a valuable partner for them to work with. This made me realize again that quality issues actually have direct business impact.  

It's often easier to draw a direct line from a new feature to the ability to sell into a new market or some other business metric that matters, but sometimes it's harder to draw the line from spending time on testing a product to some downstream business value. However, I have realized recently - and I think this is a really important lesson - that quality can have a big impact on the viability of a business. It's a very important thing from a business perspective  

Rajeev Verma: What is a common myth about automation testing? 

Dave Westerveld: A common myth about automated testing is that it will solve your regression testing problems. Automation can certainly help with regression testing, but the thing that we so often forget is that it needs to be good automation. It is very easy to write test automation that doesn’t add a lot of value. Sometimes automation is seen as a silver bullet, but writing good test automation takes a lot of skill and discipline. 

Rajeev Verma: What tools or methodologies are you excited to understand better this year? 

Dave Westerveld: I love learning so I always have a few things I’m learning about. I’ve been diving deep on API testing over the last couple of years, and I hope to continue to grow and develop my skills in that area. I’m also hoping to get back into using TestCafe. I investigated it a few years ago, but now there are some needs on my team that I will probably try to use TestCafe to help with. 

I’m also trying to improve my skills around monitoring in production, so I’ve been looking at better understanding tools like elastic search and kibana. One other thing I’ve started picking up this year is using Github actions to set up better automated build systems. As I said, I have a lot of interest and I really love learning.  

Rajeev Verma: How covid has affected your work? 

Dave Westerveld: Our office has moved to fully remote work since covid started. We are hoping to start heading back in soon, but I have been working from home full time for the last year and half or so. Remote work has challenges and advantages, but overall, I have enjoyed not needing to commute. As a tester, I’ve had to be more intentional about setting up good communication channels with the team, and thankfully have been able to do so quite well. 

Rajeev Verma: How can we reduce or optimize the costs associated with software testing automation? 

Dave Westerveld: It really depends on the particular test automation system you are working with. I have seen test automation suites where the biggest cost was around the amount of time it took to run and debug them. To be honest, in that situation the best way to optimize the cost is just to delete a bunch of tests that are not adding value. In other circumstances the answer might be to parallelize the runs or to simplify the test update process or perhaps even to switch to another tool that makes it easier to manage your tests.  

Rajeev Verma: Which is your favorite automation tool? 

Dave Westerveld: It depends on what I’m trying to automate. For API testing I like Postman, and for UI testing, I don’t have a strong preference, but I like both TestCafe and Cyprus, although there are also some newer testing tools like TestProject that look promising as well.  

If I had to pick just one tool though, it would be python. I know it’s a programming language and not a tool, but there are so many great libraries in python that allow you to do everything from API testing to SQL testing to front-end testing and everything in between.  

Rajeev Verma: What’s your favorite productivity hack? 

Dave Westerveld: Delete social media from your phone. Do it, right now. I did it a few years ago, and after the first couple of weeks which felt kind of like a detox, I’ve never once wanted it back on my phone. I still check it on my computer (although even on the computer, I have it blocked during certain hours of the day), but taking it off my phone gave me back a lot of time that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.  

Rajeev Verma: What are the best upcoming conferences testers should attend or can participate? 

Dave Westerveld: I’ll be honest, I don’t really know at this point. I tried attending a couple of online conferences at the start of covid and it just didn’t work for me, so I have not been paying attention to the conferences very much, since I just have no interest in attending an online conference. Now that things are starting to open up again, I do hope to get back into the conference scene again. I will say that one conference I have enjoyed in the past is the CAST conference, which I believe is actually going to be in person again this year. I haven’t looked over the agenda for it, but based on past experiences with it, I would expect that it will be a good one to go to.  

Rajeev Verma: What's the best way to get in touch with you? 

Dave Westerveld: If you are looking to just stay connected with me and keep up with what I am working on you can follow me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dave-westerveld-25339a42/).  

If you want to discuss anything in more detail, I’d be happy to chat via email - davewesterveld@gmail.com  

At BugRaptors, we are on a mission to lead digital transformation that will not only involve us but the entire testing community. As they say, “United we stand, divided we fall” we are taking every possible step to empower the tech community through our services, resources, and efforts on building most fruitful interactions with testing enthusiasts from across the world. 

If you are looking for some QA consulting or need help overcoming the expansive costs associated with your test automation project, reach us through info@bugraptors.com  

For any other service-related queries, feel free to contact our team.

author

Rajeev Verma

Rajeev works as Project Manager at BugRaptors. He is working on several Web Application , Network Vulnerability assessments, Mobile Application , Secure Network Architecture reviews. He has knowledge in various automated and manual security testing methodologies. He has also frequently coordinated with stakeholders as an on-site resource to assist them in discovering security loopholes and fixing the identified issues.

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