Notes from the Net highlights some interesting articles out there on the Web,  submitted by Doris Beetem, former Documentation Coordinator at Schlumberger Ltd.

QA Skills Gap: Testing Pros Need Enough to Write a Test Script

by Jennifer Lent ( – (September 2013)

If there is one new skill every QA professional needs today, it is the ability to write a test script. Demand for testers who can write at least a little code is the logical outcome of automated testing, which requires QA pros to script the tests they want the software to execute.

What is the best way to acquire these scripting skills—especially when employers are reluctant to pay for formal training?

I asked Dave Haeffner, who runs the QA consultancy Arrgyle, how testers looking to learn how to write test scripts should go about it.

“To do testing well [today], you have to learn a programming language,” Haeffner said.

One place testers often start is with the language of the application under test. If it’s written in Java, they think about learning Java. “I have never seen that work out that well,” Haeffner said.

When reality sets in, they are more likely to opt for languages like Ruby or Python, which are less difficult to learn. Faced with this decision, Haeffner taught himself Ruby, keeping just a few steps ahead of his team.

Haeffner said that most programming language classes aren’t aimed at testers, but at software developers. “You don’t need to learn a lot to be effective. You need just enough Ruby to be dangerous.”

See also:

“How to Learn Python, Ruby and Other Scripting Languages

by Jennifer Lent ( – (November 2013)

What is the best way to learn Python, Ruby and other scripting languages?

In my recent column “QA skills gap: Testing pros need enough to write a test script” I wrote about how scripting skills are no longer optional for software test pros. I asked two experts, Lisa Crispin and Matthew Heusser, how to meet this challenge.

Tip #1: Learning languages to write scripts for test automation is a do-it-yourself project. No one is going to say: “Take this class. Do it on our time. The company will pay.”

In the real world, software test pros need to learn on their own time, and often on their own dime. The options offered here are free or low cost.

Tip # 2: Most books about Ruby aren’t geared to software testers. Here’s one that is, and the title says it all: Everyday Scripting with Ruby: For Teams, Testers and You, by Brian Marick.

Crispin and Heusser both recommended this book for learning Ruby. “I worked through all the examples in the book and it gave me confidence. For a newbie, working through a book like Brian’s is a good way to go,” Crispin said.

Tip # 3: Heusser’s top suggestion for do-it-yourself students of scripting languages is to take advantage of It’s a no-cost option for those with little or no programming experience to learn Python, Ruby, PHP, JavaScript, and more.

Tip #4: Team up with a developer.

“Try to choose a scripting language with which programmers on the team are familiar,” says Lisa Crispin, Agile testing coach.

In a recent column on automated software testing, I suggested learning the language your developers work with. Crispin agreed, “One tip I give testers is to choose a scripting language with which programmers on the team are familiar.”

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