We are starting this week a new series where we decided to give the floor to French testers. The first one to get involved in the game by accepting to answer our questions is Julien Blanc, who started his career at BlaBlaCar and is currently QA Engineer at Deezer, well known French streaming music player.
Who are you, what are you doing, where are you working?
My name is Julien Blanc, I am 25 years old and I am currently QA Engineer at Deezer for a year and a half. The QA team consists of 14 people (12 testers and 2 engineers). I have several missions within Deezer:
- Manage 3 automatic test projects (Web, iOS and Android), to ensure a minimum quality on a daily basis. I currently use Selenium for the web and Appium for mobiles
- Develop these projects on Jenkins servers and run tests every night throughout the site and mobile applications, and “vital” tests before each release
- Train development testers, to enable them to write their own tests (script writing is really easy)
- Development of internal tools for testers, such as a device management site, better visualization of night tests, etc.
How would you describe your work to a 6 year old?
There are 3 types of people who work in computer business: people who build, people who will check what the builders have built, and who will install what has been built. I am one of those who check that the builders have done something good. And to not always test the same thing, I make robots that will test for me.
Looking back, and if you were to start your tester career again, what advice would you give?
If I was to start my career again, I would be more oriented towards automation. It is true that I say that because I work in automation today, but when I set up processes within BlaBlaCar, I was very manual tests oriented. Ultimately, I became a “lazy” person; I do not like to do the same thing several times. I wasted a lot of time at the beginning to always test the same features, to do non-regression… It is once I set foot in the automation that I realized how much it could make me win time. And that’s what I’m trying to push the most with testers: let me automate everything that’s possible, so you’re free to just test what’s important.
Tell us an anecdote about your life as a tester … (good or bad time, incredibly hard bug to reproduce or analyze…)
I have a funny anecdote: I was testing a feature that had just been released in Germany using a phone number. In France, generic phone numbers are not allocated, for example 0600000000. So I used a similar phone number with the German prefix +49 to test my functionality. I even started to automate the test. A week later we received an email from the lawyer of the person in Germany who used this phone number .. Oops!
What makes you cringe when it comes to misconceptions about testing?
What irritates me the most about the false ideas that one makes on testing is the image of the QA for the majority of the developers that I met. I am lucky to have worked with “mature” people, but I find that QA has an inferiority image in software development business. Some developers are not going to have any interest in testing, considering this part to be almost useless. As a result, some companies do not clearly see QA as a priority, too often creating a poor quality product (some of the examples I have in mind have completely changed their mind after hiring their first tester).
This is a shame because I have had the chance to work with Americans and English, and I have noticed that these countries are much more mature in terms of QA, involving quality from the start of building a product, and having a testers esteem as high as the developers.
What challenges do you face as a tester in a software product team? How do you overcome them?
I am no longer a tester personally, I have a slightly different vision, but in the end the main challenge is the same: to make aware of the interest of QA/Testing. When I say that, I am thinking in particular of the Product Manager or sales people, who are not necessarily aware of the work that is ours. And I understand them, I am not fully aware of their work. The difficulty is then to make decisions of priority, as for example if one must deploy a new functionality today because the communication plan is launched, but this functionality has created a bug; What decision should we take? It is then important to explain the importance of postponing the launch as far as possible, and to listen to the other teams to know their priorities and not necessarily block by principle.
Do you have models, people inspiring you (testers or not)?
If I had to have a model in the test world, I would say James A. Whittaker, who wrote the book How Google Tests Software that explains very well the complexity that Google had to face in their tests, and the vision that he has of the future that he evangelizes within Microsoft. And if I had to have a model not necessarily a tester, it would be Churchill for bantering, Elon Musk for its impact and otters because they seem to be very cool.
How do you keep learning?
I am very technical today, I have discovered a passion for hackathons and innovation. I regularly do hackathons to stimulate myself and learn new computer languages. During these events, but also conferences, I meet new people, sharing about our experiences. This kind of exchange is very important, it allows to step back without necessarily failing, which can save time. But it is also important to fail, right?
Cite one or more tools now essentials to you?
StackOverFlow without hesitation, either to find answers or to give answers.
One of the challenges you have faced in testing a particular feature…
@BlaBlaCar: the main challenge was geo-localization. Indeed there was a feature that consisted of users to end up on a plan, the kind of thing not necessarily easy to simulate on Android and even less on iOS.
@Deezer: check that a track has been recorded on the back side. To automate this, I have to make checks in several places of the site (front, web, mobile, back office, logs etc …).
What revolution should the testers prepare?
I sincerely think that, at least in France, we are at the beginning of QA awareness. Already technically, the main automated testing frameworks (Selenium, Appium, Cucumber etc …) are still partially unstable whereas they are the most used in the world. This shows a certain general disinterest of the developers in the matter when we see, in comparison, the number of JS frameworks that appear every day.
But it starts to change: during the last Selenium conference held in London, I was able to exchange with QA devs of Facebook who explained to me the QA tech vision of Facebook that is moving towards automation with a device pool. Google, Amazon (AWS) and Apple are also in this direction currently.
In short, automation becomes a real heart in the world of development, and the big players in the Web are clearly investing in it right now.
On the other hand, I do not think this is the end of manual testing. Automation will grow in quality, leaving the testers time to concentrate on tests focused only on functionality, without wasting time with non-regression. I often say “Automatic testing should not replace, but complete manual testing.”
Thank you Julien for these very interesting feedbacks. Do not hesitate to comment if you want to continue the debate on one of the subjects. We will have another guest in the coming weeks, and if you want to appear here by answering these questions, then do not hesitate to apply.