coding and programming for testers
Best practices Management Agile
8 mins read
January 2, 2024

Why should you learn coding as a tester?

What would happen if testers evolved from their traditional roles, transcending boundaries to explore the power of programming languages? Picture them diving deep into the code ocean, writing scripts and orchestrating the testing processes. Such a transformation can potentially revolutionise the testing landscape, but it begs the question: Is programming required for software testing?

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Kate Hornysh
Nurlan Suleymanov

This article will explore the motivations, benefits, potential repercussions, and necessity of coding for software testers.

What skills should QA testers have?

QA testers ensure software products’ quality, reliability, and usability, so there is no denying how crucial they are to the whole process. To excel in QA, testers should have various technical and non-technical skills, including:

  1. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills: QA testers must have a keen eye for detail and the ability to analyse complex systems. They should be able to identify, isolate, and troubleshoot issues that arise during testing. 
  2. Solid understanding of software development life cycle: Mastering different phases of the SDLC, such as design, requirements gathering, development, testing, and deployment, is essential for QA testers. Understanding how testing fits into development helps them plan and execute effective testing strategies. 
  3. Knowledge of testing techniques and methodologies: As a QA tester, it is essential to possess a strong understanding of diverse techniques and methodologies utilised in software testing. These approaches enable testers to evaluate software applications thoroughly, ensuring their quality and reliability.
  4. Proficiency in test automation: Test automation is a vital skill for QA testers, and it is required to be comfortable with testing tools and frameworks like Selenium or Appium to automate repetitive test cases, improve efficiency, and accelerate the testing process. 
  5. Familiarity with programming and scripting: So, is programming language needed for software testing? While not always mandatory, a basic understanding of languages like Java, Python, or JavaScript can benefit testers, allowing them to write test scripts and perform data-driven testing. 
  6. Excellent communication skills: QA testers must also communicate effectively with developers, project managers, and other stakeholders. They should focus on clear documentation, providing comprehensive test reports, and collaborating seamlessly within cross-functional teams. 
  7. Continuous learning and adaptability: Software testers must have a growth mindset and a willingness to learn and adapt continuously. The software development field is dynamic, and staying updated is crucial for success.
  8. Domain knowledge: Having domain-specific knowledge can be advantageous depending on the nature of the software being tested. It helps QA testers understand the industry standards, user expectations, and specific requirements for the software being tested.

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How much and what coding knowledge does a tester need?

The knowledge requirement of coding for a QA tester can vary depending on the software’s context and nature. While it’s not rational to expect testers to be expert programmers, having a certain level of coding proficiency can only speed up the testing and development processes and enable testers to excel in their roles. 

At a minimum, testers should understand programming concepts, such as variables, loops, conditional statements, and functions. This knowledge is essential to grasp the code and allows testers to write simple scripts or perform basic debugging tasks. Additionally, testers should understand relevant scripting languages or tools used in their industry or workplace. 

For example, knowledge of frequently used Python, Java, or JavaScript can be advantageous in test automation frameworks. Proficiency with scripting tools can also be beneficial in automating test cases. As a tester, you should strive to comprehend better the underlying architecture and technologies used in software to identify potential risk areas, understand integration points, and effectively design test cases. 

However, there is no simple or concrete answer to the question: the depth of coding knowledge a tester should have varies based on the team’s structure, the software complexity, and specific goals. Most companies have dedicated automation engineers or developers who handle advanced coding tasks, while testers focus more on test case design, execution, and analysis. So the ideal coding knowledge for a tester lies in keeping the right balance between understanding the codebase and having the ability to write basic scripts or test automation scenarios.

"Code is like humour. When you have to explain it, it's bad."

Cory House, Software expert and blogger

Tips for QA beginners and professionals

Here are some tips about coding for QA testers of all levels:

  1. Learn the fundamentals, including variables, loops, conditional statements, and functions. This foundational knowledge will keep you on track to comprehend code. 
  2. Choose a relevant starting language that aligns with your testing needs after identifying the ones used in your industry. The programming languages needed for software testing vary based on syntax, data structures, and testing goals. 
  3. Explore automation frameworks and tools related to your coding skills and project requirements. Gain hands-on experience with these frameworks to write automated test scripts and improve efficiency. 
  4. Learn from developers through regular communication and collaboration to better understand the codebase. Participate in code reviews if downtime occurs, ask questions, and learn from their expertise. Their experience will strengthen your application understanding and facilitate effective bug reporting and troubleshooting if you plan to become a better QA manager in the future. 
  5. Continuously learn by keeping up with advancements in coding practices and testing frameworks. Stay updated with industry trends, attend relevant webinars or workshops, and explore online resources and QA communities. 
  6. Practice test automation to avoid repetitive and time-consuming test cases. Use automation tools, start small, automate one test case at a time, and gradually expand your automation skills and see if you can apply them in your workspace. 
  7. Seek code review and feedback from your peers or senior testers, and embrace constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. Code reviews provide valuable insights and help you enhance the quality and maintainability of your test scripts.

programming and coding tips for testers

Conclusion

Coding knowledge for testers has become increasingly valuable in today’s software development landscape. While it is not a definite requirement for all testers, having a certain level of coding proficiency can greatly enhance their effectiveness and efficiency in performing their roles. 

From understanding the codebase to writing test scripts and collaborating with developers, coding knowledge equips testers with the tools to dig deeper, identify bugs, and contribute to overall software quality. Embracing coding skills as a tester opens doors to automation, improved communication with development teams, and the ability to adapt to evolving technologies.

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FAQ
Do software testers need to know coding?

Yes, software testers can benefit from having coding knowledge as it allows them to understand the codebase, write test scripts, and collaborate effectively with developers. While not always mandatory, coding proficiency enhances their effectiveness and opens opportunities for test automation and better communication with development teams.

What programming language should I learn for a QA tester?

Python is often recommended as a programming language for QA testers. Its simplicity, readability, and extensive libraries make it suitable for test automation, data manipulation, and scripting. Additionally, Java and JavaScript are commonly used in QA for web and mobile testing. Ultimately, the choice depends on your organisation’s or industry’s specific requirements and technologies.

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