Wednesday, March 30, 2022 – A Tester’s Appreciation of Unit Tests

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily lives, we are making our 2022 KWality Talks available online for free.

Register: Online Using Eventbrite, Zoom link will be included in registration confirmation email

Location: Online

Time: Stream will start at approximately 11:55 am. Meeting starts at 12:00 pm. Meeting ends at approximately 1:00 pm.

Speaker: Katie Fox

Topic:
Unit tests are the foundation of the test pyramid but are commonly seen as a developer’s obligation and not as a tester’s secret weapon for risk-based testing. During recent interviews with Quality Engineer candidates, I heard a recurring theme that unit tests are “tests developers write,” and it had me questioning my own contrary opinion. I questioned how I had arrived at those thoughts, and how I would encourage others to view them differently: as simple, powerful tests that increase in value with more visibility and more attention to detail during their creation.  

Well-written unit tests provide a way to concisely understand the changes for a story without reading every line of source code. Applying risk-based principles and factoring in the areas of change indicated by unit tests could allow either for a reduction in testing scope, or it could reveal new areas that were not initially considered. It can also inform where test scenarios have already been partially or fully automated and thereby prevent duplicated effort and test suite bloat. If the “whole team owns quality,” and “everyone contributes to automation,” then developers and test engineers should be familiar with all levels of automated tests that ensure such quality. As part of a team’s effort to shift-left, everyone needs to include focusing on creating and improving automation in areas that will gain the most benefit.  

This paper will discuss the benefits of shift-left testing via tester-developer collaboration around unit tests and show its successful applications in practice within unique team structures. It will provide frameworks to help developers to write readable, atomic unit tests and testers to decide which tests to automate at each level. Additionally, this framework provides less-technical testers with conversation starters to conduct code and test inspection verbally.

Bio: 
Katie Fox is a senior software test engineer at e-Builder.  

She spent her post-college years learning and growing within the field of test at Ultimate Software (now Ultimate Kronos Group) and has been navigating remote work since 2016. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Computer Science and no idea that her future career existed. Fast-forward to now, she loves balancing strong domain knowledge of the user experience with a thorough understanding of the technical implementation to determine how to layer exploratory and automated testing. She takes joy in catalyzing collaborative solutions to persistent team-wide problems… if two or more people have complained about something, it is time to fix it.  

When not working, she likes to spend time outside (on coffee runs+walks, yardwork, puppy sniffs), snuggle with her cat and dog, and cultivate plants both indoors and outdoors.