With the increasing use of agile methodologies and rising demands for better quality, testing approaches are also changing and it's important to understand how the tester’s role is transforming as a result. The typical scenario of programmers writing the code and testers assessing the quality is falling apart. Now, the testers are taking part in the software development cycle right from the design phase to the final stage of deployment.
In such an environment, there is a need for a resource who is well versed with code writing along with testing knowledge. The Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) role serves this purpose and performs multiple activities in the different phases of the development cycle.
While the role of SDET is similar to the QA Automation Engineers, with the skills they possess and expertise they have in QA automation tools and technologies, there are certain key differences.
SDET vs QA Automation Engineer
SDET QA Automation Engineer Primarily a developer who is more testing focussedHas expertise primarily in writing automation code Involved in functional, non-functional, security and other aspects of testing Focuses primarily on functional testing Involved in both white box and black box testing QA Engineer primarily focus upon Black box testing through automation. Might take the testing right from the unit testing level Typically involved from System & Acceptance testing phase
Need of SDET Role
With the increasing importance of software testing, most modern applications and products need end-to-end test automation especially in the areas of functional, performance, and security testing. SDETs with their dual abilities are capable of doing this very efficiently. They can build, deploy, run, debug and manage the application individually. Flexibility is one of the principles of agile methodology and teams are self-organized, SDETs can easily step into the shoes of a developer if needed. Apart from this, they get involved in the development process where they understand the development strategy, review the code written by developers, write unit tests to test the code, and help increase the test coverage which in turn improves the quality of code overall.
Responsibilities of SDET
The responsibility of SDETs starts with the Requirement Gathering and Design. They need to understand the requirements from the stakeholders. They also need to understand product design, the coding languages and databases that would be used. And finally, they have to prepare the testing strategy to be followed.
SDETs have to perform both functional and non-functional testing such as Performance and Security. They are involved in white box testing by writing unit tests for development project. SDET should also able to set up, maintain, and operate test automation frameworks to be used in regression, sanity, etc., and analyze the reports for debugging.
As SDETs participate in all the levels of product design, work with a product manager, project development team, and other stakeholders, they understand the need of the product from end users’ perspective. They know everything about the product and that is what makes them an advocate to the customers’ needs. This also makes them responsible for ensuring everything being delivered to the end user is as expected. To do so they perform usability testing and ensure the user experience is up to the mark.
They work with deployment teams to debug issues as well. In essence, SDETs are just like the developers, just with the intent of testing instead of software development.
Skillsets of SDET
To perform all the responsibilities expected out of SDET, they need to have the expertise in the following aspects:
- Knowledge of Programming languages such as Java, C#, Python etc
- Experience in implementing Agile Methodology and Project management software such as Jira, Azure DevOps, etc.
- Understanding of the software development process and in-depth knowledge of the Manual and Automation Testing.
- Understanding of various testing frameworks and tools such as NUnit, JUnit, TestNG, xunit, etc.
- Knowledge of Defect management/tracking tools.
- Proficiency in Performance Testing tools such as JMeter, WebLoad, etc.
- Basic understanding of security and penetration testing.
Importance of SDETs to Organizations
With the growing technologies, it is very important for an organization to know what to test, how to test, and when to test the software. SDETs, being specialized in multiple aspects of testing, help organizations in end-to-end testing in an efficient manner. They help improve the quality of code and increase the code coverage which leads to delivering robust and high-quality software to the client.
In essence, SDETs prove to be all-rounders that most of the organizations need to enhance the quality of the product by providing the user feedback at the right time, improving the code coverage and testability of the code, carrying out different types of testing, and most important of all, delivering what is right! Being in this day and age with the wide adoption of Agile methods companies have the ability to push changes into production at a rapid pace, which means quality issues can get into production very fast. Focus on code & software quality, what an SDET does, has become more important than ever.