[Video] Interview with the Community Leader - Carson Underwood

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Hello Guys,

 

Today, I'm happy to talk with Carson Underwood, @cunderw, - the many times SmartBear Community Leader in TestComplete and SmartBear Connect speaker! 

 

Watch this short interview that includes:

- Carson’s passion for video games - 01:03 

- exclusive advice from Carson for people who are starting their carrier in QA - 02:50

- top 5 TestComplete features you should know to be successful - 4:18 

- a sneak peek of his SmartBear Connect speech - 07:42

- advice on how to earn the Community Leader status - 10:12

- words to the SmartBear Community - 13:46

 

 

 

Any additional questions to Carson? 

 

 

Transcript:

[Tanya]
Hello SmartBear Community, please check out the new interview of the SmartBear Community Leaders. Today, our guest is Carson Underwood. Carson started his career around 12 years ago, and, today, he will share exclusive advice for new members of how to be successful in the industry. This October, Carson will be a speaker at SmartBear Connect, and, in this video, he will give you a sneak peek of his speech.
So, let's start.
Hello SmartBear Community! Today, I'm happy to welcome Carson Underwood the many times SmartBear Community Leader and longstanding SmartBear Connect speaker. So, hello Carson! How are you?

 

[Carson]
I'm doing fantastic, how about yourself?

 

[Tanya]
I'm good, thank you.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are your hobbies? For the Community.

 

[Carson]
I'm from Springfield Missouri, Midwest of the United States. I have been in software development for the past about 12 years. I started off in video game development. Video games were always a passion of mine. I did that for seven or so years, worked with a small local independent video game studio, did everything from QA testing to project management, to level design and level scripting, even did some of our audio work, sound effects, music and stuff like that. Currently, I work at O'Reilly Auto Parts in their corporate IT department, and I oversee all of our QA automation efforts whether it be UI functional testing, API testing so on and so forth. I still...my hobbys still kind of include music, every now and then I'll still do contract work for small independent video games making soundtracks and sound effects for them. Other than that I like to barbecue a lot. I do that pretty much every weekend and my wife and I go camping and floating as much as we can.

 

[Tanya]
Okay, can we expect to have some barbecue at SmartBear Connect this year from you?

 

[Carson]
I mean if they want to provide me with a smoker there, yeah, I can try to get something going.

 

[Tanya]
Okay, we will do this! Okay, deal.

 

[Carson]
I don't think mine would fit on a plane.

 

[Tanya]
So, you have a great background starting from the development, doing some music stuff, and, after that, you came to the software Quality Assurance. Software Quality Assurance is changing all the time what would you recommend to people who are just starting their career in this industry, what should they learn first, and, maybe, pay attention to?

 

[Carson]
Definitely pay attention to trends, you know, we are a very fast-moving information technology society, so don't let yourself become snagged and always try to be focusing on learning new tech stacks, learning new tools, learning new processes, quality of the software also requires quality of the people ensuring the quality, so if you just let yourself, you know, become stagnant, and you're not trying to always improve your processes and the way you ensure quality, your quality of the software that you're testing is going to suffer, so, definitely, get out there. Automation is huge right now, and it's only going to become more and more important, you know, most companies these days, they're rolling out multiple builds of their software a day, and, to be able to ensure that those builds aren't breaking and arern't going to affect the end users or the business users, you have to make sure that you have tests that run through and make sure that everything is working. So, just the main piece of advice is just to stay on top of things, always try to learn, always try to improve because the better you are the better you can ensure the quality of software.

 

[Tanya]
Ok, great, thanks. If we take a look at TestComplete, can you count maybe top 5 features of TestComplete that, you know, kind of, new user must learn in order to create tests and other things with TestComplete.

 

[Carson]
Yeah, so, in my opinion, the absolute most important thing for anybody getting started with TestComplete to learn is how to recognize objects in your application be it desktop, mobile, or web. The Name Mapping is a humongous beast as far as what you can do with it, but it's also very-very feature-rich. Um, I will say that, you know, allowing the tool to automatically map and stuff and do a record and playback is really great for getting started, but it will never be your end-all be-all product. You're going to have to go in and edit your Name Mapping and edit how you're finding the objects to make sure that minimal UI changes in your applications do not break your test. So, things like using the Extended Find, making sure you're only finding the objects and interacting with the objects that you actually need to interact with, and it's definitely a learning process and that kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier. It is always trying to learn and better yourself, um, you know, if you're testing a web application, take a few free online courses for web development, so you understand what the Dom is, the document object model inside of your web page. If you're testing Java applications, you know, take a free online course and develop just a simple 'hello world' GUI java application, so you kind of understand a little bit more of the background processes for how these apps are being developed, and it'll help you learn how to use the Object Mapping or the Name Mapping in TestComplete. Outside of that, just how extendable TestComplete is. If there's something that tool doesn't do out of the box, the scripting languages it provides, I haven't found anything really that I can't do myself with a little bit of research in, you know, like I said, even taking some more online courses for learning better JavaScript, that's what we use in O'Reilly as far as how we write all of our utilities that we use. And, the ability to share code across multiple projects within the tool - definitely take advantage of that. Don't, you know, if you have a webpage that you need to log in to, make sure you're creating a login script that every single test uses. The tool really allows you to reduce the amount of maintenance and reuse as much code as you write as possible, and that's definitely something that I see a lot of people getting started off don't quite wrap their head around, and, if you can do that from the start, it'll help you in the long run. Because it's way easier to update one script than it is to update 2,000 tests. Some of the other features that I really like about TestComplete is just how many different types of applications and technologies it supports, and how much of the boilerplate stuff it kind of handles for you. You don't have to write your own functions and classes to connect to a database. TestComplete provides that for you, you can write wrappers around that that works for your application, but it does a lot of the background heavy lifting for you which makes it a lot easier to start creating your automation frameworks and your tests.

 

[Tanya]
Okay, great, great features and great advice for new people, for new members, for new users who will start using TestComplete. Okay, thanks a lot. Last year, at SmartBear Connect, our user conference, you gave an incredible speech on how to move beyond manual testing, people were very excited about it, so what are you going to talk about this year?

 

[Carson]
So, this year, I'm going to talk a little bit more of a bigger picture not necessarily the technical aspects of developing an automation framework, but how to take these frameworks and tests you have and use them efficiently. And, specifically, using more of a risk-based approach to not only just your testing cycles, but your development cycles, so you know, as everybody knows, you have business requirements for the software that you're creating and testing. Some of those are high risk, some of those are low risk, and by high risk I mean: is it going to very negatively affect the end user? Is it going to cost your company money? Low risk would be if this release is with a bug in that particular area, it's not a huge deal. So, I'm talking, like, if you're calculating taxing correctly if you're a retailer and you're selling things like O'Reilly does, and you're calculating taxing correctly that's a very high risk area. If on your login screen we decide that we wanted to update the text in it, and there is a spelling error, yeah, that's not good, no defect is good, but it's very low risk, it's not going to hurt the company, it's not going to hurt your users. So, the whole kind of idea is to, as new features are being developed, develop and test the high risk features first, be updating your automation scripts, your manual test cases alongside development, so as you get the release candidate of your build, you already have automated coverage for all of these new features, you already have your tests updated, so your tests don't fail. So, when you get the build you can run, your full regression suite, and, in theory, it should all work. I mean, it's, you know, easier said than done, there's a lot of extra stuff going in there and enough things that are never going to be perfect, but if you develop and test, and develop automated tests for your high-risk areas first, you are ensuring the highest quality software that you possibly can, and, if you have time to get to the rest of the stuff, yes, great, but it's not going to be stuff that's going to necessarily hurt your software in a bad way.

 

[Tanya]
It's very interesting, I'm sure it's going to be very exciting. Just a reminder for everyone, this year, at the end of October, in Boston, we are setting up our annual user conference, and all community members have a special ticket discount, so you can find more information in the Community. And as we started talking about the SmartBear Community, can you give some suggestions or tips for new community members on how to earn the Community Leader status? What should they do exactly from your experience? What have you done to earn this?

 

[Carson]
So, definitely try to help out as much as possible, but, at the same time, don't necessarily just do the work for the people asking help, try to walk them through the steps of how you would debug the problem or figure out why something is happening, ask them questions. Because a lot of threads that I've been involved in, it might be something very-very simple, but I can see it right off, but instead of just saying 'okay here is exactly what's happening', I'll start asking the requests or questions about 'ok, so, what do you expect to be happening versus what is actually happening?' And, more often than not with a few questions like that it clicks in their head and they start figuring out the answers themselves, and, so, to me, that's what a community should be about, it's not necessarily about, you know, just giving the answer straight out or telling someone exactly how to do something because just like software development, test automation development is still development, so there's a million different ways to do everything that you can possibly do, so, start getting them to think about how to figure out the solution as opposed to just giving them one. Okay, and the flip side of that as far as people requesting help, the more information you can provide, the better chances are you're going to have someone be able to help you figure out what's going on, you know, sometimes, I'll see posts people will say something doesn't work that doesn't really tell us the people trying to help you what is actually going on, so even just a single thing like you know what kind of application you're testing if it's a browser, what browser, what versions what OS, what version of TestComplete, and then, kind of an expected result versus actual result, so kind of think when you're asking for support how you would actually write up a defect in the software you're testing, the more information you provide to the developers the more likely it is that they're going to be able to turn around a quick fix for the bug, same with interacting with the Community, the more information you provide with your problem the quicker turnaround you're going to get help from someone to figure out why the problem you're having is happening.

 

[Tanya]
Okay, great. Do you have any specific questions you will prefer to answer?

 

[Carson]
Like any specific questions inside the Community?

 

[Tanya]
Yeah.

 

[Carson]
I mean I try to help out as much as I can, the days get busy, so I don't always get to get on there. The ones that I really like to help with are the really challenging ones, like someone's trying to do something that even I haven't even tried to do yet. So, I'll take what they're doing and try to replicate it and try to wrap my head around what they're doing because then to me it's kind of a challenge for myself, and it goes back to the very first thing I said is always trying to learn new things, better yourself, so you can be a better tester or a better developer, so, you know, there's anything that's really kind of a challenge and like 'oh I don't know why that's happening', or 'I don't know exactly what they're trying to do', trying to wrap my head around that helps me grow, as well, and then other people have questions like that. Oh, yeah, I remember two months ago someone was trying to do this exact same thing.

 

[Tanya]
Okay, great, so, Community, now you know that Carson likes answering any questions, and he wants to get from you as many information about the problem, about the issue as possible, so post your questions. So, I would like to thank you for being with the SmartBear Community and adding a lot of value by sharing your experience. We really appreciate it. Do you have anything to add to this interview, or, maybe, some words to the community members.

 

[Carson]
Yeah, I would like to say thank you to SmartBear, as well, and the Community, everybody involved from the other Community Leaders to the the members that probably just signed up this morning, you know, everybody's contributing together. The more we can work together to find solutions to things the better, and that's one reason where I really like TestComplete and SmartBear and the rest of their products is there's a great support network not only just from the company but from the users, and that is fantastic. I've, you know, I've had to ask questions myself many times, I've gotten great solutions to it, so, thank you to you Tanya and everybody else, and thank you very much for providing me with this opportunity to get on here and kind of talk for a while.

 

[Tanya]
Thank you for your time and thanks for your interview, and thanks for everything that you're doing in the SmartBear Community.

 

[Carson]
Awesome, thank you, I'll see you guys in October!

 

[Tanya]
And, see you in the SmartBear Community online.

 

[Carson]
Yes.

 

[Tanya]
Thank you. Bye.

 

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