In the intensely competitive and ever evolving digital world of the 21st century, business enterprises are in need of experts who can straddle the twin worlds of development as well as QA. With Agile and DevOps leading the way and the complexity of software applications increasing by the day, such experts can help enterprises to streamline their workflow, hasten the turnaround time, and enhance the quality of software applications. Also, with test automation becoming the lynchpin of QA, the need for SDETs is foretold. An abbreviation for Software Development Engineers in Test, the SDET professionals are a two-way package who can write programs as well as test them on the basis of expected outcomes. First coined by Microsoft, this role has now become a phenomenon in the technological world.
An SDET is a technical expert who is allowed to write/alter codes as and when the need arises. In a layman’s terms, he or she acts as an interface between developers and traditional testers. The entire work of SDETs is underpinned on the Agile model of SDLC where they can implement white and black box testing to validate the quality of software applications. These engineers are trained to build automation frameworks and tools.
After knowing the work of an SDET, it is but natural to be curious about the roles of an SDET and a software tester. Although there are a lot of similarities between the two, there are a few major differences as well.
A tester is solely responsible for preparing and executing a test code, either manually or with the help of automation. However, an SDET remains a highly skilled professional with skills in both sides of the aisle - development and testing. He or she is an all rounder who knows to build and test a software application – from start to finish.
A tester has limited programming skills as his or her work revolves majorly around black box (functional) testing. Whereas, SDETs possess excellent programming skills who can execute white box testing (the work a tester does) as well as be a developer of test automation tools.
A tester isn’t required to develop test automation tools but use them nevertheless to automate the test cases. However, an SDET is thorough with his or her knowledge of software development and can participate in the development of automation tool all by himself/herself.
The SDET professionals are expected to keep pace with the advancement of technology. It is possible that business enterprises do not find the perfect SDETs for their requirements, however, their skills can be enhanced in alignment with the business requirements through training. The basic necessities to be fulfilled by SDETs are:
As Software development engineers in testing, they are expected to be software engineers to start with. Various programming languages (Ruby, Python, Java etc,) user interfaces and database concepts should be known to them.
SDETs are expected to know the whole software product cycle inside out, that is, starting from product designing and development to testing. This helps the business to arrive at a conclusion about the pros and cons of each product from the customer’s point of view. An SDET can improve the design of a software product as per the preference of the target users. No wonder, they are also known to be the most appropriate customer advocate.
Whenever there is a need for software development testing, the knowledge of coding comes handy. If the SDET is testing a code, he/she is supposed to know and understand the code itself before testing. An SDET can automate the testing process by using his or her coding skills.
An SDET is a culmination of two job roles- tester and coder. With both these activities rolled into one, he or she can bring a lot of value to the table that can help the business in a number of ways – creating a product in tune with customer preferences, shortening the delivery time, and enhancing the quality of the product. In a few years down the line, manual testers are likely to be a thing of the past due to the steep rise of SDETs who have expertise in both the arenas of development and testing.