Monday, June 17, 2013

Guru99: Aiming to be the NetTuts of Software Testing?





One of the more interesting aspects of working on this site over the past few years is the fact that people reach out to me to ask them to take a look at what they are doing and to comment on it. I’m honored to get these requests, but lament the fact that I don’t have enough time to really get in and do sites like this justice. I decided to change that and take a look at a site recommended to me called Guru99.




Guru99 bills itself as a site that aims to help testers learn concepts and tools by actually practicing what they learn. They create tutorials for a variety of topics, some of which have video clips that the user can watch and review.


The topics that are covered range from commercial tools such as QTP, Quality Center, Load Runner, etc, but also covers topics that are open source such as Selenium, MySQL, and also looks to cover software testing as a general discipline. In addition to its own hosted video links and comments/commentary, there are also links to other tools and sites to be able to learn the details needed. For those familiar with NetTuts, I think Guru99 is trying to be a software testing analog.


Some of the material is definitely geared towards those who are aiming to cover the certification space. Many of the tutorials are worded and geared towards what has become standardized in the industry over the last few years. I bristled at some of the phraseology (software testing is an activity to check whether the actual results match the expected results and to ensure that the software system is defect free), and while I might reword the text and presentation a bit (there’s no such thing as a defect free product, and software testing does not make a product defect free; it does give us the opportunity to determine which issues are the most critical and that deserve the most focus), the overall message is still valid.


Each of the videos provided range from two to ten minutes, so they are following the Khan Academy model of short, focused discussions, where the user can play them multiple times and review them as they consider the details. This is much preferred compared to trying to go through longer videos, etc. It works much better with my own shorter attention span ;).


If I had to offer a direct criticism, it would be that a number of the videos use a digitized speaking voice to cover the more general topics, while more specific topics and sections are covered by actual presenters. For me, personally, the computerized voice is a distraction. While it’s meant to add clarity and detail, the problem is that much of it comes across as flat and challenging to listen to. I much prefer individual presentations, even if the presenter has an accent. No matter how well tuned the digital voices are, it’s much more engaging to have an individual attached to the topic be the one presenting the material. This way, the vocal nuance can be heard and followed. there’s also no way to insert passion into a computer generated voice (well, there is, but that would go well beyond what the tools and tutorials are meant to do).


Some may look at the materials and say “this is so old school”. This is traditional software testing. They would be right. This site covers several of the traditional tool products of software testing, and they would also be right. The material seems to be geared towards those looking to get certified. Again, true. There is some coverage of new ideas and open source materials, and again, yes, you would be right. The material isn’t cutting edge en masse, but it is a good representation of testing as it currently exists. For those who want to get into software testing, and are looking to work at a Fortune 500 company or at larger corporations, much of the material presented is very much on point. Long time testers may feel that the site is missing some key details, but as an overview, I think it covers the primary topics adequately.


Would I like to see more about context-driven testing, or other topics that are not currently represented? Sure. The cool thing is that they encourage others to help them do that. As of right now, there are three posted externally developed articles/tutorials available on the site, and I suspect they would publish more if people were to be willing to post them (hint hint ;) ).


Bottom Line: For experienced testers, there may be some interesting nuggets here, and some things that you might find yourself saying “hmmm, i didn’t know that!” For first time testers, there is a lot of information here, and a lot of it is quite good and direct, especially for working in traditional environments. For those looking for specific tool knowledge of the listed tools, there’s a lot of good information on these tools presented in a way that might be very helpful to those in that context. For those looking to add information about the state of testing, have it be readily available, and get into the hands of those who might most benefit from it, this looks like a good place to go.
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