Word. Search.

Whenever you encounter a new word you’ve never heard before, or a word that you don’t know what it represents then go back to your desk and research it.

Do a word search. Find out what it means.

Word Search Image
Word Search Image
Image from Sergis Blog “Sopa de letras” October 29, 2007 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

A key aspect of being a good tester is being able to understand, decipher and communicate in the language of your business. The jargon that your business uses is an important aspect of the way your team members communicate. Embrace the jargon and learn to use it – it often makes communicating within your own social or business group more effective.

As a tester you need to know what other people are talking about.

You need to know the technology they are talking about.

You need to know the approach they are taking and the way they are articulating what they are doing.

The most valuable way to understand the business you work in and the product you are testing is to do your research about the words and phrases being used.

Don’t come away from any meeting not knowing what a word means without it being an action for you to research it. Don’t encounter a word or phrase that you don’t know more than once. Research it and understand it.

You might not need to know the ins and outs of the words meaning or what that word represents but you should at least be aware of it.

For example. In a typical meeting here we might mention some or all of the following:

  • API
  • UI
  • Stack
  • SIP
  • SIPp
  • WireShark
  • Trace
  • Cold Transfer
  • Call Leg
  • Proxy
  • WAF
  • App Firewall
  • Burp
  • VoiceXML
  • NewRelic

This is a tiny tiny subset of the words we use. Some represent technologies. Some represent aspects of a system under test.

As a tester we need to know what each one means. We need to know how each one works.

So how do I find this out?

Search the web. Find resources and read about each word or phrase.

Ask. Ask your peers. Ask your colleagues.

Decipher. Work out what it means by deciphering the context in which it is being used. For example if you hear the words “run a wireshark trace” you should be able to decipher that Wireshark is some sort of tool or technique for tracing something. The more you listen, the more clues you’ll get; you’ll soon have a mental picture in your mind of what a wireshark trace is.

You can then join in and understand the conversation – and then confirm your assumptions with some research after (or even better – a question to clarify during the meeting).

I make a point of jotting down any word, phrase or description I hear in any conversation. I then search, ask or decipher.

What do you do?

Find out what the word means? Or ignore it and hope you’ll never need to know?