Why can’t developers be good testers?


1. “Parental feelings” towards their code

Developers are emotionally linked to the stuff they write.  It may sound silly but it is hard to be objective towards the stuff you create.
For example, I know my kids are not perfect and still I am sure I would have a hard time if someone would come to me and starts criticizing them in any way (after all they are perfect, right? :) ) .

2. Focus on the “Positive Paths”

Development work is based on taking positive scenarios and enabling them on the product.  Most of their efforts are concentrated on how to make things work right, effectively, efficiently, etc.  The mental switch required to move them from a positive/building mind-set to a negative/what-can-go-wrong mind-set is not trivial and very hard to achieve in a short time.

3. Work based on the principle of simplifying of complex scenarios

One of the basic things a tester does as part of his work is to look for complex scenarios (e.g. do multiple actions simultaneously, or make an operation over and over again, etc) in order to break the system and find the bugs.  So we basically take a simple thing and look for ways in which we can complicate it.

On the other hand our developer counterparts are trained into taking a complex process or project and breaking it down into the smallest possible components that will allow them to create a solution (I still remember my shock in college the first time I understood that all a computer could do was work with AND, OR, NOT, NAND, NOR, XOR and XNOR operations on Zeros & Ones).

4. Inability to catch small things in big pictures

I can’t really explain the reason behind this one, but I have seen it many times in my testing lifetime.
One of the side-effects from becoming a good tester is to develop a sense to (almost unconsciously) detect what “doesn’t fit” in the picture.  The best way to describe it is by the feeling one gets when something “doesn’t fit” in the picture but we just can’t put our hand on it; then by applying some systematic processes we are able to find the specific problem.

5. Lack of end-to-end & real-user perspective

Do the nature of their tasks most developers concentrate on a single component or feature in their product, while they still maintain a vague idea of how their users work with their end-to-end system.
Testers need to have a much broader perspective of our products, we are required to understand and test them as a whole while using techniques that allow us to simulate the way users will eventually work in the real world.

An experienced tester sees a form and automatically starts thinking about the common bugs and failures he may find in it and starts testing for them.

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