How do you stay tool aware? – 30 Days of Tools, Day 6

Welcome to Day 6 of the 30 Days of Tools challenge. And this one is the essence of the 30 Days of Tools.


How do you stay tool aware?

  • With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?
  • How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?
  • How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?
  • What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?

Feel free to reply to this post and share wherever you like, on the MoT Slack, LinkedIn, Twitter using #30DaysOfTools, Racket, your blog, with your team and any place you feel might inspire yourself and others to do the same. Let’s learn from each other throughout October. Visit the 30 Days of Tools page and select the “Subscribe to Topic” button to receive each daily challenge direct to your inbox.

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At my current company we have a group of “technical testers” who are eager to figure out new tech so we all discover our own tools and then present them to each other, so we have at least some knowledge of the tools. If they are interesting to use, we’ll start using them :wink:

If it matches all the criteria or if it will improve your quality/ROI.

Either in my brain or fork it on github :stuck_out_tongue:

Online communities & groups of dedicated people who are eager to learn.
People will link tools & more towards each other and that’s how you can easily stay up to date with all new tools.

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Personally I’ve found that maintaining your own version of tech radar (inspired by Thought Works) to be super helpful.

It gives you an opportunity to have a backlog of tools and evaluate them in your own way.

Some of them could work for you and some might not. So having your own version of tech tool evaluation process for your team helps a lot.

For reference I’m adding a link to ThoughtWorks’ tech radar here.

Tech radar by ThoughtWorks

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With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?

I don’t really and I think most don’t either, nor should or can we do that sustainably. However I do try to keep up to date with broad categories of tools, e.g. visual testing tools, API testing tools, UI testing tools, DB testing tools, performance testing tools etc. Something like “Knowing it can be solved, but not how it can be solved”.

Then every once in a while where a tool-picking opportunity presents itself, you delve into the “how” part. Google, colleagues, MoT, blogs from trusted authors, and reputable tech companies are all great starting points to get inspired and understand better what the solution might look like.

How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?

Being at least superficially familiar with the tool helps you understand what the context is appropriate for it. There is no beating hands-on time. Other than that there is no method, mostly a hunch that it might work followed by trial and error.

How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?

Just in my head, but this question got me thinking, maybe I should have a “database” like that. Will keep an eye on thread for ideas.

What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?

Blogs - AirBnB, Netflix, Google, Twitter, DAZN to name a few, just start searching.

Twitter - too many to mention, just look for somebody who’s writing style & insights you enjoy.

Podcasts - Developer Tea, Test & Code, Coding Blocks, ChangeLog. Somewhat of a more recent discovery and probably the best suited for just staying up to date or aware.

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  • Simple, I don’t. If there’s something truly revolutionary, I’m sure I’ll hear about it, but for the most part I don’t have many options when it comes to tooling, some of my daily tools are older than I am.
  • If I change job, I’ll probably have a look around to see what’s popular. I don’t know what’s the new hotness in web testing, or APIs, because I’ve not done either in years.
  • I keep my list of tooling in my head, because it’s such a fast moving field in things like web and I don’t do anything like that, it’s not worth the headspace to be current. I know what I’m using, I keep an eye out for other embedded testing tools, but largely I have to roll my own.
  • Being tool aware is, for me, word of mouth. Chatting to other testers on Slack and the like helps.
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  • With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?
    Reading a lot, and hearing about tools by talking to other testers. But, with so many tools popping up all over the place it’s pretty not practical to try out each an every tool, being aware that a tool exists could be enough.

  • How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?
    If I have something that I want to try out in the future but don’t have the time right now, or, if for example, I get a heads up from a BA about some new upcoming functionality.

  • How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?
    I just write them down in sticky notes. :sweat_smile:

  • What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?
    Following other testers on social media, keeping up with blogs and newsletters, being active in the community.

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I am not on top of everything that’s available :exploding_head:

I search for a tool when I have an issue, then I try it (if it’s ok with my company policy). But I do not think “I need to use it” more “My job will be better/easier with it”.

Same as @kristof my brain and sometimes github stars.

Same as a lot of people here: Blog, communities, chatting
How to improve the process? That’s a good question! This#30daysoftools is a good start :+1:

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  • With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?
    Try as best as I can! There’s no way to keep on top of everything, but I listen to and respect the views of the ‘masters’ of testing, reading blogs, listening to racket, twitter etc.

  • How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?
    I guess just keep knowledge/ memory of a tool (or database it) and some quick notes on what it does.

  • How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?
    I don’t currently, there are plenty of things online but can envisage a blog dedicated to testing tools/ etc. (Maybe I’ll start one! if there isn’t something already)

  • What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?
    Keep involved in the community, I’m signed up to a few newsletters, read blogs and follow as many people as possible.

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  • With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?
    –With the day to day work, sometimes, there is no enough time to explore new tools
    – Word of mouth from other members in the team. The developers I work with always suggest a tool or two which is very helpful.
    – I find job sites helpful to know about the tools a company advertises in their vacancies. Many times, I go about exploring those tools if free and try to gain a basic understanding.
  • How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?
    –When going gets tough with what I am using for my day to day work.
  • How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?
    Git or a list in Excel
  • What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?
    –Job sites
    – Follow the industry experts : There are many QA experts- their blogs are the best source
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  • With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?

As much as would love to say I am on top of everything that is going on. I am not, and to a certain extent that’s ok, I think. There are just so many tools outside, that it is hard to keep track of everything.
So I am trying to regularly catch up on the changes of tools that matter most to me and the current work context.

  • How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?

Interesting question, I think I realize how much I use or “need” the tool once it is not available to me. When I have to do it in the old way and realize how much time, effort und annoying things the tools saves me.

  • How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?

Like some said before, in my brain. But it might be interesting to set up something more reliable or visual.

  • What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?

Personally, joining the 30 of Tools, joining virtual coffees…
Some weeks ago we had in the company a ‘Tool Time’ session where a colleague and I demoed some of our favorite tools. Which was not just fun to prepare and host, but also later others started sharing their favorites.

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  • With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?

I don’t pretend to be “on top” of everything, but it helps to be curious in trying to keep up. But I guess all testers are more or less curious by nature, aren’t we.
It dosn’t hurt to be a bit lazy, I mean, haven’t we all used a few hours to find the right tool to fix a problem that we probably could fix in 30 minutes if we really tried.

Plus, it’s just fun with tools, isn’t it?

  • How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?
  • How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?

Those are bigger problem for me. My team had a folder with tools we tried to spread to each other. It is still there but contains an xml-tool from 2011 at best.
I wish I had any better answer than “trying to remember when I have to rediscover useful tools”.
Oh, and a lot of probably outdated browser-bookmarks to tools or discussiongroups. But I see it as a start when I go looking.

  • What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?

I really like communities like this (not that I know of anyone “just” like this but :grinning: ) and I try to be a part of any slightly useful slack-channel and follow people and companies on twitter mostly.

At my workplace we testers are spread out across different systems, but we try to gather every now and then for a guild-meeting of sorts.
And I have found that practical things like tools are a very good topic to gather around.

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Check out Richard and Mark discuss and explore today’s challenge! :tv:

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Interesting set of questions!

I find it really hard to stay on top of what tools are out there. I certainly don’t keep a database or anything.

The trigger for me is either:

  • seeing a tool in use (and being used well) at a company I work for
    • Applitools is an example of this - I hadn’t heard of it before my time at Pushpay, but they use it really well, and it’s something I want to implement at each company I go to.
  • seeing some credible people mention a tool on socials - and this has to happen a few times for me to take notice
    • PACT for contract testing is an example of this. I’ve seen it mentioned enough by other testers that I respect, that I’d like to give it a go when there’s an opportunity.

Anything else gets ignored by me, pretty much.

I don’t know if that’s the right approach, but there’s so many tools out there that promise so much, I don’t want to spend time on something that hasn’t been validated by someone else already.

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I honestly don’t. If it comes up in email, on MoT, Reddit, or through someone at work I’ll give it a look.

Ex. recently, I know that my app is going to be taking accessibility and localization more seriously (in a very specific spot, we are not totally missing these concepts). Thus I will have to dust off tools like axe very soon.

In a very unorganized fashion. It is either in my email, my bookmarks, or a note app most likely. This could be improved.

Sounds like there could be an app for that, and if not, let’s make it happen!

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With a whole load of tools out there to discover and rediscover, how do you keep on top of everything that’s available?

Before the pandemic I used to like finding out about other available tools by attending conferences and meetups. Conference Expos are an excellent opportunity to learn about different tools and ask lots of questions. Networking at conferences and meetups is also a great way to find out what tools are used testing teams in other organisations.

I also like listening to podcasts, especially ones that include interviews with other testers. They often provide useful nuggets of information about the tools that they use.

Since the pandemic has moved conferences and meetups online, I’ve found remaining tool aware a challenge since my main method of learning about tools was through networking.

How do you know you’ll need to use that tool at some point and in what context?

I never know. But I do find that occasionally someone will mention a tool they are thinking of using and most of the time I’ll be able to say exactly what the tool does. I’ll also be able to mention some other tools that might be worth investigating as well which colleagues will find useful. I think that if you can do that for most types of tools, then you can say that

How do you keep a database of tools that you could use now or later?

I do seem to have a gift of a good memory meaning that I don’t really need a database. I wouldn’t say its a perfect memory, but I often find that I have a vague recollection of speaking to someone about a particular tool, or attending a demo for that tool, or speaking to an exhibitor at an expo. The recollection may be vague but its enough for me to do a quick google about the tool and learn enough to decide if its one that might be useful.

Stickers! I have loads of stickers on all my notebooks for products and applications I’ve never used. They were collected from Expos at conferences. I didn’t collect them because I like freebies (although I do love freebies). These stickers are a great reminder of the various products available. Just seeing the sticker reminds me what the product is and what it does. That’s all you need to know to be ‘aware’ of it.

What’s a good way to stay tool aware and how can we help each other to do so?

Networking! Asking people about their jobs and the tools they use. You should also return the favour and share the tools that you use.

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To be honest, right now I am trying to limit the numbers of tools and technologies to focus on the technique communication and supporting the process, but it could also be the case that most of my career I feel I was to open to different things which made me too distracted in my opinion, also relatively new in the software testing world (about an year), since having transition from Dev to Tester. So to stay tool aware I jumped on this 30 days of tools, since there is always something that could do things faster and easier without compromising consistency and flexibility. I could make a list of tools that are my core tools for everyday use, but I am not sure it should be in this thread.

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