Updated: Oct 22, 2020
SDET positions exist in a range of industries.
Whenever a company sells a product or service, they need to make sure it meets legal safety requirements, industry standards, and customers’ expectations. After all, distributing defective or subpar merchandise is a quick and foolproof way to go out of business.
Quality assurance engineers and managers exist to prevent this from happening by monitoring product function and work processes.
In software, QA engineers are responsible for monitoring the development and testing of products through each phase of production. They should not be confused with software testers — testing is only one piece of the development process. But engineers are involved in it from start to finish.
Design quality, product efficiency, and company requirements are some of the things QA engineers work to improve. To this end, they write testing plans, analyze results, find bugs, create reports for QA managers, and more.
SDET stands for Software Development Engineer in Test or Software Design Engineer in Test, this kind of role is originated from Microsoft and currently many organizations are demanding such SDET professionals who can participate in development of the application and also in testing of the software developed. Tester on the other hand can be a manual tester or quality analyst who does not participate in software development. SDET are often involved in developing the quality, robust and high performance code which is useful in automation of test cases or designing the testing framework which can be used as a testing tool. SDET also reviews the design and processes of the software product.
What is Difference Between SDET and TESTER?
On a high level side, SDET can be seen as a software developer and also a tester but he will be a part of testing phase and not of development phase of the software development life cycle. To better understand the differences between SDET and Tester, read below points.
SDET is highly skilled resource with development as well as testing skills; on the other hand tester is involved in preparing and executing the test cases either manually or by automation.
Testers are resources with limited programming skills and they are much focused on black box or functional testing whereas SDETs are skilled resources with good programming skills and do the job of tester (white box testing) as well as developer in test automation.
SDET being very proficient in software development, they can participate in test automation tool development and may make it for generic use. Testers are not expected to develop test automation tools, they may use these test automation tool to automate the test cases required for their software application or project.
Often it is seen in an organization, tester or Quality Analyst who have developed the test automation framework are promoted to new role as SDET and can participate in review of design of software application or other test automation framework.
In a comprehensive example we may demonstrate this, if the testing of an API is to be conducted then it cannot be done without writing any line of code. Therefore the test role here could be SDET. However if it is to test user interface or GUI which requires the black box testing and there is no need to write any line of code to test, this test role here could be STE (Software Test Engineer).
SDET are expected for more duties over general testing role like performance testing, security testing, automated generation of test data, test environment setup, developing test automation tool etc.
Unlike manual testers, SDET are expected to have domain knowledge so that they can participate in designing the test cases. All duties of a tester are expected from SDET.
Some organization like Microsoft do not differentiate between the various roles of the tester and expects them to run test manually as well as write test automation scripts or code if needed. Organizations now a days emphasis tester to learn at least one programming language which they can use to work on test automation tools. Also test automation tools like Selenium, FitNesse, SAHI, etc. have flexibility and are available to operate in various programming languages like Python, Pearl, JAVA, etc.
Roles and Responsibilities of SDET:
SDET is an Engineer: They know many programming languages, database concepts, participates in product design, data design and user interfaces.
Software Testers Who can code: SDETs should know to build and test product that can meet user expectations. To test any application deep enough, one should understand the code upon which that application or product is built. Testing starts right at unit level up to its function level with acceptance and product performance testing. A SDET is proficient in all of these testing. SDETs can automate the acceptance test by leveraging their coding skill.
SDET is Customer Advocate: SDETs voice are very important as they know everything on a product. They have participated in all level of product design, worked with product manager, product development team and end product user. They understand the need of a software product as a whole therefore they are the best customer advocate.
Different role from QA or Software Tester: A Quality Analyst (QA) tests the software only after the development phase is over whereas SDETs are active during the development phase and work shoulder to shoulder with developer to understand the underlying code. QA role is not as technical as an engineer. Software tester on the other side is focused on all the steps of software development lifecycle, they prepare test cases and execute them to find bugs in a software product or application and ensures high quality software product release. This is also the part of Job duties for a SDET.
Heart and Brain of the Process: Being part of the project management, SDETs deal with end users or customers and their experiences and they already possessed engineering skills. This all in one job exposure and skill set make SDETs the heart and the brain of the software process.
Conclusion: SDET are not just more than a tester. SDET is a mix of developer as well as tester who has exposure to project management, interacts and understands end user software requirements, knows product or domain knowledge, participates in product or software designing, knows how to code and build test automation tools. This all in one kind of skill set make the SDET role very unique and high demand in present software industry.