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Help with my next job
I am in between jobs right now and am trying to figure out what I should do next. A little about my back ground: For the last 5 years I have been doing software test automation. Started out with using QA partner for a local UI testing, then about 2-3 years ago moved on to SilkTest for testing a java UI app. So I feel really good about using these tools.
So right now I am trying to figure out, where will I be better of in a few years. Finding a shop that uses an off the shelf tool like Silk Test. Or go to a shop that uses some home grown tool (like perl scripts or java scripts). Or doesn't matter?
Re: Help with my next job
Well, it sounds like you want to stay within the quality testing realm and you want to use automated solutions. In that case, getting broad knowledge of the tools is certainly helpful. Making yourself a "SilkTest guru" is one way although you have to consider that not every place you go will use Segue's solutions and there is never a guarantee that a given vendor will stay popular or even stay around.
However, having said that, you can certainly leverage your test tool experience with SilkTest into using other tool solutions like Mercury's WinRunner or RSW's eTest. The idea is really more to get the "best practices" for how automation should be done and then try to apply that with any tool solution. (One rule: do not rely on record-and-playback.)
Using home-grown solutions is also beneficial because you can modify those as need be and learn some new languages in the process thus making yourself that much more marketable.
As to which you should go to, you mention them as if they are mutually exclusive. Some organizations can benefit from both. For example, you may use SilkTest (or some tool) somewhere and yet still find a need to build some other tools to help out with your testing. For example, when I am at a place that uses SilkTest or Visual Test I try to build front-end wrapper solutions to the tools. When I am dealing with performance testing, I do rely on the automation tool but I also build Excel spreadsheets that can compute confidence intervals. When doing usability testing I will sometimes build parsers that go through certain Web pages, for example, and check for given issues.
Also remember that you can learn languages like Perl on your own but you generally cannot afford to just buy an automation tool for yourself. Although perhaps I underestimate your wealth. My point is that if you can find a place with automated tool solutions and you want to learn that I would pick those places.