Where can I find applications to practice software testing?

Problem: Testers rarely test products outside of their workplace.
Limiting your testing to only the applications available at your workplace slows down the rate at which your skills grow.

Why this post?

Too many testers leave career and skill development in the hands of their employer. Often times, employers are unable to provide the learning opportunity that the tester wants. Business and the bottom line dictate the tools, skills and domains that testers work on – and rightly so. However motivated testers do not need to rely solely on their employers for growth. We can practice software testing on our own as long as we find the right applications to test. We have put together a list of places for the hands on tester to find applications to test. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or identify the “best” places to find applications to test. Like a lot of things we write, this post is about getting started with the habit of testing products outside of your workplace.

Why would someone want to test products outside of their workplace?

why practice software testing
Because of these awesome benefits:
1. Rediscovering the joy of testing
There are no deadlines to dread, no politics to deal with, no wasteful processes to burden you, no flowery reports to embellish, no pressure to follow boring paths. Its just you, your tools and the software under test. You are testing for testing’s sake.
2. Making new connections
You get to interact with cool people around the world. And it is usually like-minded folk – people who have shown enough interest in their craft to produce something of value in their free time.
3. Sharpening your skills
Great chess players practice. Great musicians practice. Great athletes practice. Shouldn’t you practice testing too?

Finding applications to practice software testing

Here are five good places to find applications to practice software testing.

1. Explore your interests!
This option is often overlooked. First pick a hobby that you really like. Then think of the software applications you use as part of your hobby. Now figure out what you want to learn or practice in testing.
E.g. 1: Are you a foodie looking to learn API testing? Sign up for Yelp or Zomato and get started!
E.g. 2: Like tennis and want to get started with mobile testing? Download the ATP app on your phone and get going.
E.g. 3: Have you been real-estate hunting for your dream home and want to learn Selenium? Play around Zillow or MagicBricks.
E.g. 4: Love stocks and want to practice scripting? Learn to scrape Google Finance.

2. ShowHN
Sometimes all I want to do is find bugs, lots and lots of bugs. And in quick succession. I bet experienced testers understand what I am talking about. Applications featured on ShowHN are ripe with bugs. As a bonus, you get to compare your findings with the highly opinionated Hacker News crowd.

3. BetaBound
Want to help a random stranger just to spice up your week? Sign up for BetaBound and pick an application to test. We tried this a few weeks ago at Qxf2. The quality of the application you choose varies widely. E.g.: One of the applications we chose had install issues. So we advocate patience and a slightly longer time horizon if you are going to go with this option.

4. Portfolios of startup incubators and investors
Portfolios of startup incubators and investors are another great source to find applications to test. Here are three popular portfolios – YCombinator, 500 Startups and Andreesen and Horowitz.

5. Search for startups by market and location
Occasionally, you may want to get your feet wet in a new domain/niche. Startup Data Trends is a very useful site to explore for startups in a particular domain or niche.

Happy practicing! Happy testing!

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