Functional testing on a budget?

Most everyone knows that these days, most Microsoft testers can write code. Let me rephrase that (for clarity - not because my backspace key is broken). Most software testers at MS write code at least as well as their development counterparts. I could tell a long story explaining why we're structured this way and how it benefits everyone, but Bj already did, so I'll skip ahead.

Two things happened in the last week that made me stop and think about this. The first is that I went to a free IIST seminar given by Magdy Hanna. I've had the chance to talk to Dr. Hanna before, and he understands the entire landscape of software testing - so I was a little surprised when early into the presentation (early for me - I was late), he said something like "you guys don't write code, how would you know?" At first, I was taken aback, but realized that other than the four of five of us from MS, that statement was absolutely true. I was reminded that outside of MS, the only code most testers know is the DaVinci Code.

I am positive that I am a better tester because I understand code design, structure and architecture. I think the testing you can do is extremely limited if you don't have these skills. If you are a tester and you don't code (and you want to have a career as a tester) I highly recommend that you try to learn something. If you don't know where to start, I would be happy to offer specific advice

The second thing I saw (and the thing that made me fire up live writer) was that I received the latest issue of Software Test and Performance mag today, and on page 8, there is a short write-up on Convergys Easy Test. Apparently, you can use Easy Test to create functional tests through a point and click interface. The tool also supports keyword and data-driven tests that can be built in a plain language-based scripting engine. You can have all of this for the low-low price of $12,000 per license. Perhaps this product is worth it. I went to the web site to see if there was a demo, but couldn't find one. In fact, I couldn't even find a screen shot, so I don't know if they are selling sliced bread or snake oil. What I do know, is like the story of teaching a man to fish, for twelve grand, I would happily teach you how to write automated functional tests (hypothetically, of course, as to not violate the moonlighting portion of my contract).