Vote for the Ideal Tool Contest Finalists

We asked the uTest community to design their ideal testing tool, and the community has spoken! Today, we are happy to announce the Top Ten Finalists for the Ideal Tool contest. Each entry is in the running for the $1,000 Grand Prize, determined by YOUR votes. The voting period starts today and will run until Tuesday, September 30th.

You can find more information about each entry below, as well as the poll to cast your vote at the end of this post. Happy voting and good luck to the finalists! prize

Meet the Finalists

The 30-second Recorder

A testing tool helping the tester to reproduce recent defect found by recording his activities in the last 30 seconds, and producing his activities in an activity log as well. This tool will save all of the user’s activities (clicks on screen, typing, etc.) in a log file and will record the screen itself and the user’s activities for the last 30 seconds (always keeps 30 secs of recording), helping the tester to provide clear steps to reproduce the defect for the developer.
Read the complete entry (PDF) or vote now!

The Bug Recommender and Custom Template Tool

Single desktop app with support by mobile and web add-ons – all completely synchronized with one another. The Bug Recommender System automatically scans for each basic function of the product (e.g. find broken links, broken image, unplayable video, basic issue for form validation, etc.). For each issue found, the system directly captures a screenshot with annotation where is the location of issue and converts it to a custom template report that ready to submit alongside with all the attachments.
Read the complete entry (PDF) or vote now!

The Complete Mobile Bug Report

A complete mobile bug report (GUI, functional, or technical) for both environments (iOS and Android) that contains screenshots (preferably with markups), videos, logs, and crash reports. In order to get all these info currently you need several separate apps for each environment and, of course before that, the installation of the testing app is needed. This ideal testing tool would combine all these features into one.

Read the complete entry (PDF) or vote now!

The Multi-Template Manager

Testers often work with templates. Keeping templates up-to-date takes time and it’s easy to make a mistake (copy old information). This tool helps to manage multiple templates, provide correct information, and allows saving them and accessing them easily in any text form on any website. The basic idea is to create a set of notes and have the option to paste it from a context menu on any website.
Read the complete entry (PDF) or vote now!

The Repro Matrix

An issue reproduction tracking tool intended to be used in conjunction with the issue tracking solution you already have in place. It’s goal is to simplify the way you define, collect, and consume information related to pervasiveness of issues. You can group a collection of related issues, define the environments those issues need to be checked against, and it provides a quick way to enter and use the reproduction information you just gathered.
Read the complete entry (PDF) or vote nowContinue Reading

Bugs, Momentum and a Name Change Coming Soon

The past few months have been incredibly active and energizing here at uTest. When we announced our expanded vision and now, our impending re-brand several months ago, we knew it’d be a lot of work. What we didn’t quite expect, was that there would be a lot of additional momentum along the way.

First there was that whole getting $43 million thing, which was certainly a lot of fun.  Then, we were so heads-down getting the switch to Applause up and running, that we completely missed the fact that our tester community blew past the 1 million app quality reports (bugs, vulnerabilities, performance issues & pieces of usability feedback) milestone. But while that certainly made us sit up take notice, it didn’t quite prepare us for what we saw next – that the pace of activity growth of our global testing community has increased exponentially.

Looking back over the past months, we deduced what we felt were some fairly impressive numbers:

  • Our global community is now growing at 5,000 new testers per month, on pace to add 60,000+ new testers in 2014 alone
  • We’re now paying out several million dollars to our testers each quarter for an ever-increasing amount of testing work
  • At the current pace, we will pay the members of our testing community tens of millions of dollars in the next four quarters

Why the sharp increase in pace? It may have to do with the attention we’ve gotten lately.

But it may have something to do with the fact that, every day, more companies understand the importance of delighting their web & mobile users. Today’s users expect apps to do more than just work – they expect them to be flawless, the first time and every time. Which is actually why uTest is becoming Applause. It’s these changes in the market that have grown our opportunity, and caused us to expand our vision & offering. Which reminds me…

…Very soon, we’ll formally make the aforementioned name change. What does that mean for you? Well, it means for all the app-centric news, latest trends and company happenings you’ve come to love from this blog, you’ll need to follow us over to the Applause blog, as this new name becomes our company home.

After the switch, uTest will become all about the testers and testing. So here on these pages, we’ll blog about everything testers need in order to survive & thrive: news from around the test & QA universe, test tool launches, interesting presentations, interviews with smart people, and whatever else happens to amuse us.

We, of course, hope you follow both blogs. There are big things ahead for both Applause (customer-facing) and uTest (community-facing). And with the momentum we’ve built of late, we can’t wait to get started.

2014 STPCon Recap

247931_220967294594067_6157694_aLast week the Software Test Professional Conference traveled down to New Orleans. Bookended by the French Quarter Festival and the Jazz Festival, I think we all know who brought the real party to NOLA. The four day conference was jam packed with information on test strategy, performance testing, automation testing, mobile testing and leadership perspectives for testers. In addition to standard sessions the folks at STP also debuted a few new session formats, including roundtable discussions and keynote debates.

Tuesday, the first full day of the conference, kicked off with a debate between Rex Black and Cem Kaner. The topic up for debate was, do schools of testing help advance the field of software testing or do they have a negative impact on the industry? It was an interesting conversation and while they disagreed on a lot, ultimately both parties agreed that schools of testing are not inherently negative – as long as discourse remains civil and folks keep an open mind.

The first session I attended was delivered by Pradeep Govindasamy and focused on Mobile Application Testing – Through the Customer’s Eyes. In his session, Pradeep states that prevailing trends point to a steep upward curve in both volume and expenditures on mobile application projects. To that end, organizations must ensure they understand the risks associated with multiple platform and OS usage, and have the proper processes in place in order to stay ahead of this curve.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend any additional sessions on Tuesday, however I did have the pleasure of speaking with many of the conference attendees at the two Sponsor Showcases held that afternoon and evening. We even gave away an iPad Mini to one very lucky fellow – this gentleman won not one but two iPad Minis in the span of mere minutes!

On Wednesday I began my day by being forced selected to participate in a little improv comedy. Nothing gets the blood flowing quite like a game of ‘Moving People’. After being embarrassed motivated I found my way to a session on Interviewing Testers by Rex Black. As Rex points out, a problem employee can consume as much as 50% of their manager’s time, so hiring the right people is critical. In his talk, Rex discusses strategies that will allow managers to overcome hiring challenges and ensure that they and their teams are set up for long term success.

After that, I attended a Round Table discussion on mobile testing. It was interesting to hear that despite the shift toward mobile applications and platforms, in many organizations the infrastructure to support mobile testing is still in its infancy.  It’s clear that many organizations still have a lot to learn when it comes to mobile testing which really drives home the importance of knowledge-sharing events like STP.

After the round table, I sat in on my second live podcast with the guys from PerfBytes. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting either Mark Tomlinson or James Pulley, you should really check out their pod cast because they’re very knowledgeable (and hilarious).

Once again, the folks at STP put on wonderful event; bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to learn, network and walk away with leadership strategies that will empower them to become software testing champions within their organization.

How to Run a Software Testing Sprint (and Marathon)

Endurance, speed, support and training. Not only are these traits a necessity for testing in Scrum sprint (more on this in a second), they are also the traits needed to finish a real marathon in one piece. No one knows each of these points better than Doron Reuveni, uTest’s CEO and Co-Founder.

Today – for the sixth time in as many years – Doron will be running in the Boston Marathon. After steady improvements each year, we fully expect him to win this year’s race. Anything less will be a major disappointment – no pressure! If you’re interested in keeping track of his progress, you can follow his Twitter handle (yes, he tweets mid-race) or search the official Boston Marathon website. Best of luck Doron!

Of course, running 26.2 miles isn’t easy – and as mentioned earlier – neither is testing in a Scrum sprint. So to stick with the running motif, I wanted to share a few scrum testing tips courtesy of testing expert Clemens Reijnen. Titled 5 Tips for Getting Software Testing Done in the Scrum Sprint, this article explains how to avoid some of the pitfalls and confusion that can often occur with what’s come to be known as “agile testing.” Let’s take a closer look at three points in particular (followed by our own take):

Tip #1: Get a Team
This is actually not a tip, it is a must. This is a kind of obvious but not common and the hardest thing to accomplish. Get a team, get testing knowledge in your team. When you don’t have it, you will fail. Teams and companies have failed to reach their agile software development goals only because it was impossible to get different disciplines together in a team.

 

The three most important concerns (of establishing a team) are:

  • Trust.
  • A topic closely associated with trust when it refers to people is Identity.
  • Collaborative culture.
  • A collaborative culture consists of many things, including:
  • Collaborative leadership;
  • Shared goals;
  • Shared model of the truth; and
  • Rules or norms.
  • Reward.
  • A “reward” for successful collaboration is most often of a non-financial nature.

Our Take: Cohesion is absolutely critical to the agile methodology. If testers, developers and product owners are not on the same page, the project is doomed to failure. As Clemens notes in the article, it’s not always easy for testers and developers to get along, as they tend to see the world through much different lenses. But in our experience, this difference is vastly overstated. In any event, make sure that collaboration is a central pillar of your plan. The points noted above will get you started in the right direction.

Tip #2: Use a risk and business driven test approach.
When there is no risk, there is no reason to test. So, when there isn’t any business risk, there aren’t any tests and is it easy to fit testing in a sprint. More realistically, a good risk analysis on your product backlog items before starting to write thousands of test cases is a healthy practice. Risk is also an important attribute in Scrum.

The release plan establishes the goal of the release, the highest priority Product Backlog, the major risks, and the overall features and functionality that the release will contain.

Our Take: Absolutely true. Without a risk-based approach, your QA efforts will be aimless, costly and a likely a waste of time.  

Tip #3: Regression Test Sets
Collecting a good regression set is important. There are a lot of approaches how to get this regressions set, most of them are based on risk classifications and business value (see the previous tip).

The principle is that from each test case a collection of additional data is determined into the test cases for the regression test are ‘classified’. Using these classifications all cross-sections along the subsets of test cases can form the total tests that are selected.

Automation of this regression set is almost a must. Making a good selection which test cases to select is a trivial task. With excel you can do some querying for proper test cases but this gets harder when they are in different documents. Testing is more efficient if you have good query tools so you can easily make a selection (and change this selection) of the test cases are part of the regression run.

Our Take: When you’re introducing a new element to your site, or software or app it’s extremely important to make sure it doesn’t break any existing components – especially security related aspects. While manual testing should play a role, automating such tests is usually the most efficient course of action. 

Capture Pokémon, Work for Google

pokemonFor most companies, April 1st is a less-than-ideal date in which to launch an app or a major update, as consumers, media and other interested parties might take it to be a prank. Google is not most companies.

The tech giant just released a mini-game in the update of its “Maps” application. Unlike most updates, this one incorporates a healthy dose of Pokémon. For those unfamiliar, Pokémon is a Nintendo-owned media franchise involving card games, video games, cartoons and movies that feature trainers capturing wild “Pokémon” creatures with special abilities. Once captured, they are trained to fight and pitted in battles against one another. At least that’s what I’m told.

Of course, Google is known for being quite a prankster, with a long list of similar April Fool’s Day pranks (seriously, a LONG list), however they have also peppered in a number of real releases on April 1, including Gmail. In fact, Gmail was thought to be a hoax, because at the time a free email service with a gigabyte of storage was an entirely new concept. Safe to say that one worked out pretty well.

So is this recent Pokémon update to Google’s Map application a hoax or the real deal? It seems a bit of both – at least we hope! The video promo they put together shows Poke-enthusiasts travelling the world, and “finding” Pokémon using an incredible looking augmented reality app within Google maps to capture their very own Pokémon. The video also promises any person that can capture all 150 Pokémon will have a chance to work at Google, with the title of “Pokémon Master”. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty good bet that these aspects are the hoax portion of their prank.

If you’re willing to take that chance in order to become a Pokémon Master, here’s how to get started:

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How It’s Made: The Mobile App Episode?

How_Its_MadeSpace pens, beef jerky, cow bells, flip flops – until the show How It’s Made came along, the average citizen had no idea how everyday products like these were created. Now they do, and I think we can all agree the world is a much better place.

As I scrolled through the list of episodes on Wikipedia, it occurred to me the show’s producers have never once ran an episode on how a software application is made. Maybe it’s time that changed!

Therefore, the purpose of this post is twofold. First, I want to urge our readers and community members to suggest this as a future episode. Second, I want to outline how the segment could be structured. With any luck, the app development process will get some primetime viewing – and the average citizen will have a new appreciation for the apps they use on an every basis. No disrespect to sewage pumps and inner tubes.

The first part is easy. You can submit your episode suggestion here.

The second part is where it gets fun. Though I’m not yet a TV director, here’s how I would envision the segment, broken down into four basic parts. For the purpose of this pitch, let’s say that we’re going to be developing an iPhone app.

Part #1. The Idea. Here we would get an inside look into the ideation process. It would be great to feature this from the point-of-view of a major brand, as it would naturally involve a number of key stakeholders: executives, product owners, developers, QA engineers, sales, marketing and so forth. Here we’d get to see how an application must satisfy certain brand and business objectives, and how it must life better/easier/more enjoyable for the prospective user.

Part #2. The Design. Have you ever seen a time-lapse video of someone designing a mobile app? Me neither, but I think this would be a great way to showcase the process. We’d get a complete overview – from wireframe to working version – with an on-air interview from one of the lead designers. We’d get to see the software they use to create the app; why certain colors schemes are chosen over others; how the app transitions from one action to another, along with other aspects of the design phase.

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SXSW Recap & A Peek at the New @Applause Brand

newapplauservipAs in years past, the masses converged on Austin, TX last week for SXSW Interactive. Festival-goers shared knowledge, listened to panelists, shared thoughts about trends – both real and perceived – and probably ate more barbecue and tacos than usual. This year, we decided to use this as an opportunity to unveil a sneak peek at our new brand, which will be called Applause when it launches next month.

Since November, when we first announced our expanded vision and offering, we’ve been hard at work prepping a fully integrated launch in the coming weeks. At SXSW, we were ready to give everyone a temporary preview of the new branding and an opportunity to chat with our team about Applause’s larger vision of helping companies achieve 360° app quality.

Sure, we designed special Austin t-shirts, and we rolled every night with the amazing RVIP Lounge team. But we heard much more about the substance of our rebrand to Applause than the style of our SWAG or our ride (though they were both pretty cool).

We spoke with hundreds of entrepreneurs, tech execs, digital marketers, VCs and journalists, and the consensus was that the rebrand “made perfect sense”, both aesthetically and in terms of our expanded vision.

  • Brand owners identified with our decision to help companies take a holistic approach of app quality and agreed that it’s no longer the sole purview of a company’s QA team (though it does remain their priority).
  • Designers liked our execution on our new logo and its physical embodiment of the multi-faceted aspects that go into a 360° approach to app quality, and who are we to argue? (kudos to our design team).
  • Developers told us that as mobile, wearables and the “internet of things” mature, they need to move ever-faster without sacrificing app quality.
  • In all, we weren’t surprised by what we heard, but it did reinforce the belief that we’re onto something big.

So thank you to the many attendees at this year’s SXSW Interactive who “get” what we’re going for, and offered support for the Applause vision moving forward. As for the rest of you, stay tuned, as we’ll be unveiling our future in full in the coming weeks.

One last note – Upon returning home mid-week, we were saddened to learn about the tragic accident that took place outside the Mohawk Club on Red River in Austin. Our thoughts are with all who were affected – and our support is with them, the people of Austin, and all of those who value the intensely interactive climate of the SXSW Festival.

As for us, we’ll be back next year – to talk tech, connect with others, and spread cheer – and Applause.

Recap of Wearables DevCon 2014

wearables devconFitness trackers, Google Glasses, Smartwatches, oh my! Over 1200 developers, engineers and designers attended the inaugural Wearables DevCon to network and learn the latest tips and trends on developing wearable technology. Many attendees were sporting pebble watches and Google Glasses while chatting in the hallways while others listened to the numerous sessions that were held over the two-day conference.

One of the sessions was led by our own John Montgomery. He spoke about the importance of testing your wearable apps in-the-wild, and not just in your lab. He expressed the importance of creating wearables that your audience wants in order to delight users. He also talked about the significance of 360 degree quality of your wearable app.

uTest was a gold sponsor and had a booth at the event. We met many interesting people that told us about their own wearable tech project that included clothing and headgear. Pretty cool, right?

The event was such an overwhelming success that it is moving to a much larger location next year. Wearable technology is definitely taking off and not slowing down anytime soon. A recent article from Mashable states that Google is now making it easier for developers to build wearables off an Android platform via their own SDK.

Google’s senior vice president of Android and Chrome, Sundar Pichai announced earlier this week,

“When we think of wearables, we think of it as a platform. We see a world of sensors. Sensors can be small and powerful, and gather a lot of information that can be useful for users. We want to build the right APIs for this world of sensors. In about two weeks, you will see us launch the first SDK for what we think of as Android for wearables”.

There is sure to be much more to come in the wearables field and we can’t wait to see what we will see at next year’s Wearables DevCon. See you there!

A Sneak Peek at Our Future – and Some Cool Prizes – at SXSW

sxswi-2104It’s that time of year again, when thousands of people converge on Austin, TX for knowledge sharing, esteemed speakers, barbecue & tacos, and to have an amazing time every night in a traveling karaoke bar. More on that last bit in a minute.

Yes, it’s SXSW time, with interactive week starting in earnest tomorrow. And while this year’s lineup looks amazing, it’s the extra-curricular activities that make the festival the extravaganza that it is, and this year is no different. Well, with perhaps one exception…

This year at SXSW is extra special, as we’ll be unveiling a sneak peek at our new brand, which will be called Applause. Since late last year when we first announced that we’d be expanding the company vision and changing its name, everyone has been hard at work putting those wheels in motion. Now, at SXSW, you’ll be able to get a temporary, in-progress preview at the new branding and talk to the team about our focus on 360 degree app quality.

So where at SXSW Interactive can you see the new Applause? I’m glad you asked.

First, we’ll be traveling around nightly on the luxurious “transportainment” provided by the folks at the RVIP Lounge. Starting March 7th, hop on and enjoy traveling karaoke with our team – follow us on Twitter at @applause to find our locations on-the-go every evening.

And that’s not the only reason to follow @applause. During the daylight hours follow to find out where in Austin you can get your special one-time-only Applause gear (created for this year’s festival) from our street team.

The team will be tweeting out their locations, which is important for two reasons:

1. You can find our team and get this one-time-only gear

2. If our team sees you later and you’re wearing that gear you could win one of our great prizes:

  • Jambox Mini by Jawbone
  • Beats by Dre headphone
  • Kindle Fire HD

Lastly, show us your love for the new Applause gear by tweeting a pic of you in it to @applause. One lucky tweeter will win a $500 Amazon gift card!

So if you’re headed to SXSW Interactive, be sure to follow @applause, as it will lead to evenings of wonder, give you a sneak peek at the new branding and possibly bring you great fortune! We’ll see you in Austin!

 

The Mobile Wars Are Hitting The Road

ios-carplayFollowing the taillights on the smartphone wars, Google and Apple are gearing up for another battle for your mindshare and loyalty. It’s not wearable technology, nor your living room, well, yet. No, this time the tech giants are accelerating their pace toward owning your dashboard. On the Google side, the Open Automotive Alliance is set to bring Android to your vehicle. While on the Apple side, iOS 7 now supports a feature called CarPlay, a simplified version of iOS which takes over your car’s in-dash screen to provide you with an easy and safe way to use your phone.

While each side has their own launch partners, there does appear to be some overlap between the two, namely Honda. This begs the question, will your car’s dashboard be platform agnostic, perhaps running a Blackberry supplied QNX-based OS which can then be supplanted by your favorite operating system? Or, are manufacturers going to lock their drivers into one system or the other. And if so, will having iOS in your car or Android on your dash affect your ultimate choice of vehicle?

Regardless of which interface wins out, the automobile is a whole new arena to play in and one that up until now has been met with mostly sub-par experiences. The winner in the space will have to think about:

  • Interface Simplicity: What changes can they make to their interface to make it easy and safe to use on the road. Car interfaces have to minimize distraction and have large tap targets or input methods (including voice) to be a safe option for users/drivers.
  • Avoiding Feature Bloat: It may be tempting to put a whole operating system on the car’s dashboard, but where’s the line? Too many features and functionality and the user/driver can be come overwhelmed or frustrated. Too little and they’ll wonder why you’re taking over their dashboard in the first place.
  • Apps, Apps and More Apps: Designing and developing apps for an entire new form factor takes time, thought and money. Beyond the included apps, will these systems be open to other developers to create their own in-car apps? If so, will there need to be strict guidelines about what’s acceptable and what’s not?
  • Testing On-device (In-car): It won’t be enough to simply test in the lab when it comes to moving vehicles, connections to a variety of handsets, cellular connections, car model and year mean that the testing matrix will grow in complexity. And if you are a third-party developer granted the opportunity to write for the car, you’ll want to make sure that your app is safe, usable and bug free.

This will be an interesting space to watch in the next several months as both systems come online. Who will win, will really come down to execution, a solid user/driver experience and simplicity.