Software Engineering Hits High School

Software Engineering Hits High SchoolA teacher in Massachusetts dedicated a computer class to developing and testing mobile apps. The Education Secretary in the UK is calling for a total program overhaul of country’s computer education curriculum. Now, the Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has declared that an entire public high school will be devoted to teaching students software engineering. From Government Computer News:

“Today, far too many of our graduates are leaving without the skills they need to succeed beyond high school. Not every student wants to go to college, nor is college right for everyone. But all students should leave prepared to succeed in the next phase of their lives,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a new way of thinking about secondary school based on today’s economic realities.” …

Frank Thomas, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Education, anticipates that the school will have between 420 and 460 students by 2015, when all four grade levels are enrolled, Adrianne Jeffries reported in BetaBeat. The school will start with a ninth-grade class this year and add on another grade level for the next three years.

The city has other specialized high schools for science, math, the performing arts and other subjects, but it did not have one focused on computer science. …

Joel Spolsky, a board member of the new school, said one reason he’s a proponent of the school is that it could can train many excellent software engineers who are not currently at the top of their class academically.

“I think this is the best thing about the school,” he said in a blog post. “A lot of kids are just not interested enough in other academic subjects to get good grades, but they would make great software engineers. A lot of immigrants (especially in New York) are not yet proficient enough in English to get good grades in all their subjects, but they’re going to make great software engineers, too.”

I have to say, one instance is cool. Two instances make you raise an eyebrow. Three instances (especially when they’re consistently bigger examples) might just be the start of a trend. And this trend of focusing not only on computer basics, but on more advanced – more engaging – computer topics that can lead to lucrative, fulfilling career paths is long over due.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Celebrating a major milestone in our Software Testing Community

50,000+ TestersWhile our usual maniacal focus is on quality over quantity, it’s not unreasonable to recognize a major milestone that occurred today, January 18, 2012: surpassing 50,000 testers in the uTest community! Just to be clear, that’s over 50,000 testers from 185 countries around the world – from experts in automation to gurus in usability testing. Here are several other facts about our community:

  • Every month, there are approximately 1,000 new tester registrations
  • Over 99.9% of these registrations are organic – word of mouth, tradeshows and conferences, tester referrals
  • The majority of testers span rather evenly across North America, Europe, and Asia. The rest fill out in South America, Africa, and Australia
  • Over 80% of uTesters have a Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • uTesters bring a wealth of knowledge and diverse set of skills to the table: creating test cases, usability surveys, load and performance scripts, automation scripts, security coverage reports, usability audits and expert reviews; executing test plans, usability surveys, live load test cases, security scans, exploratory tests, and translation tasks and proofs

And…back to our maniacal attention to quality. Although there is certainly strength in numbers and meaning to this milestone, the real excitement stems from the various “homegrown” programs that shape our crowdsourcing model. Less than a year ago, we announced several new initiatives that have transformed the uTest community from an unruly crowd to one that is self-sufficient, self-teaching and self-policing. From paid leadership roles for our top testers to unpaid auditions for newbie testers, there is a role for nearly everyone and a path for the most ambitious. And now that most of us have embraced the New Year, it’s only fitting that there are new programs just around the corner – ones that leverage the foundation built in the past year and continue to benefit our community at large. More details to come shortly!

For now, please join me in raising your glass to celebrate this major milestone with us!

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Flypaper for Software Bugs

Pinterest Facebook Production Bug Screen ShotOne of the biggest fears of companies developing new software or app or launching a new website is that some fundamental bug will slip through the testing cracks and only rear its ugly head post-launch.

That fear is compounded these days now that review sites and social media make it effortless for dissatisfied customers to voice their grievances not only to their friends, co-workers and next store neighbors, but to all the friends, co-workers, next store neighbors they’ve ever known. Plus a slue of strangers they don’t actually know.

Now, in addition to written complaints and bad reviews, the general public can share images of software bugs. Check out this story on TechCrunch about a guy who posted images of Facebook bugs on Pinterest (think of his board as flypaper for Facebook bugs):

Former Facebook engineer (and current Phabricator creator) Evan Priestley has taken the opposite route; In the spirit of coding excellence, Priestly has created a Pinterest log of over 30 Facebook bugs he’s tracked since September 2011. It’s really impressive.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Where’s the Cinnabon?… or, Will Indoor LBS Hit it Big in 2012?

‘Tis the season to prognosticate.

We’re 17 days away from the new year, and far before Auld Lang Syne begins playing and we pretend to know the words (after all the champagne, who can remember the lyrics we optimistically Google’d the day before anyways?), we’re pondering what changes are in store for us the next twelve months.

In a whitepaper released by ABI Research this week, their tech analysts took a collective look into the crystal ball for 2012 and (in their words) “have drawn some bold lines in the sand on a plethora of top-of-mind topics.”

But instead of predicting what WOULD happen in the mobile and telecom space, they took a different spin on the usual list and forecasted what WOULDN’T happen.  Nice twist.  (And a really good read.)

One of their more interesting predictions for those of us in software testing is by Patrick Connolly, Senior Analyst of Telematics and Navigation:  “Indoor location will NOT become commonplace in 2012.” 

It’s easy to see how this could be true…but also surprising.

After all, for as many articles that have been written about the technological challenges in making Indoor Location Based Services (LBS) a reality, there has been an equal amount of big name, big buzz announcements about it over the past few months.  There are dozens of industry-leading companies—including Apple, Navteq, Qualcomm and Nokia—tackling the challenge from every angle.

There are even some major apps launching to give Indoor LBS a jolt from vision to reality.  For instance, Google announced on their Mobile blog in November that the new Google Maps 6.0 gives users (on Android OS 2.1 mobile devices) the ability to Map the Vast Indoors, vis-à-vis:

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Guest Post: How Acquia Tests Software (via uTest)

In case you missed today’s news, uTest announced an exciting new partnership with Acquia, the enterprise guide to Drupal. As part of the deal – which provides their customers with unique access to uTest’s full suite of testing services – Acquia was legally obligated to write a guest post for our blog. Actually, that wasn’t part of the deal, but we were able to get a great guest post from them anyway.

Meet Stellina McKinney – Acquia’s Director of Engineering Services – who is here to discuss how Acquia leverages the uTest community. That’s right, not only is Acquia a uTest partner, they’re also a very active uTest customer. Enjoy the post!


I started at Acquia 6 months ago, having previously worked for larger, process-heavy corporations that sold packaged proprietary, software with long release cycles. Our QA teams consisted of over 50 people (sometimes a lot more), and were always the long pole in the process, whether it was Agile or Waterfall.

Not so at Acquia.

At Acquia, I manage a lean QA team of 4 people (we have another team that tests usability), and we support 5 products. We work in an Agile environment, release every 3 weeks, and meet our quality goals for each sprint.

Our QA testing strategy at Acquia is to perform tests on agile user stories (akin to use-case tests or acceptance tests in Behavior Driven Development). Our goals are to:

  • Define the behavior of the system, and not have a previously-coded system define the behavior for us
  • Test failure cases so that they won’t affect production
  • Stress systems through performance and load automation
  • Mix automated and manual testing methods, as they’re complementary (machines are fast and consistent, but people have brains and are unpredictable)

We do this by:

  • Listing the scenarios that must succeed for a product to be complete
  • Writing automated tests to perform basic success and failure operations
  • Engaging a crowd-sourced manual testing platform to examine our product in more depth

How can we do this with only a team of 4?  uTest’s crowdsourced testing platform lets us leverage over 45 testers a month, without exceeding my start-up budget.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing