Tag Archives | software testing

The Relationship Between Testers and Programmers

Testers and programmers are two groups of people who should get along, but often don’t. It’s a sad fact of life that testers (by virtue of what they do) often bring bad news. And programmers, by virtue of what they do, are the source of the defects that create the bad news. Rather than both accepting that this is a reality of life and working together, they allow the relationship to become acrimonious.

James Bach is no stranger to this problem, and his latest blog post is a blueprint for making that relationship more productive and professional. Titled A Tester’s Commitments, James starts by writing:

Dear Programmer,

My job is to help you look good. My job is to support you as you create quality; to ease that burden instead of adding to it.

What follows are twelve commitments a tester should make to their programmers. They include things like:

  • I provide a service. You are an important client of that service. I am not satisfied unless you are satisfied.
  • I will learn the product quickly, and make use of that knowledge to test more cleverly.
  • I will not carelessly waste your time. Or if I do, I will learn from that mistake.

But James is not in usual form unless he invites controversy, and that first bullet struck quite a chord with some of his readers. Testers provide a service!? Since when?

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Holiday Shopping on Mobile. Even the Elves Need an App for That.

Ho, ho, ho!  Whoa there, Blitzen– wasn’t it just Halloween?  It sure feels that way. After all, I still have two pounds of trick-or-treat candy to pretend I’m not eating.

Unfortunately, my four-year-old has already implored me to take down the skeleton and spiders hanging in the doorway because they’re going to scare away Santa.  So, rather than arguing the salient fact that Santa shimmies down the chimney versus ringing the doorbell, I’ve officially started morphing decor from the marvelous macabre to merry old Saint Nick.  Kids: 1. Mom: 0.

Nonetheless, the fact hasn’t escaped me that we’re two weeks away from Cyber Monday (November 28th), an occasion that online retailers have been planning for months.  Since summer, global brands and independent e-tailers have been testing and re-testing their mobile apps and web sites for functionality, usability, localization glitches and possible bottlenecks in site performance that could jeopardize their revenue potential.

Moreover, the ante has been upped now that the iPad and other tablets have entered the scene.  Online retailers that spent the last few years optimizing their mobile apps and porting them to additional platforms like Android, are now going through the process from scratch with tablets.  Not only are the specs non- standardized, varying significantly by manufacturer, device and network performance like smartphones.

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Do Testers Like HTML-5 More Than Developers?

By now, everyone in the world of web programming has had at least some experience with HTML-5. The web is loaded with great resources that provide all the details you’d ever want to know about this new standard for structuring your webpage. But with all the information out there, some are still confused as to what all the fuss is about.

Well, I’ll tell you. Here are a few of the things that I’m most excited about with regard to HTML-5:

  • New Semantic based tags instead of old div’s: Traditionally, a web developer’s life was overrun with generic divs and spans for all kind of containers in HTML. With HTML-5, there are new semantic-based tags which are container relevant to their usage. There are a number of tags introduced named <header> for header of webpage, <footer> for footer , <section> etc which are more relevant to their usage than the previous generic divs.
  • No Plug-in for Video: Previously, video required some type of plug-in, like Flash, QuickTime or Silverlight to name a few. With HTML-5, we can now simply use the <video> tag – how easy is that? However, for playing video with HTML-5, the limitation is that we need to encode video into 4 different types of formats to play it consistently across the web (and more than 10 types of video formats to play it across all the mobile devices).  The reason being is that we’re in the middle of a browser war when it comes to supporting video format. Someday, the battle will be over, but not anytime soon.
  • No Plugin for Audio : Similar to video, audio can now be played using <audio> tag with the help of HTML-5. Again the downside is that not all browsers support them.
  • Canvas Support: Canvas support is huge deal for web developers. With the power of Canvas, they can now draw things programmatically and dynamically (on the fly) on to their screen (stage). In the past, they were dependent on languages like action script for such activities.

I can go on praising HTML-5 for its other features – like support for geo-location, offline storage and history API – but that’s not point of this blog. There are a lot of informative resources available online (like this) if you are interested in knowing more about that.

The reason I’m so interested with HTML-5 has to do with the terrific support and response from the developer community. Specifically, I’m wondering if the tester community has (or will have) the same sort of enthusiasm for HTML5.

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The Book On Software Testing

Ok, so it’s one of many books on the topic of testing. Still, how many crowdsourcing companies can honestly say that their community includes a published author (not to mention a top journalist in their space and former Testing The Limits guest)? Well, that’s the case here at uTest with Matt Heusser (@mheusser).

Anyway, this is a worthwhile read for two reasons:

  1. Heusser knows of which he speaks, as he’s not just a pundit. This guy has lived it, running QA organizations within large and small companies.
  2. Whether they’ll admit it or not, the TCO of testing is a major concern for tech execs in all industries. So any book that tackles that issue head-on is both ambitious and timely.

For those who purchase How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing, drop us a note and let us know what you think. We’ll publish your comments in a follow-up post.

Also, we’ll see if we can wrangle an interview with the brains behind the book (Heusser and Govind Kulkarni) in the next week or so. Want us to grill them on anything in particular? Drop us a comment and we’ll put ’em on the spot.

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Top Testing Tweets Of The Week! #softwaretesting

To usher in the much-anticipated weekend, here’s a fun Friday post containing the wittiest testing tweets of the week from the top testing minds around. Enjoy!

@michaelbolton — “Like exploratory testing, Agile isn’t a thing you do; it’s a way to think and work. A means to an end, not an end in itself.” 

@lanettecream — “I’ve noticed that the longer I practice agile, the less tolerance I have for my own hoarding. Agile: not keeping sh*t in case.”

@zspencer — “OH: Definately not. If they run, they might fail. We don’t want to fail.” Context: asked to run the tests :).”

@sbarber — “Advancements” in software testing often degenerate into “tired cage matches” between old- and older-school? When do we get a *new* school?”

@qahatesyou — “Actually, I’m not in a particular school of testing. I got expelled from them all.”

@FionaCCharles — “Softwaretesting isn’t a service. Software development is a service. Testing is integral to the collaborative process of sw development.”

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Get Ready To Taste, I Mean Test, Ice Cream Sandwich

I’m talking about the Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) – the fourth major Android OS version – which is growing closer to its release! Google is urging developers and testers alike to get ready for it, so consider yourselves forewarned. For now, what’s most important is to make sure your apps work on large screens AND small screens as this “cool” release is going to run on both tablets and smartphones.

According to CNET:

“Developers who created their apps specifically to run on Honeycomb-based tablets will need to tweak their APKs (Android packages) to either prevent or support their installation on smaller-screen devices.

The [Google Android developers] blog also offered some recommendations for tablet app developers on how to ensure that their design of the Action Bar widget works on smaller handsets.”

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uTest Goes BIG at TechCrunch Disrupt

As you may have read on Monday’s blog post, uTest launched a new informational campaign to promote http://www.inthewildtesting.com.   The web site – and associated social media channels, including a Twitter profile – are intended to educate forward-thinking technology leaders about the necessity, benefits and real use cases of in-the-wild testing. 

We decided to launch it at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco because the very concept of in-the-wild software testing (versus traditional methodologies) is, well…disruptive. 

Sure enough, TechCrunch Disrupt turned out to be the perfect event!  There were more than 2,600 innovative, entrepreneurial-minded techies, investors and exhibitors (35% more attendees than expected) filling the halls of the Design Concourse Center from Monday to Wednesday.  In its usual fashion, the conference itself attracted top industry-leaders such as Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Marissa Mayer of Google, Vinod Khosla, and even Ashton Kutcher.

uTest hosted a ton of terrific activities over the course of the event:

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Steve Jobs’ Advice for Software Testers

Actually, in this 2005 commencement speech for Stanford University, Steve Jobs offers timeless advice for people in all professions. But seeing how this is a software testing blog – and seeing how Jobs has recently stepped down as Apple’s CEO – it seemed fitting to post these words of wisdom with our testing audience in mind.

My favorite quote from this speech: “The only way to do great work, is to love the work that you do.”

Happy testing!

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uTest & Veracode Join Forces To Protect Against Security Breaches

Every few weeks, it seems like there’s another major security breach to the website, gaming system or native app of a big global brand.  And that doesn’t even include the hundreds (thousands?) of hacks into the properties of smaller enterprises, SMBs and startups that consumers may (or may not) hear about.

In fact, a few months ago we wrote about The Top Security Hacks of 2011, and referenced that the attacks on Playstation were estimated to have cost Sony $24 billion dollars– nearly 10x their revenue for the same period.

So here’s the point: Would you rather look back and say your company overshot and used too many systems for security testing?  Or get that nauseaus, sinking feeling in your gut when your CIO wakes you at 2:00am and says the company has spent too little?

That’s why– as the cornerstone of uTest’s showstopping announcement yesterday— we announced the launch of uTest Security Testing that leverages the talents of new and existing white hat security professionals within our crowdsourced community.  Since we now offer the first crowdsourced, real-world security testing in the world…there’s a new kid in town to join the collective effort to protect your company, and customers’, private data.

Moreover, we’ve joined forces with industry leader Veracode to provide seamless access to their complementary, cloud-based application security verification services.  Veracode has scalable, policy-driven application risk management programs that help identify and eradicate numerous vulnerabilities by leveraging best-in-class technologies from vulnerability scanning to penetration testing and static code analysis.

As a result, companies will have access to a cost-effective, powerful combination of automated (Veracode) and real-world (uTest) testing that mitigates security risks across the entire software development lifecycle.

We’re thrilled, honored and excited to be partnering with Veracode.  And we’re certain that our joint offering– as a complement to organizations’ in-house security testing– will offer tech executives peace-of-mind at a price with infinitely fewer zeroes than $24,000,000,000.

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Introducing The New & Improved @uTest: Now With Security & L10N Testing

For those who frequent the uTest website, blog or forums, you may notice a few changes around here. Yes, we had a little work done… nothing major, just going from focusing on one testing service (functional) to a providing whole range of testing services that span the dev lifecycle (functional, security, load, localization and usability testing).

For our customers, this means they can find the testing expertise they need, no matter where they are in their SDLC. And for testers, it means provide more earning opportunities for those individuals with expertise in areas like security testing, performance engineering, or localization validation. Like I said, nothing major. </sarcasm>

In all seriousness, these are exciting times around the halls of uTest. We’ve spent the past 12 months trialing new types of testing services with select beta customers. And now, we’re ready to offer them to any and all companies, on demand. A quick introduction to uTest’s new suite of testing services:

Functional testing services to help ensure your applications function as intended. Our services related to functional testing include exploratory testing, test case execution, test case creation and writing automated test scripts.

Security testing services to help you avoid launching products with common security- and privacy-related vulnerabilities. Our services include tools-based static and dynamic security testing, as well as manual penetration from trusted, white hat security testers.

Load testing services to make sure your app is ready for peak traffic, and that performance won’t degrade under heavy load. Our services include live load, simulated load and a hybrid load offering that combines cloud-based load testing with live testers.

Localization testing to validate that your app is saying what you think it’s saying. Services include translation validation from native speakers who live in-market, as well as full L10N testing that covers content translations, currency, taxes, shipping options and more.

Usability testing to help you launch products that are intuitive, clean and achieve high conversions. Services include surveys-based testing with targeted focus groups (by age, gender, education, hobbies, location, etc) or usability audits from one of our UX experts.

Special thanks to our friends at Stein + Partners for all their help with our rebranding, as well as an epic month of late nights from the amazing uTest crew. And finally, a word of thanks to our testers for their help in this launch, and the dozens of customers who helped us learn so much about each of these new types of testing. If you’d like more info about any of these new services, drop us a note.

We’ve got more on the way in the coming months. We’re not going to rest until we’ve completely reinvented the way testing services are provided in this ever-evolving apps universe.

Have a comment? Want to tell us you hate/love the new look? Drop us a comment and let us have it!

Update: Mike Butcher over at TechCrunch just took this news prime time. Seems we’re not the only ones who recognize the need for better app security testing.

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Time to Party! Celebrating Our Brand New Office in Silicon Valley

Working at a start-up is kind of like having kids. You get excited about every new milestone like a proud parent, even though you know it’s not the first time any of it has ever happened in history. This time it’s yours. Your child. Your company.

For parents, new milestones usually mean posting a select, few pictures to Facebook (give or take 50) of an an event like your child sitting up for the first time. Perched like a top-heavy teddy bear, staring wide-eyed at the camera and being photographed with adoration from many, many…many angles.

For uTest, it usually means hitting the local pub and celebrating together with a pint or two (give or take).

But this milestone was special. Our company, headquartered outside of Boston, opened up our first office in Silicon Valley. Exciting stuff for our founding members and newcomers alike! Granted, with so many recurring clients out here in the Bay Area, uTest has had a West Coast team for over a year, incubating in the Sunnyvale Plug & Play Tech Center.

But to keep up with demand, we’ve expanded pretty fast and definitely outgrew the nest. So now we have a space of our own in bustling downtown San Mateo, one block from the Cal Train and smack dab in the middle of a ton of great restaurants and shops.

What better way to celebrate the milestone and break in our new digs than throw a party! With our CEO Doron Reuveni and the executive team in town, that’s exactly what we did.

Living by the quote of our CMO Matt Johnston— “We take our work seriously, but not ourselves”– we spent a warm summer night celebrating with about 75 of our investors, customers, partners, new neighbors (the good folks at Attributor), new and old friends in the industry, the Chamber of Commerce…and even Mayor Jack Matthews.  Sushi, drinks, and music in the company of some of the Valley’s smartest, funniest, and most fascinating people. It doesn’t get better than this.

In fact, we’re already thinking about throwing another party in a few months for the many who couldn’t make it to this one.  Who knows…we may have a whole new milestone to celebrate.  And cleared space on our camera.

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Do Functional Testers Make Good Usability Testers?

Would you trust a plumber to design and decorate the interior of your new home? How about an auto mechanic to paint your car? Or a dermatologist to perform your root canal? If you answered no to any of these questions, then I would argue just as strongly that functional testers should not be handling usability testing for your software.

To be absolutely clear, there are some talented functional testers who are gifted in usability testing as well. However, this is typically the exception. The point of this blog post is not to minimize these exceptions, but rather to highlight the differences between these two testing types and point to the necessity of having one set of experts test your software for functionality, and another set of experts test for usability.

So why do we need separate experts? Here are several noteworthy observations:

  • Different fields of study: In general, usability testing experts come from non-technical fields of study – psychology, cognitive science, human behavior, marketing, etc.
  • Different skills required: In general, functional testers have more in common with engineers and scientists while usability testers have more in common with artists and psychologists
  • Different focus: In general, functional testers focus on “how can I break this” whereas usability testers focus on “how intuitive is this for the end customer”
  • Different persona: In general, functional testers do not need to fully understand how an end user would use the software whereas the usability tester needs to study and emulate end users
  • Different departments in the workplace: In general, usability testing lives in the product management and marketing department while functional testing lives in the engineering department

Given these differences, in particular regarding fields of study and skill sets, I would recommend against entrusting your usability testing to the typical functional tester (the opposite is true as well – entrusting your functional testing to the typical usability tester could be disastrous). There is a particular art and science to usability testing that requires an entirely different approach and mindset. So from a company’s perspective, it’s best to separate these roles and recognize their distinct value propositions.

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