Advice for Testers: When Your Client is on Holiday

When you’ve been testing for a while, you often latch on to a single client who is your main source of employment. They know that you do a good job, and you might have become somewhat of a ‘specialist’ in the areas that concern the client. In some months, 100% of your paycheck might be from hours spent working for this client.

But what happens when your primary client is on hiatus? Let’s say that they might be having a light month, or the work that the client generates comes in cycles, due to the nature of their industry. What do you do at that point, when your cash cow isn’t in the barn?

Well the simple answer is ‘find other work’, but it isn’t that simple in reality, now is it? The reason that certain testers gravitate towards special clients is because those clients pay well, and the tester has a very specialized set of skills. If you find other work, it’s most likely going to be less reliable hours and for less money.

My first piece of advice is: Think like a bear. A bear gathers resources and fattens up during the plentiful months, and is prepared for those lean winters. In your case, don’t spend your contracting money just because you have it. Instead, start pinching pennies and saving money a couple of months before any expected ‘lean’ period. Make sure that you always have a couple months worth of income in a savings account, just in case the well runs dry.

Secondly, when looking at replacement work, err on the side of having too much work rather than too little. For example, if you have the option of picking up a 6 week project to fill your 4 week downtime, take it. Yes, it might mean that you’re working double time for 2 weeks, dropping all social and recreational activities for that period. But take the contract, grit your teeth, and get it done. You need to cover the gap in your income, and you can’t afford to turn a project down because of a short overlap.

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Vote for uTest to Win the TiE50 Award!

Besides the fact that our CEO Doron Reuveni rocked it at the Boston Marathon, beating his previous year’s record by 3 minutes, we had even more great news to celebrate last week:  we found out that uTest was selected as a finalist for the 2011 TiE50 award by the Silicon Valley chapter of TiE!

The TiE50 is the premier annual awards program for thousands of technology startups worldwide.  Every year, the winners in each of five categories (ranging from software to cleantech innovations) are announced at the TiEcon event, which takes place this year in Santa Clara, CA on May 13-14th.  It’s one of the world’s largest conferences for entrepreneurs to meet and greet with venture capitalists, angels, and investors.

But we need your help!  As part of the award process, there’s a poll asking people to vote for their favorite company among the finalists (in our category, there are 43).

If you’re a fan of uTest, please vote for us by Wednesday, April 27.  It only takes 1 minute (we swear…).  Here’s how:

  1. Visit the TiE50 web site:  http://www.tie50.net/TiE50Awards/Poll.asp?AlphOrder=A
  2. Scroll down and click on uTest.
  3. On our profile page, enter your email address in the ID box and click the green THUMB’S UP button.
  4. That’s it!

You can also help us spread the word by retweeting or sharing this post.

Thanks for your support!!

uTest Partners with Mozilla to Build Test Case Management System

Test Case Management can be trickier than herding cats.  If you work for a small to mid-sized company and everyone’s counting on you to QA the apps to glowing perfection (no pressure, right?), then you’ve clearly demonstrated you’re a supremely organized person.  It’s in your DNA.

Yipppie kay yay

If it weren’t, you’d probably be huddled in a corner, glassy-eyed and shivering like a chihuahua from the stress of managing such a complex system.  The fragmentation inherent in managing the software testing process is no small affair.  You’re tracking hundreds (thousands?) of test cases in various stages of progress for multiple products, on scores of devices, carriers and platforms, possibly in countries worldwide…with test results feeding in from several sources.  Phew!

But no matter how organized you are, it can be tough to scale your test case library to meet the needs of your growing organization.

That’s why uTest is partnering with industry-leader Mozilla to develop an inexpensive and easy-to-use test case management solution.  When it launches in a couple months, the new offering will allow startups and mid-size ventures to easily create, manage and execute their test case libraries…without the showstopping price associated with many of the enterprise-level tools on the market today.

uTest’s CMO, Matt Johnston, explains:  “The test case management space is highly fragmented, and robust tools have been historically available only to larger enterprises with big QA budgets.  By combining Mozilla’s experience launching popular, industry-shaping products, with uTest’s deep understanding of the software testing space, this partnership will produce an exceptional test case management system that’s built from the ground up for the modern challenges faced by today’s engineering organizations.”

The forthcoming product will be an open source design and made available as a free download from Mozilla. Additionally, uTest will offer a hosted implementation that will be fully integrated with its on-demand testing platform and community of 35,000+ testers. The uTest implementation will support distribution of test cases to a company’s in-house testers, outsourced testers or selected testers in the uTest community.

The Mozilla implementation also allows the distribution of test cases to volunteer testers in the Mozilla quality community.  Additionally, with an open API, outside developers will also be able to easily integrate their own tools and systems with either the uTest or Mozilla implementations.

So stay tuned….  And let us know your thoughts:  Does it sound like uTest and Mozilla are on the right track to simplifying test case management for you?

uTest Signs The Declaration of Independence From Defects @ QUEST Boston

Well we certainly had a wicked good time at QAI QUEST (Quality Engineered Software & Testing Conference), this year on our very own soil, the “Hub of the Universe” — Boston! From the uTest tutorial on “Everything You Need To Know About Mobile App Testing,” to the amazing reception at the Seaport Hotel where we played human scrabble, to the eclectic expo, to Doron’s presentation on “The Top 10 Disruptive Trends Altering Testing,” to signing the hilarious Declaration of Independence from Software Defects — Beantown provided the ideal setting for this testing pahhty! See more pics above.

And of course we can’t let you go without sharing some insights from QUEST on today’s hottest topics and emerging trends in software QA and testing. As a bonus, the QUEST Magazine was distributed to all registered attendees and provided everyone with some great, original articles on testing. I’ve included it below. Check out eBay’s Jon Bach’s article on Transition and Exploration, uTest’s Doron Reuveni’s article on The Great Quality Challenge for Mobile Apps, HP’s Rafal Los’ article on Security and Requirements, and more! Complete magazine [pdf] after the bump.

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Is Software Testing Really Needed?

This question was recently posed in a programmer’s Q&A post on StackExchange, and it inevitably raised a few curious eyebrows here at uTest. Diving straight to the point, the simple and unmistakable answer is YES – software testing is needed, always was, and always will be. But in order to express a more nuanced and substantial response, let’s analyze the principle opinion of naysayers: “if we would only develop software with care, we wouldn’t need testing at all.”

Let’s run with this for a minute to see if there’s validity to this statement. After all, we have all heard of the saying that goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There’s no doubt that if software is developed without defects in the first place, there wouldn’t be a need for subsequent testing. But in a world where even simple mobile apps on your smartphone crash from time to time, how could we possibly expect software developers to produce error-free code for higher complexity applications (e.g., dependencies of the software with various operating systems, languages, or networks)? So unless you know of software developers who defy the laws of this world, there is no way around error-free code for most of the software that you and I interact with on a daily basis.

Now that we’ve established the need for software testing, let’s take a look at several noteworthy comments from this Q&A post:

  • Testing is necessary – software is written by people; people are imperfect and make mistakes. Therefore, testing is needed as it brings balance and perspective. Would you jump on a plane in which the pilot control software is plagued with the intermittent blue screen of death?
  • Testing is necessary – for the same reason that a chef tastes his food while cooking it. In other words, the software development lifecycle calls for a minimum of a dash of unit testing and a pinch of systems testing.
  • Testing is necessary – because not matter how good you are, you can’t think of everything. And even if you can think of most things, you certainly don’t have the means to optimize your code to work seamlessly in real-world environments, where the permutations and combinations of dependent factors can cripple your coding effectiveness.

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Game On! BigDoor Tests Game Mechanics API With uTest

BigDoor is truly changing the game by providing gamification services to web publishers, marketers and developers around the world. Based in Seattle, BigDoor helps companies use game mechanics (checkins, badges, levels, point systems, etc.) to increase user engagement, loyalty and monetization.

In need of blackbox and exploratory testing of their newly developed API, CTO Jeff Malek realized that uTest offered a very flexible solution for getting professional QA assistance, on-demand.

“At BigDoor testing is core to our culture and part of our DNA,” said Malek. “uTest has been incredibly valuable in helping change the way we work. When our guys are sleeping, testing is still getting done and that’s a big weight off our shoulders.”

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How Do You Defy The Final Wishes Of Half A Million British Organ Donors?

No, that’s not the start of a riddle or a joke. In fact, it’s the all-too-serious ramification of a 12-year old software glitch that afflicting Britain’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agencies (DVLA) and affecting the final wishes of countless families.

It seems that a software bug that dates back to 1999 has incorrectly recorded the donor preferences of 444,031 people. And while the circumstances surrounding this glitch are serious, it underscores an important point: in modern society, even things that we don’t associate with technology are supported and driven by software, and thus, are susceptible to defects. Organizations, whether private companies or public agencies, have a responsibility to thoroughly test their software and secure their data.

The cost for betraying that responsibility is the lost trust of that organization’s user base. And that trust, once lost, is difficult to win back. A bit more about this story after the jump:

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Lights, Camera, Testing! VisibleGains Tests Video Platform With uTest [video]

We’re so in awe of all the amazing things our terrific customers have been able to accomplish with the uTest community that we think it’s definitely time to give them some serious ink. Check out VisibleGains’ story below (or on our case studies page)!

There was a time when customized video was reserved for the big players with big marketing budgets. Today, that’s not the case. VisibleGains helps companies of all sizes, from all over the globe, produce/track custom videos with a unique online platform.

But before this web app could be released into public beta, it needed testing across all major browsers and OSs. For too long Co-founder/VP of Product Craig Daniel was the lone tester and knew a more scalable solution was in order. “I thought this would be difficult considering it involved a lot of moving parts, but uTest handled it perfectly,” said Craig.

Less than 24 hours after opening the test project, Craig was able to review bugs and feedback from 35+ professional testers, who had submitted nearly 120 unique bugs! Find out more in the 2-minute clip below about Craig’s overall experience; how uTest gave him access to rockstar testers; and a showstopper uTest found!

VisibleGains Customer Testimonial

uTest Has Record 4th Quarter & Wins Spot On Red Herring Global 100 List

A quick update from the shiny, new halls of uTest (yes, I’m referring to our fancy new digs).

Earlier this week, we announced that uTest achieved more than 3X increase in year-over-year revenue. And as you can see, from the pictures to the left, we moved into some new office space in our Boston-area headquarters. And beyond all that growth, we found time to receive some rave reviews from the media and accept an award or two.

For those of you keeping score at home, here’s a recap of the recent goings-on at your favorite software testing company:

Customer, Community & Company Growth

  • Signed 70+ new customer deals with innovative startups like Groupon and AirBnB; as well as with established category leaders like AOL, Virgin Airlines and Aetna
  • Added 3,000+ testers to pad our lead as the world’s largest testing community — that brings us to 33,000+ professional testers from 172 countries
  • Pitted the top specialty e-tailers against one another in another epic Bug Battle. During this competition, more than 600 testers from 28 countries discovered nearly 900 bugs in the web and mobile apps of eBay, Overstock.com and Zappos; check out one of the write-ups at Internet Retailer
  • Added a bunch of new members to the uTest family, increasing our employee base by more than 20%.  And as you can see throughout this post, we also moved into some killer new office space

New Product Stuff

  • Public Tester Profiles & Badges: With our new public profiles, testers can display their memberships and exemplary uTest ratings (bronze, silver or gold badges) for all the world to see. Testers can also now add their uTest badges to their personal site, blog, resume or email signature.
  • Social Sharing: we launched a new social sharing feature that enables uTesters to share their profiles and testing accomplishments on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn directly from their uTest accounts. For example, a tester can let the Twittersphere know that he just earned a silver badge or that he published his public profile.
  • Accept/Decline a Test Project: Testers can now accept or decline a test project based upon their availability. This gives uTest much better visibility into each project so we can more precisely gauge whether or not more testers should be invited to meet each customer’s schedule and requirements.

Press Praise

It was a big quarter for us, but we’re not getting cocky… we’ve got big plans for 2011.  And as always, we know that we never could’ve done it without our customers (who care more about their users & apps than any rational person should) and our testers (who share that passion for apps that make users smile).

16 Great Quotes For Software Testers

Presented without further comment, in no particular order:

The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back.” – Author Unknown

A pinch of probability is worth a pound of perhaps.” – James Thurber

Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place.  So if you are as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?” – Brian Kernighan

If you don’t care about quality, you can meet any other requirement.” – Gerald M. Weinberg

Testing is an infinite process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous in order to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous.” - James Bach

When your car is about to go off a cliff, it’s a weird time to be thinking about gas mileage and drag coefficients; better to take the right control action—look out the window and steer or use the brake until you’re back on course.” – Michael Bolton

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” – W. C. Fields

I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.” – John Peel

Treat your password like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.” – Clifford Stoll

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