SaaS & Cloud Computing Pioneers Showcase Their Innovations

The OnDemand event in Palo Alto provided the stage where the top Internet companies disrupting the enterprise converged with the incumbent pioneers in cloud computing and SaaS. Kicking off the two-day event with keynote Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com CEO who ignited the on-demand revolution, sure set the bar high!

These days were packed with investor roundtables, CEO showcases, and panel discussions on the trends and opportunities in SaaS and cloud computing services.

Lucky for those of us who couldn’t make the show, all the presentations (including Marc’s!) were recorded and can be viewed on the video archives site. Check out uTest’s below! For a list of a few other great sessions, continue reading after the bump.

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uTest Makes BBJ’s List of Best Places to Work In 2010

Boston Business Journal just announced their list of Best Places To Work. And with nearly 450 nominees and only 20 companies making the cut in the Small Company category (20-100 employees), it’s a tough list to get on. But we’ve never shied away from a tough competition, so we threw our hat in the ring. And lo and behold, we’re proud to report that uTest has joined this prestigious list of  the best places to work in Massachusetts!

We’re stoked to be on a list alongside global heavyweights like Google, Microsoft, Ritz-Carlton, Comcast, as well as local startup legends like Carbonite and HubSpot. So, how did we do it? Well, from our open bullpen layout to our always-stocked kitchen to tweeting from the slopes,  to a company outing that consists of climbing Mount Monadnock, uTest is not your typical company… even by startup standards.

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uTest & SOASTA Join Forces To Share The Load (Testing)

It’s been a busy few weeks around the hallowed halls of uTest (ok, they’re really more of a beige).  Somewhere between delivering the keynote at the QUEST conference, interviewing testing guru Scott Barber, and launching v3.0 of our platform, we found time to sign a partnership with SOASTA.

For those who don’t know them, SOASTA leverages the cloud to offer on-demand load & performance testing, which enables companies to test the real-world performance of their web apps.  In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently named them one of the top 50 VC-backed companies in all the land.  So what’s a crowd company doing partnering with a cloud company?  A lot, actually.

For starters, this partnership expands upon uTest’s recently announced load testing services.  As our customers and their apps become more sophisticated, they’re turning to uTest to provide them with real-world load testing.  And this partnership with SOASTA enables us to offer a unique package of on-demand load testing and advanced analytics to help our customers identify bottlenecks and points of failure between their apps and their users.

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Version 3.0 – A Better, Faster, More Powerful uTest

Check out uTest 3.0

Click the thumbnails below to see a larger screenshot.

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New Sign-In Page

Customer Welcome Screen

Test Cycle List

After months of hard work, we’re excited to announce version 3.0 of our testing platform.  This is much more than a simple refresh or a minor upgrade — this is a full-blown rewrite of our testing platform, from the UI design, some cool new features, back through the code and a new, open architecture.  And it’s all based upon feedback from customers, testers and all we’ve learned from 1,000+ test cycles in the past 18 months.

Our goal was to produce a faster, more usable, more powerful experience for uTest customers and testers alike.

So what’s new?

  • User Interface: Our new UI was designed to provide a simpler, richer, more interactive experience with more intuitive navigation from bug-to-bug or test-cycle-to-test-cycle
  • Improved Infrastructure: Our new architecture enables better scalability and, more importantly to you, is designed to provide improved performance (with faster page load times) around the world
  • API and Integration: Our new and open APIs will enable us to rapidly expand our offering and better integrate with our customers, partners and third-party app developers

What’s in it for you?  If you’re a customer, keep reading.  To check out what’s new for testers, you can skip down to the tester features.

Customer Features
Once our customers get past our sleek new UI, we hope they notice the great new features and changes we’ve included.  Two features are really important.

First, we’ve built a new test cycle wizard.  Creating a clear, concise test cycle is the most important thing a customer can do to ensure success, but there are a lot of details required to make a test cycle perfect.  Our new wizard makes this process easy, making sure each part of the test cycle is well-documented.

Second, we’ve greatly enhanced our tester rating system.  Our platform will evaluate the past performance of each tester based upon activity levels (# of test cycles participated in, # of bugs reported, # of test cases completed) and the quality of that activity (bug approval %) and, once we have enough data points, we’ll assign them a rating.  Testers who are in the top 20% of all rated testers will receive a gold, silver, or bronze rating.

Some of the other new features we’ve added in v3.0:

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Advanced Coverage Report

  • Resizable Columns – On any table or list, all columns can be re-sized and re-arranged by customers using a simple drag-and-drop.
  • Tester Messenger - Enhanced tester messaging tools help you communicate with testers to get what you need from each bug report
  • Testing Coverage Reports – Be confident that you’ve covered every corner of your testing matrix with our new coverage reports. You’ll know what’s been tested and what still needs to be tested in a single informative report
  • Easier Filtering – All test cycles and bugs can be easily filtered to find exactly the information you need
  • Smart CSV Exporting – Export a CSV file with just the information you need about your bugs or your test cycles
  • Multiple Users – Add multiple members of your testing organization easily with our new account management tools

Tester Features
Besides the new UI, we’ve added a lot of cool new features for our uTester community.  However two features are really huge for testers.  The first is our new test cycle wizard that helps testers review test cycles more easily and completely, as well as telling uTest whether or not they intend to participate in that test cycle.  Now when a tester checks out a test cycle, they will be able to indicate whether or not they want to join.

Our second big feature is a new & improved tester ratings system.  In the past, testers were rated with a star system based upon subjective customer feedback.  Starting today, testers who are active will earn a rating and a “Rated” badge.  This shows that these testers are actively participating in test cycles contributing their expertise to the uTest marketplace.  Additionally, those testers who are in the top 20% of our rated testers will receive a gold, silver, or bronze badge.  The remaining testers will receive a “Rated” badge.  Testers who are not active or for whom there is not enough data will not receive a badge.  New testers will receive a “New” badge.

A tester’s rating will depend on many factors including total activity and recent activity (# of cycles participated in, # of bugs reported, # of test cases completed), as well as the quality of that participation (bug approval %, test case approval %, and accuracy in specifying bug types and severity).

Other great new features include:

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Tester Messenger

  • Resizable Columns – For any table or list, all columns can be re-sized and re-arranged using a simple drag-and-drop.  For example, a tester can move the test cycle name to be in the first column with a width that displays the entire test cycle name
  • Tester Messenger – Enhanced communication tools between testers, uTest project management and customers
  • Easier Filtering – All test cycles and bugs are easily filtered.  For example, testers may filter bugs by “My Bugs Only,” status, severity, and by test cycle; even for closed test cycles
  • Clearer Test Cycles – All test cycles are formatted in a more digestible way to help testers more easily and completely review each test cycle
  • Improved Attachments – Bug attachment size limit has been raised from 5MB to 10MB (there is a limit of three attachments per bug).  Also, more file types are permitted for upload.
  • Smarter Emails - Cleaner, more informative notification emails from the uTest platform

Wrap-up
Our engineers and product managers have worked countless hours putting together version 3.0, but we also want to thank our customers and testers for their countless ideas and insights.  As we continue to improve and refine our platform, we are always open to thoughts and ideas about how to make our product better.

Have a great idea for our future product releases?  Testers should join our testing forums and check out our Platform Feedback section. Customers can contact their project manager or drop us a line.

Counting Down To A Big uTest Launch This Weekend

A heads-up to our testers and customers — this weekend, we’ll be launching v3.0 of the uTest platform.  This will be a major, major (did I mention major?) upgrade of our product.  It also means that we’ll be taking the platform offline for a period of time beginning on Saturday morning.  We’re working closely with customers to minimize the number of test cycles that will be live during this period, but we do apologize for any inconvenience that may result from this planned downtime.

The changes in this new version will be obvious for all to see.  But we’ll publish a complete write-up of all the changes for customers and testers, including artwork to highlight what’s new & improved.  Stay tuned to the uTest blog or our uTester forums for updates on how the launch is going on Saturday.

UPDATE: As we approach noon EST, things are progressing well.  We’re still running down our long list of launch tasks, but things are looking good at this point.  More details coming soon.

Our CEO Can Run Faster Than Yours Can

A quick post that has absolutely nothing to do with testing, mobile apps, start-ups or agile.  Today, Doron is running the Boston Marathon… admittedly, it’s a bigger deal to us than it is to him, since it’s his 7th or 8th time.  So while Doron’s banging out 7-minute miles (or some such nonsense), we’re all rootin’ for him.

We’ll be back later with Doron’s mid-race splits — or at least with his final time.  Happy marathon day, Boston!  Do you know anyone running the marathon today?

UPDATE: Doron’s Post-Race Results!

Facebook, South Park and the Value of User Feedback

For most software companies, user feedback generally comes in the form of emails, surveys, bug reports and the like. For Facebook, it recently came in the form of an entire South Park episode (warning: spoiler alert!).

Earlier this week, South Park lampooned the social media giant (along with Jim Cramer, chat roulette, Tron and Yahtzee) in an episode with major usability undertones. You can watch the entire episode here, but in case you’re at work, here’s brief synopsis from Wikipedia:

When Kyle, Cartman and Kenny make Stan a Facebook profile without his knowledge, he becomes frustrated with everyone asking him for friend requests. After he gets fed up with Facebook, Stan tries to delete his profile but is sucked into a virtual Facebook world. Meanwhile, Kyle starts trying to find ways to get more friends on Facebook after he drastically starts losing them due to his befriending of a third-grade friendless Facebook user, who everyone thinks is a loser.

Compared to other South Park “guests”, Facebook made it through the episode relatively unscathed, and for that they should be thankful. That said, it’s still South Park, a place where weaknesses must be exploited. So, here are a few feedback items I was able to relate to typical user feedback:

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uTest Scores A Spot On 2010 ‘OnDemand Top 100′ List

Quick award update! Yesterday, uTest was recognized as a rapidly growing private company and SaaS leader by being named an OnDemand Top 100 winner (by AlwaysOn).

The list includes top SaaS and Cloud companies that demonstrate leadership among peers, success in the marketplace and innovative tech. We are honored to be listed alongside industry pioneers, such as SOASTA, LiveOffice and Wordstream.

The winners were selected from among hundreds of tech companies nominated by investors, bankers, journalists and industry insiders based on a set of five criteria:

– Innovation
— Market potential
— Commercialization
— Stakeholder value and
— Media buzz

CONGRATS to all the winners!

We’ll be attending and presenting at AlwaysOn’s OnDemand event on April 20th @ HP’s Worldwide Headquarters in Palo Alto, where the Top 100 companies will also be honored. Check out how the program is shaping up!

If you happen to be in the area, shoot us a note!

uTest Taps Crowd To Test Food, Chemicals, Paternity, Driving & More

In the past year, we’ve made tremendous strides in our march to change the world of software testing.  We started by doing functional testing for web apps.  Then came desktop apps.  And then mobile apps.  More recently, we’ve expanded to provide load testing services.

Since we clearly have nothing left to prove in the software testing game, we’ve set our sights on other testing markets that are in desperate need of our special brand of crowd-driven innovation.  And after months of market research (mostly just watching movies), focus groups (a collection of bobblehead dolls we bought on eBay), and with the help of the brilliant consultants at Prestige Worldwide (NSFW), we’re pleased to announce our revolutionary new testing services in the following categories:

Driving tests:  Can’t keep it between the lines?  Don’t know how to parallel park?  Not even sure what “10 & 2″ means?  No problem.  With a community of 24,000+ testers from 162 countries around the world, we have people who know how to drive on the left- or right-hand side of the road.  We can help with the written exam and the road test (Please note: this would be considered 2 separate test projects).

Food tests:  Afraid someone’s trying to poison you?  Think someone may have slipped something into your drink?  Or maybe you’re just concerned that your soup is too hot?  Taking unnecessary risks with your food is now a thing of the past.  Just ping uTest and we’ll have a tester on-site in minutes, ready to sample your food or beverage and deal with the consequences.

Paternity tests:  Not sure what your responsibilities are?  Scared to learn the results?  With this latest service, you don’t have to be.  We’ve got testers everywhere and we’re happy to help you pass the test of a lifetime.  A member of our community can either take the test for you or help you study for it yourself.

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Journey Of A Passionate Tester

To say that uTester Ajay Balamurugadas has an impressive software testing resume would be an obvious understatement. Coached by Pradeep Soundararajan, he has been awarded a scholarship from the Software Testing Club; is a proud student of  the Miagi-Do School run by Matt Heusser, and co-founded “Weekend Testing.” Oh yeah, and he’s also the latest contributor to our guest blogger series. For more of his work, be sure to check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

In this post, Ajay takes a stroll down memory lane…

This is an article on my experiences with software testing, the traps I fell into, and the lessons I learned in the process. Before I share my story, let me make one thing clear: I’m no software testing expert. I make mistakes, learn, practice and apply my learning to improve my skills as a tester. To illustrate, I’ve split the journey into five simple stages.

Stage 1: Testing = Find Bugs

I am hired as an Associate QA Engineer at my first job. I was called upon to help remove all bugs in the product before it reached the customer – simple enough. As an obedient student, I did what was expected of me. The execution percentage never reached 100%. I could not complete a cycle of execution in the stipulated time. I did not know that I was checking and not testing. Whenever I tested, I could not achieve 100% execution. Some of the bugs I logged were termed as ‘Deferred – Will not be fixed’. I was bombarded with questions like: “Which user would do that? Good bug, but why did you find it now? Why did you miss it? ”

I did not have an answer for the questions. I myself had more questions than answers.

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