|By Sellers Smith||
|November 23, 2013 05:00 PM EST||
Tests are an investment in the quality of any given system. There's always a cost to build, run, and maintain each test in terms of time and resources. There's also a great deal of value to be extracted from running the right test at the right time. It's important to remember that for everything you do test, there's something else you're not testing as a result.
Understanding that some tests are more important than others is vital to creating a useful and fluid test plan capable of catering to modern software development techniques. Traditional waterfall development - where everything is delivered for a specific release date in a finished package - has been succeeded by continuous feature roll outs into live systems. This necessitates a different approach from QA departments.
How Do You Build Good Tests?
You can't design or execute the right tests without understanding the intended purpose of the system. Testers need to have an insight into the end user's expectations. Communication between the product people at the business end, the engineers working on the code, and the test department enables you to score tests in terms of their importance and work out where each test cycle should be focusing.
We can break it down into three simple queries: why, what, and how.
"Why" is a higher level overview that really ties into the business side. It's the big-picture thinking that reveals why you're building the software in the first place. What audience need is your product fulfilling? For example, we need to build an e-commerce website to sell our product to the general public.
"What" is really focused on individual features or functions of a system. Using a shopping cart analogy for an e-commerce website, you might say that users must be able to add and remove items from their shopping cart, or that they shouldn't be able to add something that's out of stock.
"How" relates to the practical application of your testing. How exactly is the software going to be tested? How is the success and failure measured?
Good tests are always going to cover our trio, but it can be a useful exercise to break things down.
If you get too caught up in the "what" and the "how," it's possible to miss the "why" completely and it's the most important element because it dictates that some tests are more important than others. The business case for developing your software in the first place has to remain front and center throughout the project. If you begin to lose sight of what the end user needs, then you could be focusing your efforts in the wrong places. Delivering value to your customers is critical. Good testers and good tests always retain and use an awareness of what the intended audience wants and expects.
One technique we can employ is risk-based analysis of tasks. With risk-based analysis, we can arrive at a numerical value for each test, which gives you a sense of its importance. We can assign a score of between 1 and 9 to each test. At the top end, a score of 9 would be a critical test, and at the other end of the spectrum a score of 1 might indicate a test that only needs to be used sparingly. The value is determined by multiplying two factors:
- Impact to the user: What are they trying to accomplish and what would the impact be if they couldn't? How critical is this action?
- Probability of failure: How likely is it that this code will fail? This is heavily influenced by how new it is and how much testing it has already undergone.
If we return to our e-commerce website analogy then we could take the action of being able to buy goods, clearly that's essential, so it would be assigned a 3. However, the functionality for adding goods to the basket and checking out has been there since day one so it has already been tested quite extensively; however, some new features have been added that could impact the code, so that might result in a score of 2. Multiply the two together and you've got a 6. This figure will change over time, because probability of failure will go up if this part of the system is significantly altered, and it will go down over time if it isn't. There's also a discretionary factor that might lead you to bump that 6 up to a 7 if you feel it's merited.
Testers come up with specific scenarios of how an end user might interact with the software and what their expected outcome would be. A typical test might consist of many steps detailed in a script, but this approach can cause problems. What if a new tester comes in to run the test? Is the intent of the test clear to them? What if the implementation of the feature changes? Perhaps the steps no longer result in the expected outcome and the test fails, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the software is not working as intended.
The steps and scripts are delving into the "how," but if the "what" is distinct from the "how" then there's less chance of erroneous failure. Allow the tester some room for an exploratory approach and you're likely to get better results. If something can be tightly scripted and you expect it to be a part of your regression testing, then there's an argument for looking at automating it.
Adopting a technique like Specification by Example or Behavior Driven Design, you're going to lay each test out in this format:
- Given certain preconditions
- When one or more actions happen
- Then you should get this outcome
Regardless of the specifics of the user interface, or the stops along the way between A and Z, the "Given, When, Then" format covers the essential core of the scenario and ensures that the feature does what it's intended to do, without necessarily spelling out exactly how it should do it. It can be used to generate tables of scenarios that describe the actions, variables, and outcomes to test.
Getting down to the nuts and bolts of how testers will create, document, and run tests, we come to the "how." Since projects are more fluid now and requirements or priorities can change on a daily basis, there needs to be some flexibility in the "how" and a willingness to continually reassess the worth of individual tests. Finding the right balance between automated tests, manually scripted tests, and exploratory testing is an ongoing challenge that's driven by the "what" and the "why."
Traditionally, manual tests have been fully documented as a sequence of steps with an expected result for each step, but this is time-consuming and difficult to maintain. It's possible to borrow from automation by plugging in higher-level actions, or keywords, that refer to a detailed script or a common business action that's understood by the tester. There's also been a move toward exploratory testing, where the intent of the test is defined but the steps are dynamic. Finally, there's a place for disposable testing where you might use a recording tool to quickly document each step in a manual test as you work through it. These tests will need to be redone if anything changes, but as it's a relatively quick process and you're actually testing while you create the test, that's not necessarily a problem.
Each individual test should be viewed as an investment. You have to decide whether to run it, whether it needs to be maintained, or if it's time to drop it. You need to continually assess the value and the cost of each test so that you get maximum value from each test cycle. Never lose sight of the business requirements. When a test fails, ask yourself if it's a problem with the system or a problem with the test, and make sure that you always listen to the business people, the software engineers, and most importantly the customer.
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
Mar. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,285
The Open Compute Project is a collective effort by Facebook and a number of players in the datacenter industry to bring lessons learned from the social media giant's giant IT deployment to the rest of the world. Datacenters account for 3% of global electricity consumption – about the same as all of Switzerland or the Czech Republic -- according to people I met at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose. With increasing mobility at the edge of the cloud and vast new dataflows being predicted with the growth of the Internet of Things (and The Coming Age of Many Zettabytes) in the near...
Mar. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,676
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Mar. 26, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 948
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 26, 2015 10:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,191
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Mar. 26, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,014
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionality and provide short-term introductory projects that developers can complete between sessions.
Mar. 26, 2015 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,592
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Mar. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,642
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 26, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,219
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
Mar. 26, 2015 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 816
WebRTC is an up-and-coming standard that enables real-time voice and video to be directly embedded into browsers making the browser a primary user interface for communications and collaboration. WebRTC runs in a number of browsers today and is currently supported in over a billion installed browsers globally, across a range of platform OS and devices. Today, organizations that choose to deploy WebRTC applications and use a host machine that supports audio through USB or Bluetooth can use Plantronics products to connect and transit or receive the audio associated with the WebRTC session.
Mar. 26, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,462
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Mar. 26, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,284
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Proven by the world’s most demanding enterprises, including AAA NCNU, Constant Contact, Falck, Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Telekom Denmark, and VMware, Aria helps enterprises grow their recurring revenue businesses. With Aria’s end-to-end active monetization platform, global brands can get to market faster with a wider variety of products and services, while maximizin...
Mar. 26, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,449
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 26, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,549
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Mar. 26, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,454
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
Mar. 26, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,608
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
Mar. 26, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,037
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Mar. 26, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,518
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
Mar. 26, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,302
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Mar. 26, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,629
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
Mar. 26, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,305