Software Quality Insights

October 4, 2011  3:15 PM

History on the Go: New mobile apps engage students

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Recently, SSQ spoke with Marc Schulman, an application developer with MultiEducator, Inc., to learn more about new iPad apps that enable students to study American history through their mobile devices.


These apps allow for interaction with the material in ways that text books simply can’t match. Students can access in-depth historical documents, texts and visual aids through these apps, which provide videos, photos, music and other artifacts, appealing to the various learning styles of students. While traditional text books are costly, physically heavy and feature permanent print, apps like History on the Go have a different pricing model, are contained within the user’s one mobile device and can be corrected or updated instantaneously.


MultiEducator has released applications on the Civil War and the Constitution, and this summer announced the release of their new Revolutionary War app. These apps provide multimedia presentations of the events, battles, documents, historical figures, related paintings, biographies and other relevant information from these historical eras to help students engage with history and learn through a multi-faceted medium.


According to Marc Schulman: 

When you use the multimedia products we have and will be developing, you can do multiple modalities in terms of learning, in the same place. You can have the written text, for kids who do best by reading; you can have a visual presentation of the same material for those kids who do best with the visual or audio learning. You can have kids do interactive projects for kids who do best with interactive methods. You have the ability to have the multiple modalities of learning in one place, on one device. I think that will transform the learning opportunities for kids.


In terms of testing these types of applications, Schulman explained that Apple has a strong security system in place, which facilitates app generation for developers. After putting apps through the rigorous process, the security is for the most part taken care of. At this time, History on the Go apps are available only through Apple.


For more information on mobile application testing, check out these related articles on SSQ:


Mobile testing: Nine strategy tests you’ll want to perform


How to conduct performance testing on mobile applications


September 29, 2011  9:07 PM

Organizational change and Agile adoption

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

“When facing an Agile transition, QA managers get worried. They don’t see a job description for a ‘QA manager’ in the new Agile organization,” writes Agile expert Lisa Crispin in her tip, Transitioning to Agile development: What about quality assurance?

Crispin warns against eliminating QA departments, giving several benefits of keeping QA teams, yet still eliminating a silo mentality, and instead working using a “whole-team approach.” Crispin further expands upon this concept with a two-part series in which she explains the meaning of a “whole-team approach” and follows up with benefits and examples from her own personal experience.

“Above all, realize that successful Agile transitions don’t happen overnight. It takes years for the new teams to gel, for communication and collaboration among different roles and specialties to develop,” she advises.

One approach to gaining acceptance with organizational change is to use the KAA model: Knowledge, Attitude and Action. In Change management: Agile adoption with knowledge, attitude and action, I describe how this model can be used to help manage an Agile transition.

What are your thoughts? Has your organization recently gone through an Agile transition? What challenges did you face?

September 28, 2011  9:39 PM

Replay Solutions announces diagnostics portal and APIs for replay

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

On September 27th, Replay Solutions announced the ReplayLIGHTNING application diagnostics portal, an analytics front end to their ReplayDIRECTOR products. The company also announced ReplayCONTROL, a set of open API’s that will allow third party products to add replay functionality to their solution.

This is an example of the trends we’re seeing in ALM tools, bringing DevOps into the application lifecycle and allowing for diagnostic data to be displayed back into the development environment for debugging. The open APIs, too, will allow for the integration of tools, which is another area that development teams are looking for when they select ALM tools.

SSQ spoke to Larry Lunetta, president and CEO of Replay Solutions, and Jonathan Lindo, co-founder and Senior Vice President of Technology, about the announcement. 

“ReplayLIGHTNING is a lightweight monitoring solution that looks for critical events and then allows you to access some of the deep data that we capture in our recordings,” said Lindo. The data that is provided includes:

  • Rapid application diagnostics around critical events
  • Performance profiling data
  • Memory leak location
  • Code coverage information

This month SSQ has been specifically covering continuous integration solutions, so we asked Lindo about how the ReplaySolutions toolset played into this space. He answered:

A lot of times when you’re running CI it’s going to be recording test failures between builds.

It’s useful to look at the differences between two builds. What are the differences in not only test failures, but application behavior? How does my application behave differently? Did it turn more exceptions? Did it expose more logging? Was there higher database activity as a result of that code change? You can use the reporting that comes out of ReplayLIGHTNING to compare and contrast and generate differences or “diffs” between different builds that are passing through the CI system.

We also spoke to voke inc. founder and analyst Theresa Lanowitz about the announcement, who said:

Lifecycle virtualization is a new hub that delivers easy solutions to the age old problems of application development.

Through our research we see great value and immediate ROI in this technology, including virtual lab management, services virtualization, and automated defect identification solutions, such as Replay.

The days of struggling with elusive defects can be left as a challenge of the past. Leveraging tools like Replay that combine, automated defect identification, monitoring and rapid diagnostics empower teams with unprecedented information to eliminate even the most elusive defects.

Regardless of whether an organization uses a full ALM suite or no tools at all, all organizations should harness the power of lifecycle virtualization to modernize their practices.

September 21, 2011  5:05 PM

Integrating Kanban into your processes

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

What do you do once you’ve mastered Scrum? How about incorporating some Lean practices using Kanban into your methodology? At least that’s what appears to be happening more and more as organizations continue to look for ways to improve their software development processes. I’d heard quite a bit about this trend towards mixing lean methods such as Kanban with Agile frameworks such as Scrum (some call it ScrumBan) at Agile 2011.

Last week, a group of leaders from Oppenheimer Funds came to speak at our local SQuAD (Software Quality Association of Denver) meeting. This organization seems to be early adopters of the latest industry recommendations, working at continually evaluating and improving their current software development processes. They have spoken to the SQuAD group before about their Agile adoption and transition program. This month they talked to us both about their A/TDD (Acceptance/Test Driven Development) processes, as well as how they are incorporating Kanban and lean concepts into their methodologies.

In the following video, you’ll hear a short explanation from Oppenheimer Funds’ Doug Huffman about how and why they are using Kanban.

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September 21, 2011  5:03 PM

Tests before code: Acceptance/test-driven development

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

A team from Oppenheimer Funds has come to speak at the monthly Software Quality Association of Denver (SQuAD) meetings a couple of times, telling us about some of their early adoption experiences. At the September meeting, we found out both about their incorporation of lean concepts into their software development processes using Kanban, as well as what they are doing with Acceptance test-driven development and [unit] test-driven development.

In both cases, test-driven development involves writing tests before the code. Writing the tests up front (whether at the acceptance level or using code at the unit level) will help in creating the design of the code. Any tests will fail when first written, but once the code has been designed and written, you will know they have been written correctly when the tests pass. This provides a set of automated regression tests then that can be used in your continuous integration process with each build.

Below you’ll find a video clip from Thom Vaught of Oppenheimer Funds explaining the concept. We have plenty of coverage of this popular technique on SSQ, and I have listed a few tips you may want to read to learn more.

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Related articles:
Effective test-driven development and continous integration

Agile techniques: TDD explained by author Christian Johansen – Part 1

Agile techniques: Benefits of test-driven development – Part 2

Horseshoes, hand grenades, and Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD)

September 15, 2011  3:39 PM

Continuous integration step by step with Howard Deiner

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

We hear a lot about continuous integration these days, but some of us are still confused about what exactly CI is. Is it just a fancy way of doing builds? Does it mean you have to have all your regression tests automated? I got a chance to sit down with Howard Deiner at Agile 2011 and asked him more about continuous integration. He has written a series of four tips for us in which he explains the benefits of continuous integration and provides an implementation plan from beginning to end.

Check out this informative set of tips:

Continuous integration: Quality from the start with automated regression

Automating your release management processes with CI

Intro to integration: Automation from version control to deployment

DevOps: Adding database automation to your continuous delivery strategy

For a quick overview of what continuous integration means, take a look this video clip I took of Howard at the conference:
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September 8, 2011  9:23 PM

Application lifecycle management (ALM) trends

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

At the Agile 2011 conference, plenty of ALM vendors were available to talk about their latest products and enhancements. Trends in ALM include broadening of ALM, both at the front and back ends of the development lifecycle. On the front end, vendors are including more support for portfolio management and idea management. On the back end, we’re seeing more focus on release management, DevOps, and maintenance. Continuous integration and automation of the release process continue to get attention, and, in fact, SSQ is focusing on continuous integration and automation as our primary content theme for September.

Lean development is also getting a lot of attention, and vendors are looking at including Kanban support as part of their wares.

In the video below, Forrester analyst Dave West speaks about what he sees as ALM trends, including more support for cloud computing and mobile development.

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How about you? What enhancements would you like to see from ALM vendors? What trends are you seeing?

September 2, 2011  6:32 PM

Agile service provider Ci&T opens nearshore delivery center

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Ci&T, a provider of software product engineering and application development, announced the opening of a new nearshore delivery center in Argentina. The center, with its near-local proximity, will solve the time zone issue that can be a major challenge when North American countries work with Asia.

Ci&T practices Agile and Lean development, which typically promotes co-location. I asked Cesar Gon, CEO of Ci&T, whether addressing the time zone would be enough to allow for strong communication between the development team and the client. What about language barriers and cultural differences? He answers:

Of course we need to be attentive to these issues, we cannot downplay it. However, we cannot forget that cultural differences between North America and South America are far smaller than those between Asia and the Americas, especially in those countries with a large contingent of immigrants from several different places in Europe, like Brazil and Argentina. Still, companies from the region that do business in the U.S. should be concerned about programs that provide an opportunity to build their own “melting pot.”

At Ci&T, we have brought Americans to work at our headquarters in Brazil for extensive periods of time. We’re currently hiring dozens of Americans to spend a year in Brazil. Later, these people will be key personnel in the U.S., with knowledge of both cultures. Our local team is comprised of both expats and local hires, so everyone can learn about the cultural differences. As for language, we also have corporate programs for English proficiency improvement, which is part of our annual strategic goals. Communication goes far beyond just language, and our clients frequently praise our team members as “strong communicators” — not because our English is better than anybody’s, but because we ask when we don’t understand and we speak up when we disagree or see a better way — contributing to the generation of business value.

I asked how frequently the development team met with the client, wondering if the meetings could be as effective in this type of distributed environment.

We establish daily, direct communication with our clients. That’s the beauty of Agile and Lean: the focus is on people and how they interact, rather than processes and how documents are handed off. The whole dev team “meets” the client once a day (which is possible only because of nearshore), then the ScrumMaster (Ci&T) and the Product Owner (the client) talk to each other as many times as necessary during the day. Every two to three weeks, there’s a demo meeting with all stakeholders, including project sponsors and business users, where the software developed during those weeks is shown. We use teleconferences, web conferences, and telepresence features, as well as, of course, our lean onsite teams, with key personnel such as Project Managers and Senior Software Architects.

Perhaps nearshoring is a new trend in the industry? Communication barriers are being removed, thanks to technologies, but solving the time zone issue has been a problem. However, with nearshoring, we are one step closer to creating distributed Agile teams that are able to communicate as effectively as co-located teams.

August 19, 2011  2:43 PM

Agile 2011: Speakers, vendors, analysts and participants

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Agile 2011, the annual conference put on by the Agile Alliance, was held August 8th through 13th in Salt Lake City, in honor of the ten year anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, which was crafted in nearby Snowbird, Utah.

On SSQ’s Agile 2011 Conference page, you’ll find 27 videos from presenters, vendors, analysts and participants. Learn how positive psychology helps Agile teams in a recap of Barbara Frederickson’s keynote. Additionally, we have included several interviews with well-known speakers.

In Business analysis in Agile development: Q&A with Mary Gorman, you’ll find out about some of the lightweight techniques that Mary and her colleague Ellen Gottesdiener have developed for eliciting requirements.

In Scrum in sales: Q&A with Scrum founding father Jeff Sutherland, Sutherland, one of the Agile Manifesto signatories, speaks about the use of Scrum in all lines of business, including sales.

These are just a couple of our interviews, but you’ll find many more, including interviews with Elisabeth HendricksonAlan Shalloway, Esther Derby, Scott Ambler and Angela Druckman.

Agile methodologies are known for being playful and collaborative, encouraging teamwork in new and fun ways. The conference itself sports opportunities to have “dinner with a stranger,” participate in “open jam” sessions on topics of your choosing, advertise jobs on an open job board, or simply start a new board game in order to make new friends.

Participants’ reactions?
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The conference proved that fun and learning go hand-in-hand. Check out our page and share it with your friends.

August 15, 2011  6:07 PM

uTest expands to security and localization testing through crowdsourced services

Yvette Francino Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Today uTest announced that it is expanding from its traditional focus on functional testing to include a suite of end-to-end testing services that encompass security testing and localization testing. SSQ spoke with uTest CMO Matt Johnston, who said that uTest customers had already begun to request different testing services, and with the unique model that uTest uses—one that involves 43,000 testers in 78 different countries— and careful preparation and training, they were positioned to officially expand into these new markets. Johnston explained:

“Too often ‘software testing’ is synonymous with ‘functional testing.’ But to create a truly great application, it’s not just functional quality, it is things like load and performance engineering, it’s certainly testing for security and privacy vulnerabilities… If you’re a big enterprise company that has an internationalized application, its localization testing, that this notion of software testing is actually bigger than making sure that an application works properly from a functional perspective.”

uTest’s security testing services offering will be powered by a partnership with Veracode, Inc., provider of the world’s only independent, cloud-based application risk management platform. Testing experts will be able to take advantage of Veracode’s cloud-based automated testing tools, performing code level security testing, and in turn, Veracode will be able to offer their customer uTest services.

In planning for this expansion, uTest tapped into their existing base of talented testers and recruited new professionals who can perform high-level security and localization testing. Customers will benefit from this service, which eliminates much of the cost associated with hiring outside consultants while also ensuring the expertise and experience of the testers brought on for particular types of software testing projects. Johnston said:

“What we found is that a lot of companies from enterprises down to small and medium businesses have QA departments; oftentimes they don’t have the specialized expertise around things like security audits, or usability testing, or load and performance engineering… With uTest they can go and access the person or persons who have that specialized expertise and they can do it on demand, so it really cuts down the friction and ultimately the total cost of things like security testing or load and performance engineering.”

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