Software Quality Insights

March 19, 2010  9:55 PM

Too old to learn new technologies? Never!

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Recently SearchSoftwareQuality published a Q&A with Navot Peled, CEO of Gizmox Ltd, entitled How new Web application platforms put dev/test pros’ careers at risk.  It’s not often that I disagree with the experts, but as a former developer who’s way past my spring chicken days, I have to say I was a bit insulted at the implication that older developers would not be able to learn new technologies.

Certainly, emerging technologies can be a challenge to keep up with.  I’d just attended a SQuAD meeting last week in which the speaker, Igor Gershovich, espoused the difficulties of automated testing of Rich Internet Applications.  However, I absolutely don’t buy into the notion that an older person is at a disadvantage in being able to learn these new technologies. In fact, I would say often it’s just the opposite. Most of us have lived through many shifts in technology and are used to the constant changes that our industry throws at us. We don’t run from it. We thrive on it!

The most brilliant technologist is not well-versed in every technology. There are just too many programming languages, operating systems, databases, tools and systems to become an expert in all of them. It’s important to understand what is happening and what is changing in the world and to update our skills to meet the needs of the industry, but does that mean that if we don’t know AJAX we’re over the hill? Those of us that have been around software for years and years usually are very quick to pick up new skills.  I can’t speak for the entire older set, but I can tell you that I absolutely love progress and when some new technology comes out, I want to be the first to jump on the new bandwagon and test it out. One of the great things about my job at is that I get to be on the forefront of new developments, reading about the latest industry trends.

Not knowing a particular new technology is not what will hurt us in the job market.  What will hurt us is if we stop wanting to learn. If we stay stuck in a world where we only know one way of coding and we refuse to be open to the wonderful changes that surround us, we are indeed going to limit our potential. Instead, we need to read, learn, grow and embrace change.  If we do that, whether we are 20 or 90, we will be a valuable resource to any employer.  There most likely will come a day when we will want to retire,  but as long as we keep learning, there will never come a day when we are unemployable.

March 18, 2010  9:41 PM

TSS Java Symposium 2010: Dependencies, complexity make software QA tricky

Jan Stafford Jan Stafford Profile: Jan Stafford

QA managers, take heart! Not all Java developers think that software quality processes are an unnecessary overhead. The proof? This week’s strong attendance and busy during and post-session Q&As at TheServerSide Java Symposium session, Software Quality: The Quest for the Holy Grail.

Defining the basic requirements for and viewing dependencies as an integrated part of a project are critical elements in project quality and ultimate success today, said speaker Jesper Pedersen, core developer for JBoss by Red Hat and project lead for JBoss JCA, a Java Connector container.

Because development platforms have more business-specific code and platforms are a larger piece of the pie, finding where issues are located is more difficult, Pedersen said. It’s become more important to do good integration testing. Also, dependencies must be managed well and as if they are part of the application.

I caught up with Pedersen after his session and asked him why managing dependencies is so tricky and why developers aren’t crazy about doing quality assurance processes. He answers those questions in this video.

On TheServerSide 2010 Java Symposium site, you can view Pedersen’s notes for this presentation.

March 17, 2010  6:51 PM

Automated testing of Rich Internet Applications (RIA)

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Igor Gershovich, president and principal consultant of Connected Testing, Inc. spoke this month at the Software Quality Association of Denver (SQuAD) meeting. The topic is one the group had been clamoring for: Automation of Web 2.0 Rich Internet Applications (RIA).

Gershovich started by talking about Web 2.0, sometimes known as “social software,” and the technologies used to create these types of applications. Popular RIA Frameworks and toolkits incude AJAX, Adobe Flash/Flex, Google Web Toolkit and Silverlight. Gershovich said there were hundreds more, but focused his presentation on AJAX, one of the most popular RIA technologies, probably due to it’s pricetag: free!

AJAX is a framework that combines Asynchronous JavaScript and XML and uses techniques that combine and exploit long-standing Web technologies. Examples of Web technologies AJAX uses are XHTML and CSS for structure and presentation and the Document Object Model (DOM) for displaying and manipulating objects. Gershovich went over some of the pros and cons of using AJAX and then explained how Google Web Toolkit (GWT) could be used to write AJAX front-end code in Java, which can then be compiled into optimized, standalone JavaScript files.

Can automation tools, such as HPs Quick Test Pro (QTP) or Selenium be used to create automated scripts for AJAX? Gershovich says he is often asked this question. He says the real question is: Does QTP [or Selenium] work with custom objects from various JavaScript toolkits? The answer is yes, but it’s not easy!

Gerchovich described some of the technical challenges involved in automating GWT-based applications:

  • They use custom or 3rd party Web controls
  • They have no unique object properities
  • Synchronization for AJAX
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • No common design framework between GWT applications
  • Can’t view HTML using View->Source


Gerchovich went on to show the technical details about how these obstacles can be overcome, but the bottom line is advanced test automation expertise is required. Gerchovich’s examples used QTP, but he said the same techniques could be used with other automated tools such as Selenium. Coordination with the development team is required as well in order to gain insights into the objects and their properties.

Gerchovich’s presentation, as well as past SQuAD presentations are available for download.

March 15, 2010  6:15 PM

How do job-seekers gain Agile skills?

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

As a recent job-seeker, I’m well aware that it’s a tough market out there.  Employers can afford to be picky and many of them are looking for software quality professionals with years of agile experience.  If you’ve always worked in a traditional software environment, are your skills obsolete? How can you get experience in an agile environment if you can’t get a job? And what are “agile” skills anyway? Aren’t the skills that testers gain from working in a traditional environment transferable to an agile environment? What exactly are these skills that employers are looking for?

These are some of the questions I asked Lisa Crispin in a recent podcast, as we were discussing the first chapter of “Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams” co-authored by Crispin and Janet Gregory.

I won’t repeat what you can listen to in the podcast, but Lisa and I stayed on the phone and chatted for another 30 minutes about the job market and ways that job seekers can better their skills. Crispin and I are both firm believers in professional development. There are so many opportunities, thanks to the Web, for job-seekers to continue to grow and learn. Not only is there an abundance of free tutorials, white-papers, and technical content available, there are open source tools galore!

Crispin said she was surprised by the number of people that she’s interviewed that were not engaged in professional development activities. She said that she was most interested in those candidates that showed active interest in learning and growing and that there are plenty of learning opportunities and ways to experience agile outside of a work environment. 

If this is a trend amongst employers, then job-seekers are in luck. Again, there is no shortage of learning opportunities available on the Web, including on our own Stay tuned as we continue to update our agile learning guide with new content and additional podcasts from industry experts. Whether you’re a job-seeker or happily employed, the industry continues to change and grow. The key is to never stop learning!

March 8, 2010  6:50 PM

Sharma opines on software QA trends: Risk, ROI, compliance

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Trends in software quality assurance’s “four Rs” — Risk, Return on investment (ROI), Regulatory compliance and Rich customer experience — were the main thrust of my recent conversation with Aparna Sharma of Infosys, whose career includes QA consulting for Fortune 500 companies.


Organizations today are doing more risk-based testing, figuring out ways to quantify risk and prioritize tests more effectively, said Sharma, Head of Client Services for Infosys’ Independent Validation Services (IVS). Many are introducing application lifecycle management (ALM) tools and integrated processes as early as possible and throughout the lifecycle to reduce overall risk for the project team.


Regarding ROI, Sharma recommends automation. Maximize ROI much earlier in the application lifecycle by using automation, environment optimization, and reducing dependencies, Sharma advised. She sees companies adopting Business Process Models (BPM) to directly generate test cases and business process flows.  Though she admitted that some manual testing may be necessary, she said she advises automating as much as possible in all phases of the lifecycle.

Regulations and Compliance

Sharma noted that there were growing issues in regulations and compliance due to privacy issues. Two industries that have increased reliance on regulations and compliance are health care and financial services. Different entities within the organization will be responsible for regulation and compliance but many will require independent verification and validation services.

Offshoring application development and lifecycle management has been and still is a growing trend, but offshoring doesn’t shift the compliance burden. All companies need to make sure their software data is protected.

Rich customer experience

More users are participating in testing for usability, flexibility and accessibility early in the application lifecycle, Sharma told me. Some use tools that allow for “eye-capture” for usability testing. Accessibility software can also help test ease of use of software for people with disabilities. By creating early code, prototyping, or other various techniques, the graphical user interface is available for early usability testing and accessability testing.

SOA, ERP trends 

Sharma noted a couple of other industry trends that she thought readers may be interested in:

  • In the SOA space, the industry is moving away from UI to more end-to-end testing with distributed, multi-tier architectures.  Organizations need a specific approach taking into account end-to-end testing using specific tools.
  •  Unique approaches to testing ERP are emerging. New technologies allow for automated pre-packaged test cases to test the various ERP implementations.

March 3, 2010  8:12 PM

Real-world Agile: The advantage of Product Owner demos

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

During a discussion about Scrum at the Boulder Agile User Group (BAUG) meeting recently, Paul Quarles of Oppenheimer Funds shared his experience as a  Product Owner demoing to the business in a Scrum environment. I’ll share that story and my take on the moniker, Agilists, in this post.

There are no speakers or formal presentations at BAUG meetings. This is more of a casual sharing of experiences and dilemmas that people are experiencing as they use agile at their workplaces. What’s cool about this group is that people describe what’s happening in the real world — not necessarily what the books tell you or what the classes teach you, but what is really happening. As we all know, real life rarely works out exactly as the books describe. This may be why many people think that software development is not something you can learn from a text book or a class, but something you must experience.

Of the many topics discussed that evening, the use of Scrum came up most often. Everyone was very positive about their experiences with Scrum and were strong supporters of agile. I’ve been hearing the word “agilist” to describe agile supporters; but, being a bit of a wordsmith, I’ve decided the word “evagilist” might be a better way to describe these evangelists.

I asked the group if I might take back a “real world agile story” for Software Quality Insights, and that’s when Paul Quarles shared his Product Owner experiences.

In Scrum, there’s a Product Owner, Scrum Master, and a Team, comprised of developers and testers.   Scrum uses short iterations ending in a deliverable piece of code that can be demoed.  The books say that it’s the Team’s responsibility to demo the work results to the Product Owner. However, Paul — the Product Owner for his Scrum project — says that he is the person that demos the code for the business users.  Listen to his accounting of why this works well for his group.

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I plan to gather more of these Real World Agile stories each month. Maybe I could even make a Reagility TV Series!

March 3, 2010  6:28 PM

Regression test, reporting tools mark VersionOne’s new release

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

VersionOne, an Agile-focused application lifecycle management product (ALM) vendor, has just released Ultimate Edition, a suite of software testing and management tools that includes current and new features. Customizable reporting capabilities and enhanced regression test functionality are new features in the new Ultimate Edition package.

Other VersionOne solutions include Team Edition, a free set of tools for a single team new to agile. It is a web-based tool based on spreadsheets with an agile workflow. The Enterprise Edition builds on the Team Edition, scaling for multiple teams, projects and locations. The Ultimate Edition adds customizable analytics platform and enhanced regression test management to the Enterprise Edition.

I spoke with VersionOne CEO Robert Holler shortly after the Ultimate Edition announcement. He said that VersionOne uses its own IdeaSpace software to collect input from users about what features they’re intested in. Requests for reporting enhancements have been repeatedly asked for, he said, and new features will allow users more choices in reporting.

“They’ll be able to use one of the many role-based best practice dashboards, a configurable analytics grid which is essentially a spreadsheet on steroids or use our wizard-driven user interface allowing roll-your-own reports.”

In talking about the enhancements for regression test management, Holler explained that VersionOne’s Ultimate Edition allows for the creation of a repository of regression tests that can be chosen from the acceptance test buckets and run automatically with builds as scheduled. I asked if the regression test enhancements were a result of user requests as well, but Holler said that was more of a strategic decision for VersionOne. 

As for the bundling of the Ideas Management module, I couldn’t really see the advantage for this piece of the announcement. The Ideas Management module is still available as a separate add-on and doesn’t add any improved functionality when packaged with the Ultimate Edition. Holler said that they were trying to move away from the modular approach and provide more of a full-function solution with the bundling.

When asked how he felt about the recent announcement of CollabNet’s acquisition of Danube’s ScrumWorks, Holler felt that it was a positive sign of the industry’s recognition of the agile trend.  “There is consolidation going on and incredible interest and momentum around agile,” he said.

VersionOne uses agile methodologies in internal software development. Also, iterative releases and agile concepts are also used in VersionOne’s marketing and services organizations.  “Fundamentally it’s a good way to do business,” Holler said.

March 1, 2010  7:48 PM

Networking virtually at SSQ’s application performance seminar

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Last week, I was able to attend a trade show, network with performance test experts, learn about some new performance test tools and hear some very informative presentations — all free and from the comfort of my den. How did I do it? Well, virtually, of course.

SearchSoftwareQuality hosted Build, Bug, and Lifecycle Strategies, a virtual trade show focused on tools, strategies and techniques for executing effective application performance management. There were even prizes given out for visitor participation.

The last virtual seminar I’d attended was at Sun and held using Second Life. Now, I’m not one to knock new technologies; but I have to tell you, I got a little bit freaked out when I started flying around in Second Life without really knowing how to navigate.  I finally made it to the conference room to listen to Scott McNealy’s keynote and couldn’t quite figure out how to sit down.  Then I saw some poor guy’s avatar wandering aimlessly across the virtual stage in front of the virtual Scott McNealy.  “Someone better help that guy off the stage,” quipped the “live” McNealy from somewhere in cyberspace. Yes, Second Life can take a little getting used to.

The software used for the APM Virtual Trade Show was much more intuitive and everything worked seamlessly.  I’m often confused in real life, so I was a bit concerned about running around in a virtual world with no training. However, despite my typical navigational challenges, I had no trouble figuring out how to both hang out in the Networking Lounge, while simultaneously listening to the various presentations and Webcasts where experts were enlightening us with advice on performance and load test.

If you missed the virtual seminar, don’t worry. All presentations will be available for the next month at the following link: Application Performance Management Virtual Seminar: Build, Bug and Lifecycle Strategies.

And to give you very early notice, SearchSoftwareQuality’s next virtual trade show will be about Application Lifecycle Management and is planned for May 19th.

So no need to learn to virtually fly or create a fancy avatar.  Enjoy the virtual trade show and plan to join us at the next trade show on May 19th.

February 24, 2010  6:24 PM

Is Agile the only way? How does Lisa Crispin weigh in?

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

The other day I posted a blog entitled: Methodology Wars: Agile or waterfall? Much to my delight, it has generated comments from both camps as well as from people who fall in-between, thinking a middle-of-the-road approach is doable.

I ran into Agile guru, Lisa Crispin at the Denver Agile User Group meeting the other night, so I took the opportunity to ask for her opinion on this matter.  Obviously, Lisa is a proponent of agile methodologies, but I wanted to know if she thought there were times when agile might not be the best methodology for a software project.

Here’s how she answered:

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Crispin and Janet Gregory co-authored the book, “Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams.” Crispin will be presenting at the StarEast conference in Orlando, April 26-30.  Check out this quick preview of what you can expect to see if you’re able to attend one of her sessions:

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I’m looking forward to seeing her there!

February 23, 2010  8:35 PM

Crowdsource specialist uTest launching new performance, load test offerings

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

uTest, known for their crowdsourced approach to functional testing, is adding load and performance testing to their offerings. SearchSoftwareQuality got wind of uTest’s news, to be formally announced on Wednesday, February 24, and spoke with Vice President of Marketing and Community Matt Johnston. “We’ll be offering three flavors to our customers: Live Load, Simulated Load, and Hybrid Load,” said Johnston.

Johnston explained that Live Load would entail coordinating with their global team of testers to simultaneously test the system. Simulated Load will use test tools designed to simulate load on a system. Hybrid Load, will do both: use tools to simulate a load using the test tools, while testers are simultaneously performing functional test.

“There are certain bugs that only reveal themselves while your application is under load,” Johnston explained. Applications that use flash or streaming video, for example, need to be checked for quality of audio and video while the application is experiencing heavy traffic.

Currently these performance test offerings are primarily for Web-based applications because that’s where there is greatest demand, but uTest is willing to dig in and customize performance test efforts for customers with other needs. At some point, Johnston thinks there might be additional interest in the mobile market as it continues to mature, but right now Web-based performance test is their biggest market.

The competitors in the performance test arena are not other groups that offer crowdsource services, but the vendors and consultants that specialize in performance test tools, such as HP’s LoadRunner, according to Johnston. How uTest differs from consultants that specialize in certain tools is that, thanks to the uTest crowdsource model, they have access to a vast array of test tools and performance test experts.

“uTest has over 23,000 testers spread across 163 countries,” Johnston told us. Being a uTest member myself, I reminded Johnston that many of the 23,000 testers were inactive, and Johnston agreed. In any online community the typical makeup is 90 percent inactive (“lurkers”), nine percent active and one percent hyperactive.  With uTest, Johnston said the spread is more like 70 percent inactive, 27 percent active and three percent hyperactive, so uTest is a more active community than most. 

All uTest testers fill out a personal profile with information about their skill sets, locations and the technologies and tools to which they have access. This information helps uTest match people with the right skillset to the clients. Again, being a member myself — albeit a self-proclaimed “lurker” — I can well attest to uTest’s active community. Even though I rarely sign up to test, I have found the site one that actively encourages networking and professional development.

I asked Johnston about the pricing model for performance test, knowing that when I was a performance test manager at Sun, LoadRunner consultants were very expensive. Johnston said that the price will vary depending on the client’s needs. Though they follow the market and will charge more for expertise in the competitively-priced tools, overall, using uTest will give the client a cost advantage. Due to the wide array of testers, skills, and tools available, there is flexibility in what can be done and the client isn’t locked in to any high-priced contracts.

uTest CEO, Doron Reuveni, will be presenting at the upcoming StarEast conference on April 29th. My SSQ colleague, Dan Mondello, and I will be at the conference and plan to talk to Reuveni and more with Johnston there. So, stay tuned for more news and information on crowdsource testing.

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