5 More Best practices for Test Driven Development (TDD)

Test driven development

Test Driven Development (TDD) is a testing methodology that helps achieve Speed and Quality with its specifically structured mechanisms. In 2015 we published a blog post on 7 Best Practices for Agile Test Driven Development (TDD). The blog post was hugely appreciated, liked and shared and got over 80,000 hits.

In this post, we take that further and discuss 5 More Best Practices to derive maximum results from TDD.

Businesses, small-medium-large, are constantly trying to reduce their costs and at the same time race up to the market. Software Testing approaches and methodologies are being designed increasingly to address both objectives – Speed and Quality.

Over a period of time, software testing for business critical software and applications is being increasingly outsourced. Reasons are pretty evident – leveraging expertise, cutting down time to market, spike up productivity, cost-effectiveness, and improved code quality.

Building a robust and resilient software/application is getting more and more critical, as most virtual interfaces offer new customers and opportunities. The software/application further links and interacts with third party applications that help deliver desired customer experience. For instance, Banking/Financial applications have numerous offshoots to complete the necessary transactions.

Most importantly, getting third party expertise on board gives practical insights into the code’s quality and provides an undoubted proof that the code works as intended.

While these reasons remain true for outsourcing any type of software testing, it holds true for Test Driven Development (TDD) as well, considering that any form or type of approach has to help serve the business-critical objectives.

Investments are high and risks are equally high, so getting the best approach that enables agility and speed is critical.

Why consider Test Driven Development?

Before we understand various related aspects, let’s get the macro perspective. The core objective behind considering TDD is to build smaller test cycles and bring more agility in the process.

With TDD you start by scripting the test cases for a new functionality, followed by production code required to pass the test, post that you refactor the code to increase its sustainability.

It is a technique adopted both for designing the software and testing it. The automated Unit tests are written before the code in this approach, which enables you to get fast confirmation on whether the code behaves as expected.

TDD is a development process that establishes its finding/assessments on recurrence of a short development cycle, where the developer writes automated test cases that would further define improvements or new functions and then produce minimum required code to pass the test and ultimately refactor the new code to the required/improved standards.

practices for test driven development

The way TDD works, presents its approach and objective too.

The objective is to have shorter test cycles – introduce a new test, execute all tests, look out for failures, generate a code, execute the test again, refactor the code basis the results, and then repeat the process.

Some key reasons for considering TDD are:

  • Reduce development costs
  • Cut down time to market in the development process
  • Improve programmer’s productivity
  • Develop a neat code that is well-defined
  • Cut down turnaround time
  • Generates proof that the developed code works as expected
  • Boosts the process of generating quality code

Breakthrough development processes like TDD need some assured best practices.

  • Prepare a road-map of tests

Test-first approach helps you to validate the created tests with ease. With the red-green refactor routine, first step is to create a ‘red’ test and ensure that all problems related to the code are exposed.

Test-first approach enables sketching the thoughts and then breaking it down into test cases. So, while considering the Test driven approach it is recommended to sketch out a roadmap of tests and get an idea of the approach. It is specifically applicable and relevant for an approach, where constant distractions are expected.

  • Spell out the rules

After the standards/rules are set, it helps organize the tests in a more logical pattern and make the testing tools align with these rules/conventions. Additionally, it is important to ensure that everyone in the team knows about the conventions implemented and is in sync with it.

Apart from this, more popular conventions are implemented to help the new members on boarding the project. It will help them to get to speed and leverage the existing knowledge.

  • Treat implementation separately

It is a common practice to have two source directories – for Implementation and Testing. The number of source directories for bigger projects can increase, but separation must be maintained between implementation and test codes.

The obvious benefit is that it reduces the chances of accidentally packaging tests with production binaries.

  • Similarly name test classes

It is a commonly implemented practice to name test classes similar to implementation classes with changes in the suffix. For instance, if the implementation class is magicmix, then the test class should be magicmixtest.

Additionally, in order to help identify methods that are tested, test classes can be separated by the function. For instance, if the test class has add or remove option, it can read as magicmixAddTest and magicmixRemoveTest.

The basic benefit is to identify and locate the tests within the entire maze.

  • Write a new code only when the test fails

TDD involves generation of tests constantly and within short cycles. If the initial tests are successfully running without any failures and there is no need to rewrite, then either the functionality already exists or there is some defect with the test.

In this approach, the tests are expected to fail so that verifications and amendments are done to the implementation code. This helps confirm that the test is not effective without implementation.

If implemented consistently with the right approach, TDD can significantly reduce the number of defects. It can further cut down additional efforts in the overall development process, as it helps fix issues faster and retest defects rigorously.

Ultimately it helps in improving the overall code design, thanks to shorter test and development cycles, enabling faster time-to-market.

Gallop experts collaborate with acclaimed and innovative enterprises to develop and implement an appropriate testing strategy as per their requirements and specifications. Our Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) Services have been consistently delivering the needs of enterprises and ISVs across various verticals.

Connect with our experts to devise a test strategy that enables not just faster turnaround time, but offers agility to restructure your tests and enhance value.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

How to Find Defects Even Before Coding Starts

how to find defects even before coding starts

 

A popularly used idiom states, ‘Being an early bird is better than being a night owl’. This might not click literally, but, the idea is that in today’s competent software development scenario it is considered beneficial to plan testing along with the process of development. ‘Start testing early’ is one of the principles in the software development life cycle. In this article we intend to evaluate the advantages and logic behind starting the testing process way ahead in SDLC. The underlying motive is to help identify defects and issues before the production/coding starts.

Testing domain experts address testing as a skill, which should be honed time and again. It evolves as per the requirements and challenges in a concerned project. The new school of thought suggests that testing starts early in the development stage, which can help identify defects in the initial stages. One of the key reasons being that it is an expensive affair to resolve issues that get spotted later in SDLC.

The Standard Process

A standard software development life cycle plan based on the Waterfall model usually entails the following:

  1. ‘Planning’, where requirements are captured and requirements are assessed.
  2. Freezing the requirements and analysing them.
  3. Actual implementation (coding) starts in this phase.
  4. Testing – the stage where testing of a product practically starts.

This being a standard process, it may differ from project to project. If the project does not go as planned; overall Planning, Analysis, Design & Coding takes more than the estimated time causing hurdles for the overall project planning. This would happen in situations where the project has to be delivered under stringent timelines.

In such situations when the release date is frozen and there is no scope of flexibility, it results in immediate and massive impact on the testing and quality of the software / application. At the same time, customers are being promised a robust application, which determines the success of entire project and ultimately commercial success for the customer.

What’s the Solution?

So, the only logical way out is to align the testing alongside and start it way in advance of the development process/coding.

In this scenario, organizations are witnessing a cultural shift with Agile Development methodology and DevOps. While DevOps bridges the gap between IT operations and Development, the Agile approach encourages progressive planning and development for constant enhancement. Moreover, it emphasises on keeping a swift and flexible approach towards change.

With this approach, testing gets embedded into the system, which helps in managing defects much in advance. It also offers a holistic approach towards the overall software development process. Additionally, the ‘Start Early Testing’ strategy works wonders as it soaks in feedback from inception and emphasizes on keeping the quality bar high.

How can this be planned?

  1. Analyze your test result: If you do not ignore the test results, it ultimately helps you to understand the root cause of any ‘failed’ result and provide solution at an early stage.
  2. Expand the test coverage: While testing an application, it is advisable to maximum the testing process across the application.
  3. Segment the AUT: With a view to derive maximum mileage out of the testing process, the Application Under Test (AUT) can be broken down into segments. For instance, breaking down a desktop application for segmented testing purpose.
  4. Writing test cases for better functionality: By putting down the test cases for valid and invalid conditions, it becomes possible to understand and cover the various behavioural aspects of the AUT.
  5. Start off on the right foot: A tester should ideally approach the project with an attitude to find defects, which will leave no scope for error and the application gets tested in a fool proof manner.
  6. Constantly share Test cases with developers: It is important to share the test cases with developers before the coding starts, instead of keeping it with you till the final application release for testing purposes. The test cases will enable the coders in the development process and reduce duplicity in work at a later stage. Sometime the developers are not equipped with the right test cases, so, this approach of sharing enables the developers.
  7. Performance testing for critical applications: It is suggested that the applications requiring critical response should be tested from the beginning. Performance testing comes to rescue for such instances as against Manual testing.

Rewards of starting early testing:

  • It enables the teams to understand the scope of work / testing needs. For instance, few items can skip the testing process considering they won’t get impacted.
  • Testing at requirement stage makes the process cost effective and rational.
  • Writing test cases way ahead in the development cycle helps solve them in time.
  • It helps quantify the scope of the problem.
  • It further helps prepare the test environment and prevents further delays and gives sufficient time to handle any unknown risks.
  • It provides more time for the testing team, which doesn’t compromise the quality of the software / application.

‘Quality is built in, not added on’.

This implies that aligning the testing activities with the development process helps address bugs and gives utmost importance to the quality aspect.

Early testing for identifying defects / issues

  • The Early testing concept ensures that testing becomes an integral part of the overall development process.
  • Planning the testing phases and schedule from the initiation of the project is a key step
  • It is important to estimate the requirements for System testing / UAT and at the same time test cases should be prepared.
  • Test preparations must begin before the actual testing process starts.
  • A tester should start identifying defects from the requirement collection stage. This should be executed through the analysis and design stage as well.
  • Proceeding from the Design stage, Integration testing cases and Unit test cases should be completed.

What do we infer?

When the testing process starts early, it is easier and cost effective to identify and address the bugs as it is cheaper to fix bugs at an earlier stage as against at a later stage. For instance, if an issue / conflict is found in the requirement stage it will be lot easier and feasible to handle it at that point. On the contrary, if the defect is found at the maintenance stage when the product has already gone LIVE, it is bound to incur higher costs.

An Agile approach helps you to get the feedback cycles rolling early on by involving the customers much in advance. Though there is a thin line separating Agile & DevOps, those considering the Agile approach might be much more acquainted with DevOps. Agile principles can be implemented effectively on the development and QA process, however, it is a challenge to incorporate it on the operations side. This is where DevOps comes into play to bridge the gap.

Is your enterprise planning to implement an Agile Test Automation strategy and looking out for a competent partner? Gallop’s team of test automation experts would be excited to collaborate with you to build a robust and tested strategy.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Successfully Implementing TDD/BDD to Enable Shift-Left Testing Approach

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Today, when developers are using tools like J unit/N unit for testing their code, approaches such as test driven development (TDD) and behaviour driven development (BDD) focus on improving the quality of the code that is being written. Though the approaches require a different mind-set, the objective remains the same.

Usually Behaviour driven development is focused on the business behaviour of your code: the “why” behind the code. The focus is usually on the intent rather than process. It supports a team-centric (especially cross-functional) workflow. BDD works really well when a developer and either the agile product owner or a business analyst sit down together and write the pending specifications:

  • The business person specifies the exact functionality they want to see in the system.
  • The developer asks questions based on their understanding of the system, while also writing down additional behaviours needed from a development perspective.

Ideally, both parties can refer to the list of current system behaviours to see if this new feature will break existing features. This way quality comes first and the entire product is understood which decreases the defect entry into the development related to requirements or functionality of the system.

Test Driven development on the other hand focuses on implementation of the system. For example, writing a better quality code that helps in maintaining the health of the code with no nonsense into the system.

Approaches like TDD/BDD are used to understand the requirements clearly without any ambiguities and help developers to write tests in a way that makes code execution successful. These methods enable testers to think of solutions using a bottom up approach that helps prevention of defects in the later stages. This approach also helps clarify any ambiguities in the requirements early on in the software development lifecycle, before coding actually begins. With an increased level of understanding of the features and requirements, developers know what exactly needs to be coded, as also what needs to be included or excluded in the code, thereby preventing leakage of defects into the code in the later phases of development lifecycle. The mindset and ability to focus on producing quality product with minimum to no defects from inception/upstream process is enabled by these methods that complement the shift left approach.

While the development teams like this approach, the project teams blame the TDD/BDD process for slowing down the software development process. However, it has been realized that implementation of TDD/BDD practices in the initial development phases enables organizations face lower defects in the later stages. This helps in the maintenance of the code, increases the defect removal efficiency, and also reduces the time to market of the product. The TDD/BDD approach is also best suited for applications where the requirements undergo progressive elaboration. The frequently tested code has lesser defects and enables faster delivery of working software to the clients.

Practices like unit testing and adopting TDD/BDD provide high code coverage coupled with faster feedback regarding unexpected defects/surprises/issues and thus becomes an additive element in the reinforced process.

TDD/BDD practices also enhance practices like requirement management for covering the finer topics like requirement elicitation, requirements acceptance criteria, and requirements review prior to the development process. Requirement traceability is also enhanced when test cases are traced back to the requirements giving a picture of test coverage functionally.

A seamless implementation of both approaches identifies defects early on in the SDLC process, reduce risks, and reduce cost of rework which is a significant cost in software development process. TDD/BDD helps align the mind-set to the left focussing on quality from concept-to-cash for building the right product with the right intent in the best possible way.

In a nutshell, the BDD/TDD practices enable the following:

  • Move defect identification and prevention to the left (early stages of SDLC)
  • Reduce issues/surprises/incidents in the production
  • Help teams stay focused on Continuous Delivery
  • Compliment the agile/iterative development
  • Improve the overall build deployability by reduced lead times and increased quality
The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Practical Approach for Improving Agile Testing Maturity – Part 2

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Continuing from where we left off in Practical Approach for Improving Agile Testing Maturity – Part 1, let us deep dive into the remaining critical factors for improving an organizations’ agile testing maturity. As explained, the 5 steps to improve your agile test maturity are:

  1. Discover and Document
  2. Analyze and Benchmark
  3. Develop a Roadmap
  4. Transformation Approach
  5. Continuous Process Improvement

We discussed the first two steps in the previous blog. Let us now see what the remaining steps entail.

Develop a Roadmap

Based on the results and inferences that can be made from the Analyze and benchmark phase, a transformation agenda can be generated. This agenda, if adopted, will act as a roadmap to convert your goals into reality. The Vision and Mission must be clearly drafted and put in place. The roadmap should contain both long-and-short term strategic objectives that are aligned with achieving the business goals.

At a very high-level, the roadmap should include the objectives being targeted, the low-hanging fruits, quick wins, and the potential benefits. Usually a roadmap must be proposed against a set of focus areas or business objectives governed with a strategy, reference models, and enablers that complement the mission. In a testing environment, the organizations can focus on the following focus areas including, but not limited to Testing in Agile Environment, Test Coverage Enhancements, Improving the Testing Lead times, and focusing on the elements that enable the transformation. Organization can do a quick cost benefit analysis, prioritize the areas for improvement based on the value proposition, the business impact, and return on investment (ROI). Categorizing the improvement areas will help teams to stay focused and resilient. Usually efforts invested in enhancing customer satisfaction, quality, and product alignment take precedence over efforts being made on improving the operational efficiency.

That said, a roadmap without a proper transformation approach is as useless as trying to reach a destination without a proper route map to reach there.

Transformation Approach

Transformation approach is another vital aspect for converting Vision to Mission. A Target Operating Model has to be designed that sets the tone for transformation. This model can be developed with all the intended and implied needs of customers or clients. For an organization invested in, is following agile development, and is focused on improving its testing maturity, the following focus areas may be considered:

  • Test Organization
  • Functional and Non-functional test coverage
  • Test Efficiency
  • Test Tools Management
  • Transformation levers such as Knowledge base, Skilled resources, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), infrastructural needs etc.

In essence, the Target Operating Model is a low level framework and a workable solution with the finest of the details in the transformation strategy.

In the later stages, transformation can be noticed in the re-baselining of processes, training the associates on improved process, piloting the improvements in a phased manner, collecting the feedback and then re-optimizing the processes. This is an everlasting, continuing loop that organizations should tend to adopt for meeting the ever increasing demands and needs of their clients/customers.

Continuous Process Improvement

Having discussed the roadmap and transformation stages, let us get now get an insight on the process improvement journey. A continuous process improvement requires formal self-assessment/Independent audits/Third party audits to be put in place with the help of industry accepted frameworks, or customized and home grown frameworks.

The incessant demands and needs of the customers force the organizations to adapt new changes and improve existing processes. Hence, the entire ecosystem we spoke about earlier comes into scope and is again applicable.

Audits and assessments give us ample opportunities for finding the shortfalls in the system against the current business needs or prevailing conditions, thus enabling us to focus on the new improvement aspects. The shortfalls are addressed by taking corrective actions that enable improving the existing agile testing environments. This never ending journey helps organizations keep on their toes and motivate them for making continuous improvements to their process according to the changing demand scenarios created by their customers. These changes and improvements help come up with better, and user friendly features that make the product more popular and stable, thereby bringing about a much desired increase in the demand.

Organizations that try to follow and implement these 5 steps to improve their agile test maturity will definitely see a marked positive impact in their business outcomes.

If you are a large organization trying to implement an Agile test automation strategy, contact Gallop’s team of test automation experts. Our tool agnostic test automation framework consists of a huge library of keywords that help you build your tests quickly and efficiently, and seamlessly integrate with leading commercial and open source tools.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Practical Approach for Improving Agile Testing Maturity – Part 1

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Today, a lot of software is being developed (and tested) in increasingly Agile environments for accelerating the product delivery with uncompromised quality and ability to manage the ever-changing priorities. Boundaries between diverse functions are shrinking and roles and responsibilities are undergoing a big shift. Organizations aspiring to be competitive still find it challenging to adapt to these changes. It is only with an increased level of understanding about Agile testing, its impact, and its methodologies, that the Agile practice attains a level of maturity and acceptance, that organizations will be able to grow and expand.

The number of organizations embracing Agile methods has been steadily increasing even though there are a number of obstacles. However, the good news is that more and more organizations are becoming confident and show growing levels of maturity in applying Agile testing processes.

What is Agile Testing?

Agile testing, per Wiki, “is a software testing practice that follows the principles of agile software development.” It involves cross-functional agile teams whose members are usually testing experts responsible for delivering the required business value at frequent intervals.

A few challenges in Agile Testing:

  • Lack of comprehensive testing approaches that may fit with existing agile environments
  • Applying test automation to agile projects poses another challenge
  • Improper identification of the focus areas of focus
  • Unavailability of testing tools for creation of reusable test sets
  • Unavailability of skilled agile testing expertise

What is Agile Testing Maturity?

Agile Testing Maturity refers to the level at which an organization has implemented the best practices using Agile Principles and models like SCRUM, SAFe. However, a practical approach to improve the maturity level is to follow a model like CMMI or TMMI which provides a staged approach for improving the maturity.The Agile testing maturity model (ATMM) acts as a Team related maturity model that helps you measure the current levels of Agile maturity.

5 Steps to Improve Your Agile Test Maturity

  1. Discover and Document
  2. Analyze and Benchmark
  3. Develop a Roadmap
  4. Transformation Approach
  5. Continuous Process Improvement

We will cover the first two steps – Discover and Document & Analyze and Benchmark in this blog. The remaining steps will be covered in the next blog.

Discover and Document

Based on the goals and objectives of your organization, use this step to clearly define where you want to go. Use customized questionnaires and inventory templates to capture the AS-IS state of the Agile maturity in your organization and document your goals, constraints, timelines, risks, and the key focus areas.

Analyze and Benchmark

The best way to go about improving the Agile maturity of an organization is to know exactly where you stand. Using this as the starting point, assess where you are in terms of the existing implemented processes and People, Test Automation & Performance, and Tools, Environment, and Test Data practices around agile implementation. Develop an end-to-end Agile Test Assessment Framework using models like TMMI, TPI, Agile, DevOps and ITIL, and prioritize key focus areas per their maturity levels and benchmark them against industry.

The following sample image depicts the various components involved in providing Agile Test Maturity to an organization:agile testing, agile principles, agile models, scrum, agile testing maturity model, agile project management tools, agile test environment, test data, test automation, test automation framework, gallop solutions, software testing, software testing services, quality assurance testing, software testing company, gallop solutions review, Agile-testing-maturity

The components are described below.

People

People form the backbone of any system that aspires to become huge. Agile values and principles strongly voice them. Hence, cross-functional skills, motivation levels, learning appetite of the resources becomes critical success factors within organization. Agile testing also in similar lines needs people who are competent, skilled and versatile in testing various platforms.

Following are some commonly found stages of agile team formations:

  1. Forming: At this level, the Team starts to perform as an Agile team with roles and responsibilities fully understood.
  2. Agile Bonding: At this level, the Agile team starts getting accustomed to the new rules and starts to work in tandem as a well-knit team.
  3. Performing: At this level, the team is a fully-functional Agile team that has understood the concept of Agile and SCRUM.
  4. Scaling: At this level, the Agile Team is mature enough to develop its own methods of working based on continuous improvement.

Processes

This covers the multiple processes that support and complement collocated and geographically distributed teams. A set of customizable practices and lean processes need to be implemented in the projects for producing quality products with accelerated delivery.

Agile Project Management Tools, Test Environment, and Test Data

These crucial set of elements need special attention. Agile Project Management Tools such as Atlassian – Jira, Microsoft-TFS, Rally, and Version One go a long way in helping organizations improve their Agile Testing Maturity. Using these tools, geographically distributed teams can access real-time updates, thereby improving the transparency and information. Continuous integration and continuous deployment also increases the rate of feedback and provides space to teams to react and fix the issues/bugs instantly. Testing teams should be provided with agile test environments that closely resemble the production environment. This instils better confidence with regards to product performance and delivery in the real time scenario. Today a lot of licensed and open-source test environment provisioning tools help teams to have test environments set up with a push button, saving a lot of time and effort. Similarly, automation is being used for test data management wherever possible to cater to the needs of testing, thereby reducing manual intervention and ensuring accuracy and timeliness for test data provisioning.

Test Automation & Performance

While delivering products at sheer speed, the delivery pipeline needs to be robust and flexible enough to meet the continuous demand without compromising on the quality of the product. There exists an opportunity with modern set of IT tools for organizations to automate certain amount of manual tasks. This results in reduced manual efforts due to the improvements the in terms of testing the products performance. Automation strategy for testing helps expedite the process of delivery and quality checks with minimum effort and maximized ROI.  Test Automation framework is the key factor to get beneficial out of test automation.

Amature Agile Testing approach adds a lot of positive business benefits such as reduced time to go-to-market with a product showcasing the complete understanding of the customers’ requirements, helps teams to feel appreciated and valued which makes them want to contribute further and add more value to the organization.

Read on for the remaining steps – Develop a Roadmap, Transformation Approach, and Continuous Improvement – that will be covered in the next blog.

If you are a large organization trying to implement an Agile test automation strategy, contact Gallop’s team of test automation experts. Our tool agnostic test automation framework consists of a huge library of keywords that help you build your tests quickly and efficiently, and seamlessly integrate with leading commercial and open source tools.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Putting Quality First Through Continuous Testing

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The one thing that can make or break an organization in today’s competitive age is the Quality of the products it creates. To meet, and then beat the severe competition, every organization must be able to showcase excellence in their offerings and deliver quality, robust applications.

Delivering a Quality product implies delivering a product that provides the best performance according to users’ requirements, and is bug-free.

To meet this requirement, every organization is scouting for newer, yet proven ways of working that can help their teams work in a seamless manner to produce the most reliable product. In their search for well-established processes, a lot of companies are making an effort to adopt DevOps as part of their culture.

DevOps creates a culture that helps in achieving the goals of quality and time to market by employing the following means:

  • Collaborative Development: Or shift-left to increase the understanding and collaboration between cross-functional teams
  • Continuous Integration (CI) & Continuous Testing (CT): While Agile suggests continuous integration and testing, it does not call it a mandatory function. In a DevOps environment, however, both Continuous Integration & Continuous Testing are mandatory to be performed. This has a huge impact on the quality of a product.
  • Continuous Release and Deployment: With a shippable product ready after every integration, there is a marked increase in the frequency of product release and deployment
  • Continuous Monitoring: Continuously monitoring the performance of a product helps improve the quality multifold.

So once you begin your shift-left journey, and things become more streamlined across functions, CT of your product is what needs to be planned for, and implemented.

CT, per Wiki, is “the process of executing automated tests as part of the software delivery pipeline to obtain immediate feedback on the business risks associated with a software release candidate.”

There should be a mechanism to check for feedback at the end of each phase to check whether the product is all ready for the next phase – or it requires some corrective actions before moving ahead.

CT aims at delivering go-to-market ready, high-quality, robust working code at a frequency and ensures quality at every phase of the app’s development. It comprises Unit tests, API testing, Integration testing, and System testing at each phase of SDLC, thus incorporating consistent quality checks at every step of the SDLC process starting with design, building the app and through all phases of production. An effective testing and quality process enables faster time to market, constant releases and minimizes risks in the post production phase. For instance, in the Automobile segment, Continuous Testing at every phase of the production process is inevitable.

Following is a list of the fundamental objectives of Continuous testing:

  1. Get a holistic view of the application / product
  2. Ensure efficacy, quality, and robustness
  3. Flawless delivery
  4. Faster time to market

So how exactly does Continuous Testing help promote Quality?

Continuous Testing facilitates and empowers you with an automated, seamless way to obtain prompt feedback on the business risks associated with the application / product. This helps maintain quality, but ensures effective entry in the market place.

Following are a few activities performed as part of the CT process that help create – and promote – Quality of a product:

  • Use a Version control system for the automation test scripts: Proper, centralized management of test scripts makes it easier for everyone involved to use the critical asset. This helps provide anytime access to all the latest test scripts that need to be executed. Removal of ambiguity with regards to the latest code builds and accessibility has a direct impact on the speed of test execution and the generation of the quality results as expected.
  • Integrate the build deployment tool with an automation suite: Integrating the build deployment tool and the automation suite helps centralize the execution of tests and the reporting of the results. This helps increase the speed of test executions, thus reducing the go-to-market time. Again, centralization of the activities will help testing everything – thus creating a more robust and reliable product.
  • A few typical tests run at each checkpoint are the health checks (- if the services are up as required), smoke tests (- if the key features are operating as planned and there are no critical defects), and regression tests (- controls the feedback time by executing automated tests in parallel via multiple threads or machines).

In case of any failure, all deployment must be stopped and the entire DevOps team – developers, testers and operations staff – starts taking the required corrective action. These continuous, frequent feedback loops help create a stable, quality product.

For example, with the consistent innovation and demands in the segment of Mobility services, continuous Quality checks related to performance, usability and security are a must to create high quality mobile apps across various development platforms.

While testing is often ignored when it comes to DevOps – it may actually prove to be a major blow to your dream of achieving true success. Gallop Solutions helps you realize the gains that DevOps can bring with a proper automated testing framework in place. Integrating automated testing with your DevOps is the best thing to do if you want to save on time and money, while increasing quality and time to market. To take your testing & QA needs to the next level and know more about performing Continuous testing, contact us at info@gallop.net.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

How can I Reduce Feedback Latency using Continuous Integration Testing?

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Before we get into the main topic, let us first understand the basics.

What is Latency?

Latency, in common terms, is the delay/time lapse between input and output (stimulation and response), or, cause and effect. Considering the fact that any delays in the area of communication adds on to the cost of developing a product – both in terms of time and efforts, it is very important to keep it under control.

What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous Integration (CI) is a paradigm shift in the world of software development that lays huge emphasis on communicating the changes that have been made by the developers. CI requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository several times a day while an automated build verifies each check-in for any problem.

Benefits of CI

Agile teams deliver quality software fast, without death marches or heroics. CI makes this possible.

A properly implemented CI environment usually provides the following benefits to an organization:

  • Helps in the rapid integration of complex systems that helps improve the process efficiency across the board, accelerates growth, promotes user-driven innovation, and saves significant IT efforts.
  • Helps reduce instances of ‘Big Bang Integration’ wherein all units are linked at once, resulting in a complete system. Testing an instance of Big Bang Integration is very complicated because the errors found cannot be isolated as the interfaces across individual units are not verified properly. As the defects are identified at very late stage, the probability of missing out on some critical defects is very high.
  • Helps maintain a state of Constant Readiness that leads to a better CM Control.
  • Helps promote and manage early automation, and makes it more efficient and repeatable.
  • Helps provide a robust, stable environment that supports continuous execution of tests.
  • Helps reduce the number of Deadlocked Test queues, reduces the amount of work categorized as ‘work-in-progress’, and also reduces wastage of resources.

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How Does CI Help Reduce Feedback Latency?

In most organizations, multiple developers use a Version Control System to “commit” or “promote” their changes frequently.

If you are a developer, you must have at least once faced the situation wherein you downloaded the latest source code only to realize that cannot compile or had a major issue. Frustrating, is it not?

In a CI environment, a Build Integration Server watches the Version Control Server, and using build scripts, continuously ‘runs’ these committed files. Once these committed files are executed, the Build Integration Server provides a quick feedback in the form of a Build Status report. This report explains whether or not the new lines of code written work properly. In short, a project is built as soon as a change is committed. This not only takes care of the irritating scenario discussed above, but also reduces the latency that will otherwise creep up.

This dynamic environment thus not only saves efforts worth hours of work, but also lets the entire development team quickly get an overall view of the final code. Developers, apart from keeping track of the impact of their code change, can also have a clear view of the changes being incorporated by their peers.

CI, apart from making sure that the code compilation is successful, also checks whether or not the code is performing the tasks as required. Add the functionality of Test Automation. CI, when used with a properly implemented test automation environment ensures and validates the quality of the build generated.

CI servers help reduce any delays by building the code frequently and providing prompt feedback to the developers about the code changes submitted. These continuous integration servers help populate the changes to the build server, initiate the build process, and generate a report explaining the outcome of the tests performed.

CI servers, with all their benefits, are rapidly making waves and are being adopted as a key technology process as part of the Shift Left movement. Organizations can use CI to reduce rework, improve quality, and thereby improve their ROI.

Organizations today, more than ever before, realize the criticality of communicating the results of the builds to the entire development team. CI systems can use flexible means as e-mails or intranet to display build results. A display of the build report helps developers promptly respond to the build results and reduce the latency issues that are usually faced with nightly or weekly integration builds.

 

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The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Test Automation & Agile Test Quadrants

Test Automation & Agile Test Quadrants

This blog briefly discusses the relationship between Test automation and Agile Test Quadrants.

Test automation is generally defined as “the use of special software (separate from the software being tested) to control the execution of tests and the comparison of actual outcomes with predicted outcomes.”

Agile Test Quadrants (introduced by Brian Marick and further worked upon by Lisa Crispin) try to understand the relationship between the various forms of tests using 4 different quadrants:

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  1. Quadrant 1: Technology-facing tests that support the team
  2. Quadrant 2: Business-facing tests that support the team
  3. Quadrant 3: Business-facing tests that critique the product
  4. Quadrant 4: Technology-facing tests that critique the product

Using the Quadrants help you accomplish goals related to supporting the team, critiquing the product, and meet the business and technological needs.

Following are some details on what each quadrant is made up of, what tools might be used in each, and what is the purpose of each.

Q1 – Technology-facing tests that support the team

Q1 is associated with Automated testing, and covers the tests such as Unit tests, API tests, Web Services testing, and Component Tests. The main benefit of this quadrant is that these tests help improve the design without adversely affecting the functionality. The main objective is to improve the Quality of the product by means of proper source code management, and a seamlessly integrated development environment. A few tools used are TeamCity, Eclipse, xUnit, IntelliJ Idea, etc.

This is a very important quadrant as it helps teams get together to identify the pain points. In case you cannot cope up with the activities of this quadrant, managing the other quadrants will prove to be even more difficult.

Q2 – Business-facing tests that support the team

Q2 is associated with Automated & Manual testing, and covers tests such as Functional Testing, Story Tests, Prototypes, and Simulations. Q2 helps formulate the right set of questions and thus drive tests that are properly aligned with the business. Q2 thrives in an iterative environment, where skilled testers collaborate with clients and understand the responsibility of delivering a quality product. Q2 involves a lot of brainstorming sessions, and thus MindMap may be used as a regular tool along with Visio for flow diagrams.

Behavior-driven development tools and frameworks as Cucumber, and easyB, and UI testing tools/libraries/frameworks such as Selenium, QTP, Robot Framework, etc. also serve as good tools of use.

Q3 – Business-facing tests that critique the product

Q3 is associated with Manual testing, and covers tests such as Exploratory Testing, Scenario-based Testing, Usability Testing, User Acceptance Testing, and Alpha/Beta testing. Q3 is about evaluating the Product and its use by means of demos, feedback, checking the actual user experience, etc. Q3 involves critical thinking and in depth observation of multiple scenarios (usability, API, Web), etc.

While Q3 may use some of the tools used in Q2, it involves a lot more intuition and critical thinking along with interaction with customers. In addition, it also requires the use of Simulators and Emulators.

Q4 – Technology-facing tests that critique the product

Q4 is associated with Automated Tools, and covers tests such as Performance & Load Testing, Security Testing, and ‘*ility’ testing – Stability, Reliability, Scalability, Maintainability, Compatibility, etc. Q4 tests are performed based on priorities – they may begin early in the SDLC phase, or be introduced later on. Some common examples of tools used in Q4 are jConsole, jProfiler, Loadrunner, jMeter, jUnitPerf, etc.

Conclusion

The common ingredient in all the 4 quadrants is the need of a team working together towards a common goal of achieving the best product quality and optimum customer satisfaction.

If you are a large organization trying to implement an automation strategy, contact Gallop’s team of test automation experts. Our tool agnostic test automation framework consists of a huge library of keywords that help you build your tests quickly and efficiently, and seamlessly integrate with leading commercial and open source tools.

Mobile testing in agile environment

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

10 Parameters To Measure The Success Of Your Agile Efforts

10 Parameters To Measure The Success Of Your Agile Efforts

As per the 9th Annual State of Agile Survey, a compilation of inputs from almost 4,000 people, ‘From 2012 to 2014, the percentage of respondents who had distributed teams practicing agile jumped from 35% to 80%.’

However, establishing and implementing Agile methodologies is not enough. We also need to align and select the best fitting Agile Metrics that help in analyzing if the Agile process is really helping us gain anything – or if it is just being followed for namesake.

That said, selecting these metrics is easier said than done. Add to it the fact that at times these metrics are used as weapons to show what wasn’t done rather than a tool to help improve processes.

As per the respondents who took part in the Survey, at least 11% did not even know of any metrics to be used – while almost 58% believed that On-time Delivery is one of the most accurate and most widely accepted metrics. The following list of metrics is from the 9th Annual State of Agile Survey report and discusses how the respondents thought about the same.

#1 On-Time Deliverydelivery

According to the State of Agile survey, 58% of the respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on on-time delivery.

On-time delivery means the delivery of the expected item having the exact same features on the exact date as agreed upon while signing the documents. Metrics such as Burn down and Burn up charts help gain visibility of what is actually being delivered, and if it is on time.

#2 Product Qualityquality

48% of the respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on product quality.

Now, measuring Quality is a tricky thing as it can be interpreted based on client satisfaction, growth in ROI, or the correctness of tests performed during SDLC. To confirm if the quality standards are met for a product developed using the Agile methodology, it is the velocity with which a working software is built that is taken into account. All things Continuous therefore become very important – continuous testing, monitoring, planning, etc.

#3 Customer/User Satisfactionsatisfaction

44% of respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on customer or user satisfaction.

Metrics for customer/user satisfaction include statistics related to sales figures, support calls made compared to the number of features developed and delivered in a given time frame, or usage of product or website.

#4 Business Valuebusiness-value

44% of the respondents to the Survey said they measured agile initiatives based on business value.

Many underlying principles of the Agile Manifesto give due importance to the deliverance of business value. Metrics for measuring the same are usually well defined – for example, the Statement of Work (SoW). Additionally, if each feature being developed for a product can be linked to a value – it can also prove to be a good metric.

#5 Product Scope (Features, Requirements)product-scope

39% of the respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on product scope.

When you have a goal and are clear regarding what you want to do over a specified time, you can very easily track the status and enjoy the progress as you get it completed. This metric can be collected on a daily basis in the Agile Stand Up meetings – and can be represented as burn down charts, or Kanban boards.

#6 Project Visibilityvisibility

30% of respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on Project visibility.

To share clarity regarding a Project, the progress needs to be shared across multiple platforms in diverse forms (for example using a Dependency Chart) so that everyone knows what is it that they need to contribute towards the success. This data also creates an atmosphere of internal cohesion leading to a DevOps like culture which helps manage the project in the best manner possible.

#7 Productivityproducity

29% of the respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on productivity.

Again, the metrics that can be collected via means of a Burn up chart serve as a great resource for measuring the productivity outcome. The story/feature count provides a clear picture as to which team is delivering what sort of an outcome.

#8 PredictabilityPredictability

25% of the respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on predictability.

Velocity Trends are used to generate metrics related to predictability. These trends help us understand the amount of work that has been completed for say a quarter, and what was the average rate of doing the same. A fluctuating velocity reflects unpredictability, changes, or a lack of knowledge.

Story Cards (based on the user stories) completed per week may be the best indicator of predictability.

#9 Process Improvementimprovement

23% of the respondents said they measured agile initiatives based on process improvement.

To measure outcomes that help understand whether or not you are continuously improving, it is suggested to use the Cumulative Flow Charts that explain how work is flowing across SDLC.

#10 Don’t Know

All said and done – it was only 11% of respondents of the State of Agile Survey who said that they aren’t aware if any metrics are being used to measure the success of their Agile related efforts.

Agile teams also look at defects found during development and after product launch, bugs postponed to the next release, how long it takes to fix business critical defects.

Diligently selecting the right agile metrics help create a seamless culture and also help all stakeholders involved to understand the business the organization is in, and how can right metrics help improve delivery processes. These metrics also provide smart and measurable goals based on the different needs of different organizations.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Challenges of Implementing Continuous Integration (CI) at Scale

Challenges of Implementing Continuous Integration (CI) at Scale

Precise adoption of automation techniques helps reduce manual processes, enforce consistency, pave way for early identification of issues within the SDLC and further helps to achieve continuous application delivery. In order to establish a Continuous Delivery environment, the most important requirement is the implementation of an automated Continuous Integration (CI) System. The CI process involves all stages – right from code commits to a version control system (done on the CI server) that serves as a kick off for a build to compile, run tests, and finally package the code.

CI is an integral part of an agile software development setup. For every sprint, the developer needs to deliver incremental features while focusing on the addition of new features and handling code errors that creep in and render the software unusable. To stop such errors from being integrated into the software configuration management (SCM), a CI server acts as a gatekeeper that helps keep a tab on code quality. A CI server performs an automated build that includes testing, reporting, and other actions each time the code base changes. The above activities are performed using different CI servers like Jenkins, Mojo, Hudson, QuickBuild, CruiseControl, Buildbot, etc. Some tools like Puppet and Chef can also help with scripting the provisioning of new environments and in creating additional CI server instances.

Some significant challenges while implementing an effective CI:

Absence of a Central Build Server: There is a necessity for some kind of source code management and some of the commonly used open source tools are Subversion, Git, etc. If you are not currently using version control in your development environment, then you should pay particular attention to repository layout and the subversion workflow along with proper tagging and branching.

Lack of Maintenance of Proper Version Control: At many times lack of maintenance of Version Control leads to variations and issues with software development. Primarily, a CI server checks for code changes in version control, and then downloads that code to the CI server to start off a build. The most common model of the CI server setup is the version control system that notes code changes on a
pre-configured interval. It is very important to maintain version in the development environment.

Lack of Proper Maintenance of Test Servers: If you are performing integration tests, you may also have a set of test servers in which you deploy built artifacts like WARs, JARs, and SARs, and execute your integration tests. Thus test servers play an important role in implementing CI.

Broken Builds: The goal is that the application must be ready to be built, packaged, and deployed on every committed change. It means that broken or untested code should never be committed. Moreover, a code that is production ready, should be managed by strict version control policies and the development team must practice agile development and unit testing, further leading to a better and CI environment.

Strict Organizational Policies: Certain organizations still follow rigid rules with certain internal policies wherein manual approvals and documentation is required before software is deployed into production. This might act in the way of successful CI implementation.

Other factors like the type of CI server plugins installed, the storage of credentials such that CI server can access the source version control can also impact the CI integrations. In order to attain CI, a perfect version control methodology needs to be followed along with taking up a build automation and dependency management strategy. Last but not the least in order to achieve the goal of continuous delivery, it is very important to draw a continuous integration methodology.

Top Continuous Integration Tools to Build Scalable CI

Jenkins: It is developed in Java and can be installed using the simple java command:
–jar Jenkins.war. It is mainly used for building and testing software projects continuously and monitoring externally run jobs. Jenkins supports a set of SCM tools like Git, Mercurial, Subversion, etc. You can also build through Apache Ant and Apache Maven based projects.

Buildbot: It is built based on twisted framework and a Python configuration script that needs to be provided to the master for Buildbot configuration. It is highly useful for mixed language applications or complex release tasks and allows installation to grow with your requirements.

Travis CI: This is one of the simplest CI server to get started, and is available as open source and free to host on your server. It is easy to link your Github account after providing relevant permissions.

Go: It helps distribute builds across different systems and monitor them all at one place. It is easy to perform regular tasks as they are added as pipelines.

Strider: It is written in Java and JavaScript and uses MongoDB as backing store. Strider is extremely customizable through plugins.

In conclusion, a CI approach is designed to effectively create an automation environment, ensuring that every change to the application results in a reliable version, and that any version can be built automatically with proper version control.

Get in touch with Gallop’s Agile Test Specialists today.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.