|By Steve Weisfeldt||
|January 21, 2013 08:00 AM EST||
Developing with Performance Testing in Mind
A tester friend of mine recently came to me with a complaint that I think is fairly common in the testing community. He said, "Every time there is a new release of the software for us to test, we have to rework our testing scripts." I've heard this complaint throughout my career, not only in performance testing but in functional testing with automation tools as well.
This state of affairs arises from three fairly straightforward observations:
- Change is inevitable. Everything changes, and in no industry is this more apparent than software development. It makes no sense for testers to ask developers to stop changing the code, but it does make sense to encourage wise changes.
- Developers and testers don't always communicate well. The proverbial wall between developers and testers is still quite formidable. When developers throw a new version over the wall to be tested, too often they've given little thought to how it will be tested.
- All testing tools are not created equal. Some make it easier to identify and handle changes than others. If your testing tool is designed to handle change well, then your entire team is better positioned to embrace change rather than fear it.
Thinking Like a Tester
Most development organizations make a real effort to improve communication between developers and testers, but it's not always enough. Beyond encouraging developers to talk with testers, I ask them to take it a step further and think like testers.
I find that it's a good idea for developers to sit through some of the training that the test engineers complete. In my experience, the developers who do are more careful and avoid making arbitrary changes with little or no justification. They don't, for example, change the name of a field in a form simply because they don't agree with the name the initial developer gave it. When developers are aware of the kinds of changes that make a tester's job harder and what kinds of changes make it easier, then from an organizational standpoint the entire process is more productive.
An Analogy from the Early Days of Functional Testing
Some of the earliest automated functional testing tools for GUIs would simply record the location of the mouse pointer on the screen during tests, and then play back those mouse clicks to execute the test script. If a developer moved the location of a button on the screen, the script would break. Other tools would record the label on the button, so the button could be moved around the UI without breaking the script but changing the button text from "Submit" to "OK" would break the script. More advanced tools used the button's ID to identify it in the script so that the developer could change both the position and the label of the button without making the tester's job more difficult.
One key lesson here is that the choice of testing tool makes a big difference in the productivity of the testing team when the software under test changes, even in relatively trivial ways.
The other key lesson is that developer awareness of testing tools and procedures goes a long way in facilitating a smooth testing operation. I saw this firsthand during a training session I gave years back. While describing how button label changes affected testing, a developer who happened to be sitting in on the training sat upright when he finally understood why his colleagues in testing were so frustrated by many of his changes. He never knew why they objected so much to his changing a button label from "Clear" to "Reset". Going forward, that knowledge didn't stop the developer from making necessary changes. It did, however, make him pause when he made such changes to consider whether they were really necessary.
Performance Testing Tools That Make It Easy to Handle Change
In performance testing, we are not concerned with the location of buttons, but we're not immune to seemingly trivial changes.
For example, when a web form is submitted to the server, the form fields will be a series of name-value pairs. Changing the name of a form field, adding a field, or deleting a field can cause problems during performance testing. With a less capable testing tool, these problems can be hard to identify and diagnose, especially if there is poor communication between developers and testers.
File difference viewers (diff viewers) that enable the tester to compare multiple recordings against each other are particularly helpful in pinpointing the changed fields. When it's time to modify the script, an effective tool will enable you to add, delete, and update fields without programming. Just right-click and choose add, or simply drag-and-drop to update your load testing script.
Form fields are relatively easy to handle for load testers. Parameters that are session specific are more difficult. (These parameters change from session to session but stay the same for the duration of each user session). By default, the hard-coded session values are captured by a load testing tool in each script, and a test engineer needs to parameterize them to make the script usable for load testing. Double-clicking on a hard-coded value to make it a variable is easier than diving into the script code. Here again, tools that help automate the process can reduce test creation time from many hours to a few minutes.
When a new script is needed or maintenance is required on an existing script, tools that are easier to use can make the task orders of magnitude faster.
Overcoming the Fear of Change
I know of development teams that gradually became more and more afraid to change their software because of the difficulties that the changes introduced in testing and elsewhere in the process. Needless to say, this had a negative effect on their ability to deliver new features and fixes. A root of the problem, it turned out, was the testing tool that they were using, which made changes arduous and error-prone. Once they switched to a modern tool, the required script changes were easier to make. Performance testing times shrank from a week to less than a day and development was once again free to make long-needed changes. Agile development shops in particular depend on this ability to rapidly implement changes in testing scripts, and get the tests going in minutes or hours instead of days and weeks.
If your organization is starting to fear change, encourage your developers to think like testers and encourage your testers to use tools that make inevitable change easier to handle.
Sensors and effectors of IoT are solving problems in new ways, but small businesses have been slow to join the quantified world. They’ll need information from IoT using applications as varied as the businesses themselves. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Meike, Distinguished Engineer, Director of Technology Innovation at Intuit, showed how IoT manufacturers can use open standards, public APIs and custom apps to enable the Quantified Small Business. He used a Raspberry Pi to connect sensors...
Feb. 10, 2016 07:00 PM EST
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Feb. 10, 2016 04:00 PM EST Reads: 151
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
Feb. 10, 2016 04:00 PM EST Reads: 374
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 10, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 393
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 10, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 419
Recognizing the need to identify and validate information security professionals’ competency in securing cloud services, the two leading membership organizations focused on cloud and information security, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)^2, joined together to develop an international cloud security credential that reflects the most current and comprehensive best practices for securing and optimizing cloud computing environments.
Feb. 10, 2016 01:45 PM EST
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
Feb. 10, 2016 01:15 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:45 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:15 PM EST Reads: 424
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 10, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 619
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 10, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 187
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
Feb. 10, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 259
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
Feb. 10, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 208
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 247
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 224
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 391
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:45 AM EST Reads: 107
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
Feb. 10, 2016 10:30 AM EST Reads: 218
How Best to Integrate Cloud Foundry into Your Existing Ecosystem By @Gidrontxt | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps
As someone who has been dedicated to automation and Application Release Automation (ARA) technology for almost six years now, one of the most common questions I get asked regards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Specifically, people want to know whether release automation is still needed when a PaaS is in place, and why. Isn't that what a PaaS provides? A solution to the deployment and runtime challenges of an application? Why would anyone using a PaaS then need an automation engine with workflow ...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 195
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 10, 2016 09:00 AM EST Reads: 184