Be fussy about fuzz testing to avoid software fails

While the cost and effort that goes into software testing are high, what is enormously higher is the cost of a software failure. Did you know? Tricentis’ 2018 Software Fail Watch projected that a whopping 3.6 billion people were affected by software failures last year, resulting in economic losses of over $1.7 trillion and a downtime of 268 years! There is no way you can take software testing lightly – for the end result is not just a financial loss but more significantly, a loss of name and customer trust.

The Buzz around Fuzz Testing

Among the myriad types of software testing being undertaken by developers throughout the software development life cycle, fuzzing or fuzz testing has picked up steam of late. An automated software testing technique, fuzz testing involves inputting invalid, unexpected, or random data to a software and monitoring it for crashes, memory leaks, or failing assertions. By demonstrating the presence of bugs rather than their absence, fuzz testing exposes hidden vulnerabilities in a software.

Using fuzz testing to discover coding errors and security gaps in software involves feeding enormous amounts of random data to software in an attempt to make it crash. However, running a fuzzer – which can either be a file or a protocol – even for several weeks, and not finding a bug does not certify the software bug-free; after all, the software may still fail for an input that has not been executed, yet.

Here’s how you fussy you should be with fuzz testing:

  • Automate values: Since fuzz testing relies on the assumption that there are bugs in every software waiting to be discovered, using an automated program that feeds random inputs into the software is the most appropriate way to spot them. Rather than attempting to list down values that are likely to provoke a crash – which might take you ages – an automated fuzz test inputs a large number of illogical values that a normal programmer would never think of.
  • Feed a large number of inputs: In order to spot vulnerabilities, use a fuzzer that produces a large number of inputs in a relatively short time. By using a toolchain that automates otherwise manual and tedious tasks, you can enable automated generation of failure-inducing inputs. For eg., google’s OSS-fuzz project produced around 4 trillion test cases a week.
  • Conduct dynamic program analysis: Using a static program analysis for fuzz testing might just analyze a software without executing it and report problems that actually don’t exist. Hence it is advisable to carry out fuzz testing in combination with dynamic program analysis so as to generate an input that truly witnesses the stated issue.
  • Automate bug triage: To effectively expose bugs and fix or patch the security critical ones with higher priority, you can group a large number of failure-inducing inputs based on their root cause and then prioritize each individual bug based on severity.
  • Use sanitizers: To make a fuzzer more sensitive to failures, inject assertions that crash the program when a failure is detected. You can choose from different types such sanitizers to spot different kinds of bugs: deadlocks, undefined behavior, memory leaks, control-flow, etc.
  • Employ test case reduction: In order to isolate that part of the input that is inducing the failure, a test case reduction (or automated input minimization) tool would eliminate as many input values as possible while still reproducing the original bug. This is especially helpful in cases where the failure-inducing input is large and hence proving difficult for testers to understand the root cause of the bug.
  • Avoid random plugging: If your fuzz testing program reveals several bugs in your software, plugging them as they appear may not be the right way as random plugging might reduce the robustness of the software. Consider fundamentally hardening the file format through the use of checksums, XML, and grammar-based file formats.
  • Verify everything: The most common mistake many testers make is to assume that because an instance of the software outputted the correct value once, it will output the same correct value every time. But that can be risky: the instance could have been overwritten, it could have been corrupted, it could have been modified by another program that had a bug or it could even have been intentionally altered in an effort to enhance the software’s security. Hence, assume nothing. Verify everything.

Avoid Failures:

In a world where organizations are losing millions due to software fails (UK-based Provident Financial lost $2.4 billion worth of market value), fuzz testing greatly improves the confidence that an application is robust and secure against unexpected input. Although fuzz testing is simple, it often reveals serious bugs, defects, and potential avenues of attack that must be fixed before the software is shipped. By automatically injecting random permutations of data into a target software until one of those permutations exposes a weakness, Fuzz Testing is helping testers discover software faults and rectify them early in the cycle. Just a few bytes out of place can bring the entire software product down. In such a scenario, fuzz testing helps to prevent such disastrous outcomes. And that’s not fuzzy logic.

What is Guided Unit Test Creation and How Can It Help Your Testing?

The role of testing has never been greater than today. As we move towards the age of software-defined-everything, there is no longer any room for error-prone software. Testing teams are becoming more embedded in the development process. Test automation has been embraced with open arms and has emerged as the critical driver of superior testing and increased testing proficiency. Could we even imagine increasing test coverage to the last possible component had it been done only manually? Could the speed of testing ever match the speed of development had test automation not been there? Clearly, the need for automation stems from the need to test more, test often, test fast and to ensure maximum code coverage.

What is Guided Unit Test Creation and How Can It Help Your Testing

The Unit Testing Conundrum:

Unit tests may be considered the little brats of the testing world… many in number and often difficult to manage. However, ignore these and you know that your world will soon come crashing down. Unit testing involves the testing of the smallest testable parts of an application. These components or units have to be tested independently and individually to ensure that they are operating as planned. While unit testing can be done manually, it becomes time and resource intensive and because of their exhaustive nature, can be prone to errors when not automated. These tests flow as a part of the Test Driven Development methodology which needs the developers to write failing unit tests to take into account all possible errors, inputs, and outputs. The developers then write code to test the application till the tests pass.

The problem with Unit Testing

As we lean towards methodologies such as Agile, DevOps, and TDD it becomes abundantly clear that unit testing has the power to improve project outcomes. Bugs found early in the unit testing phase are much cheaper to fix than those found later. Making testing a part of the development process ensures the success of agile and DevOps and consequently ensure high-quality and bug-free software development. However, despite these obvious benefits, the struggle with unit testing continues. Some of the reasons for this are:

  • Time-consuming and tedious test creation process – Creating a comprehensive test suite for unit tests is seen as the least attractive part of the testing process owing to the sheer number of tests that need to be written.
  • Expensive test maintenance – Any changes to the code mean changes in the associated tests. This adds to the maintenance burden of the unit tests and leads to the idea of ‘double work’ .
  • Difficulty in isolating tests – Isolating tests also means mocking all those independent dependencies. You get the drift of where we are heading here.

While test automation helps considerably in managing these issues associated with unit tests, it clearly has some issues that still need resolution. The solution to these issues may be found in Guided Test Creation, a unit testing approach that gives testers and developers the assistance they need for test creation and maintenance. All this while working within the developer’s IDE and while leveraging existing tests and mocking frameworks.

Guided Unit Test Creation – the finer details

Most of the developer IDEs do not provide the ‘content’ the developers need to complete the test creation process. The assertions needed to define a test have to be done manually. Mocking frameworks also requires manual coding and this becomes very resource intensive and time-consuming. Guided test creation simplifies this entire process and provides the real-time, context-aware assistance in the developer’s IDE. With the help of these guided unit tests, it becomes far simpler to add the missing content from the unit test skeleton. This helps in writing, conducting, and completing comprehensive unit tests faster.

The aim of the guided unit test can be summed up as follows:

  • Create test frameworks, configure mock objects, and methods as well as instantiate objects.
  • Highlight object values that changed during the testing process by performing runtime analysis of test automation execution.
  • Identify method calls that need to be mocked to better isolate test code.
  • Identify system resources that are created but not released after test completion that could create an unstable test environment.
  • Detect dependencies and automatically fill the details needed to create a mock framework thereby reducing time and resources needed to create the same.
  • Provide recommendations that detect the change in code and update the assertions to reflect the new business logic which makes test suite maintenance easier.

Conclusion:

It’s apparent that with the help of Guided Unit Test Creation, developers can resolve many of the problems associated with those pesky unit tests. Several mundane aspects of unit tests are suitably resolved with guided unit test creation. They eliminate the roadblocks that stem from the effort needed to create and maintain these unit tests too. A word of caution, however, while using a guided unit test creation tool, close attention must be paid to ensure that these tools integrate seamlessly with the existing unit testing tools and frameworks. Not doing so would eliminate the time and cost benefit. That addressed, Guided Unit Test creation could be what unit testing has been missing all along.

6 Tips for Ensuring Great Performance with Frontend Development

Did you know? In 2017 alone, there were 197 billion apps downloaded across the world! With people around the world spending 900 billion hours a year using mobile applications, it goes without saying that slow loading times, poor mobile optimization or browser incompatibility are just unacceptable. Great performance is one of the most critical aspects of any software project: whether it is a simple mobile app or a full-scale e-commerce website. Websites or apps that are clumsy and bothersome to use can never provide the convenience that today’s digitally savvy user expects.

6 Tips for Ensuring Great Performance with Frontend Development

What makes a Website/App Exceptional?

Have you ever looked at an app and wondered what makes it so awesome? Have you given thought to the way it was created? Have you wondered how quickly it offered you the information you were looking for and exclaimed, “I wish my website could do that”! With frontend development, you can. By leveraging various technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, frontend development ensures every aspect of an app or website functions smoothly, on a multitude of devices, form factors, and operating systems, with almost no bugs or errors.

While good content, an attractive layout, high-resolution images, and seamless navigation is essential, each of these elements have an impact on page load time and eventually the end-user experience. Balancing aesthetics and performance is key; at every step, developers need to put in efforts to build a user experience that has minimum impact on performance. Offering core content to users as fast as possible and getting the message across in a quick yet interesting fashion is critical.

So how does one ensure great performance? By focusing on certain guidelines, you can dramatically increase the speed and overall performance of your website. Let’s look at some tips and techniques that can enable a robust frontend development for great performance:

  1. Bundle and minify: A good frontend experience can be achieved by bundling and minification of CSS and JS files. While bundling concatenates multiple files of the same type into a single large file, minification goes a step further and adds model-based compression to the content and removes all unnecessary characters from text including white-space characters and comments. The result? Reduced file size, faster load times, improved responsiveness, and exceptional performance.
  2. Compress files: Speedy performance of a website or app can be achieved by compressing files such as documents, audio clips, JPEG images etc. File compression makes the site’s content light and easy to manage. Choose from an array of tools and techniques like GZIP or CompressNow and make your website or app extremely responsive to user input.
  3. Leverage CDN: If your website or app caters to a global audience, it is imperative you use a content delivery network (CDN). When you use a CDN, your website’s static content gets linked to an extended network of servers across the globe, enabling data to be fetched from the nearest server and delivered to users rapidly.
  4. Reduce external requests: Very often, a large portion of a website’s load time comes from external HTTP requests; each time a request is made, the chances of DNS lookups, redirects and 404 error pages increase – not to mention the increase in load times. Since redirects can cause significant delays, eliminate features that do not augment end-user experience including unnecessary images, pointless JavaScript, excessive CSS and redundant plugins.
  5. Enable caching: You can significantly improve the speed and performance of your website by enabling caching. Since websites and apps are viewed thousands or sometimes even millions of times, servers are often overloaded. By caching your website, you can reduce load on your servers, deliver content to users faster, and improve the performance of your website.
  6. Optimize images: Although high-resolution pictures add to the user experience, they often jam the rendering process often resulting in poor frontend performance. Since devices have limited screen sizes, there is no reason to have images larger than the screen size. Make sure to always compress and optimize your screen size; use tools such as JPEG Optimizer or Tiny PNG and offer a flawless user experience.

Minimalism is Key:

In a bid to offer a lot of information to the user, developers often make the mistake of cramming too many features into the time available. Determining what features your app absolutely requires and choosing the right framework ensures you use the right code, the right-sized images, and the minimum number of external HTTP requests. Although frontend development might seem intimidating, the truth is you can greatly improve the performance of your website by applying certain principles. Always remember, the faster your website loads, the better the user experience it will offer. Since your website is what makes your brand stands out, keep it minimalistic. Use the latest tools, techniques and web technologies to elevate your brand and build pages that are light and quick to load. And watch your users smile as they engage.

Testing for Blockchain – Here’s What You Need To Know

New, cutting-edge technologies are entering the marketplace at an unprecedented speed. The headline-maker on the block happens to be Blockchain, a technology that grabbed eyeballs as one of Bitcoin’s core components. Today, Blockchain is more than just Bitcoin. Blockchain is emerging as the next tech disruptor. According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, 10% of the global GDP will be relying on Blockchain-based technology by 2027.

testing blockchain

So, what is Blockchain Technology?

The brainchild of a person or a group of people using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Blockchain is, according to Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016), an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value”. Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger, a continuously growing record list called blocks that are linked and secured using cryptography. This distributed ledger or Blockchain consists of an encrypted digital filing system that creates tamper-proof records in real-time. In other words, Blockchain can be looked upon as an open infrastructure capable of storing several different kinds of assets.

Blockchain and Testing

Blockchain is unique because it removes the need for a middleman to physically oversee transparent actions in real time while at the same time preventing fraud. Supply chain, healthcare, energy, event-ticketing, sales etc. are industries that present themselves to this technology very well. The algorithms used in Blockchain are well-established. Given that it is a distributed system, Blockchain blocks do not have a master copy and are stored in different locations. So, when it comes to testing in Blockchain, given that the algorithms used are sound do we really need to test?
A block, when added to a Blockchain, remains there forever. Any changes to one block will render the following blocks invalid. So, a single change in the Blockchain means that all the subsequent blocks have to be changed simultaneously and right away. Since this cannot be done at a later date, testing of the Blockchain becomes quite complex.

Testing Blockchain-based applications are challenging also because there is a significant change in the technology itself. For sure, Blockchain applications will demand the standard testing and validations such as functional testing, performance testing, integration testing, and security testing. But, that apart, testing teams will also need some specialized testing capabilities.

Standard functional and Non-functional testing

  • Functional Testing:

    Blockchain technology is finding new applications faster than before. Functional testing of the basic components, the system, and its workings is essential. Testing here is conducted to assess the effectiveness of use-case scenarios and the specific business processes involved.

  • Integration Testing:
    Integration testing is important for Blockchain since deployment could be across several systems and environments. Given this, it becomes essential to ensure that the interfaces between the components, the integrations, and the different parts of the system are functioning cohesively. This is essential to ensure performance consistency.
  • Security Testing:

    Security testing has to be aggressive for Blockchain applications. The aim is to identify if the application is vulnerable to attacks, assess if the authorization systems are robust, identify if the system protects the data and has the capability to ward off malicious attacks etc. Along with this, it is imperative to test integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non- repudiation during security testing.

  • Performance Testing:

    Blockchain applications are built for speed. This makes performance testing even more important. The performance of an application and the latency vary with networks as well as transaction size. Performance testing in Blockchain includes identifying performance bottlenecks, defining the metrics for tuning the system, and assessing if the application is ready for production.

Specialized Testing

  • Smart Contract Testing:

    Smart Contract testing is a specialized testing. Smart contracts lie at the core of the Blockchain validation process. Testing of smart contracts calls for simulating all possible expected and unexpected conditions for all possible contract. Testing looks at business logic combinations and appropriate execution of all the transactions in the context of a dynamically changing and expanding network.

  • Peer/node Testing:

    The power of the Blockchain lies in the shared ledger being exactly the same at each and every node with the same set of and sequence of transactions. This makes it essential to achieve a consensus across all nodes on the order in which the transactions are added to the network. Peer/Node testing for the consistency of transactions is needed. This calls for the testing of the consensus protocol to determine that all the transactions get stored in the proper sequence. This would have to be the case under normal conditions and also under conditions when nodes fail simultaneously or when they do not participate in the network for some time. These tests help ensure that the nodes in the network sync with other validating peers and the integrity of the network and shared ledger are maintained throughout.

Along with all this, testing for block size, chain size, transmission of data, and testing of cryptographical data are also essential to Blockchain applications. Given the sheer number of nodes and the various combinations and transactions that need to be validated, test automation may well prove critical to the success of Blockchain applications.

Conclusion:

Blockchain is an emerging technology, but one that has made everyone sit up and take notice. And like any new technology, how well and how comprehensively we can test will play a key role in its success and adoption and in how much we are able to participate in that success. What does your Blockchain testing strategy look like?

Key Data Privacy Considerations in Creating Web and Mobile Apps

The app economy is booming. As of 2017, there were over 2.8 million apps available for download from the Google Play Store. The Apple App Store boasts of over 2 million apps. With the smartphone explosion, apps have created a permanent place in our lives. With this growing acceptance of mobile apps, the enterprise too has become ‘appified’. According to the “Mobile Enterprise Application Market by Software (Accounting & Finance, ERP, Communication & Collaboration, and CRM), Operating System (Android, iOS and Windows), Type of App, Organization Size, Industry Vertical and Region – Global Forecast to 2021” report, the mobile enterprise application market is expected to grow to USD 98.03 Billion by 2021 from USD 48.24 Billion in 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of over 15% from 2016 to 2021. There are many reasons for this appification of the economy – greater smartphone adoption, better connectivity, growing demand for real-time information capture and a consequent focus of organizations to make their processes mobile-ready, and a growing mobile workforce, are all compelling drivers.

Key Data Privacy Considerations in Creating Web and Mobile Apps

The growing use of smart devices and mobile applications also leads to a corresponding rise of volumes of data. Given the very nature of most apps, personal data is collected from them for the software to function as designed. As more and more data is captured to make apps hyper-personalized, there are increased calls for focusing on data privacy. The introduction of GDPR, the European online data privacy law that is expected to come into full effect in 2018, is a signal step in this direction. According to this law, organizations and entities seeking personal data have to explicitly inform the user exactly how that data will be used and what will happen to it. This means that the people will have a better idea of how their data is processed. They will also have the ‘right to be forgotten’ along with being proactively informed in the event of a serious data breach. This General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework is a solid step to solidify data protection for all individuals. Mobile and web app development companies thus have to significantly expand their efforts to make apps that are GDPR compliant. This means stronger encryption algorithms, protocols for single sign-on such as OAUTH, enforcing secure communication using HTTPS, and all other relevant steps.

Given this greater focus on data security and data privacy, as apps become an integral part of the enterprise operations, mobile and web app development companies have to look at ways to enhance the security layer of these applications. Application architects and designers have to thus design web and mobile applications placing security at the beating heart of the entire development effort. This means error-free and vulnerability-resistant code, and a strong emphasis on testing, especially security testing.

Apart from having the required Intrusion Detection and Intrusion Prevention Systems, in today’s app economy, it has become essential for organizations developing web and mobile apps to include security testing at the core of their development process. This approach ensures that all flaws and vulnerabilities can be exposed during the development process itself. It is also imperative to ensure that the data functionality is optimal to maintain operational capabilities without exposing the application to vulnerabilities or malicious attacks. Tests such as vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, security risk assessment, ethical hacking, access control testing, and security scanning etc. may have to be performed. The need is to test in a robust and judicious manner to prevent customer data being compromised in any manner during usage. At the end of the day, app developers have to be creative in their attempts to “break into” the apps. This is all about the many ways in which application data can be manipulated, all possible vulnerabilities identified, and all forms of risk assessed. Finding the vulnerabilities is an essential first step before identifying ways to boost the security of the application and the data that resides within it.

Given that there has been a dramatic increase in the complexity and sophistication of mobile malware, organizations in the web and mobile application development space have to dramatically alter their way of thinking to stay ahead of those creating such malicious code. They must implement strong security layers while ensuring compliance with regulatory security requirements. In today’s day, as Bruce Schneier says, ‘security is not just a product, but a process’. It’s hard to disagree!

Agile? DevOps? What’s The Difference And Do You Have To Choose Between Them?

Any roles involved in a project that do not directly contribute toward the goal of putting valuable software in the hands of users as quickly as possible should be carefully considered.” – Stein Inge Morisbak

Does anyone remember the days when the Waterfall model was still around and widely adopted by the enterprises? Over the years most developers have stories of how they realized that it wasn’t giving the best results, that it was slow and inflexible as it followed a sequential process. Fast forward a few years and the principles of Kanban and scrum methodology organically evolved and gave rise to the Agile approach to software development –and we were all on board in a flash. Suddenly, software development teams were able to shift from longer development cycles to shorter sprints, fast releases, and multiple iterations.

How to use between agile and Devops?

But the evolution was not over, as we now know. As Agile shone a spotlight on releasing fast and often, enterprises started loving the opportunity to be more flexible and to speedily incorporate the feedback of their customers. However, this also revealed some drawbacks with the Agile approach. Though the development cycle was faster, there was a lack of collaboration between the developers and the operations team and this was adversely impacting the release and the customer experience.

This gave rise to the new methodology of DevOps which focused on better communication among development, testing, business, and the operations team to provide faster and more efficient development.

So now software development organizations face a choice –should they be Agile? Or do DevOps? Or perhaps somehow both? Let’s look at both approaches more closely, starting with filling in the essential backstory.

The Agile Approach Explained

Software Development approaches like the Waterfall model took several months for completion, where the customers would not be able to see the product until the end of the development cycle. On the other hand, the Agile approach is broken down into sprints or iterations which are shorter in duration during which certain predetermined features can be developed and delivered. There are multiple iterations and after every iteration, the software team can deliver a working product. The features and enhancements are planned and delivered for every succeeding iteration after discussions (negotiations?) between the business and the development teams.
In other words, Agile is focused on iterative development, where the requirements and solutions are developed because of collaboration between cross-functional and self-organizing software teams.

What is DevOps?

This is the age of Cloud and SaaS products. That being the case, DevOps can be defined as a set of practices enabling automation of processes between the software development and the IT teams for building, testing, and deploying the software in a faster and more efficient manner. DevOps is based on cross-functional collaboration and involves automation and monitoring right from the integration, testing, releasing, and deployment along with the management of infrastructure.

In short, DevOps helps in improving collaboration and productivity by integrating the developers and the operations team. Typically, DevOps calls for an integrated team comprising developers, system administrators, and testers. Often, Testers turned into DevOps engineers are assigned the end-to-end responsibility of managing the application software. This may involve everything from gathering requirements to development, deployment, and gathering user feedback to implementing the final changes.

How do they compare (or contrast)?

  • Creating and deployment of software:
    Agile is purely a software development process. That means, the development of software is an inherent part of the agile methodology. Whereas Devops can deploy software which may have being developed using other methodologies, based on either Agile or non-agile approaches.
  • Planning and documentation:
    The Agile method is based on developing new versions and updates during regular sprints (a time frame decided by the team members). Besides, daily informal meetings are key to the Agile approach, where team members are encouraged to share progress, set goals, and ask for assistance if required. To that extent, the emphasis on documentation is less.

On the other hand, DevOps teams may not have daily or regular meetings but plenty of documentation is required for proper communication across the teams for effective deployment of the software.

  • Scheduling activities and team size:
    Agile is based on working in short and pre-agreed sprints. Traditionally sprints can last for a week to 1 month or so at the extreme. The team sizes are also relatively smaller as they can work faster with fewer individuals working on the effort.
    DevOps can comprise of several teams using different models such as Kanban, Waterfall model, or scrum where all of them are required to come together for discussing regarding software deployment. These teams could be larger and are by design much more cross-functional.
  • Speed and risk:
    Agile releases, while frequent, are significantly less than what DevOps teams aim for. There are DevOps products out there that release versions with new features multiple times in an HOUR! The application framework and structure in Agile approach needs to be solid to incorporate the rapid changes. As the iterative process involves regular changes to the architecture, it’s necessary to be aware of every change related to the risks to ensure quick and speedy delivery. This is true of DevOps also, but the risk of breaking previous iterations is far greater in DevOps as the releases are much more frequent and follow much faster on the heels of one another than in the Agile approach.

Conclusion

DevOps is a reimagining of the way in which the software needs to be configured and deployed. It adds a new dimension to the sharp end of the value chain of software development i.e the delivery to the customers. There is some talk about that that DevOps will replace Agile, but our view is that DevOps complements Agile by streamlining deployment to enable faster, more effective, and super-efficient delivery to the end users. That’s a worthy goal –so why choose between the two!

Are Mobile Apps Going To Die?

In a cut-throat economy, organizations realize that the key to success is to embrace change fast and not take a reactive approach to innovation. The mobile app market is no different. Yes, there are over a billion smartphones in use across the globe. There also are a dizzying number of mobile applications downloaded each year. In 2017 the Apple App Store had 2.2 million apps available for download while the Google Play Store had 2.8 million apps. Today, clearly we have become quite dependent on these little icons on our smartphones screens – from booking a cab, making a hotel reservation, ordering for food, making online purchases, calorie counting, banking, staying connected with friends and work…the list goes on. Mobile applications have established themselves as an essential part of our lives. But it is also true that the apps that we use now are light years ahead of their earlier iterations. Apps of today do not just disseminate content for the user but enable the user to determine what kind of content they want to consume. App functionality has improved by leaps and bounds owing to the use of geo location and the capabilities of the phone. Apps are more engaging and intuitive now.

Are Mobile Apps Going To Die?

The death of the mobile app as we know it

Today there is an increasing integration of technology with mobile apps to push the boundaries as we know it. Remember the classic Snake game on the Nokia 3310? Well, that was technically a mobile app back in the 90’s. Now compare that to the 2011 Temple run experience. The evolution of the mobile app is pretty evident, isn’t it? Technology is improving. The needs and demands of the app consumer are changing. Consumers are now looking at more seamless and connected experiences. They want their apps to behave in a certain manner. They want more features. They demand greater speed. They want more personalization. And they want access…all the time, anywhere.

Can the present day mobile apps deliver on all these demand parameters? Not quite. With technology giving us opportunities to get the best of everything, mobile apps, too, are not to be left behind. With the growing comfort with smartphones, consumers now want an amalgamation of web and mobile apps and want intelligent interactions with their mobile apps as they traverse their digital experience journey.

The rise of intelligent apps

As mentioned earlier, apps today are no longer being used to disseminate content to the user. The mobile apps are becoming increasingly intelligent. As an example, think Amazon. Using technologies such as machine learning and AI, Intelligent Apps are getting more contextual. These apps have the capability to learn the behavioral, emotional, and contextual patterns of the user in real-time and capably deliver hyper-personalized experiences in each successive session. With each input, the mobile app creates a personalized response. These apps make the use of cognitive API’s, ensure that personalization of the UX is a continuous activity. They eliminate the use of keyboard inputs and use speech, gestures, and bio-metrics to operate the apps without the keyboard. They leverage frameworks to take the app to the next level of user satisfaction with faster releases. Service providers like Netflix, e-Commerce providers such as Amazon, and browsers such as Chrome are already making use of intelligent apps. Gartner expects that this year some of the world’s largest organizations will begin to leverage intelligent apps to fine-tune their mobile app experiences.

The rise of progressive web apps

As you may have read earlier here, Progressive Web Apps are actually web applications that deliver a native app-like experience to their consumers. They come with progressive enhancements to implement features such as push notifications, caching, and background sync to deliver better experiences. Research suggests that an average user spends 80% of his total time on only three apps. The rest of the apps just sit on the mobile phone screen eating up precious mobile memory. PWA’s do not need any installing, deliver a great user experience, have browser compatibility, are responsive to fit any form factor, work offline, and function even in low network quality. Further, they provide app-like navigation and interactions and have a robust update process that makes sure that the app performance is at its peak always. Given that PWA’s are actually websites these are easily extendable. They make it easier to add functionalities. Along with this, these apps are also highly secure, easily discoverable and easily shareable. Quite simply put, Progressive Web Apps amalgamate the best qualities of web apps with that of native mobile apps – what’s there not to love then? But the question for us is –are these Mobile Apps? We would have to say Not really –and that’s a threat to the world of mobile apps as we know it.

Conclusion:

There seem to be clear signs that the age of mobile apps as we know it is fast coming to an end. Well not in the Tyrannosaurus Rex kind of way, but, it is becoming quite evident that the next evolution of these mobile apps is now upon us. Would it then be wrong to say, “The Mobile App is dead. Long live the Mobile App”?

How Analytics Will Make Test Automation Even More Intelligent?

Testing is a ripe field for applying AI because testing is fundamentally about inputs and expected outputs…… Testing combines lots of human and machine-generated data. Folks in testing often don’t have much exposure to AI, but that will change quickly, just like everyone else in the world is waking up to the power of AI.” – Jason Arbon, Author, and CEO of test.ai

We could say that automated software testing is essentially a quality control system that vets the operational aspects of a software product. The aim is to create a testing process that is rigorous and that operates through one or multiple test automation frameworks. Typically, upon completion, the tools report the results and compare outcomes with previous testing cycles. This is the age of Big Data and Analytics – it stands to reason that innovators have developed intelligent analytics solutions that offer insights designed to translate these test results into actionable information for future improvement. These solutions proactively identify problem areas in the testing process and indicate the way forward to achieve a high-quality software product. Let’s take a closer look at how analytics can help test automation.

How Analytics Will Make Test Automation Even More Intelligent?

Use of Analytics

In this context, analytics enables software developers to critically evaluate the performance of their test automation. They can track the various metrics and parameters involved in the creation of the test automation and the performance of the automated software testing exercise. Error logs embedded in the dashboard can spotlight the areas of improvement. Similarly, data about the number and the kind of functions that pass muster indicate the health of the software product that is being tested. The final status of the test results presents a perfect picture of the state of functionalities of the tested software. The graphical representations in the analytics dashboard portray a clear picture of testing outcomes that is easy to read and understand for everyone.

Predictive Analytics:

This aspect of analytics uses mathematical algorithms and machine learning technologies to forecast outcomes of software testing procedures. This technique uses current and past data to generate insights and locate potential points of failure in software testing outcomes. This enables the development and testing leaders to proactively address issues early in the lifecycle, and hence faster and easier. The use of predictive analytics also helps to detect delays and issues in software testing cycles. It also helps to monitor team productivity in testing cycles that involve human beings. Software developers can also run risk mitigation efforts when they use predictive analytics in testing procedures.

Benefits of Analytics in Testing:

Analytical reports draw on data that resides in multiple sources. This helps to present a more complete picture in real-time. The insights are clear and present, the actions to be taken are apparent, and the results can be tracked. The granular nature of the feedback generated by analytics should help software designers and testers to correct specific errors and the speed up slow processes.

The application of analytics should help software testing systems to overcome traditional or legacy limitations. The visual depiction of data in test performance and test history charts creates significant grounds to improve the testing procedures of the future. It is true that even today, automated software testing may fail for a variety of reasons, but the judicious application of analytics can increase the utility and the chances of success. In addition, interactive analytics-driven dashboards can offer enhanced monitoring and reporting capabilities for software testers and software developers. Further, analytics helps to expand the productivity of complex software testing tools while boosting the productivity of the testing team. This can help to release higher-quality products faster and more often.

The combination of test automation and advanced analytics will enable software development and testing managers to spend more time on strategic activities that drive greater business value over a longer term.

The Future of Automation in Testing:

Enterprises today are driving a relentless focus on quality. Current and future products are undergoing design changes that will make them even more intuitive and easy to use. The user interfaces will be the most critical aspect and they must be tested for reliable operation at all times. The deployment of analytics should help software developers and designers to better test software and create perfect products for clients. Intelligent observations and business insights derived from analytics will drive better, more targeted actions. Therefore, testing strategies and test plans will be refined and re-engineered to create greater scope for analytics in automation. It’s all set to be the and analytics-driven automated age in software testing – are your plans ready?

The “Build Fast, Fail Often” Mantra Of Product Startups

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”-Henry Ford

Today if you have a strong and viable idea then converting that idea into a product that addresses a viable business opportunity is relatively easy. With crowdfunding and angel investment booming, securing the finances to get rolling has also become easier than it used to be. But this is just the first step in the startup journey. Entrepreneurs realize that business is risky in general. However, they are fueled by the innate belief that their skills will win out in the end. This somewhat unreasonable level of optimism and confidence is essential for an entrepreneur. But are these ingredients enough to ensure the long-term success of a startup? The truth is that it is equally important to build a product that is ready for success. And it is also true that sometimes getting the product right may take a few extra tries than you may have thought necessary when you started.

The “Build Fast, Fail Often” Mantra Of Product Startups

The Lean Start Up methodology, as outlined by Eric Ries is a great way for product startups to ensure that their product is ready for the market -eventually. Ries propounds that today, the possibility is very slim that a company can’t build what it initially thought it would because of technology constraints. It is the market risk that will be the main concern. Product startups often conceptualize, design, and build a product before assessing its impact and reaction from the market. This ends up taking time, effort, scarce engineering resources, and yes, money. And if the product fails to make an impact in the market then it’s back to the drawing board carrying all that baggage. But what if you could assess the reaction to your product in advance? What if you knew how the market would respond to it? Reis states that it is better to build a product like a series of experiments and deconstruct the high-risk bets into several low stake gambles. Enter the “Build fast, fail often” mantra.

The “Build fast, fail often” mantra works for software product startups in today’s hyper-competitive market because it helps in making software product development more malleable. Instead of focusing on building a final product, the startup then focuses on building a Minimum Viable Product that demonstrates the promise of the capabilities of the product being built. This malleability lends itself to developing faster prototypes more often to keep testing if the big idea is big enough.

The fact is that almost nine out of ten startups fail. Among the top reasons for this is misunderstanding the market need for the product. Clearly, if you’re going to be making a product, it makes sense to understand if the market needs it. Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The mobile phone was dismissed as a novelty at one time. Today it has become an extension of our lives. But at the same time, for every $19 billion company like Uber, there are countless products being built that just don’t seem to catch on. It’s a fact that developing a physical, nuts and bolts product can prove harder to rush into the market with a limited feature MVP – you can’t market test just the engine of that new driverless car, now can you? Software product startups have a bit of an advantage that they must cash in on. It’s relatively much easier for a software product startup to create a workable prototype–a basic product that lends itself to continuous improvement based on market feedback.

This has become easier to execute owing to a transformation in development methodologies. The old and monolithic waterfall software development method has been replaced by agile development. Now DevOps is also fast gaining ground. Software product development is becoming iterative almost by default. With rapid prototyping, startups can follow the ideate, prototype, test, analyze, refine, and release format in the development cycle quite organically. The software product development automatically becomes an iterative process built on the philosophy that failure must be expected and then embraced.

With the “Build fast, fail often” mantra comes a greater pressure to do it right. This may call for a change of working style for the startup –the creation of an agile startup. Startups need to be clear how they are going to analyze and process feedback, gain a deep understanding of technical requirements and specifications, understand design and system limitations, and then test the product viability again. The basic idea is to convert an idea into a product and get it out into the market fast. See what works and what doesn’t and then come back with version 2.0 with a bang and then rinse and repeat till it’s just right.

Are you ready for Robotic Process Automation?

I’d say that the biggest misconception about RPA is that it’s easy—It’s not easy. That’s why barely 10% of the buyer population in Global 2000 companies have embraced it.” – Frank Casale, founder, and CEO of the Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPA AI)

Given that warning, it would make sense to assess the internal readiness and capacity of your company before adopting or even considering RPA technology. RPA, or robotic process automation, sometimes conjures up images of a solution that helps with cognitive computing. While that may represent the ultimate level of artificial intelligence that exists, solutions that are being developed in the present focus more on automating repeatable, predictable, and fixed business processes. When we speak about enterprises, this technology is still perhaps hard to implement, but experts say that those that do adopt RPA will rapidly see the immense benefits. For companies, it could mean a winning strategy for all the stakeholders – employees included. Let us look in-depth into the possible benefits of embracing RPA.

Are you ready for Robotic Process Automation?

Firstly – what is Robotic Process Automation?

With the surge in digitization and the increasing demand on the already limited resources, the push towards adopting automation technology has now become a necessity. Technology adoption would help to empower organizations and accelerate their efforts towards gaining more business and staying ahead of their competition. Robotic Process Automation is specifically made software that is capable of simulating human conducted activities that would be routine and repetitive in nature. The software “robots” follow designated workflows, seeking information from clearly identified sources and then performing routine yet critical operations. The functions impacted could include back-office processing, support, and front office management. Today, several companies have begun using these solutions with resounding success.

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation to Organizations:

  1. RPA is best for transactional or rule-bound processes and for organizing data. Using robotic technology companies have a reduced effort and even lowered full-time equivalent employee (FTE) requirement.
  2. By incorporating RPA into the rules of business, companies would be able to simplify processes, conduct speedier transactions, maintain uniformity in their documentation, and afford complete transparency of their processes. These factors incidentally are among the top priorities for customers today, which therefore would lead to enhanced business and success.
  3. Using RPA reduces the opportunities for human error in rote tasks, and limits the exposure of sensitive and confidential information to humans – critical for the proper functioning of any company.
  4. Several companies require huge amounts of data to be added to various systems and myriad applications. Manual data entry is prone to errors especially given the mundane nature of the task. By using RPA in this process, companies can be sure of increased output of work with no errors, thereby removing the requirement of extra headcount to check and correct the errors. Re-work is eliminated as well.
  5. Since several tasks can be completed in less time and at a lowered cost, the ROI of the initiative can be achieved relatively quickly.
  6. Since RPA is a software, it has endless possibilities and capacity to work – meaning around the clock availability and work churned out. This means a lot more work with no interruptions or breaks.

Where Robotic Process Automation Stops

These RPA-driven software robots are capable of making only limited decisions and the cognitive ability is extremely constrained. In some ways, the primary objective is significantly improving the efficiency, not really the effectiveness. That’s to say, RPA allows organizations to perform these functions faster, with less effort, utilizing fewer human resources, and with greater accuracy. That said, if there is ambiguity about the inputs or if there is volatility in the functions to be addressed or the business processes are extremely fluid and dynamic, RPA is less likely to be successful.

A Bright Future for RPA

It has been said often that the downside of cognitive artificial intelligence is that it would reduce the number of jobs and dislodge employees from their roles. RPA on the other hand empowers employees by allowing them to engage in more creative and value-added tasks and removing the dull, rote ones.

Well-designed RPA solutions have this distinct advantage – companies can embrace them without the need to dismiss employees or spend too many resources in training them on the solutions. The great part of RPA is that it requires human supervision, placing control in the hands of the employees, thereby raising their morale, enhancing their development, and making them more productive on the job. Different types of organizations are already tasting success in areas like:

  • Government: Verifying existing processes; populating forms and assigning subcontractors to jobs, and integrating legacy systems with newer systems.
  • HR: Providing employee on-boarding; better managing leave of absence requests; more efficiently populating employee data into multiple systems, and offering performance appraisal management.
  • IT: Creating new accounts; installing software and updates more seamlessly, and setting up printers and workstations.

Conclusion:

It is probably time to integrate RPA solutions into your company, and the good news is technologies, including strategies borrowed from test-automation, are already at hand to seamlessly draw RPA into your business processes. Are you ready, is the question?

Why you Should Start Caring About Progressive Web Apps (If you Don’t Already)?

Have you heard of the term “the best of both worlds”? As utopian as it might sound, there is one place where this may apply -in the application world. Progressive Web Apps or PWA’s are being touted as the next big thing for the mobile web. These apps take the advantages of the latest technology and combine the best experiences of mobile and the web apps to deliver better functionality and smoother and more engaging application experiences. As web interactions move increasingly towards the mobile, application developers are faced with the challenge of creating applications that can be easily accessed over the smartphone without compromising on quality, aesthetics, and functionality. One solution is to create web applications that look and feel like iOS or Android apps that are native to the device. Welcome Progressive Web Apps!

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps, PWA’s, deliver a mobile like experience to the users without having them download or install the app from the play (or App) store. With these apps, developers can create a simple web application using JavaScript, HTML, CSS etc. and add mobile capabilities such as camera access, push notifications, offline support etc. PWA’s are deployed to servers, are indexed by search engines and can be accessed through url’s. Mobile web apps that are accessed on a mobile browser usually are not capable of sending out push notifications, do not deliver the look and feel of a native app downloaded from an app store, cannot load on the home screen etc. With PWA’s developers can fix this problem leveraging new design concepts, using new web API’s and standards-based technologies in tandem to deliver a native app like experience.

Why you Should Start Caring About Progressive Web Apps?

Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

Research suggests that “every step you make a user perform before they get value out of your app will cost you 20% of users.” In such an environment PWA’s work well for businesses since these apps do not compromise on user experience as compared to a traditional mobile web browser and neither do they demand a user go through the process of installing a mobile app. Here are a few benefits of PWA’s

  1. Adaptability– Since PWA’s are built with progressive enhancement as a core tenet they have the capability to work for every user irrespective of browser choice.
  2. Responsiveness – PWA’s have the responsiveness to fit any form factor, be it a laptop, tablet or mobile device, thus ensuring a consistent user experience
  3. Workability – These apps have the capability to work offline and in low network quality since these are enhanced with Service Workers. This is a script that runs behind the scenes and runs in response to events such as network requests, push notifications etc. This capability ensures that these apps also run faster than traditional websites and hence improve app speed and performance.
  4. App-like – Provide app-style navigation and interactions using design concepts such as App Shell that provides the web application a shell of an app UI. The content is then loaded later, is kept and cached separately. This helps in fast loading and improving the user experience.
  5. Always Updated – PWA’s are always updated owing to the service worker update process.
  6. Highly Secure – High on security as these are delivered via HTTPS. This also ensures that the content of the application does not get tampered with.
  7. Discoverability – Since PWA’s are actually websites, this makes them easily discoverable by search engines. PWA’s also speed up the process of application indexing and ensures that the app is indexed in Google much faster without worrying about app deep linking.
  8. Frictionless – PWA’s provide a frictionless user experience since unlike mobile apps these are easily installable without using an app or play store. Since these do not have to be downloaded, application updates happen effortlessly from the user’s side and this gives them access to the latest features, security updates, functionalities etc. This feature also helps in avoiding the problem of software fragmentation as faced by native mobile apps.
  9. Expandability – As PWA’s are essentially websites, it is very easy to expand them to add functionalities.
  10. Sharability – These apps are easily shareable via URL as they do not need to be downloaded.

It’s fair to say that we are still in the early days of Progressive Web Apps. Cross-browser support in browsers such as Safari and Edge is limited but the open support that PWA’s have been getting from companies such as Microsoft (they plan to implement more PWA features) and with Twitter, NASA, etc. all using Progressive Web Apps to create new versions of their service, it is quite clear that this craze will catch on quickly. After all, it is becoming evident that the future of mobile apps is the web!

Challenges faced by the Agile testing team

Agile model is one of the trending and widely used software development approach based on the combination of incremental and iterative development, where software product is being continuous delivered in short and multiple cycles.

What is agile testing?

Agile testing is a testing approach based on agile principles of software development. In agile testing, continuous testing is being carried out with less or no documentation and regular feedbacks and reviews from the client/customers to improve software quality.
Further, agile testing methodology has following advantages:

  • Better and effective communication, as agile development involves the participation of developers, testers and client/customers, all at one platform.
  • With the collaboration of development team with the testing, defects are easy to locate and fix.
  • Incorporation of dynamic changing requirements.

Although, agile testing has certain advantages, which may attract a tester to follow and implement agile testing practices, but carrying out agile testing is not simple as it seems to be. Testers who have been the part of the agile testing team are very well aware of the challenges faced during agile testing.

Let’s put some light on the top 7 challenges faced by agile testing team during agile testing:

  1. Insufficient Test Coverage:The continuous incoming and changing requirements increases the chance of missing out the testing of essential or critical functionalities and features. Further, short cycles and continuous delivery mechanism of agile model may force and drive testers to consider and test only critical functionalities and leaving behind all other major/minor functionalities untested.
  2. Lack of documentation:Although, less or no documentation is one of the features of agile testing, still the non-availability of documentation work puts testing team in a difficult situation to verify and validate the software functioning in the absence of documentation work.
  3. Dynamic changing requirements:Frequently incoming and changing requirements after each iteration changes or modifies the software either in large or in small respect and irrespective of the changes brought, the system has to made go through regression testing to verify and validate the originality of the system. Thus, apart from regular testing, creating regression tests and executing them after each iteration increases the burden of the testing team.
  4. Last minute changes:Incorporation of incoming and changing requirements is an inherited feature of the agile methodology. The mechanism of the agile methodology lies itself on the fact that requirements would be evolved gradually with the collaboration of all teams including business team with the client/customers.However, when testing is about to close and product is ready for its market release, at that moment of time introduction of any more changing requirements is intolerable for the testers, especially when the deadlines are approaching.
  5. Performance parameter:As in agile methodology, software application gradually develops, complexity also increases gradually. Thus, performance issues with the software arises as the developers are not able to assess the performance attribute from end-user perspective.
  6. Tools selection:Selecting appropriate and desired automation tools for automating the tests not at early stage of development but in the later half is one of the major challenges faced by the agile testing team, as selecting tools for agile environment is much different to that for traditional approach of development.
  7. Communication:Although, development teams and client/customers collaboratively interacts after each iteration, still agile environment perceives the lack of proper communication due to absence of any effective communication medium or may be the absence of any sort of documentation.

Complete Bug Triage Meeting Process.

Let’s break this term and understand their meanings separately to derive the concept of bug triage. Bug is a common term, which you all must be aware of. In software engineering, the term ’bug’ has been assigned to flaws or errors present in the software application or programming which produces deviation in its intended functioning, resulting into incorrect or inappropriate or unexpected outcomes and results.

Now, what is triage? Wikipedia says “Triage is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition”. Similar concept is applicable to bugs found during software testing also i.e. to conclude the priority of defects based on their severity. In simple words, bug triage may be defined as a process or mechanism to determine the defect priority with respect to their severity to impact the software functionalities and working.

Now, coming to the topic of discussion i.e. bug triage meeting process. As the name specifies, a project meeting held for the purpose of triage process i.e. sorting out the priority of open bugs, when it needs to be fixed, how to fix it, efforts and difficulty in retesting.

Who are the Participants in the Bug Triage Meeting?

Generally, the meeting is held by the Cross functional team consisting of QA group, project manager, QA manager, test manager, product manager and testing leads of all projects along with the participation of experienced and competent team members.

When to go for the meeting for Bug Triage Meeting?

Bug triage meeting should be carried out on a regular basis throughout the testing life cycle. Number of meetings and the gap between each of them is derived by the need and requirement of the project. Adding to this, the quantity of defects reported, time schedule and progress of the project may also paves the path for the meeting.

What are Roles and Responsibilities of each Individuals in the meeting?

  • Project Manager: Project manager is involved in the task of defect prioritization with the additional responsibilities of sending meeting minutes, tracking issues and discussing the next possible date of meeting in consultation with the QA leads.
  • Product Manager: Generally, assists the team in the process of prioritizing the defects.
  • Test Lead: Test lead or QA lead are the ones who call the meeting. They are involved in the task of defect prioritization. Further, they have the responsibilities to submit bug report to cross functional team prior to meeting, managing defects and distribution of updated bug report.
  • Development Lead: Assists in the task of bug prioritization by analysing and assessing the severity of each bug to impact system. Further, involvement of developers in the meeting helps in locating the root cause of the defects, and subsequently bugs are assigned to desired developer for its correction.

What are the activities carried out in the Bug Triage meeting?

Prior to bug triage meeting, previous status report along with the bugs found in the current phase is being sent to all concerned members by the QA Leads. Further, bug triage meeting usually involves execution of following activities:

  • Ensuring that the identified bug has sufficient and useful information to convince developer(s) it as a bug.
  • Correct filing of the bug.
  • Bug is defined on the basis of appropriate severity and priority.
  • Consideration of defects for their fixation which may be derived by following two factors:
  • If project is at its initial stage, then all bugs, even the lowest priority ones may be included for the correction process.
  • If the project is approaching deadlines or is in the final stage, then only high priority bugs, having high risk needs to be considered for the fixation process.
  • Reassigning the bug priority and severity, and accordingly updating bug tracking system.
  • Post meeting, the minutes of the meeting is being distributed to the concerned members.

Bug Triage Report Format:

Below given is a basic template of a bug triage report which may modified with the needs and requirements arises.

  • ID
  • Headline
  • Reported Date
  • Submitted by
  • Severity
  • Priority(fix)
  • Owner
  • Status

When to conclude this meeting?

Prioritizing each opened bug with the task of assigning the defects to the concerned person marks the ending of the meeting.

Conclusion:

Overall, it may be stated bug triage meeting is an effective approach to manage and fix defects throughout the testing life cycle.

Here’s Shift Left Testing – But Should You?

As we dive deeper into the software economy the role of software testing becomes ever-more important. After all, there is hardly any place for buggy or defective products in this software-driven world. Today, concepts like driverless cars, hovering drones, manufacturing automation etc. are all a reality not just because of technological advancements buts also because of the immense emphasis on the quality of testing. Testing, that was once relegated to the end of the development cycle has now changed completely owing to the rise of development methodologies such as DevOps and Agile. Now it is a key enabler of robust and solid product development. As the testing process becomes more integrated with the development process and becomes more continuous throughout the development lifecycle, we meet another testing approach. Welcome ‘Shift-left testing’.

Shift left testing approach

Shift-Left Testing – An introduction

When the software development industry was using the traditional waterfall development approach, testing was kept on the extreme right side of the software development lifecycle. This development approach looked something like this:

Requirement gathering -> Design -> Coding -> Testing

With software testing being on the extreme right, bug detection happened at the very end of the development lifecycle. As a direct consequence, the time, effort and money spent to rectify bugs and errors became enormous. In many cases, it also led to delayed product releases and missed opportunities. As organizations realized that defects and errors were less costly to fix when detected early, the concept of Shift-Left testing was introduced. This concept essentially shifted testing from the far right, i.e. from the end of the development lifecycle and was introduced at every stage of the development lifecycle.

In Shift-Left testing, testing teams collaborate with the stakeholders involved in software product development earlier in the development process. With this approach, the testing teams are able to understand requirements, expected functionalities, software design and architecture, coding etc. to gain complete product knowledge. They can draw up thorough testing plans that consider all the possible scenarios to identify software defects.

Shift-Left testing and its relevance in today’s software development landscape.

Today development cycles are becoming more iterative and involve shorter sprints. Development methodologies today such as Agile and DevOps demand faster feedback and continuous development and deployment to meet the changing needs of a volatile market. With the Shift-left approach, the development and testing teams run in tandem and ensure that all defects are fixed on the go. In fact, unless testing is involved in each step of the development process, these new methodologies will not be able to deliver on their promise – that of releasing great quality software products into the market, faster. Shift-Left testing allows software development companies release new software any time during the development process. In essence, this allows frequent product upgrades to meet the changing needs of the user.

The benefits of Shift-Left testing:

Shift-Left testing promises better software quality.

Let’s see how.

1. Comprehensive testing from the word ‘go’:

The Shift-Left testing approach is as rigorous as it is aggressive. Since the testing process is introduced right at the beginning of the testing process, testing teams are better equipped to create more comprehensive tests that cover every aspect of the product in production. A much-quoted study said that “56% of defects originate during the requirement phase of the project as compared to a meager 7% during the coding phase”. With the Shift-Left approach, the attention to quality begins right at the inception. Testers can ensure that the software gets tested for each and every functionality and performance aspect. Enhanced test coverage automatically translates to better quality software that is commercially more viable.

2. Effective and faster bug resolution:

With Shift-Left testing, bugs can be identified earlier in the development process as testing becomes a proactive contributor to the development lifecycle. The software thus is open to review and to rectification right from the beginning. When bugs are identified earlier they can be fixed faster. This consequently increases the speed of development.

3. Better product development:

Shift-Left testing takes the main stakeholders of product development, the developers, the testers, the business heads etc. and ensures a collaborative approach to product development. With a better understanding of what the product is expected to accomplish and who it is targeted towards, testing teams can create better and more comprehensive test plans. This ensures better quality of the product in production while eliminating the frictional differences between teams.

4. Faster time-to-market:

As the key stakeholders of software development work in a collaborative manner in the Shift-Left testing approach, it aids the velocity of development too. The development teams are able to resolve bugs and defects proactively in the development process. This means that the number of bugs and defects to be fixed at the end of the development process and the ensuing regression testing to ensure that all connected parts of the software are operating as designed is reduced considerably. This ensures speed of development -the products can be released in the market faster.

Conclusion:

The idea of Shift-Left testing is not just to introduce testing earlier in the development process. It is also about combining the right set of tools, methodologies, frameworks, and approaches to enable predictability, and the detection and prevention of defects from the beginning to the end of the project. This enables agility and boosts productivity. The result should be a better product, released faster, and eventually greater profitability.

Here’s Some Help In Picking The Right CMS For Your Business!

Choosing the right content management system(CMS) is key for boosting the efficiency and productivity of your web app. A good content management system results in improved site navigation, greater flexibility, increased security, and helps in reducing errors by preventing content duplication. In today’s digital world, a CMS is essential for every web-based business. Consider how your website needs to be regularly updated with content, new products, styles, services, and campaigns which may be added or removed.

Here’s Some Help In Picking The Right CMS For Your Business!

For those who came in late let’s introduce the CMS first. The CMS is mainly used for managing web content and offers tools for website authoring, collaboration, and administration. This helps users with limited knowledge of HTML and other programming languages to create and manage their website content easily. They are easy to use and can be customized easily, they cost less and provide better workflow management. Without the CMS, the website risks becoming unorganized and inaccurate. Navigation may become more difficult for the users, thus compromising the all-important user-experience.

With different CMS options available in the market, it may be challenging at times to pick the right CMS suited to your business needs. So how do you know which is the best CMS for your company? In this post, we have shared information on the different types of CMS along with their key benefits. We hope this will help you in making the best CMS decision.

First, what are the different categories of CMS that are widely used today?

It may be useful to understand the different types of CMS, their features, and their advantages, before choosing the one which fits your business needs. Open source CMS platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento are some of the widely used in the industry.

  1. Proprietary CMS:
    Proprietary CMS or the traditional, commercial software involves initial license fees for using the software and there are also annual charges required for their support or updates. There may be additional costs for making customization and technical support as well and can prove to be more expensive. Hence, it may be important to know the features that may be covered by this type of license. Ex: Microsoft Sharepoint, Sitecore, Shopify.

  2. Open Source CMS:
    This kind of CMS software is largely free and hence there is no initial cost involved in its usage. There are no license fees, upgrade fees as they are mainly created by a team of developers within the community. However, there may be costs involved if customization needs to be made to the software to meet specific business needs. Ex: WordPress, Magento, Drupal. Since feature additions and support is from the community there is some unpredictability in their cadence and availability.

  3. Software As a Service(SaaS):
    SaaS CMS solutions comprise web hosting, web content management software, and technical support through a single supplier. These solutions are hosted in the cloud and typically involves a subscription model offered on a per user or per site basis. One of the main benefits of using SaaS CMS solutions is their easy accessibility across laptop, mobile devices. Costs are also quite low compared to other types of CMS. The updates for the software can be done in real time and packages are usually scalable.

  4. Component Content Management System:

    As a point of interest, Component Content Management Systems help in managing content at the component level rather than the document level. They deal with content which may be repetitive and may be regularly revised and translated into different languages.

Top Factors To Consider While Choosing The Right CMS For Your Business are:

  1. Assess impact on your business:
    In most organizations, the IT, marketing and sales departments are closely involved in the activities related to the website. Hence one key task is prioritizing the requirements of different stakeholders to avoid internal conflicts. Next, the business needs to know their key internal needs, before choosing a specific platform so that they can plan in case they need to deploy additional staff and resources if required.

  2. Must be able to match with the technology and skillsets:
    There are many dependencies that may influence your choice of CMS solution. It may be necessary to integrate with other core functions such as marketing, sales, communication along with other project management initiatives. If there are any technology upgrades which are planned for the future, it may be best to choose a CMS which may be compatible with these projected changes. It may also be necessary to assess the technical skills and capabilities of your in-house team. In addition, it’s necessary to understand if the CMS is easy to use and manageable for your end users as well.

  3. Choosing the right features::
    The kind of features which you would require for your CMS would largely depend on your business goals. The size and scope of your web app, the likely schedules of content updation, the volume of this content, the number and type of users who will be tasked with managing the content, and the nature of the content will all play a role. The CMS software needs to be user-friendly, easy to use, have a scalable architecture to meet your future needs, must provide security features, and needs to have documentation and support for the end users.

  4. Focus on on-going support:
    Support for CMS platforms is of paramount importance as there may be on-going issues over the business operations. Especially, if you are opting for Opensource CMS, then it’s necessary to choose one with a wider and more interactive community for on-going support and seeking solutions. Besides, this also involves a cost, especially for implementing solutions using traditional platforms. Support may also be required even for the hosting infrastructure.

Conclusion:

Choosing the right CMS platform calls for thorough research on the various available options, weighing their pros and cons and finding the best fit that meets your specific business requirements and goals. If the choice seems too complex, then drop us a line and we will be happy to help!