Saturday, December 23, 2006

Business drives research in software testing

It's not often that the news carries stories about the business world driving new research in software testing. Yet that is exactly what FedEx are doing as described in this news story.

They have commissioned the University of Memphis to research a number of topics pertaining to the matter, through the Systems Testing Excellence Program (STEP). The FedEx goals will be familiar to any business dependent on Information Technology: they want less problems with new systems and they want to make the software testing process faster.

Code is written and then turned over to unit testing; testers look for defects and send that detail back to the development team, Miller said. Determinations are made on whether an issue actually is a defect or a requirements shortcoming."We sort of believe that testing as a discipline has probably not kept up pace" with other areas of IT, Miller said.FedEx's focus is on testing large, complex, integrated software systems, on both mainframe and distributed systems."We want to make sure we're in the forefront of the testing space," Miller said.

Research areas being studied include:

  • A risk-based testing process, featuring risk assessment
  • A multistage system testing model, for fault tolerance and debugging-free software
  • Managing software testing in projects that involve offshore vendors
  • Engaging testers earlier in the life cycle
  • Skills acquisition by testers
  • Gauging employee personality and cultural characteristics as they pertain to software testing projects
  • Development of decision models for the best use of software testing resources
  • A systems testing expert system
  • Improving test benefits through the software development life cycle
  • A knowledge transfer mechanism for skills acquisition in software testing
  • Applying a knowledge management approach to testing
  • A network infrastructure test suite, to automate detection of network vulnerabilities

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fast launch for start up business helped by testing approach

Independent testing consultancy Acutest has contributed to a successful launch of specialist mortgage lender edeus, whose business proposition is dominated by technology.
With their use of online applications and processes, edeus is challenging the speed of processing in the mortgage industry. Acutest was brought in to ensure that the systems and processes work from end to end.

John Nixon, Chief Operating Officer at edeus, says: “Our expert systems are extremely complex and the Acutest consultants quickly got to grips with them. Their approach ensured we made best use of the testing time available and fitted well with our agile implementation approach. Initial trading has been extremely brisk and the proposition has been very well received."

Acutest director, Tom Norris, says: “We’ve evolved our no time to test services with the experience we’ve gained in helping new businesses launch, particularly organisations such as edeus, who are set to be a mayor player in their market. There is no time for false starts or stopping to strategise: you need to know what to do and do it. We place a strong emphasis on bringing testers, suppliers, users and the business together to get the testing done quickly.”

Nixon adds: “edeus are now focusing on the future and planning a series of new services and products to meet the market needs. Acutest has also built us an automated regression test suite that allows testing software to determine the impact of change quickly. We are delighted with the results Acutest was able to provide us with.”

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Software testing tools - free and open!

There are a lot of opensource software testing tools covering a range of different functions and purposes. If you need a tool to support testing but have very little budget you could try these three sites to assess your options:
  • Open Source Testing This site has an amazing directory of testing tools broken down into functional testing tools, performance testing tools, test management tools, bug databases, limk checkers and security test tools. For example, there were 60 functional test tools last time I looked.
  • Web Test Tools This site covers web test tools. A lot of categories ranging from load and performance test tools, to Java test tools and regression testing automated tools. Not all the tools here are open source but there are plenty that are.
  • Open Source software test tools research There is even publications available which assess the tools available. Published in September 2006 it retails at $240 a copy. Don't know if there is an open source version of this report that is free, but I doubt it.

These tools make a lot of tasks easier or faster. But remember, a fool with a tool is still a fool. Use them thoughtfully.

Load testing

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Software testing FAQ - No. 21

Are there any software test tools that would also help with testing if food is contaminated?

That question was sent in by M. Scaramella.

I can understand your concern, sir. One minute you're tucking into a little fishy in a little dishy. The next you are glowing brightly enough to read a software testing glossary at night without needing to turn on the light. Not a situation anyone would want.

We have featured numerous posts about software test tools in this blog, These include proprietary tools (such as in this one and this one) and freeware or open source tools (such as in Software Testing FAQ - No. 4). We have even mentioned the migration of food contact substances in this blog on migration testing. However we have never considered the use of software test tools (such as performance test tools, automated functional test tools, or test management tools) in identifying food contamination.

I know next to nothing on this subject, so I asked a fat person who ate a lot and they advocated the use of a taster first to determine if the food is fit to be consumed. You may have already been following this advice. You may now have a vacancy for a taster. If so, may I suggest Matt Willis for this role?

Matt recently won a prestigious competition by eating the anus of a kangaroo and other fare too revolting to discuss further. So no matter what you want to eat, it is unlikely that he would turn his nose up at it. And given his recent diet, he may already be using software test tools such as BugRat, Bugkilla or ANTS. I'm not saying these tools help detect contaminants. I'm not saying he's definitely using them. I'm just not saying.