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   ► KBPrestwood I.T.Client ExtranetCoding Services     Print This   
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  From the April 2008 Issue of Prestwood eMag
 
Client Coding Services:
Software Testing? We Do That!
 
Posted 7 years ago on 1/31/2008 and updated 3/29/2008
Take Away: Everything about our web site makes it pretty clear that we specialize in custom application development. Less frequently mentioned is another service we provide: Professional software testing. Software testing is a discipline unto itself. It's certainly related to development, but developers aren't the best testers. That's why Prestwood retains highly experienced, professional software testers. This is a service we make available - whether or not we're involved in a product's actual development. This article provides more details about this service.

KB100835



Nothing works until it’s tested!

This is a longstanding axiom of the software industry. I heard if first from a computer science professor in the early eighties. Now, after twenty-some years of programming, it’s as true to me today as it was then.

Programmers are not testers

Yes, at a minimum, good developers unit test their work. But the fact is that a developer is not the person best suited to test his own product. As logical and analytical as we may think we are, we can still be subconsciously biased in favor of our own code, over-confident in its quality, and somewhat blinded to how end users will actually utilize our software. (End users are the world’s most brutal testers.)

Most programmers are only marginally better at testing other people’s code, than they are at testing their own. We still think like programmers. Developers are trained to program. Professional testing is a related, but completely different, discipline.

I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many times I’ve handed a build off to one of our testers, only to have him announce – within five or ten minutes – that he’d already figured out how to blow it up. But that’s how it sometimes goes. A trained and well experienced tester often develops what appears to be a sixth sense – or intuition – about where to start hammering. That statement, however, shouldn’t lead anyone to believe that good testing involves an element of blind luck. It doesn’t.

Professional software testing is like a science

“Software testing is an empirical technical investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the product or service under test, with respect to the context in which it is intended to operate. This includes, but is not limited to, the process of executing a program or application with the intent of finding errors.” So begins the Wikipedia article on Software Testing (emphasis mine).

To the true scientist, his job is not to prove a theory, it is to disprove it. Likewise, a good tester's goal is not to "pass" software, rather to find its flaws. Sometimes, as a developer, I feel like our testers are a little too stubborn about that. Embarassed

Testing begins with a plan, and that plan will be followed. Yes, my colleague may embarrass me with an early build, but as the test-fix-retest cycle moves forward, he’ll have fewer and fewer opportunities to “get lucky;” he has to follow the script.

A Prestwood advantage

At Prestwood, our testing is supported by our PSDP-Online project management database system which, itself, is modeled to support the Prestwood Software Development Process. The database allows us to create test scripts, test suites (ordered collections of test scripts), record defects, and track builds. It lets us document each phase of development and testing, and gives our clients high visibility into the process, and the opportunity to interact as well.

Of course, we use this system to manage the testing of applications we develop, maintain, or enhance for our clients. But our certified testers are not “married” to PSDP-Online. We’re happy to work within your preferred framework.

One of the beauties of our testing approach is that it’s highly flexible. Our testing services can range from short, fairly informal engagements; to full-blown and rigorous documentation of application use cases (or “stories,” in SCRUM parlance), test scripts for each use case, suites of test scripts, defect reports, and reporting of test results. We can go beyond the simple pass/fail result of each test, too; adding tester comments and suggestions about how developers and/or clients might approach the resolution of fail cases.

Sharing the Testing

Often our clients like to participate in the testing process, and we encourage this sharing of testing responsibility. Our PSDP-Online system makes shared testing very manageable. Clients can log in to their own project areas, view the work in progress, add defect reports, annotate virtually every entry in the database, and be assured that their Prestwood test team is immediately updated via automated email notifications.

Depending upon the circumstances, we can generate test data – and configure some automated testing tools to speed the testing and ensure consistent re-tests.

You don’t need to have us involved in the development of your software to take advantage of our testing resources. We’ve performed these services for numerous non-Prestwood developers; people and organizations that have a software product, but don’t have their own testing staff.

One benefit of using Prestwood is that we can conduct and record “enterprise modeling;” a repository of information about your applications, their life cycles, their requirements, use cases, test scripts, test suites, test results, and builds. Consolidating this information in PSDP-Online adds immensely to your “institutional memory.”

Beware: Vista is here!

The introduction of Windows Vista presents real challenges to what were perfectly good XP-vintage applications. This is not to say that Vista is a bad thing. But in several areas, it is a very different thing (see below for links to articles about a few Vista vagaries). Now that it’s getting harder and harder to buy a new PC or laptop without Vista, it may be time to consider re-testing both your application, and its installation program, on Vista. (On Vista, installers have new responsibilities.) Without you knowing it, Vista adds to your technology debt.

If you have a software product that has yet to be professionally tested, trust the old axiom: It doesn’t work (or work as well as you might be inclined to believe it does). Please feel free to contact us about your testing needs. We have the resources to handle short, informal test runs; rigorous, extensive testing scenarios; and everything in between.

Prestwood Testing Services

Go to the home page of Wes Peterson
Wes Peterson
Everything about our web site makes it pretty clear that we specialize in custom application development.

Less frequently mentioned is another service we provide: Professional software testing. Software testing is a discipline unto itself. It's certainly related to development, but developers aren't the best testers. That's why Prestwood retains highly experienced, professional software testers.

Shared Online Features include:

  • Defect Database
  • Builds Tracking
  • Test Script Database
  • Test Suite Database with Test Results
  • Ability to systematically verify requirement items, design items, or test scripts.

This is a service we make available - whether or not we're involved in a product's actual development.

Read this article for more inforation!

More Info

KB Post:  Application Manifests, Revisited for Vista
Article:  Application Virtualization: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Article:  MSI Installers: Whats Up with These?
Article:  Technology Debt: Is it getting to your bottom line?

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KB Post Contributed By Wes Peterson:

Wes Peterson is a Senior Programmer Analyst with Prestwood IT Solutions where he develops custom Windows software and custom websites using .Net and Delphi. When Wes is not coding for clients, he participates in this online community. Prior to his 10-year love-affair with Delphi, he worked with several other tools and databases. Currently he specializes in VS.Net using C# and VB.Net. To Wes, the .NET revolution is as exciting as the birth of Delphi.


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