|By Steve Weisfeldt||
|January 21, 2013 08:00 AM EST||
Developing with Performance Testing in Mind
A tester friend of mine recently came to me with a complaint that I think is fairly common in the testing community. He said, "Every time there is a new release of the software for us to test, we have to rework our testing scripts." I've heard this complaint throughout my career, not only in performance testing but in functional testing with automation tools as well.
This state of affairs arises from three fairly straightforward observations:
- Change is inevitable. Everything changes, and in no industry is this more apparent than software development. It makes no sense for testers to ask developers to stop changing the code, but it does make sense to encourage wise changes.
- Developers and testers don't always communicate well. The proverbial wall between developers and testers is still quite formidable. When developers throw a new version over the wall to be tested, too often they've given little thought to how it will be tested.
- All testing tools are not created equal. Some make it easier to identify and handle changes than others. If your testing tool is designed to handle change well, then your entire team is better positioned to embrace change rather than fear it.
Thinking Like a Tester
Most development organizations make a real effort to improve communication between developers and testers, but it's not always enough. Beyond encouraging developers to talk with testers, I ask them to take it a step further and think like testers.
I find that it's a good idea for developers to sit through some of the training that the test engineers complete. In my experience, the developers who do are more careful and avoid making arbitrary changes with little or no justification. They don't, for example, change the name of a field in a form simply because they don't agree with the name the initial developer gave it. When developers are aware of the kinds of changes that make a tester's job harder and what kinds of changes make it easier, then from an organizational standpoint the entire process is more productive.
An Analogy from the Early Days of Functional Testing
Some of the earliest automated functional testing tools for GUIs would simply record the location of the mouse pointer on the screen during tests, and then play back those mouse clicks to execute the test script. If a developer moved the location of a button on the screen, the script would break. Other tools would record the label on the button, so the button could be moved around the UI without breaking the script but changing the button text from "Submit" to "OK" would break the script. More advanced tools used the button's ID to identify it in the script so that the developer could change both the position and the label of the button without making the tester's job more difficult.
One key lesson here is that the choice of testing tool makes a big difference in the productivity of the testing team when the software under test changes, even in relatively trivial ways.
The other key lesson is that developer awareness of testing tools and procedures goes a long way in facilitating a smooth testing operation. I saw this firsthand during a training session I gave years back. While describing how button label changes affected testing, a developer who happened to be sitting in on the training sat upright when he finally understood why his colleagues in testing were so frustrated by many of his changes. He never knew why they objected so much to his changing a button label from "Clear" to "Reset". Going forward, that knowledge didn't stop the developer from making necessary changes. It did, however, make him pause when he made such changes to consider whether they were really necessary.
Performance Testing Tools That Make It Easy to Handle Change
In performance testing, we are not concerned with the location of buttons, but we're not immune to seemingly trivial changes.
For example, when a web form is submitted to the server, the form fields will be a series of name-value pairs. Changing the name of a form field, adding a field, or deleting a field can cause problems during performance testing. With a less capable testing tool, these problems can be hard to identify and diagnose, especially if there is poor communication between developers and testers.
File difference viewers (diff viewers) that enable the tester to compare multiple recordings against each other are particularly helpful in pinpointing the changed fields. When it's time to modify the script, an effective tool will enable you to add, delete, and update fields without programming. Just right-click and choose add, or simply drag-and-drop to update your load testing script.
Form fields are relatively easy to handle for load testers. Parameters that are session specific are more difficult. (These parameters change from session to session but stay the same for the duration of each user session). By default, the hard-coded session values are captured by a load testing tool in each script, and a test engineer needs to parameterize them to make the script usable for load testing. Double-clicking on a hard-coded value to make it a variable is easier than diving into the script code. Here again, tools that help automate the process can reduce test creation time from many hours to a few minutes.
When a new script is needed or maintenance is required on an existing script, tools that are easier to use can make the task orders of magnitude faster.
Overcoming the Fear of Change
I know of development teams that gradually became more and more afraid to change their software because of the difficulties that the changes introduced in testing and elsewhere in the process. Needless to say, this had a negative effect on their ability to deliver new features and fixes. A root of the problem, it turned out, was the testing tool that they were using, which made changes arduous and error-prone. Once they switched to a modern tool, the required script changes were easier to make. Performance testing times shrank from a week to less than a day and development was once again free to make long-needed changes. Agile development shops in particular depend on this ability to rapidly implement changes in testing scripts, and get the tests going in minutes or hours instead of days and weeks.
If your organization is starting to fear change, encourage your developers to think like testers and encourage your testers to use tools that make inevitable change easier to handle.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Jan. 30, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 4,500
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Jan. 30, 2015 12:30 AM EST Reads: 4,836
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Jan. 29, 2015 06:15 PM EST Reads: 5,454
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jan. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 5,189
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
Jan. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 4,931
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Jan. 29, 2015 05:00 PM EST Reads: 6,052
Jan. 29, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 5,120
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 29, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 4,403
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Jan. 29, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 5,193
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Jan. 29, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 5,775
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Jan. 29, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 4,759
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Jan. 29, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 4,877
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
Jan. 29, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 3,234
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Jan. 29, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 4,253
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
Jan. 29, 2015 12:45 PM EST Reads: 2,475
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
Jan. 29, 2015 12:30 PM EST Reads: 2,859
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
Jan. 29, 2015 12:15 PM EST Reads: 2,767
Jan. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 10,503
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Jan. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 4,628
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Jan. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 4,346