There has been a tectonic shift in software development tools in just the past few years. Agile practices and increasingly distributed teams have been significant factors but, in my opinion, the main reason is a new and more intense focus on tools for testing driven by more complex software and shorter development cycles.
There have always been developer tools and platforms (IDEs) and they are getting better. There have always been project management tools and now they are extending further across teams and becoming more integrated.
For a long while testing stood alone. Most of the focus was on integrating bug trackers into team tools, but that’s typically where it stopped. The first generation of integrated tools were cumbersome and poorly documented, and their lack of sophistication failed to provide significant benefits to the whole team or to make product development faster.
A lot has changed. Stand-alone tools are on the road to obsolescence. The direction today is full integration and transparency. Rapid development and deployment demands greater automation, communication, focus, and information transfer. To achieve this, integrated test platforms at a minimum need to include test case managers, automation tools, bug tracking, and automatic reporting that can fully integrate with and leverage development platform tools and reporting.
New tool technology is contributing to improved development practices. XP’s Continuous Integration (CI) practice is based on autobuilds from source control using an integrated bot or agent, automated re-running of unit, integration and regression test, and automatic notification of code changes, bug fixes, and automated test failures. Continuous Integration enabled by better tools is now separating successful teams from Scrumbuts or more aptly—slow, less than efficient teams.
We have often stressed testers being integrated by co-locating in the same work area as developers to better integrate in the planning and estimation process, and have better access to product owners and customers. Ideally, this paves the way to becoming more technically integrated and valuable. This leads to teams that are cross-/multi-functional and have a bigger variety of quality work. The result of this type of integration is more gray box, and earlier test execution, and ultimately better product quality.
For your career growth and to better support your product teams, learning more about integrated test platforms, ALMs, CIs and the varieties of tools and practices that go along with them will be a great benefit. This issue focuses on the tools and practices that will help and support all of us in providing rapid and higher quality information to the rest of the product development team.
In this issue, Eric Landes looks at the benefits of using Agile ALM; LogiGear Marketing Director, Joe Luthy presents a keyword based testing tool for Visual Studio; an article from Software Consortium examines recent changes to the ALM toolbox; I talk about the importance of integrated test platforms; Bryce Johnson shows us how to speed up automated testing and finally, Tad Anderson reviews the book Continuous Integration in .NET.
I hope you find this issue full of information about the importance, growth and use of integrated test platforms, and that you learn a few tips about Continuous Integration.
Next issue? Mobile Test Automation!
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