So why write a blog?
spriteCloud is after all a commercial entity, and you might think our only interest in QA is financial. Well to say that, you would have us pegged all wrong. We’re not just in this business because of the money, we do this because we really love QA. Call us crazy – quite a few people have – but for us QA is an art and a science that we find very interesting and very challenging. We spend a lot of time reading other peoples ideas and commentaries on the subject from various QA groups, both commercial and open source, as well keep up with new trends and new tools as they come in. We’ve noticed though that there isn’t a lot of information to be found on quality assurance in the modern AGILE development age.
What do we mean by this? Well first let me take a moment to explain what we mean by the term “AGILE development”, because this catchphrase suffers quite a bit being one the latest batch of IT management buzzwords to get thrown around in high level meetings with – more often than not – only vague ideas of what it is. “AGILE development” is not new, though some people like to think it is, however it is only in the last decade that it has come into its own. Essentially the core idea at the foundation of AGILE is rapid iterative development that results in small(er) builds of software going to the production environment in short release cycles. While I won’t go into a big discussion on AGILE, safe to say the reason it works better than the methodologies that come before AGILE is because it’s much better for dealing with fast changing markets that need applications out to consumers yesterday. Which pretty much sums up the entire online entertainment and social network scene.
Quality Assurance though has been slow to catch up. There is no shortage of theory in the domain of Quality Assurance and application testing. There are any number of books on the subject backed by certifications. These books are typically very big, very heavy, and if you apply the methodologies in the orderly way you are instructed to apply them, you’d still be working on getting your software release out months to years after you started. This practice of QA works well enough in slow moving environments like banks, insurance companies, and government services, however if your working for an web tech B2C (business-to-consumer) company that is in the entertainment market, you don’t have that kind of time. More than likely you’ve got builds being handed over to you a matter of weeks after development started, and you’re expected to turn builds around in a matter of days. Time to market is everything; innovation is everything! A few bugs you can live with, it doesn’t matter if there are smaller problems, you can patch them with hotfix releases. On top of that you might have a good set of requirements to work from, or you might have none. Information sources can be fuzzy, with information owners not sure themselves what’s going on. This is where traditional QA methods fail, they just don’t cope well under the time strain and average to poor information.
This is the environment that us guys at spriteCloud met in, and became a team. We had to face these challenges every day, and it wasn’t easy by any means. We encountered more than our fair share of failures applying tried and tested techniques that simply could not be applied to the way in which development and application/service delivery was done at a startup. So we adapted a wide group of techniques into something much more useful than we had before. Some of these we came up with on our own, others we learned from QA’ers out in the field writing about their own practices. The end result was a new way to look at QA in modern AGILE development shops. We really thought of it as, modern QA.
We were so impressed with some QA’ers out there writing about their experiences that we felt inspired to share our stuff with like minded people hoping to inspire others in turn. And that’s really why we have this blog. Our hope is that you will find it interesting, informative and hopefully a little humorous as we share knowledge and trade stories about life in the trenches of a QA group.