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There is no such thing as a mobile application

One of my standard sayings these days is that “there’s no such thing as a mobile application”. What I’m getting at is that (apart from games) there are almost no mobile apps that deliver interesting functionality to users by themselves. They are all part of a distributed application that typically comprises a mobile component, a desktop and/or web client component, an administrative component, a database, etc. Nationwide, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times are all popular mobile apps that can only be fully tested in conjunction with non-mobile components. So I think we have lots of mobile software, but very few mobile-only applications (and actually very few desktop-only applications for that matter). In our multi-channel, collaborative, social world it simply must be this way.

So mobile apps are part of heterogenous distributed applications. This has a lot of implications for testing which we’ve been talking about for a while:

  • Integration and system test-cases must be able to execute across multiple computers. Consider a mobile banking test-case for transfering money from your account to mine. The test-case should interact with your Android phone, my iOS phone, the Chrome browser running on my desktop (since that should see the transaction in real time), the Internet Explorer browser running on the bank’s administrative screens, and the bank’s AS/400 transaction server.
  • Almost all applications should be performance and load tested.
  • Testing needs to deal with a lot of different technologies.

Mobile apps tested this way, i.e. as part of a wider distributed application, will be more robust, faster, and have better user experience than those that are tested in isolation.

Finally, there is one part of the puzzle that we don’t normally talk about, the network that connects all the parts. This is because the network is generally outside your control so you’re not going to test it, but the behaviour of the network has a huge impact on your application:

  • Will our mobile app work gracefully on a 2.5G network?
  • Will our mobile app work gracefully when someone loses connection for 30 seconds (e.g. driving through a tunnel)?
  • When someone is using our mobile app on their fast corporate LAN will it take advantage of the bandwidth?

We’ve been working on these questions for a few months now at TestPlant and will have some exciting announcements in January.


“Shift left” has become “drop right”

A lot of companies I talk to are “shifting left”. This is primarily driven by the question of how test fits into agile and feels good because it aligns with the classic fact that defects are cheaper to fix the earlier you find them.

Makes sense and personally I’m a big fan of shift left; but lately it seems to me that “shift left” has taken on a very waterfall form. This concerns me since I can see our industry about to take a massive back-step in terms of quality (both in terms of effectiveness and efficiency) similar to the naive test outsourcing done in the early 2000s. It took at least four years for the industry to right itself and get a net benefit from outsourcing and the same could easily happen again; and if nothing else that just makes my job (and all those genuinely trying to advance software engineering) frustrating and boring. This waterfall form appears most commonly in phrases such as: Read more…

Gartner Symposium – technology themes, testing challenges, and eggPlant

This week we are exhibiting at the Gartner Symposium in Barcelona! At about 6,000 attendees it’s certainly not the largest show we attend (Mobile World Congress and Dreamforce are both over 100,000 people), but in terms of understanding what’s going on in the world of enterprise IT, nothing beats it. How are retailers going multi-channel? How are banks and insurance companies engaging with customers? How are utilities shifting to continuous deployment with safety critical systems? The answers (or at least the current thoughts) are all here as the CIO/CTOs of all these companies are here. Read more…

Confessions of a TestPlant Tester

I’m writing in the midst of a fun and fascinating week at the Software Test Professionals Conference (STPcon) in Denver. For testers, this is a week to connect with the community– learn, teach, and make friends with people who think your job is cool. For test-tool vendors, it’s an opportunity to share the coolness of your products with a huge room full of super testers. Living in the union of the tester/vendor Venn diagram, I am too excited to sleep. Read more…

Application level load testing

Performance and load testing are becoming more popular as digital business drives the testing focus towards user experience. Amazon recently stated that a 100ms decrease in the response time of their website reduces revenues by 1%. That’s $700M! So this popularity is justified. But traditional tools for performance and load testing are now entirely inadequate for testing the user experience of mobile and web software and a new approach is needed. This post is all about that new approach, which we call “application-level load testing”. Read more…

Gartner recognizes “visionary” eggPlant testing suite

Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, has recognized the eggPlant range as a “visionary” in its ‘Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Integrated Software Quality Suites’! We’re excited to be included as one of the top vendors in the world, and especially by the specific comments made by Gartner who highlighted the “ease-of-use” of the complete eggPlant range combined with a “consistent stream of innovation” to deliver “a full complement of functionality including industry specific solutions”.

Ease-of-use and innovation are exactly what we focus on so it’s great to be recognised for this. It’s also what our users want. Our recent survey again highlighted that ease-of-use in all its forms (user experience, productivity, maintenance, reliability, and quick to learn) is the #1 thing our users want from their tools.

Probably my favourite comment in our customer survey this year however was “I see that my requests for improvement are taken onboard”. It’s a cliche, but our product development really is driven by feedback from our demanding and passionate users. They challenge us on innovation and they demand ease-of-use. So again we’d just like to say thank you to everyone who uses eggPlant and especially those who take the time to send us feedback.

Let eggPlant Performance 5.4 handle all your load and stress

Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed. No, TestPlant may not have put man on the moon, but they have done the next best thing and released eggPlant Performance 5.4, which builds on all of the powerful features of 5.3 and makes things much easier to use. This means that people are less dependent on specialist performance testers and can use the testing team they already have to carry out the test script development. Read more…

TestPlant celebrates export achievements at the Institute of Export

A group of TestPlant staff with our customer and partner guests attended the annual Institute of Export (IOE) Gala Dinner in recognition of the 2014 Queen’s Award for Enterprise winners. As a holder of a previous Queen’s Award, this very grand bash was a perfect time to thank all our partners and customers for supporting our achievements in export sales.

This year, we enjoyed the grandeur of The Clothworker’s Hall in the City of London. The Clothworkers livery company has a history covering nearly 500 years – rather longer that TestPlant’s!

We’d like to thank everyone at the IOE for their support in our continuing efforts to export eggPlant around the world!

And enjoy the photos!

Read more…

Apple announce iOS 8 release on September 17th

Apple have announced that the first full release of iOS 8 will be available next Wednesday on September 17th.

iOS 8 will deliver some great new functionality for mobile apps such as photo sharing, a faster keyboard, family sharing, health data, and improved Spotlight. Rest assured that all these features will be easily and fully testable using iOS Gateway.

Plus eggPlant Functional remains the only test automation tool that allows a single test to drive actions simultaneously across multiple iPhones, a desktop browser, and a backend server, so that you can execute real end-to-end test cases.

iOS Gateway for iOS 8 is available for download from the TestPlant website (

UK National ‘Cycle to Work Day’

‘Cycle to Work’ day, championed by multi gold winning Paralympic cyclist, Dame Sarah Storey, aims to encourage everyone to take to two wheels and to cycle to work for one day, today!

According to census data, 760,000 people in the UK cycle to work regularly [1] – this number keeps growing steadily but with the ‘Cycle to Work Day’ initiative, this number should skyrocket in years to come. By 2021, the hope is to see 1 million people regularly commuting to work by bike.

TestPlant encouraged its staff to take to the wheels and cycle to work, offering a free lunch to anyone who did (and to prove this with a selfie of them and the bike). And we’ve had quite a turn-out for the first year we have supported with 39% of UK employees having cycled to work. 

Cycle to Work

We further support our staff with the UK Cycle Scheme, helping staff to purchase their first bike tax-free to use for travelling to work. A fantastic initiative by the UK Government!

Our aim is to increase the number of our staff cycling to work next year! I took a selfie with a Boris bike – which did not quite make the cut for a free lunch, but I’ll definitely try cycling into work next year!

Safe cycling!