QA – Come get some

The great thing about being “the QA” guy in a smaller company is that the answer to the question “what should I do about testing?” is usually “whatever you want…but don’t kill anybody”. The absolute power is blinding but luckily the 13 or so years of Testing under my belt helps temper this god like power with a bit of caution ;) One of the most important things to a software project is its quality. If your product has too many bugs in it, then you can quickly get a reputation that could take years to fix. Worse case…you won’t be able to fix them at all and your project eventually fails. QA or Verification or Testing (…I refuse to get caught up on symantics of the three…) is an important step to making sure that you have the quality that you need to make the customer happy. Yes…no bias there ;) The proper testing tools are extremely important in a software project….no matter what the size. Not just tools that help you execute tests, but also tools that help you track and manage them. Rule of thumb: If you’re tracking or managing your tests in Excel, then you’re doing it wrong. There really is no excuse for using excel when managing and reporting on you testing activities…not with all of the open source tools that are available. This is why, when asked to get a new solution for our company, I immediately went to Bugzilla in order to see if it would fit us. What does this have to do with managing tests? I’ll get to that. Here is the “elevator speech” for Bugzilla:
Bugzilla is a “Defect Tracking System” or “Bug-Tracking System”. Defect Tracking Systems allow individual or groups of developers to keep track of outstanding bugs in their product effectively. Most commercial defect-tracking software vendors charge enormous licensing fees. Despite being “free”, Bugzilla has many features its expensive counterparts lack. Consequently, Bugzilla has quickly become a favorite of hundreds of organizations across the globe.
…and the bonus is that it is free, open source and is continually updated. Excellent tool so far and were looking to migrate to this tool going forward for all of our products if all goes well. In relation to that, there is a nice little test tracking plug in called Testopia:
Testopia is a test case management extension for Bugzilla. It is designed to be a generic tool for tracking test cases, allowing for testing organizations to integrate bug reporting with their test case run results. Though it is designed with software testing in mind, it can be used to track testing on virtually anything in the engineering process.
…and this is where test case management and reporting come in. At the end of the testing cycle, how do you measure or put a metric on quality. Sometimes, you can’t. For example…how do you measure the quality of a fun video game or a movie. Kinda hard. Luckily for our file acceleration products, we can measure it by tracing back to our designs and requirements. These requirements and designs can be made into test cases which can be run on the software and, at the end of the day, the product can have a pass and failure rate associated to it. There is your quality metric. Without some kind of measurement to base quality on, you’ll be forever doomed to putting your finger in the wind….and the wind gets cold up here in Canada ;) Right now, we’re using the combination of Bugzilla and Testopia on the next release of our FileCatalyst software. We’re really just testing the waters and molding both of these tools to fit our environment. Personally, I’m really looking forward to putting both of these tools through their paces. Cheers, Darren QA Lead, Unlimi-Tech Software www.filecatalyst.com