Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taking the hassle out of scheduling Automated Test Runs

Let's imagine you have a team of hot-shot QA gurus and they've taken the time to automate your test cases using TestComplete. Now let's imagine you want to take it to the next level, scheduling those automated tests to run at a particular time or a particular date. For example, let's imagine you want to schedule them to run automatically every week night at a 7 p.m so that you can check the run results when you get into the office first thing each day.
If you've had this need in the past, you probably created a batch job that launched TestComplete, sending it the Project Suite and Project you want to run. Then you had to create a Windows Scheduled Task to run that batch job at a particular date and time. This works fine, but what happens if you had set it up to run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, leave work on Tuesday and decide it would be great to have it run tonight because there were a lot of code committed today and you would like a retest. Unless you have a VPN connection to your office, you have to jump in the car and drive back to work.
If you've had this issue, you're gonna love this. This weekend (19-Dec-2010), we are implementing a new feature of Software Planner (QAComplete and ALMComplete editions) that allows you to schedule automated test runs via the web. Even cooler, you can see the run history in dashboards so that you can quickly see what things passed and failed. Since this is all web driven, you can do this from the luxury of your home without going into the office.
To illustrate how this works, we created a movie, you can watch it here:
For quick reference, here is what the scheduling screen looks like:

As automated tests run, they get posted to a dashboard that you can use to see what items pass and fail each day:

So take the hassles out of life -- explore the new Automated Test Scheduler. Oh, and by the way, it can also schedule HP QuickTestPro automated tests as well! Enjoy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Uncluttering your tasks using Task Boards

Most of us understand the complexity of software development. There are lots of moving parts, requirements to hash out, coding and testing to get done. With tons of tasks in a project, it can easily get overwhelming trying to figure out the status of what's on our plate and what things we've already completed.

Many Agile and iterative Waterfall teams have simplified this process by using Task Boards. If you've never used a Task Board, simplicity is what makes it interesting. A Task Board is simply a list of all the tasks a developer has to work on. It is normally divided into 3 columns:

1. To Do - List of things I've not started
2. In Progress -Things I am currently working on
3. Completed - Stuff I've completed

To utilize this, most teams simply use a whiteboard with sticky notes to identify these tasks, here is an example:

So as we begin working on things, we simply move the sticky notes to In Progress. Once we complete them, we move them to the Completed area. As new tasks come in, they go into the To Do column. By having this front and center for the team to see, we all know the status of our tasks.

After working with this a while, we thought it would be cool to have our Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) ( tool display Task Boards. So I asked my team to come up with a simple yet effective way of showing this online. They came up with a cool design. As a developer, you can access your Task Board and see all your tasks, just as you can by using a whiteboard. However, they took it a step further. For each task, they show:

1. What requirement it is related to
2. How many hours have been worked thus far
3. How many hours are left (and pct complete)
4. The critical dates (estimated start and finish dates)

They even extended it by showing any tasks that are due today in green and tasks that are overdue in red. That allows you to quickly spot the ones that might be slipping. This new feature is slated to go to production in ALMComplete ( sometime this month (December 2010). Here is a quick preview of what it looks like and here is a quick movie that shows how it works:

What do you think?