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Trends in Software Testing by Eric Jimmink

  • 31/08/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

Two years ago, EuroSTAR’s theme was “The Future”. I think that it should be an ongoing mission of all of us, to explore in what ways we can improve our profession, and ourselves. What new frontiers are just around the corner, and should become commonplace in just a couple of years?

1. Virtualization. It is already there, but I think it can be used to much greater effect, now that the number-crunching power of computers does exceed what is needed in many cases, and extra gigabytes are dirt cheap. Soon, testers will use virtual machines that emulate the target platform in such a fashion, that you can also take a step back after a defect is encountered.
Then, you just hand over the virtual machine to a colleague, who can reproduce the defect instantly.

This is not science fiction, it is already there. Virtualization and emulation tools already exist, they just need to be perfected a bit.

Image size should be reduced: right now, an image of a virtual machine can easily be 4+ GB.

High-performance corporate networks and Internet connection would make a big difference. People will want to send their virtual machines over a network.

2. Soft skills / consultancy skills. Demand for solitary minds in testing is dwindling. Today’s and tomorrow’s projects require testers to communicate well with colleagues and business people alike. Recruitment of testers (and selection of who stays on companies that reduce their staff) will focus on soft skills that are hard to train, rather than experience and knowledge that can be taught.

3. Career paths. Employers of testers must provide career opportunities and growth options that fit the new scheme. This includes differentiation for affinity towards business or technology. There must be room for individuals with aptitude towards consultancy and leadership. Also, technical excellence (e.g. tool champions) must be rewarded appropriately.
For some really technical testing jobs, it will effectively be a requirement that the ‘tester’ has experience as a developer. Thus, it must be a step up – not down – to choose such a career path.

4. Solid developer testing (as in the Agile testing pyramid) will gradually become the norm in the industry, allowing testers to do what they are good at: non-confirmatory testing.
Again, this is nothing new, and it does not require any new technology. However, for the standards to be raised across the field (and for agile development and testing to become everyone’s frame of reference), that does take time. In some countries, universities have been teaching students XP practices for years.

5. Test frameworks become integrated with middleware solutions, to the point that they become the deciding feature for choosing such software. For example, imagine a middleware suite for modeling a business process flow and a big information system around it. All the big names in the industry have their own suite, and they all have loads of features. It may be deceptively easy to develop a large workflow application with those packages, and very hard to test the result. Tool suites that really give good support for testing the application, will have a decisive competitive advantage, as those would reduce the total development cost.

6. In-memory databases are gradually becoming accepted as a stable solution that can yield great cost savings. Back in 2008, I encountered no real differences (other than the speed) when I tested an application built using an in-memory database system. The main difference for testing was that we could use loads of DbUnit tests in our CI build, without any need to place the Db tests in a nightly build scheme.
Here, it is just the human factor that slows down adoption of a technologically sound solution. If the main performance bottleneck in many of our information systems is the response time of a costly database system (or cluster of database servers), then it stands to reason that more companies will take the plunge and replace them with a lean and mean in-memory system.



Of course, this is just my own opinion. Please feel free to comment on the trends I outlined above, and add your own.

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