Jing Rocks

Every now and then a tool comes along that changes the way you do your work. Hopefully, it makes your life easier while enhancing your productivity.  Jing did this for me! In my life of software testing, where it seems that change on teams and in organizations can be slow, I can honestly say that Jing revolutionized the way I do my day to day job!!! I have been using the FREE version of Jing, a lightweight, extremely easy to use, screen and video capture tool for a  few years now. Everywhere I go, I let everyone know the amazing virtues of Jing by TechSmith. You can download it FREE for Windows and the Mac.

In software development we often want to share snippets of information while collaborating on building software. Whether it be a highlighting an issue on an application screen, or showing a screen flow of functionality through a video, Jing makes it easier to capture, annotate and share information. When information is presented in a clear manner the better chance it is this information will be seen, understood and acted upon by the proper teammate. Jing is fantastic for sharing and collaborating with team members.  I work as a contractor at various companies and I use it at every job I work at.   As a Software Tester, I use it for collaborating with the software development team members, via IM real time. I also document defects via videos, or annotated screenshots of the functionality.

Jing at a Glance:

  1. Always available with a hotkey you define
  2. Share screenshots and videos can be instantly accessed over IM with a URL, all you need is a login to screencast.com to share via URL
  3. Record up to a 5 minute video of your screen actions and records your voice also
  4. Easily grab a screenshot of a region on the screen, your desktop or a single window
  5. Quickly and easily annotate screenshots and save to a URL, the clipboard or a file
  6. Easily annotate your screen shots with text, frames, highlights and arrows
  7. Track your history of screenshots and videos so you can retrieve them easily by date to refresh your memory, or annotate and reuse
  8. Copy URL to defect tracking. This process is much quicker than saving a file and later reattaching that same file, downloading the file again to view… you get the picture
  9. Useful for documenting discoveries found during exploratory testing

The usefulness of Jing goes on and on. Try it and find out the way to use it that suits your needs best, to make your life easier. It will simplify the way you document screenshots and videos you want to share with others, and makes your work go smoother too. You can always upgrade to Jing Pro for it’s additional features at a later date. I find the features of the free version to be just fine for me.

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Daily Scrum: Show Up, Stand Up, Participate

As I join a new Agile team I think it’s time to revisit the mechanics of a ‘well oiled’ Daily Scrum meeting. Daily Scrum Meetings have definite guidelines right?  Well I have seen how the actual meetings play out differently on different teams I have worked with. A good Definition of Done and Working Agreements always helps in knowing what is agreed upon and expected of the team and also, expected in the Daily Scrum. When I stop to think of the various components which enable a standup to run smoothly, these points come to mind.

The conference call: If you have remote team members, everyone will call into a conference call, whether it be the conference room or the individual members. These points will help your call run smoothly:

  • Each team member should make sure their audio connection is good to hear and talk.
  • Speak up if you can’t hear.
  • Call in a couple of minutes before start time so you are ready when the host joins.
  • ScrumMasters, share your host conference code with the team. Things happen, people get sick or can’t call in. If the host doesn’t connect, neither do your teammates.
  • If the ScrumMaster is not in for the day, someone else from the team can call in and start the Scrum.
  • Start on time, regardless of who is in the room or on the call.   If the team sees you start on time every time, they will show up on time. Adjust the starting time if need be to make sure all team members can participate.

True, the idea is for each team member to discuss, what they did since the last Scrum, what they plan to do today, and state impediments to progress. Sometimes that turns into a discussion of issues. It’s ok to not stick right to the yesterday, today and issues format. Keep it short, park the issues, and stay afterwards to have your discussion of problems with the team members needed for the discussion. The idea is to get team members together once a day to communicate!

As a tester on my team, I like to give a gauge if I will have enough time to do my testing for the iteration based on code delivered, and issues found. I also communicate my ‘gut’ feel on the testing progress towards our iteration goals. I let the team know if I believe we’re going to meet our deadline based on the information I have found since our last Scrum. If a hard deadline with specific functionality is imminent, more teamwork may be necessary to meet our goals.

Hopefully some of these points will help your team look at and recognize it’s impediments to a good Daily Scrum and alter the Working Agreement if necessary. Issues with the Scrum process can always be discussed it in the iteration retrospective and steps identified and put in place to make the Daily Scrum Meetings run more smoothly. Show up to the meeting on time so communication can get going on time. Stand up so that the team is kept on task and the meeting goes fast. Participate, and take issues offline after the meeting. Your team will work better together if you have a good Scrum. Work through Scrum issues in the Retrospective as a team, and you will continually improve your software development as the team works together better.

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Why can’t anyone say Atlassian or Jira right?

< 3 Jira. (JEER)

I am always singing the praises of Atlassian and Jira. I have used both along with Confluence, (and Greenhopper) successfully on several established Agile projects. I work as a consultant so I move around a lot. I find that many of my colleagues have never heard of Atlassian and also have a hard time pronouncing both Atlassian and Jira.  So, I write this post to summarize the toolset in hopes that if your looking for a great toolset for Agile Software development you may be intrigued enough to look into it more on your own.

Atlassian, established in 2002, has a suite of products for software development that work very well together. The core products include Confluence, Jira, and Greenhopper. You can host it yourself or use the OnDemand hosted version. In the hosted version, you can toggle applications off or on and only pay for the applications you actually use. The Atlassian tools are flexible, and are not shareware, but are very inexpensive, especially for enterprise licensing. For instance, the hosted version of Jira is $500 a month for 500 users.  Currently, Atlassian has over 23,000 customers worldwide. The toolset has add-ons for almost anything you can think of. Atlassian has a variety of tools that all fit into the OnDemand version, and each product is priced separately.

The core set of Atlassian tools to pick and choose from is quite varied.

  • Confluence is a popular wiki that is very powerful and allows your team to collaborate easily in one place.
  • Jira is the issue tracking tool which has powerful dashboarding capabilities to share across the team, or blast up on a TV screen on your office wall for everyone to see.
  • Greenhopper is an Agile software development tool for Jira, allowing you to build your backlog, estimate stories, and see your teams progress via reporting capabilities.
  • Bonfire, is a tool to aid software testers in exploratory testing and reporting bugs, to make bugs easy to reproduce for the developers.
  • Fisheye shows a history of your source code and supports SVN, Git, Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce.
  • Crucible is a peer code review tool which also supports SVN, Git, Mercurial, CVS, and Perforce.
  • Bamboo, is a Continuous Integration and release management tool.
  • And another but not final, recently acquired, Hip Chat, is an IM Tool to link the team together.

There are more tools that Atlassian owns that integrate easily into the core set.  You can download and host yourself and get started for just $10. Another bonus, Atlassian gives that $10 to charity. There are several free trials for 30 days as well for downloaded and hosted versions.

Atlassian add-ons are available through the Marketplace at varying costs. Some add-ons are not as inexpensive as Jira, but you may be surprised at what exists. Currently over 1452 add-ons are out there for the various Atlassian tools.

I have worked with Jira for many years now. I remember when I first started using it, we didn’t quite know how to say Jira either. Many of my coworkers have really enjoyed working with Jira too and our teams have collaborated well with it. Plus, it has made our software development jobs a bit easier. I hope this summary of the Atlassian toolset gives you a good enough overview that you are interested in checking out Atlassian and perhaps trying a trial for yourself to see the virtues of Jira and the other Atlassian tools.

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Things 2.0 for Mac with Things Cloud

Cultured Code sure has made managing your to do list easy to do on your Mac. Now it is even easier to update across your devices utilizing free Things Cloud.   If you’re a Mac user, and enjoy using a task management system to organize your to do’s, you definitely should look into Things 2.0. Right now, it’s on sale for $24.99 until January 31st, 50% off the regular price. There are also Things versions for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.   Things Cloud allows synchronization across all of your iOS devices. Things 2.0 is a free upgrade for existing mac users.

Things 2.0 releases with it the new Daily Review list. Now, all Due and Scheduled To Do’s appear in a review section at the top of your Today list. From there you can prioritize and choose to start today, or postpone the tasks.

The screens have been visually polished for the iOS with the 2.0 iOS changes. There has also been a new scrolling date picker implemented on the iOS that makes it really easy to scroll to, and pick future dates.  You can cancel a to do by tapping and holding it’s checkbox, and now, thankfully, you can also tell Things to automatically log to do’s immediately, as you check them off, getting them off your screen and off your mind.

Things 2.1 has improved reminders and an integration with Siri for iPhone iOS 6. Just enable Reminders and Siri Integration within Settings. User Siri to enter new reminders, for example, by saying ‘Remind me to go to the bank tomorrow at 10’. Your reminders will show up in your inbox in Things and you can import them there. Reminders and Siri on Mountain Lion OS X (only) has a new way of accessing reminders, so you should set up both the Mac and iOS versions of Things to show the same reminder list.   Adjustments were made to enhance Things display on the longer screen of the iPhone 5.

The long awaited things cloud release released in 2.0 is enhanced in 2.1 so changes on any iOS device are reflected on other devices (Mac, iPhone, or iPad) almost immediately. Things Cloud is free and stores all of your to do’s and keeps them updated across all of your devices. Local push is a feature of 2.1, where updates to Things Cloud are triggered when you update a task. Now every time you update a task, Things sends an encrypted notification across your local network, so any device on that network will pick this up and request the update.

With the implementation of Things Cloud and Local Push, Things 2 is a great way to track your to do’s across all of your iOS devices in a simple, intuitive fashion. I highly recommend you check it out. There is a 14 day free trial here so you can try it and see for yourself.

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Rally Enterprise Edition for Test Case Management

I am looking into using Rally Enterprise Edition for Test Case Management since Rally is a popular SCRUM Life Cycle Management tool and so many companies use it. I know I’ll get the chance to continue to use it in the future. So, like I did in the late 90’s with HP’s buggy Quality Center, I will embrace it and work through the kinks with product support, as the product matures. I will utilize the community bulletin boards and vote up issues at the Rally Ideas site.  It took quite a while for MQC (old Mercury Test Director) to mature, it will take Rally a while to mature, or perhaps it won’t ever be a contender to QC and never needs to be. Time will tell.

I am finding on my current project, User Interface test automaton, which is a key value in agile development, is progressing nicely, but it is still in the early stages. The automation needs to be supplemented by standard manual functional test cases for each iteration. These in turn, will be marked and gathered for regressions and ultimately some of which will be automated.

I am looking into using Rally for test management as I would like to have visibility for the entire team to know testing status beyond what is illustrated in the standard burn down chart.  More than that, I would like to easily know what is left to execute without scouring the Google spreadsheets and multiple tabs within, to see which high priority test cases still need to pass test execution.

Here is what I found regarding utilizing Rally for test case management:

The good:

  1. You can create one or more test cases at the user story level to test all acceptance criteria within that user story.
  2. Test cases are created, updated, executed at the user story level.
  3. The status of test case execution per user story is shown at the test run level, under the user story in a simple graph, % passed and % covered (which means executed).
  4. You can pass/fail a test case, create a defect and edit the test case from the test run screen.
  5. You can filter by test cases to find which test cases at the use case level still need executing.
  6. You are able to print a detailed report from the results section at the use case level.
  7. You are able and save it as pdf with a tool such as CutePDF for your test execution reporting.

The not so good:

  1. You cannot perform step by step test execution, even though you can enter the test steps in one by one. This gave me the illusion that you could perform step by step execution and fail a test case at a particular step. This may not be such a big deal, in the long run, I like to keep it simple too. The tester looks at the main Rally screen while executing the tests against the application, and enters test execution information in the Test Case Results pop up window. The tester enters Pass/Fail information as well as Build, Verdict, Date (automatically populated) and Notes in the Test Case Result form which pops up when clicking the Pass/Fail icon for a test case.  It is in the Notes section that the user can document what step the test case failed on.
  2. You cannot roll up all your execution results into one report across user stories for an Iteration. You have to look at each user story and individually run a report. If your team typically has 6-8 user stories I suppose that isn’t too bad.
  3. You cannot move the test cases from the Use Case level into a regression test format, for instance a Regression test suite directory of folders. They have to be at the use case level. You can copy a test case into the same use case folder and edit, but from I can tell not across use cases.
  4. You cannot share a dashboard in Rally out of the box.  I yearn to have a standard dashboard the team looks at, similar to how you can create a query or dashboard in Jira and share it? What does this have to do with test case management, well I would like to share a dashboard simply so everyone has an idea where we are status wise.

So, to summarize, you can perform test case management out of Rally’s Enterprise edition. But is it any easier than using spreadsheets?   I don’t think so.  It is clunky and will take time to save off your reports from the individual user stories. You will not get good status reporting, except at the User Story level and you cannot save test cases to a regression suite, you will need the Unlimited edition for this. That is another story, I will save for another day to tell. I will also save for another day, the discussion of Rally’s API and if it’s worth it to customize Rally to meet your needs at the Enterprise edition.

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What…..move from Spreadsheets to a Test Management System?

Well it may sound odd to even ask this question in the 21st Century, but in my experience as of late, is that there are still companies out there that use spreadsheets to track their legacy test cases. Also, for current development test cases and test case execution.

Now that we have Google docs, and Google spreadsheets, collaboration among the test team is free and simple. Still, there are several compelling reasons to move from manage by spreadsheet to a test management system:

  1. Ease of performing test execution
  2. History of test execution
  3. Test execution supporting documentation, results
  4. Ease of updating test cases and reuse of test cases
  5. Version control
  6. Mapping to test cases to user stories in tool
  7. Dashboards creation for testing visibility to team
  8. Able to import the spreadsheets into the test management tool, probably after some manipulation
  9. Allows visibility to the team of where you are, in planning and test execution
  10. Saves time on reporting, or gasp, reports for you if you don’t currently report

Sure there are costs to consider, but if you are going to do it eventually, why not start now? In the long run it will save you money and help you develop software a little easier.

Sometimes on projects it is difficult for managers and other team members to see what your doing, and where you are. How are we doing? Where are we going? Are we on track? I find that reporting in the SCRUM meeting manually is more difficult for the tester. As well, more difficult for the team to digest and understand than having a dashboard the team can easily find and gain the valuable information at a glance. Dashboard visibility, which comes from an integrated Test Case Management tool adds to the testers standard SCRUM update and visibility to the team’s progress immensely.

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Just Do It

Just put One foot in front of the other, is what I say. Don’t be stifled.   ‘Just do it’  like Nike says, which I have to admit was my mantra before they started the campaign in 1988 (as far as I can tell).   Just begin.   Don’t focus on the job at hand, just start and good things will flow forth. As Lao-tzu said, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.   I have a voice, and I want to give my blog my own voice, I want to be authentic and keep it real.  I write because I want to share, lift up others and inspire, as others have inspired me along the way….. ‘On the shoulders of giants   ‘.   If I aspire to being a writer I want to let my own voice be heard. I like my voice. I have a lot to say. This is the start of my journey of finding my voice and letting it be heard in the software testing community.

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