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Date: Monday, 14 May 2012 14:30
In case any of you are wondering why I haven't been posting here, it's because my blog now lives at Peak Performance. I've tried to migrate all the content from here that I believe has historical significance to make things easy to find. I hope you'll continue following my work (and work-related rants) at my blog's new home.
--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Author, Web Load Testing for Dummies
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing
Author: "--"
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Date: Tuesday, 20 Sep 2011 16:16

I've been nominated as a director candidate for the CMG. My candidate statement is posted below because my views related to CMG mirror my views for application performance in organizations and the industry as a whole and I believe that is (or, at least, I hope it is) interesting to anyone involved or concerned with challenges related to application performance now and in the future.

If you are a CMG member, I encourage you to review all of the candidate statements and to vote your conscience here.

Remember, if you don't vote, you have no right to complain. ;)

Statement of Willingness to Serve:

I am willing and would consider it an honor to serve as a director for CMG if elected.

Professional Work Experience:

In my nearly 20 years of experience working in software and technology, I have performed the duties associated with virtually all of the commonly thought of roles; from analyst to project management, configuration management to IT support, and developer to CIO. These many experiences coalesced shortly after Y2K into a career focused on helping organizations improve software system performance to enhance user experience and enable smooth growth while avoiding speed, stability, and scalability catastrophes in a fiscally responsible manner.

Today, I am the President and Chief Technologist of PerfTestPlus, Inc. PerfTestPlus is a small company that I founded in 2005 focused on assisting organizations to implement or enhance an entire life-cycle approach to managing the performance of their systems cost efficiently through training, mentoring, and consulting at the project, management, and executive levels.

Prior to founding PerfTestPlus, I was employed in a variety IT specialist roles by several custom software development companies, a government contracting agency, and a hardware start-up, all after serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army. I hold a M.S. in Information Technology and a B.S. in Civil Engineering.

Other Professional Experience:

Over the past 10 years, I have become recognized among the world's most prominent thought-leaders in the area of software system performance testing and increasingly in how businesses can bring high quality technology products to market while maximizing the overall business value of those products. Put simply, since starting my career in technology, I've been focused on figuring out how businesses can deliver user-satisfying technology solutions in a manner that is maintainable, low risk, and profitable.

One of the ways I've tried to accomplish this is by sharing what I've learned with others through writing and speaking. I have composed over 100 publications including 4 books; Web Load Testing for Dummies, Compuware 2011 (Author), Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications, Microsoft Press, 2007 (Co-Author), Beautiful Testing, O'Reilly, 2010 (Contributing Author) and How to Reduce the Cost of Testing, Auerbach Publications, 2011 (Contributing Author). I've also delivered seemingly countless talks to groups and corporations, small and large, in person and via web, including keynote addresses for major conferences on 4 continents.

Another way I've worked toward this goal is by building and supporting communities that focus on collaborative learning and ultimately consolidation and promotion of good ideas and practices across the industry. Aside from participating in online and local communities, I co-founded the Workshop on Performance and Reliability and served for 4 years as Vice President and Executive Director for the Association for Software Testing, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the understanding and practice of software testing.

Candidate statement:

My major contributions to the computer measurement and management field all center around improving communication and collaboration across teams and specializations throughout the technology lifecycle, particularly as it relates to the performance, scalability, and reliability of technology solutions. It is through the extension and enhancement of this idea, combined with my experience as a business owner, non-profit executive director, conference coordinator, and community builder/manager that I seek to serve the CMG membership.

Historically speaking, computer measurement and management has been primarily the responsibility of IT and Support Operations groups. In today's world of Agile, the Cloud and virtualized environments, having IT and Support Operations start measurement and management activities as products enter final preparations for production release is too late. To increase the likelihood of success, businesses need be doing appropriate measurement and management activities, unbroken, throughout the lifecycle. Taking the lead in helping businesses make this organizational shift is where I see CMG's largest opportunity to add value to the industry over the next several years. I believe CMG can accomplish this by providing thought leadership and expanding its influence to new audiences.

CMG has a history of supporting and promoting leading thoughts and thinkers, and this should certainly continue. I believe CMG would benefit from becoming recognized as a thought leading organization in its own right. Making this transition need not be difficult. All it takes is for CMG, as an organization, to identify current challenges, provide education about the value of resolving those challenges, and share some principles and practices that can be employed to help resolve them. Helping organizations to become thought leaders in their own right is something I have successfully accomplished before, and I would be proud to bring those lessons and experiences to help CMG do the same.

In terms of expand its influence to new audiences, I believe I am uniquely suited to help CMG do exactly that. With me comes virtually unrestricted access to the most natural expansion point for CMG, architects, developers, testers, vendors, and communities focused on the delivery of highly performant, scalable and reliable technology solutions. Today these individuals and groups cluster in underutilized online communities, small corners of larger conferences, and unconnected local groups. In other words, CMG has the opportunity to merge these groups with its already strong and active membership base, creating a well respected and organized home for mutual growth and collaboration. I believe that CMG has all of the tools it needs to make this happen, and in just a few short years, return to enjoying the benefits that come with serving a larger membership, without sacrificing any of the personality and services that have kept CMG strong for all of these years.

A vote for me is, in effect, a vote to leverage the existing strengths, collective knowledge, and brand recognition of CMG to expand CMG's reach to all of the groups and individuals that participate, or should be participating in, computer measurement and management activities throughout the technology lifecycle while enhancing it's reputation of identifying and supporting thought leaders to additionally become a thought leader in it's own right.

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
About.me

 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (September 2011, CRC Press)
"If you can see it in your mind...
you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
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Date: Tuesday, 20 Sep 2011 16:16

I've been nominated as a director candidate for the CMG. My candidate statement is posted below because my views related to CMG mirror my views for application performance in organizations and the industry as a whole and I believe that is (or, at least, I hope it is) interesting to anyone involved or concerned with challenges related to application performance now and in the future.

If you are a CMG member, I encourage you to review all of the candidate statements and to vote your conscience here.

Author: "--"
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Date: Friday, 02 Sep 2011 14:23

This past weekend, I finally made time to start reading Agile Testing: A Practical Guide For Testers And Agile Teams, Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory, Addison-Wesley (2009).  I made it through the first two chapters before life called me away.  After I put the book down and starting going about accomplishing a mundane series of errands, I realized that I was feeling disappointed and that the disappointment had started growing just a few pages into the book.  Not because of what the book had to say, what it said was pretty good – not exactly how I would have expressed a few things, but thus is the plight of a writer reading what someone else has written on a topic they also care and write about.  What was disappointing me was the fact that the stuff in those chapters needed to be said at all.

Author: "--"
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Date: Friday, 02 Sep 2011 14:23

This past weekend, I finally made time to start reading Agile Testing: A Practical Guide For Testers And Agile Teams, Lisa Crispin & Janet Gregory, Addison-Wesley (2009).  I made it through the first two chapters before life called me away.  After I put the book down and starting going about accomplishing a mundane series of errands, I realized that I was feeling disappointed and that the disappointment had started growing just a few pages into the book.  Not because of what the book had to say, what it said was pretty good – not exactly how I would have expressed a few things, but thus is the plight of a writer reading what someone else has written on a topic they also care and write about.  What was disappointing me was the fact that the stuff in those chapters needed to be said at all.

You see, as Lisa and Janet were describing what Agile Testing and Testing on Agile Teams was all about, and explaining how it is “different” than “traditional testing”, my first thought was:

Boy was I ever fortunate to start out my career in software in the company I did.  I don’t think I’d have made it 3 months in one of these ‘traditional’ environments.

My second thought was:

What earned this stuff ‘traditional’ as an identifier anyway?  That’s certainly not how I learned to think about testing, but I guess there’s nothing to be done about the fact that before my time, some person or people, decided that software testing was fundamentally different from anything else I’ve ever encountered that was called testing.

My third thought was:

No wonder I could never figure out what the big deal about testing and Agile was… it’s because this thing, apparently called Agile Testing, is exactly what I thought software testing was before I ever worked on a software project.

Pondering those thoughts while running errands, I realized what was making me feel disappointed. 

I found myself disappointed with the entire field of testing -- every person, organization, and software or business related field that enabled or allowed software testing to get to such a state that those two chapters should be classified as a “must read” for everyone who has anything to do with testing software, directly or indirectly, before being permitted onto their first software project.  At least coming from the background I did, it seems entirely baffling that these two chapters are describing some kind of nirvana that most testers and teams either aspire to or fear instead of these two chapters representing the givens, the lowest acceptable bar to entry, ya’know, all the stuff that while you’re reading, you keep thinking “Duh.  Stop wasting my time telling me all the stuff everyone already knows and get to the good stuff!”

I found myself disappointed that after all the hours and years that so many people have dedicated to making software testing a respected and reputable career, the vast majority of testers and organizations, for reasons that aren’t their fault, at least not entirely, haven’t even made it *up* to what I’d consider “ground-zero”.

Honestly, how messed up must software development have been for a group of some of the most respected and influential people in the field to feel the need to get together and collectively remind us that (to paraphrase the Agile Manifesto):

  • People, collaboratively, solve problems.  Processes and tools will never solve a problem without people.
  • No matter how well we document what we’re trying to do, it’s pointless if we don’t actually do it.
  • No contract will ever make a customer find value in a product.
  • “Stuff” happens, and if we don’t deal with it, we might complete our product cheaper or sooner, but it will be the wrong product and no one is going to want it.

And how messed up have we remained that for the subsequent decade the entire movement that claims the same name as these self-evident truths, has been rejected, debated, and wildly misapplied?

Isn’t it about time that we get over our hang-ups and start simply doing the right thing?  Have we become so caught up in the things we’ve seen misapplied that we’re willing to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”?  Is the entire software development industry so broken that testers feel they need these “traditional” approaches to protect the business, the users, and themselves from evil?  Or has the term “Agile” simply become so overloaded because of a decade of people misapplying the principles and misusing the term that we need to start over again with a new term?  If that’s the case, why don’t we just say that the process of developing software should be:

  • Mission focused – meaning that if we’re not delivering working software that serves the purpose for which it was created, what *are* we doing?
  • Accomplished in manageable units – 7 year, strict waterfall, development projects simply don’t work.  You figure out what a manageable unit is *this* time, and *next* time too.
  • Collaborative across the entire team – testers included
  • Value to Cost appropriate
  • Able to react to change
  • Reliable
  • Sustainable

Call it MACVARS, agree to avoid all the “I’m gonna rebrand my old stuff as ‘Agile’ to improve its search engine rankings… whether it’s actually ‘Agile’ or not” crap, and get on with doing the right thing.

If that’s not the case, I wish someone could enlighten me as to what the all the debate and rejection of collaborating to deliver products that serve their desired purpose without running up expenses by doing lots of not-so-value-adding stuff is all about, ‘cause I don’t get it.

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (September 2011, CRC Press)
"If you can see it in your mind...
     you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011 15:11

Due to the overwhelming success and positive reviews of the last STP Online Summit: Business Value of Performance Testing, we've decided to do it again -- only this time, we're going to explore Achieving Business Value with Test Automation.

Join me (while I continue practicing my radio host skills for my emergency back-up career as a sportscaster) and 7 other presenters that I consider to be elite practitioners, teachers, and thinkers in their test automation areas of specialization for 3 half days online to learn their tips and methods for achieving business value with test automation. If you or your organization are using, or thinking about using, automation to enhance or improve your testing, you're not going to want to miss this online summit. I honestly can't think of anywhere else you can get this concentration of relevant and thematically targeted information at a better price, but you be the judge:

When: Tuesday October 11 10:00AM - Thursday October 13 1:30PM PST

Cost: $195 USD before 9/26/11 $245 USD after 9/26/11

Theme: For more than 15 years organizations have been investing in the promise of better, cheaper, and faster testing through automation. While some companies have achieved demonstrable business value from their forays into test automation, many others have experienced questionable to negative returns on their investments. Join your host, Scott Barber, for this three day online summit, to hear how seven recognized leaders in test automation have achieved real business value by implementing a variety of automation flavors and styles for their employers and clients. Learn how to answer the ROI question by focusing on business value instead of testing tasks, and how to implement automation in ways that deliver that value to the business, not just to the development and/or test team.

Register Now!

Author: "--"
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011 15:11

Due to the overwhelming success and positive reviews of the last STP Online Summit: Business Value of Performance Testing, we've decided to do it again -- only this time, we're going to explore Achieving Business Value with Test Automation.

Join me (while I continue practicing my radio host skills for my emergency back-up career as a sportscaster) and 7 other presenters that I consider to be elite practitioners, teachers, and thinkers in their test automation areas of specialization for 3 half days online to learn their tips and methods for achieving business value with test automation. If you or your organization are using, or thinking about using, automation to enhance or improve your testing, you're not going to want to miss this online summit. I honestly can't think of anywhere else you can get this concentration of relevant and thematically targeted information at a better price, but you be the judge:

When: Tuesday October 11 10:00AM - Thursday October 13 1:30PM PST

Cost: $195 USD before 9/26/11 $245 USD after 9/26/11

Theme: For more than 15 years organizations have been investing in the promise of better, cheaper, and faster testing through automation. While some companies have achieved demonstrable business value from their forays into test automation, many others have experienced questionable to negative returns on their investments. Join your host, Scott Barber, for this three day online summit, to hear how seven recognized leaders in test automation have achieved real business value by implementing a variety of automation flavors and styles for their employers and clients. Learn how to answer the ROI question by focusing on business value instead of testing tasks, and how to implement automation in ways that deliver that value to the business, not just to the development and/or test team.


Register Now!

Presentations:

Last time, we sold out so reserve your seat early!

Who Should Attend: The Achieving Business Value with Test Automation summit was designed for software test and quality assurance professionals responsible for planning and implementing a test automation strategy. Specifically, it is designed for those professionals who are driven to make their test automation framework more effective efficient and valuable to their organization.  Novices will be introduced to new concepts and practical ideas, while seasoned professionals will learn new approaches to enhance their abilities.

Why Attend?

  • This is a one-of-a-kind event that was created for software testers, by software testers.
  • We’ve put together a content-rich program in a comfortable structured environment delivered by seasoned presenters who are forward thinkers and test automation authorities.
  • Participate in networking opportunities designed to encourage the exchange of peer-to-peer knowledge from other test automation engineers and the session speakers.
  • Travel is not required.  Attend all of the sessions, interact with the presenters and network with your peers right from the comfort of your home or office!
  • You don't have to stop working to attend so you can start applying what you learn immediately. The audio and video from each session will be recorded. If you miss a session, you will have access to all of the session recordings once the summit has ended.

Learn How the live STP Online Summit Works

Frequently Asked Questions

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing
More about.me
 
"If you can see it in your mind...
you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 04 Aug 2011 14:50

Two part podcast on the STP site. I say some interesting stuff... or at least I say some stuff that's interesting to me. :)

Twist #52 - With Scott Barber

Twist #53 - The Return of the Barber

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing
"If you can see it in your mind...
you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 04 Aug 2011 14:50

Two part podcast on the STP site. I say some interesting stuff... or at least I say some stuff that's interesting to me. :)

Twist #52 - With Scott Barber

Twist #53 - The Return of the Barber

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing
Author: "--"
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Date: Monday, 01 Aug 2011 17:02

Last week, I hosted STP's Online Performance Summit, a 3 half-day, 9 session, live, interactive webinar. As far as I know, this was the first multi-presenter, multi-day, live webinar by testers for testers. The feedback from attendees and presenters that I have seen has all been very positive, and personally, I think it went very well. On top of that, I had a whole lot of fun playing "radio talk show host".

The event sold out early at 100 attendees with more folks wanting to attend, but were unable. Since this was an experiment of sorts in terms of format and delivery, we made a commitment to the smallest and least expensive level of service from the webinar technology provider, and by the time we realized we had more interest than "seats", it was simply too late to make the necessary service changes to accommodate more folks. We won't be making that mistake again for our next online summit to be held October 11-13 on the topic of "Achieving Business Value with Test Automation". Keep your eyes on the STP website for more information about that and other future summits.

With all of that context, now to the point of this post.

Author: "--"
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Date: Monday, 01 Aug 2011 14:44

Last week, I hosted STP's Online Performance Summit, a 3 half-day, 9 session, live, interactive webinar. As far as I know, this was the first multi-presenter, multi-day, live webinar by testers for testers. The feedback from attendees and presenters that I have seen has all been very positive, and personally, I think it went very well. On top of that, I had a whole lot of fun playing "radio talk show host".

The event sold out early at 100 attendees with more folks wanting to attend, but were unable. Since this was an experiment of sorts in terms of format and delivery, we made a commitment to the smallest and least expensive level of service from the webinar technology provider, and by the time we realized we had more interest than "seats", it was simply too late to make the necessary service changes to accommodate more folks. We won't be making that mistake again for our next online summit to be held October 11-13 on the topic of "Achieving Business Value with Test Automation". Keep your eyes on the STP website for more information about that and other future summits.

With all of that context, now to the point of this post. During Eric Proegler's session (Strategies for Performance Testing Integrated Sub-Systems), a conversation emerged in which it became apparent that many performance testers conduct some kind of testing that involves real users interacting with the system under test while a performance/load/stress test was running for the purposes of:

  • Linking the numbers generated through performance tests to the degree of satisfaction of actual human users.
  • Identifying items that human users classify as performance issues that do not appear to be issues based on the numbers alone.
  • Convincing stakeholders that the only metric we can collect that can be conclusively linked to user satisfaction with production performance is the percent of users satisfied with performance during production conditions.

The next thing that became apparent was that everyone who engaged in the conversation called this something different. So we didn't do what one would justifiably expect a bunch of testers to do (i.e. have an ugly argument about who's term came first, is more correct, that continues until no decision is made and all goodwill is lost). Instead, we held a contest to name the practice. We invited the speakers and attendees to submit their ideas, from which we'd select a name of the practice. The stakes were that the submitter of the winning submission would receive a signed copy of Jerry Weinberg's book Perfect Software, and that the speakers and attendees would use and promote the term.

The speakers and attendees submitted nearly 50 ideas. The speakers voted that list down to their top 4, and then the attendees voted for their favorite. In a very close vote, the winning submission from Philip Nguyen was User Experience Under Load (congratulations Philip!).

So, next time you, or someone in your organization proposes putting users on a system that is currently under load, you can say "Let's run a User Experience Under Load test to assess end-user satisfaction."

I strongly encourage you to do that... and follow it up by mentioning that Philip Nguyen of Citrix Systems coined that phrase. I, for one, will, from this moment forward use this name to refer to this practice (which is a practice that I fully support as a good practice in a wide variety of contexts, and believe is widely under utilized) in my writing, speaking and consulting, and will be diligent about attributing the name to Philip.

I hope all of you see the value in what happened here. "Testerland" is so filled with overloaded terms coined for marketing purposes that are not widely understood or agreed upon that using terms will often hinder communication more than help it. In this case, a group of 100 performance testers first agreed on a description of a practice, and then agreed on what to call it -- with no agenda other than naming a good practice to make it easier to talk about.

I hope this inspires other groups of diverse individuals to stop debating which existing term is "better" than each other existing term, and rather identify a practice through description (not definition) and then jointly agree on a term to refer to it that makes sense. Personally, I'm tired of watching a bunch of consultants, trainers, and/or vendors get into heated debates over whose term should be *the* term to force down the throats of everyone in "Testerland" because it supports their business agenda. If that reality bugs you as much as it bugs me, take the first step. Adopt User Experience Under Load as the name of this practice, and tell the story of how Philip Nguyen's proposed name won out in a democratic vote of every day performance testers who just happened to be in the right webinar at the right time.

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing
"If you can see it in your mind...
     you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
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Date: Friday, 29 Jul 2011 19:30

Fred Beringer of SOASTA posed that question on his blog yesterday.

An interesting question, so being a tester, what did I do? Right, I tested it. It took all of one test for me to come to my conclusion...

NOT WITH RESULTS LIKE THIS!!

Google Page Speed Service Test
--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (TBP Summer 2011, Taylor and Francis)
Author: "--"
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Date: Friday, 29 Jul 2011 19:30

Fred Beringer of SOASTA posed that question on his blog yesterday.

An interesting question, so being a tester, what did I do? Right, I tested it. It took all of one test for me to come to my conclusion...

NOT WITH RESULTS LIKE THIS!!

Google Page Speed Service Test

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (TBP Summer 2011, Taylor and Francis)
"If you can see it in your mind...
you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
Date: Thursday, 21 Jul 2011 02:16

Yesterday, SOASTA announced their new product, CloudTest Lite (Press Release). It's not common that I get excited about a tool product release, but this is different. This product has the potential to change the market for the better.

Scratch that. I'll be shocked if it doesn't change the market for the better.

Why is that, you ask? Consider the following attributes of CloutTest Lite:

  • It's a fully featured, easy to learn and use, enterprise class, modern, performance testing tool for web & mobile applications
  • All you need to use it is a reasonably modern machine connected to the internet and a web browser.
    • You don't need to buy, install, configure or maintain load generation machines.
    • The "license" is tied to your personal credentials, so you can design, create, execute, and analyze your tests from any machine you want without needing to figure out how to point to the license server, or how to get onto the corporate network from your favorite internet cafe.
    • You can even do much of the design, test enhancement, and analysis entirely off-line.
  • You can simulate up to 100 virtual users any time you want. No more scheduling time on the controller days or weeks in advance guessing the app will be ready for your test. No more having to wait until your next scheduled time to re-run your test when you see something 'wonky' in your data.
  • It's free.
    • Yes, I said free.
    • As in, you never need to pay a dime. Not today, not when the trial expires, not a year from now to continue your maintenance contract.
    • That's right, it is free from now until the sun explodes (or at least until well beyond when anything we're building or planning to build today is long gone and forgotten)

Imagine the implications:

Author: "--"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Jul 2011 21:19

Yesterday, SOASTA announced their new product, CloudTest Lite (Press Release). It's not common that I get excited about a tool product release, but this is different. This product has the potential to change the market for the better.

Scratch that. I'll be shocked if it doesn't change the market for the better.

Why is that, you ask? Consider the following attributes of CloutTest Lite:

  • It's a fully featured, easy to learn and use, enterprise class, modern, performance testing tool for web & mobile applications
  • All you need to use it is a reasonably modern machine connected to the internet and a web browser.
    • You don't need to buy, install, configure or maintain load generation machines.
    • The "license" is tied to your personal credentials, so you can design, create, execute, and analyze your tests from any machine you want without needing to figure out how to point to the license server, or how to get onto the corporate network from your favorite internet cafe.
    • You can even do much of the design, test enhancement, and analysis entirely off-line.
  • You can simulate up to 100 virtual users any time you want. No more scheduling time on the controller days or weeks in advance guessing the app will be ready for your test. No more having to wait until your next scheduled time to re-run your test when you see something 'wonky' in your data.
  • It's free.
    • Yes, I said free.
    • As in, you never need to pay a dime. Not today, not when the trial expires, not a year from now to continue your maintenance contract.
    • That's right, it is free from now until the sun explodes (or at least until well beyond when anything we're building or planning to build today is long gone and forgotten)

Imagine the implications:

  • There is no longer a financial excuse to not be testing performance for any website, of any size, throughout the lifecycle.
  • No more resources wasted installing and configuring load generation labs.
  • No more time lost waiting for licenses or controllers.
  • Trainers can teach public performance testing classes, with an enterprise class tool without investing (and charging) a fortune to build and maintain a legally licensed lab.
  • You can launch all those late night tests from home.

Ok, true, it's "only" 100 virtual users, but be honest, how often do you need more than that? And when you do, it is simple and seamless to buy the additional load you need with the CloudTest On Demand service -- no additional installations, not changes to your tests necessary. Just pay for what you need when you need it.

SOASTA has done what I've been begging vendors to do for a decade. They've eliminated the bar to entry for life-cycle performance testing and committing to providing a positive user experience. They've build a business model where they get paid by the owners of the sites make a lot of money as a result of large volumes of traffic to their site instead of trying to wring non-existent nickles out of the owners of "mom & pop" businesses who want to add a little value to their customers with a user expectation meeting website.

Congratulations SOASTA for implementing a business model that actually demonstrates, not just pays lip service to, social responsibility and software user advocacy without skimping on features, usability, or the ability to pay your employees a fair salary for their hard work. That alone, even if I didn't like the tool (and I *do* like the tool) makes you one of *very* few companies that I am proud to support.

All you other vendors, consider this fair warning. Unless your tool does something special, like handles some unique protocol or accommodates a specialized technology or architecture, as of yesterday, I rate your market share as "legitimately under attack".

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (TBP Summer 2011, Taylor and Francis)
"If you can see it in your mind...
     you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Jun 2011 15:46

The Centro de Ensayos de Software (CES), a non-profit software testing laboratory in Uruguay, has recently launched a program that is certain to become the new “gold standard” in professional development for software testers.  The program, endorsed by the Universidad de la Republica (Uruguay), the Universidad Castilla La Mancha (Spain), and sanctioned by the Uruguayan IT Chamber (CUTI), is the most comprehensive, affordable, and publicly available training program for software testers on the market.  Based on my market research and comprehensive review of the program, I have no reservation in rating it as market leading.

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Date: Tuesday, 07 Jun 2011 15:45

The Centro de Ensayos de Software (CES), a non-profit software testing laboratory in Uruguay, has recently launched a program that is certain to become the new “gold standard” in professional development for software testers.  The program, endorsed by the Universidad de la Republica (Uruguay), the Universidad Castilla La Mancha (Spain), and sanctioned by the Uruguayan IT Chamber (CUTI), is the most comprehensive, affordable, and publicly available training program for software testers on the market.  Based on my market research and comprehensive review of the program, I have no reservation in rating it as market leading.

Software Testing, the software development activity responsible for identifying issues with software and providing a wide variety of quality-related information to stakeholders and decision-makers prior to release, is the primary job of many millions world-wide, yet the majority of software testers learn their craft entirely on the job.  Yes, there are various “take a class or two, pass an information-based (not a skill-based) test, and receive a certification” programs – some more respectable than others and most far more expensive than the CES program.  There is even a new certificate coming to market that involves three, one month, on-line courses where students are taught and assessed by experienced testers and university professors, but none of those rise to the level of the CES’s program.

The CES offers courses leading to three levels of credential, Software Tester, Software Testing Professional, and Software Testing Leader; each tier is comparable in quality and format to a “Professional Enrichment Certificate” from an accredited university, and when viewed collectively the three levels are only marginally short of the criteria published by North American degree accreditation organizations for consideration as an Associate’s Degree.  Each tier is both information- and skill-based and requires takes 6 months to complete.  The successful student is expected to dedicate a minimum of 400 hours of instruction and project work that is delivered and assessed by university approved instructors and significantly experienced software testers to complete each tier of the program.  The three tiers span the career development of a software tester:

  • Software Tester: The ideal program for entry-level, junior, and career-switching software testers.  Successfully completing this credential will give you the knowledge and experience most employers expect from testers with 1-2 years of on-the-job experience – effectively enabling you to start your career needing only to acclimate to the specific expectations of the employer and demonstrate your skills at work before being acknowledged as a mid-level tester.

  • Software Testing Professional: For testers with several years of testing experience on-the-job who are looking to make the jump from mid- to senior-level, this program is designed to teach high-quality individual contributors how to be effective technical leaders within their testing organization.  Effectively giving the tester the new skills they need, in addition to their existing hands-on testing knowledge, to prepare them for the additional responsibilities of a technical testing manager or of a manager of small to mid-sized testing projects.

  • Software Testing Leader: This final step in the program has been designed for senior-level testers who desire to be successful managers or directors of corporate testing programs.  Frequently the most challenging step for career software testers is to transition from being a technical leader to a management role focused on the interface between quality testing and executive-level business value.  Successful completion of this stage of the program will give the student the tools they need to make the jump from technical leader to manager – opening the door to further advancement to positions like “Director of Testing Services” or “VP of Software Product Quality”.

I believe that this is exactly the program that testers and employers of testers have needed and desired for many years.  Without hesitation, I would move job candidates who have completed any or all of this program to the top of my consideration list.  In fact, the only thing that keeps me from promoting this program even more aggressively is that, at least for the time being, it is only available in Spanish.  Even so, if you speak Spanish, or have tester employees who do, I strongly encourage you to take a very serious look at this program and draw your own conclusions.  I am confident that you will come to the same conclusion I have… that there is no currently available program that is more comprehensive or higher quality at any price, let alone at surprisingly affordable cost of approximately U$1,300/tier.

Visit the website (www.ces.com.uy in Spanish), or the view the brochure (www.perftestplus.com/CES.pdf in English) for more information.

--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
 
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author,Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (TBP Summer 2011, Taylor and Francis)
"If you can see it in your mind...
     you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Apr 2011 00:59

I guess it’s that time again.  What time is that, you ask?  It’s the time when discussion/debate flares up over Context-Driven. I’m not going to weigh in on the whole discussion of pros/cons, value/distraction, etc.  I am a consultant.  I am Context-Driven (and not just as a tester, it's simply the way I have operated since long before I was a tester and long before I became aware someone had coined a term and composed a set of principles around how I already operated).  The license plate on my car says “CONTEXT”. It works for me.  But my point isn’t to convince you that it’s right for you.  My point is to address a comment that I frequently hear that *feels* very sad to me.

Where I work, I don’t have the freedom or authority to implement all this Context-Driven stuff, so I guess I don’t get to be part of the club.

I find this sad, because I don’t agree.  It is my opinion that “Where I work, I don’t have the freedom or authority…” *is* a "driving context", making smart decisions about what you are empowered to choose, and appropriately trying to inform/educate those who are "driving your context" that there are other options qualifies as being Context-Driven... at least to me.

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Date: Monday, 18 Apr 2011 22:51

I guess it’s that time again.  What time is that, you ask?  It’s the time when discussion/debate flares up over Context-Driven. I’m not going to weigh in on the whole discussion of pros/cons, value/distraction, etc.  I am a consultant.  I am Context-Driven (and not just as a tester, it's simply the way I have operated since long before I was a tester and long before I became aware someone had coined a term and composed a set of principles around how I already operated).  The license plate on my car says “CONTEXT”. It works for me.  But my point isn’t to convince you that it’s right for you.  My point is to address a comment that I frequently hear that *feels* very sad to me.

Where I work, I don’t have the freedom or authority to implement all this Context-Driven stuff, so I guess I don’t get to be part of the club.

I find this sad, because I don’t agree.  It is my opinion that “Where I work, I don’t have the freedom or authority…” *is* a "driving context", making smart decisions about what you are empowered to choose, and appropriately trying to inform/educate those who are "driving your context" that there are other options qualifies as being Context-Driven... at least to me.

What follows is something I drafted for an org that had recently decided that it wanted to adopt the principles of being Context-Driven, but didn’t want to inadvertently offend members whose context was largely dictated by decisions outside of their sphere of influence.  Due to a wide variety of unrelated circumstances, what I wrote never got presented to the org & got lost and forgotten on my hard drive.  I recently found it and wanted to share it with everyone because I think it’s valuable.

Please note, the document below is entirely the opinion of Scott Barber.  It has not been reviewed, approved, sanctioned, dismissed, or debated by the folks who composed and maintain the principles of the Context-Driven School of Software Testing.  They may agree, they may not, but that doesn’t change the fact that I believe these things.  Also note that I’m 100% certain that this is not perfectly composed, doesn’t cover every possible situation, and if anyone wanted to adopt or “officialize” it, it deserves a healthy copy-edit and peer review.

Ok, with all the “context” and disclaimers out of the way, here is what it means to *me* to be Context-Driven.

All Roles:

  • I understand that there are many different kinds of value that can be obtained from testing software.
  • I understand that there are many variables that influence what test tool(s), technique(s), method(s), model(s), and/or approach(es) (subsequently "method(s)") are likely to provide the most value in a given situation.
  • I understand that the most valuable method(s) for my current situation may not continue to be the most valuable when any of the many variables related to that situation changes.
  • I believe that when a situation changes, it is valuable to take pause and consider whether the method(s) I am currently using are still the best available choice, and adapt appropriately if not.
  • I respect the diversity of methods available to software testers and believe there is inherent value in being aware of as many of them as I can.
  • I do not discount or belittle a method simply because I have not yet experienced added value from using/applying it.
  • I am not afraid to express that I feel that a particular method is unlikely to add value in my current situation, or did not add value in a particular situation in the past.
  • I am skeptical of methods that claim to be valuable in all situations, claim to be a “best practice”, or promise to add value regardless of situation.
  • I understand that situations change during the course of a project, and from project to project and I strive to adapt to continue providing maximum possible value in the face of changing situations.
  • When the parameters I am given & my scope of control prohibit me from adding the value I believe I could/should be adding, I respectfully make my superior(s) aware of that fact and accept his/her guidance/decision.

Testers:

  • I strive to understand the value my testing provides to my stakeholders, including:
    • my peers
    • my managers
    • my developers
    • my project
    • my executives
    • my organization/company
    • my regulators
    • the users/clients
  • I strive to maximize the value of my testing to stakeholders within the parameters I am given & my scope of control.
  • I strive to learn and understand many methods so that I am better able to adapt in the face of change.

Test Manager/Directory of Testing:

  • I strive to understand the value my team’s testing provides to my stakeholders.
  • I strive to ensure that every member of my team understands the value their testing provides to our stakeholders.
  • I strive to maximize the value of my team’s testing to stakeholders within the parameters I am given & my scope of control.
  • I strive to learn and understand many testing methods so that I am better able to help my team adapt in the face of change.
  • I strive to train my team in many testing methods so that they are better able to adapt in the face of change.

Executives/Organizations:

  • I strive to ensure my test directors/managers understand the value their team’s testing provides to stakeholders.
  • I strive to encourage/enable test directors/managers to maximize the value of their team’s testing to stakeholders by thoughtfully and carefully setting their parameters & scope of control.
  • I strive to adjust parameters & the scope of my control appropriately when my test directors/managers respectfully inform me that they are prohibiting their team(s) from making their testing more valuable.
  • I strive encourage/enable my test directors/managers to train their teams in many testing methods so that they are better able to adapt in the face of change.

Contractors/Consultants/Trainers:

  • I strive to learn and understand many methods and the kinds of situations in which they are likely/unlikely to add value to stakeholders so that I am better able to adapt in the face of change, advise my clients, and/or share that knowledge with my students.
  • I strive to help my clients/students learn to adapt to provide maximum possible value in the face of changing situations within the parameters they are given and their scope of control.
  • I understand that my skills/course material is not a good fit for every possible situation, I strive to advise my clients/students of this fact and help them make informed decisions about whether my services/classes are right for them at this time. And when they are not, I strive to help my clients/students find contractors/consultants/trainers that are better suited to help them meet their current needs.
  • I advise my clients/students to be skeptical of methods that claim to be valuable in all situations, claim to be a “best practice”, or promise to add value regardless of situation.

Why {org} is “Context-Driven”

  • Acknowledging that situations change during the course of a project, from project to project, from organization to organization, and from industry to industry; and
  • Embracing the fact that testers need to be able to adapt to changing situations if they are to provide the most possible value to their stakeholders; and
  • Respecting the value of diverse tools, techniques, methods, models, and approaches available for software testing; and
  • Understanding that learning and understanding many of the available tools, techniques, methods, models, and approaches can help testers and managers of testers to adapt to add the most possible value to their stakeholders in the face of changing situations; and
  • Recognizing that what is “best” for a tester today may not be “best” for that same tester tomorrow, and that what is “best” for one tester today may not be “best” for another tester, even when assigned the same task on the same team on the same day

{org} therefore believes that the most value that it can ethically provide to the broadest community of testers and their managers is to focus on making our services consistent with the 7 principles of the Context-Driven school of Software Testing, which are:

  1. The value of any practice depends on its context.
  2. There are good practices in context, but there are no best practices.
  3. People, working together, are the most important part of any project's context.
  4. Projects unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable.
  5. The product is a solution. If the problem isn't solved, the product doesn't work.
  6. Good software testing is a challenging intellectual process.
  7. Only through judgment and skill, exercised cooperatively throughout the entire project, are we able to do the right things at the right times to effectively test our products.
--
Scott Barber
President & Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.
Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
Contributing Author, Beautiful Testing, & How To Reduce the Cost of Testing (TBP Summer 2011, Taylor and Francis)
 
"If you can see it in your mind...
     you will find it in your life."
Author: "sbarber"
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Date: Wednesday, 09 Mar 2011 18:49
There are three words I say to myself on a constant basis: focus, clarity and transparency.

These are the three words that straighten out most of the rough days I encounter when my schedule gets overloaded and when the demands on my time get too high. And yes, I still have to work at saying "no" but that's a topic for another day.

See my website for the rest of this post.
Author: "--"
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