By Jean Ann Harrison
At least once a day, I am asked from someone within the testing community, “I want to start mobile testing, where do I begin?” My answer is, “it takes a lot of work.”
After several years of experience in software testing, my job evolved from testing client/server and Web applications (apps) into testing software on proprietary mobile devices. At first, I did what most testers do—relied on requirements and worked closely with my developers to learn what I was supposed to know about the app. Eventually, I started to understand more about the architecture.
This led me to spend time exploring how the native app behaved based on various hardware and operating system conditions. I learned by experience, doing actual testing. Each result inspired five more tests. In those early years, I learned how vital it was for me, the tester, to know as much as I could about how the software app worked. This includes understanding what inter-dependencies exist between the hardware, operating system, and software.
I am still learning about testing and applying approaches that include hardware and OS conditions. I seek out other experienced mobile and embedded testers on my own, knowing others have shared information, approaches, and techniques. I read, participate in online forums, and take advantage of LinkedIn discussion groups. I frequently attend conferences, local classes, and weekend testing sessions.
Experience and Inspiration
There are many ways to gain experience with mobile testing. For example, find a particular mobile software app and do a test based on how you would want or expect it to work. Create a test plan, test cases, and documentation. If you find bugs, send them to the company that developed/released the software. Yes, you’re doing this work for free, but you are also gaining important experience.
Inspiration comes from observation and experience. During my exploration, I noticed how hot my device became when being charged. I thought about how this might affect the user. From there, I tested various software functions while charging the device at different stages. I soon noticed the software behavior and network communications changed with the different stages.
I tend to react harshly to the words “best practices” because each situation is unique, each device behaves differently, and each company culture is different. What is right for some may not be right for other situations. It is why testers have a job, and we need to test to see if indeed the path chosen does fit. There are no easy answers. There is no one right answer.
Experiencing mobile testing first hand is vital to your education, as well as the confidence to better inform your company stakeholders. There is typically little known about requirements, especially in boundaries of an app. How far can a user push the limits of the mobile app? How fast should the battery charge from a dead battery and not affect software behavior? Most companies do not test this before release, and often this failure results in angry or disappointed users.
Consider reading poor reviews of apps and re-create the use case. What more can you find out about the behavior of the app? Report your findings to the company.
Look for blogs and books. Several articles, penned by authors such as John Hagar, Julian Harty, Karen Johnson, and Jonathan Kohl, provide good information for mobile testing.
Get involved with the global testing community. Check out testing organizations like Software Test Professionals, the Association for Software Testing, and SQE, all of which offer virtual training for reasonable rates.
Join me at Software Test Professionals Mobile Software Testing Online Summit, which takes place May 14 to 15, 2014. Find out more information online at www.softwaretestpro.com.
Remember, there is no magic answer for mobile testing. It is important to do the work, practice on your own, and see results for yourself. SW
Jean Ann Harrison has been in the Software Testing field for over 14 years including eight years working with testing mobile software on various devices including medical devices, city police ticket generators, phones, tablets, and various other proprietary devices.
Apr2014, Software Magazine