The latest news headlines regarding the healthcare.gov debacle are an excellent example of how not to launch a new website, application or any other IT product. The common development pitfalls — lack of visibility and communication were imminent throughout the whole development process.
As many of you will agree, lack of visibility and communication are illnesses suffered by many software development and IT projects. The problematic signs are usually there, but they are not communicated to higher management.
Without the proper visibility into the process and without the ability to understand the status of the project at all times, management cannot make the correct decisions to ensure the success of the project. Healthcare.gov is an unfortunate example of the catastrophic consequences of noise interfering with the message communicated to higher management.
How can such problems be avoided? … More on the subject in our latest PR release
Hello to all PractiTesters!
Recently we performed another update of PractiTest with important additions to make your work better and more effective. Let’s start with some additions to make your work clearer, specially when you are only getting started with the system. We believe that each tester (or non-tester) working with PT should understand our methodology (and read the page at least once).
As part of our Testing Methodology you can see that:
- A Test Set is a collection of Test Instances
- An Instance is linked to a Test (in the Test Library), so that each Test can be linked to multiple Instances
- Each Instance can have multiple Test Runs (where the status of the Instance is the status of its last Test Run).
The Test Legend
To avoid confusion (“where am I right now?”), we added a Test Legend in all testing related entities, indicating the location in the application. We believe that especially for new PractiTesters, this legend will help understand our methodology and the links between the different entities.
The standard Testing Scenario
- Each Test (in the Test Library) is defined only once, with all its relevant steps
- Test Set creation, and their respective Instances, are defined once in a while when there’s a reason to start running these tests ( e.g. a new version /release, new functionality, etc).
- Whenever a user goes to the Instance, and presses the Run button, a new Test Run is created, copying all the steps to the test run (so if the Test in the Library is changed later, the steps in the run will not change)
- If for any reason, an Instance needs to be re-run in a specific Test Set, the tester will create an additional Run and not overwrite the previous run. Ensuring all run history is saved.
Better Test Sets and Runs navigation
In addition to the above we decided to streamline the testing process, making the run button much more powerful, and skipping some screens when they’re not required:
- If the user starts a Run from the instance grid, and the Instance has no required fields or older runs, then it goes straight to the run window (with the steps). Enabling to start and testing right a way.
- In cases when there are required fields in the instance that are not filled, it will go to the instance window.
- And in the case there are older runs (that you want to review before starting your new Run!), it will go to the instance window, showing previous runs, enabling to go and check or update one of those test runs.
We are sure these changes will make your testing experience more productive. And we invite you to share with us additional ideas to make your work even more effective in the future.
“When you post an issue they get back to you promptly and their turnaround is second to none. They’ve even included some features we requested in their releases. You can’t get better than that.”
Kfir Hemed, Head of the Verification Unit at Radwin
“The PractiTest team has always been great to work with. If I have found an issue they respond back quickly and very professionally. Without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, we are getting a great product with great support that fits the needs of our department.”
Stephen Musal, Freeman’s Lead QA Tester
Since we released the new GUI last month, we got some amazing feedback from our users.
We did an online survey, to explore more about the things you liked and those you though we could still improve and we found that although most of you really loved the changes we did, you still thought we had some things that could be improved.
Many users found it annoying that when they moved their mouse over the id in the grid, the popovers would open automatically; and we also had couple of bugs in this feature (which we fixed in one of those patches we’re doing all the time…) We even added a place in the personal settings to disable those popover from popping automatically.
But we really think this is a great feature and so we decided to solve the issues that were “annoying” some users. We started by changing the functionality so that when the mouse is over the id (hover), we now show the “info” button, enabling the users to click to see the preview but only with a mouse click; and another mouse click to close it.
In addition, we added some useful information to those previews. Tests -> now you can see the first 5 steps, TestSets -> now you can see the first 5 instances, Requirements – > the traceability.
We are sure this feature is now a lot better and it provides even more value than before.
Note: the disable popover flag in the personal settings settings works (turns off the popover) in the places where the feature would have been opened in the “old way” without pressing on the popover button (not in the grids). But we foresee that in the next couple of releases this flag will become irrelevant as we migrate all the popover functionality to work as it is doing in the grids today.
“With the help of PractiTest’s customization we were able to define new issue types and better cluster the information, allowing us to filter out data and generate more accurate and detailed reports. We recommended PractiTest within our Organization to be used in further projects.”
Hein Eltink, test coordinator for the PACTA project
Ever since PractiTest was launched, we have always made sure to be in tune to our users’ adaptive needs. Taking into account your requests and feedback we have implemented some changes, refreshed and improved our GUI.
Now we can proudly announce our GUI update – “PractiTest Style 2013”. The new style improves and streamline your daily processes, so now you can work in a more organized and intuitive manner.
Here’s a glimpse of the improvements:
Neutral colors and smart design
One of the first changes you’ll notice is the new color palette. Neutral colors that will help avoid distractions so you and your team can concentrate on your work.
“New” and “Edit” screens
You will notice the new “Edit” and “New” screens have a new design, with easy input fields and better use of the space on your screen.
Tabular step run window
A new and more useful design for steps in Test Sets & Runs, This new design integrates all the functionality of the extended view with the advantages of the compact view.
The “old” GUI used to have a right pane in the various modules, which made the whole grid look awkward. So we took it away, and added a popover when hovering those items, to see the fields. The popover was added to most of the entities in the program.
Better support for tablets!
As it is now common use to work on tablets while testing operations, we made sure the new GUI was able to re-size itself and adopt to the various platforms you might use.
And there is so much more!
If you want to get some more technical information about the new GUI, we refer you to our previous post: PT GUI change – what and how
We know that sometimes changes can prompt questions and so we will be more than happy to assist you any way we can via our support team. We will also be delighted if you want to write to us to share your thoughts and comments on this new GUI.
We hope that you like what you see. And thanks for using PractiTest.
– The PractiTest team
Heads up for PractiTest clients
If you think you’d like to use our staging environment with the new GUI to get a feeling of the new system before the deployment, please don’t hesitate to contact us (email to support).
As many of you already know, we’re are going to be upgrading our GUI in the next couple of weeks (here’s why).
We’ve been wanting to do this project for a while now, but we started the concrete process only around April 2013. The idea was to improve a number of aspects in the User Interface, and also perform some technical changes and optimizations to our existing platform.
Here are some of interface issues we wanted to solve as part the GUI project:
- Make better use of the available screen – most of our users use desktops, with large HD screens, when testing their software. We thought it was about time to make better use of the width of these wide screens and avoid the scroll if we can.
- Flexible Text Areas – we have text areas in numerous of places (entities’ description, steps’ descriptions and more). Having them with a fixed height forced customers to use the scroll many times (either when scrolling the whole page, or scroll inside the text area itself). Now, these text areas expand and collapse dynamically as needed!
- Replace the issue right pane with a preview pane. The “old” GUI used to have a right pane in the issues module that we didn’t like. It made the whole grid look awkward and usually it was used only to view the fields (and not to edit them). So we took it away, and added a popover when hovering those items, to see the fields. The popover was added to many other grids as well.
- Better support for tablets. As much as we said that our users work with their desktops, we found that a number of users are starting to work with tablets during part of their testing operations. The new GUI is smart enough to resize itself all the way to “tablet size” and help you work seamlessly with these devices.
- Reduce the amount of tabs we have in each entity. It came to our attention that we had too many tabs and that we could reduce this number by grouping part of the information into existing tabs. So now, for example, you will be able to add comments and attachments from the general tab.
- And many other changes and improvements.
In addition to the externally perceived changes in the GUI, we also did some important improvements to the GUI infrastructure “behind the scenes”. One of them was the adoption of Twitter Bootstrap.
There were many reasons for selecting this framework, and the main ones are the following:
- We like its clean and simple design, and we feel it helps us to set design boundaries.
- It encourages us (as designers and developers) to use their standard, and we love coding standards 🙂
- It is quite easy to implement, even in a large application such as PractiTest.
- It supports responsive design.
Here’s how the Tests’ grid looks now:
And so, after completing the design of the Graphical Interface, we started the development phase of the “new GUI project” on April. We did in parallel to all the rest of the on-going projects on a separate git branch.
We’re happy that up to now we’ve achieved the following accomplishments:
- Changed ~ 27k lines of code (w/o white-space changes)
- Made 752 commits
- CSS lines of code dropped from ~8000 lines down to ~1000 lines in separate files- making it much more maintainable
- We started to use only css.scss (instead of css), once again for easier code maintenance
- We dropped most of the images we used, using instead fortawesome (which will make everything load faster via sprites)
Completing this GUI project (which is now in advanced testing stages) was very intensive. We had to scope out many items we wanted todo (revise reports GUI, change to a standard grid, and more), that will be postpone for further releases in the coming weeks/months. But overall we are very happy and excited with the results!
Finally I’d like to thank the people who worked hard to make this project happen: Einav, Ortal, Boris, Joel, Nir & Stas
PractiTest was initially released in 2008. Back then we designed the GUI almost on our own, and we were anxious to get the product out for beta usage.
Since then, the application has continued growing based on our product road-map and the comments & ideas from our ever expanding user base.
Over the years many things have changed, we modified our logo, we moved to a new office location, and all the time we got requests from of our users to refresh and improve parts of our GUI, to streamline some of our processes and to organize the information a little better.
Until we reached the point where we realized that it was the correct time to shift to a new and more professional 2013-style GUI; one that supports both current and future features, and that will be based on the benefits HTML5 technologies and more.
So about half a year ago, we started this “new GUI” project. The project itself included thousands of code changes, an upgrade of the libraries we use, and major changes to our css and app layout; all this resulting in a faster, cleaner and better application.
We showed some of the changes to a limited number of customers, and their positive reviews literally blowed us away!
Here’s a glimpse of what’s about to come:
1. Neutral colors and smart design
The new toolbars and the overall design of the system has been focused on displaying more information, doing so with a more structured and intelligent approach.
2. New and Edit screens
With a more flowing design to better use all your screen, grouping fields based on type (e.g. user, dates, etc), and decreasing the number of tabs by grouping more information areas together, such as Attachments and Comments on the General Tab.
3. Step Edit and Execution windows
Steps are now displayed in a grid like view. Run and Step status is more evident based on the color of the step’s name, and a new-integrated view will provide all the advantages of the compact view with all the functionality (e.g. report bug ids, add attachments, etc) of the extended view.
And much, much more…
These is only a small sample of the improvements that will be provided with the new GUI design of PractiTest.
We expect to release this “new GUI” project within the next month or so (by October). PractiTest Account Managers – you can expect to get access to see these changes in the next 2 to 3 weeks.
If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact us via our support.