The computing world has come a long way and in the more recent years, a lot of buzz exists around mobile computing and the cloud. While the underlying concepts of testing and quality assurance remain the same with all of these changes in the technology and computing world, the team teams have to nevertheless empower themselves with the required skill sets, tools and frameworks to test the up and coming products adequately, leveraging the latest in technology.
One the same note, I happened to read recently about a couple of new trends: one around gesture based technology and one around the semantic web, which sounded interesting and promising, hence this brief blog. To give a very high level view into what these are:
Gesture based technology – revolves around techniques and ways to capture the user’s gestures and incorporate them into relevant actions
Semantic Web – revolves around smartly using the user data that is available in abundance to draw inferences and relationships, to make the computing environment carry out intelligent tasks for the user rather than merely following a set of instructions
Experts are betting on both these as some of the core trends in the computing technology over the next decade or two, which you will see are largely user-centric. And if things such as semantic web, take off well, the possibilities are endless. It can come in handy in almost every possible discipline in a variety of ways.
While all of this is great and we are excited to see them unfold, such complex evolutions pose their own challenges to the testing world. Let’s look at them one by one:
Gesture based technology – Feeding realistic user inputs into a test is always a key in maximizing the value of a test in finding valid bugs. We’ve had various sources of user input over the last decade including the traditional keyboard/mouse combination, from a console, from various touch interfaces etc. Test automation has evolved from the initial stages of a record and play framework to accommodate such changes. Now, with gesture based technology it only gets all the more challenging. How will a test recognize the user’s gestures and if it were to be designed the same way the programmatic interface has been designed to understand gestures, how will the tester ensure the validity of such gestures in ensuring the test data is accurate? The answer is not completely known as of today, but there will probably have to be some extra manual verification done at the automation testing phase to ensure the automated test has interpreted the gestures correctly. Some external factors such as multiple gestures, very quick, very slow gestures may also have to be tried to incorporate boundary conditions. Probably some amount of record and play will seep back into this futuristic test automation strategy
Semantic Web – The data available to process here is abundant. The tester has to smartly accommodate various data sources, and also create realistic test data is ensuring the program correctly interprets the various sources of information. In addition to test automation to verify the semantic protocols, some amount of manual intervention is going to be absolutely necessary to bring in the human element in the verification process. This may sound ironic, because semantic web is all about the program smartly assisting the user in carrying out his/her tasks without having to strictly implement what is has been told to do, whereas for verifying it, my take is that the human element cannot be completely done away with. Several new tools including parsers to read basic semantic resource description frameworks, browser plug-ins, validators etc. will enter the market to aid in semantic web testing. These in combination with enhancements to test automation frameworks and the core manual testing will make it possible for the test teams to test for this important evolution
At this point, as you see, some of the above points may not still be black and white. The important thing here is to be aware of these trends, keep track of them and invest in R&D in your testing labs upfront, around these areas, rather than having to play “catch-up” down the line.