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Nuances of Testing for the Publishing Domain

Nuances of Testing for the Publishing Domain

While I’ve had software testing experience for the last over a decade now, the publishing domain testing space is relatively new to me. I have had more exposure on this front, only after I started with QA InfoTech a couple of years back and the learning has been incredible. Thanks to all the wonderful subject matter experts we have in-house and a lot of very interesting projects we have done in this space, the exposure has been great and I wanted to share this with the larger audience through this blog.

I look at publishing QA from 4 angles as outlined below:

1. Content Functional Testing – The publishing industry is mainly dependent on the content that it publishes/hosts for its users. While the core platform on which the content runs is very important, the content and how it is delivered to the users, is what really differentiates a successful publishing firm from the others. This content needs to be tested once it is ingested on the platform for several different things including – audio, video functionality, navigations and traversals, table of content/glossary, overall formatting, display, any external database integrations to ensure the content is retrieved correctly, links within content to name some of the core ones

2. Content Digitization Testing – Content is obtained from various sources. It could be created from scratch for the publishing firm but more often than not, existing material from hard copies, word documents, XML files, PDF files, content from external publishers through feeds (including RSS) become primary sources of input. It is important to convert these multiple file formats into an intermediary consistent file format such as an XML, and perform testing on it to ensure the content is intact and the conversion has been done according to specifications. This is a tedious process given the inconsistencies in file formats and the voluminous content that often runs into hundreds of thousands of pages. Manual testing is almost impossible given the mundane yet cumbersome checks that need to be done, making it an error-prone zone. A careful automation test strategy and framework is important, customized for the publishing domain to handle the QA at this XML stage / pre-ingestion stage to catch errors early on. Once tested at this stage, the content is almost certain to be available to the end user per its source, since this is the stage where a lot of defects exist. We at QA InfoTech, having worked with several publishing firms, have a very customized PhP framework that we’ve built to test the XML files at this pre-ingestion stage, helping us guarantee a 1 business day turnaround on content digitization testing regardless of the size of the XML file. The other portion of content digitization testing is after the content has been ingested into the application’s engine, where it shows up on the UI. Verifying content at that stage with checks to ensure that it displays fine, no content is lost is typically taken up using a combination of manual and automated tests.

3. Content Testing – By content testing I mean subject matter experts, who verify the content’s accuracy, overall breadth and depth in educating or informing the user about the topic under discussion. Typically most companies do not take this on for varied reasons such as – dearth of subject matter experts, expensive to conduct content verification, lack of time, reliance on source content creators. In our experience, we have found it very useful to take on content testing and get it validated and verified by independent content experts. In our case, we have linkage programs with organizations and universities that help us leverage subject experts but what could also work is to bring in the crowd to verify content.

4. Platform Testing – the prod3 piece of the pie is to test the platform that hosts the content; this may be a Learning Management System, a Learning Content Management System or simply even a web application. Making sure the platform’s functionality aligns with the requirements, it is usable/accessible, content is rendered well, any usage, subscription functionality is implemented correctly, the platform scales and handles load well, is secure enough are some of the important elements to test for.

In most cases, a testing team or a 3rd party testing services companies (including the ones that specialize in the publishing domain) will provide item numbers 1 and 4 above. Items 2 and 3 require a lot of experience, forethought and the right resources to implement. We at QA InfoTech take pride in differentiating ourselves from the other publishing domain test vendors, by being able to offer the complete suite of all 4 services detailed above. With these in place, we have helped several leading publishing firms, ship products and content of exceptional quality. To learn more and customize a solution to meet your needs, please write to us at info@qainfotech.com or you can reach me atrajini.padmanaban@qainfotech.net

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Established in 2003, with less than five testing experts, QA InfoTech has grown leaps and bounds with three QA Centers of Excellence globally; two of which are located in the hub of IT activity in India, Noida, and the other, our affiliate QA InfoTech Inc Michigan USA. In 2010 and 2011, QA InfoTech has been ranked in the top 100 places to work for in India.