News from the World of Software Development – March 2017

Welcome to this month’s software development and QA news digest. As 2017 enters its third month, the application engineering world continues to evolve at a rapid pace. If you are interested in February’s digest, simply click on this link.

Hopefully, you are able to leverage these insights to improve or inform your organization’s software engineering process.

Software Engineering Trends going Mainstream

Earlier this month, The Next Web published a story from the software intelligence company, Raygun, looking at three software development trends essentially becoming standard practice. We covered some of these same directional shifts in our 2017 industry trends article, and it is interesting to see them widely adopted.

The growth of ChatOps to enhance communication amongst a development team is one trend Raygun noted. ChatOps even allows software engineers and QA personnel to kick off builds and automated tests from a chatbot interface, while the entire team stays in the loop. The use of bots works well for companies already embracing DevOps and a continuous deployment model.

Speaking of continuous deployment, it is another one of the trends highlighted in the Raygun article. An increasingly competitive business world places the onus on companies to build and maintain applications faster than ever before. Following a continuous delivery model allows firms to deploy new code several times a day.

The increased use of software intelligence was the third trend discussed by Raygun, which isn’t a surprise, considering the company’s main line of business. Leveraging this form of automated intelligence hastens the discovery of problems or issues before the customer.

“Software intelligence gives you the ability to automatically detect when a user’s experience was poor and how you can improve it, with full diagnostic details being provided for every individual user error, crash or performance issue,” the article mentioned. This new era of application performance monitoring is one worth watching by anyone responsible for public-facing applications.

The Principles of Agile Software Development

Late March saw the appearance of a Forbes article in our news feed detailing the daily principles of Agile software development. While this is more of an evergreen topic than “news” per se, anyone new to Agile would benefit from studying these concepts. Scott Stiner, the CEO of UM Technologies, a software firm focusing on innovative user experience (UX) design, authored the article.

Stiner highlights the fact that traditional software engineering methodologies – most notably the Waterfall – lack the iteration compatible with the modern business world. The high cost of finding defects too late in the development process isn’t a risk many organizations want to take. This, combined with the faster speed of business noted earlier, is a major reason many software shops have embraced Agile over the last decade.

Early delivery of prototypes and strong customer interaction remain a major focus of Agile. Changes to requirements are welcome; not considered to be scope creep as with older methodologies. Analyze the rest of these Agile principles to see if a change in how you write applications makes sense for your organization.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional news and information regarding the wide world of software development. As always – thanks for reading!

Improving the QA Process at an Agile Office

Companies of all sizes continue to embrace the Agile methodology with the hopes of making their software development process more efficient and subsequently more productive. Agile emphasizes collaboration and communication and it is able to react to changes better than older methodologies, like the Waterfall. It is a perfect match for today’s fast-paced, competitive business world.

A faster software engineering process, however, doesn’t mean companies should forego testing and quality assurance. Unfortunately, it seems businesses are struggling with software QA within an Agile framework, according to a recent survey of development shops. Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings with the hopes of improving the QA role at Agile shops.

Testing Tool Provider, Zephyr, looks at QA in the Business World

Zephyr, a company making applications to support software testing, annually releases a study focused the QA role within the business community. Called “How the World Tests,” it is available as a free download from their website. Managers in the software development and QA role need to check out the full study with its findings and predictions for the coming year.

Hamesh Chawla, vice president of engineering at Zephyr, commented on the purpose of their study. “‘How the World Tests’ allows the entire testing community to examine our progress over the last year. IT teams want to speed up deployment of new software to meet demand. Companies should increase employee education investments in order to fine-tune the most efficient automated tests that work for any software they develop,” said Chawla.

Quality assurance remains a vital part of the SDLC no matter the choice of methodology. Even so, we are going to focus on one area within the survey — the difficulties Agile shops are experiencing with QA on software projects. SD Times also covered this topic in a recent article.

The Major Problems of Software Testing and Agile

The Zephyr study noted three major problems development teams were experiencing when it comes to testing with Agile. They are the lack of automation tools, constantly changing requirements, and not enough time for thorough testing. Companies understand automation is important in helping QA keep up with the rapid pace of an Agile project, but only 45 percent of the survey respondents felt their organization had the competency to employ automated testing.

Chawla feels companies need to invest in automation tools and the training to leverage them properly within the Agile process. Of course, he works at a testing tool company, but that fact doesn’t lessen the impact of his statement. Software development teams also use other recent innovations, like containers and virtualization, to make the overall process faster.

Businesses also need to invest more dollars in employee development to ensure a better understanding of Agile and everyone’s role within the framework. Involving QA personnel at every step of the SDLC is also important – a traditional complaint of software testers for decades. The reengineering of testing processes to better fit within the Agile structure is another key point of improvement from the survey.

Ultimately, organizations need to understand that Agile doesn’t just mean “faster.” A well-considered process that properly includes the QA role is a requirement to ensure successful product delivery.

When you need additional insights on the world of software development, you know where to turn: The Betica Blog. As always, thanks for reading!

Is FaaS – Features-as-a-Service – the Next Big Thing in Software Development?

The growing popularity of the Cloud-based service model has led to a plethora of acronyms ending in “aaS.” Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) remain three of the most common examples of these service offerings in the tech industry. Businesses of all sizes enjoy cost savings by leveraging the Cloud in this manner.

Now software developers, trying to keep up in an increasingly rapid business world, have their own Cloud-based service acronym. Enter Features-as-a-Service (FaaS). Does FaaS give application engineers the chance to build more functional software faster and at a lower cost? Let’s take a look.

Code Reuse in a Cloud-based Wrapper

Code reuse is a traditional way for programmers to accomplish more by doing less. It’s one of the reasons libraries and APIs are so popular throughout the industry. We’ve covered this technology and API Testing extensively in the past on this very blog.

FaaS essentially just makes this process more componentized; delivering a library of functionality in a convenient Cloud-based wrapper for software engineers to use in their own applications. Instead of spending time reinventing the wheel, developers are able to focus on the unique functionality that makes their app special. Technology VP, JT Ripton commented on the FaaS trend

“Whereas on the backend developers already are using pay-as-you-go infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services for cloud computing and services such as Stripe for payment processing, FaaS takes the same approach but applies it to the front end,” said Ripton. He also notes developers struggling with implementing a public API need to consider FaaS as an option when speed is of the essence.

Scenarios where Usage of a FaaS is Smart

A variety of FaaS providers are currently supporting common functional areas within applications, potentially saving development teams both time and money. Mapbox is one such provider worthy of consideration when compared to Google’s Map API and its arcane documentation. A plug-and-play model simply works more efficiently in today’s era of Agile and DevOps.

Social interactivity is another good example. There is no need to build social functionality from scratch, when a provider like Tapglue offers their own FaaS. Their service includes functionality supporting user profiles and news feeds, as well as interactive features like sharing, commenting, and more.

Agora.io offers a FaaS that adds real time communication – voice and video – to an application. This would be a boon for a game developer working on a MMORPG or any other type of multiplayer title. Concentrate on your game’s functionality; not on getting codecs to work properly on a variety of devices.

Ripton stresses the essential difference between FaaS and other types of code reuse like an API is the front-end component. This is especially useful for teams without their own UI design talent. He feels this is a natural progression on how software gets written.

“FaaS is just the next evolution of the mashup and code reuse trend that’s been picking up steam over the past several decades. It isn’t a “revolutionary” idea, or even truly innovative. But it is perfectly in line with the way we code today — it is a new application of something we’ve seen before,” said Ripton.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights from an ever-changing software development world. Thanks for reading!