News from the World of Software Development – 2017

Welcome to this month’s look at a few recent stories from the software development world that hopefully pique your interest. If you want to check out last month’s news digest, simply click on the following link. Leverage any insights found in the current digest to help you and your team deliver applications more quickly and with fewer errors. Good luck!

The Crowdsourced Software Testing Market continues to Grow

The market for crowdsourced QA and software testing services remains on the upswing, according to a July article in WhaTech. Last month’s Betica blog post covered the concept in brief; looking at how Applause, a company championing crowdtesting, calls upon upwards of 300,000 testers for a variety of projects. The WhaTech article also noted the emerging popularity of services similar to those provided by Applause as a key driver of this nascent market’s growth.

The QA services market study by ReportsWeb referenced in the article predicts an annual growth rate of over 10 percent through the end of this decade. Companies are largely using crowdsourced testing to derive real-time opinions on product development, overall software quality, and verifying the efficacy of developers’ bug fixing efforts.

In addition to crowdsourced testing, the QA services market is also seeing a growth in testing companies focused on a specific industry. These companies are better able to serve verticals due to their experience in the specific domain. The article noted Infosys’s testing service offerings aimed at specialized business sectors, including finance, healthcare, insurance, and retail.

Still, a vast majority – 88 percent – of the current software testing services market performs application testing across a variety of platforms and business sectors. Offerings focused on verticals, like those provided by Infosys, are expected to become more prevalent over the next few years. The financial services industry holds the highest share of this vertical-oriented testing market at 34 percent.

Click on the following link if you are interested in reviewing the ReportsWeb study from the article.

Using Mindfulness to improve Software Development

The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are numerous, with lower stress levels and an improved ability to focus being only two notable examples. What if using mindfulness techniques could actually lead to writing better software? That is the concept of an article by Anne Krog Iversen published this week in SD Times.

Iversen feels that mindfulness helps keep “brainpower in a positive flow” which leads to staying focused on the programming task at hand. She notes the practice also boosts a software engineer’s emotional intelligence, which keeps their morale and ability to collaborate at their highest. These are important things in an era where Agile and DevOps are so popular throughout the software development world.

She recommends taking at least 15 minutes each day for an in-office meditation session; being sure to find a nice quiet place for the practice. Taking a minute of silence before each meeting is another good idea to ensure everyone stays focused and attentive. Of course, that latter tip essentially contradicts the improv session advice from last week’s article on improving Agile standup meetings.

Ultimately, finding any means to foster productivity is a worthy goal. “For a software developer, having a clear, balanced and focused mind can be a tremendous asset while striving to produce high-quality software and aiming to balance work with life,” said Iversen.

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

Add Chef to your Organization’s DevOps Kitchen

Companies looking at DevOps with the hopes of streamlining their software development process sometimes struggle with the initial implementation. Leveraging the right set of DevOps tools is an important factor in achieving success as much as any organizational or policy-based changes. One such tool – known as Chef – is especially helpful for shops taking advantage of the Cloud as part of their overall application engineering strategy.

What follows is a closer look at the features and functionality of Chef to see if it allows your team to manage server infrastructure quicker than ever before.

Open Source Server Configuration Management for the Cloud… and more

Chef’s main functionality centers on the management of Cloud-based infrastructure. It offers value to any company whether they manage ten servers or ten thousand – no matter the platform. It lets your development staff focus on ensuring their software runs properly, instead of having to deal with the drudgery of server administration tasks. While it truly shines in the Cloud, Chef also works with on-premise servers as well as a hybrid infrastructure.

A Code-based Approach to Server Management

What makes Chef unique among similar infrastructure management tools is its emphasis on using code to define and automate a collection of servers. This lets you handle automated server management in a similar fashion as your applications, with development, QA, and production environments ensuring a high level of quality. Additionally, letting your developers manage servers using code fits nicely with the overall philosophy of DevOps, where formerly segregated duties are handled in a more communal fashion.

A development kit, known as the Chef DK, includes everything required to develop and test infrastructure automation code. Test Kitchen handles the running of these tests, using InSpec as the TDD programming language. Not surprisingly, the included code analysis tool is known as the “Food Critic.”

Continuing with this kitchen metaphor, the collection of code used to automate and define a server infrastructure is known as a cookbook, and – of course – they are made up of recipes. This nomenclature definitely helps developers new to Chef better understand the functionality of each part of the system. Behind this somewhat humorous style lies a very powerful tool.

The Chef Server is the central repository for every cookbook in the system. This design allows the Server to manage any number of physical or virtual machines in your infrastructure. The Chef Client runs on each of these nodes; staying in constant communication with the Server.

An Essential Tool for DevOps

As noted earlier, Chef offers any DevOps organization the means to manage their technical infrastructure easier than before. Its code-based scheme for server management lets you leverage your development talent in a new fashion. The kitchen-based metaphor used in Chef also makes it easy to understand by both your technical and non-technical team members.

Chef, and similar tools, like Ansible which we previously covered, play an important role in any company deriving value from its investment in DevOps. Ultimately, this is a methodology requiring more than just a change in organizational structure for success. Download Chef to see if it makes sense in your shop.

Thanks for reading the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights from the software development world.

Software Architects need these Four Essential Skills

Of course, strong technical ability is a requirement for anyone employed as a software architect. This role is almost always filled with someone who forged their skills working at least a few years as an application engineer. What separates the best architects from those merely holding the job title are the other intangibles necessary to thrive in today’s business world.

O’Reilly Media recently looked at four essential abilities a software architect needs to truly be successful in this era of Agile and DevOps. Let’s take a closer look at these skills to see if adding them to your toolbox makes you better at the practice of software development. Good luck!

Technical and Business Leadership

A good software architect knows how to lead the developers on his team, while also working closely with business stakeholders and project managers to ensure the project requirements are clearly defined with sufficient progress being achieved. Mark Richards, an experienced software architect and author, commented on the importance of this trait.

“It’s being a technical as well as business domain go-to person, it’s really to help clear roadblocks to the team so they can actually move forward. Being a leader as an architect means providing technical help and guidance, it means to help the team make decisions and form those decisions and validate them, and also to provide motivation to the team and support whether it be technical or non-technical support,” said Richards.

The Ability to Negotiate

Software architects also need to be able to negotiate at times to ensure a technology project proceeds in a smooth fashion. This skill comes into play when first determining the technology stack and basic architecture for an application. Sometimes, stakeholders may want a feature beyond the scope of the project or its budget. Similar negotiations happen with project managers and even the development staff, ensuring buy-in before the actual work commences.

Strong Decision-making is a Must

While the product owner or project manager typically rank higher in the hierarchy of most technology projects, a software architect still needs to possess strong decision-making skills. This especially comes into play regarding the technology stack used on a project, i.e. programming language, database, virtualization platform, etc. A strong-minded and confident approach definitely helps to formulate a robust architecture for a software application.

Collaboration is Vital in Today’s Technology World

It stands to reason any software architect working at a company with a DevOps organizational structure knows how to collaborate with their coworkers. Many enterprises also use architectural teams to define system architectures as a group. In this latter case, being able to share ideas and concepts with other like-minded professionals – in an ego-free fashion – helps ensure the best possible applications are built for the organization. Richards feels a mediator role helps when architectures are defined using a team instead of an individual architect.

In any case, it is obvious the best software architects possess a variety of skills that go beyond writing great code. Consider developing these abilities in your own work to take your software development career to a higher level.

Thanks for reading the Betica Blog; check back soon for additional news and insights from the constantly changing software development world.