8 Tools I use to Accelerate My Testing



Inspired by Justin Rorhman’s post of a similar name with a slight twist focusing on tools that generally help accelerate my testing.

As a test and quality specialist embedded in an engineering team I have a lot of work to do on any given day. Our engineering team’s goal is to ship quality software on a regular basis to deliver value to our customers. Naturally I rely heavily on a number of tools to help me better understand what is going on with the software or code under test and/or to accelerate what I’m able to do in a given amount of time.

Like Justin said in his article “Testing tools don’t make me a good tester, but they do make me a better tester. These tools help amplify things I need to do repeatedly or give me access to the product I wouldn’t have otherwise. They also shape the way I think about testing problems, for better and worse.”

In no particular order these tools are:

  1. GitHub. We use the GitHub workflow to deliver all of our code including application, library, and test automation. With each push to a particular branch our CI system builds the application and runs our unit and integration tests. With each Pull Request I can see all or just specific changes, code reviews and test run summaries. All this helps keep our build pipeline clean, makes it easier to identify potential issues quickly and helps me quickly build my test strategy.
  2. Docker. Each separate application of our system has been dockerized (aka runs in a container). This makes it incredibly easy to set new people up (a few hours of setup instead of a day) and gives us some powerful logging for each application. It also reduces conflicts when switching between branches where libraries or decencies have been changed.
  3. Heroku review apps. As I mentioned above with each push our application is compiled through our CI system. Once finished our CI system pushes that complied build to Heroku which automatically provisions a staging like environment accessible through its own url. (This feature is called a Heroku Review application). In about 5 minutes after a set of changes have been built our team now has a brand-new test environment ready for those hard to test local problems like testing on real mobile devices or a few special integrated services. Being able to build these new automatic quickly allows our developers to show off / get quicker input to the work they are doing.
  4. Browser DeveloperTools. I primarily use Chrome and Safari but the developer tools in each browser are priceless. From Inspecting requests and looking at their data, to setting or removing experiment variables, debugging problems, looking for problems, profiling, responsive design, layout, checking DOM elements, etc browser DeveloperTools really are the first place to start. It would be so much harder to learn what is going on without them.
  5. CircleCI. Great for keeping your deployment pipeline clean, running your build tests and ensuring those changes get where they are going each time. It doesn’t much matter what CI system you use it’s helping to accelerate something that would normally take away from developer or tester time.
  6. EverNote. Surprising or not, I’m always taking notes about any number of things like quick terminal commands, operations for creating data, migrating databases in heroku, setting up configurations, test ideas, questions for follow up, etc. Anything I might forget goes here and I can get to it anywhere, any place on any device.
  7. iTerm2. A command line replacement utility with Oh My Zsh installed that I’ve customized and continue to customize with shortcuts and aliases to make my repetitive tasks quicker. Also customized with visuals showing which repo I’m in, what branch I’m on and if there are uncommitted files, because I do enough on the command line.
  8. Automated UI acceptance tests. Running our acceptance tests for each staging deploy (or set of deploys) allows us time to do more deep exploration on the application as a whole with a reduced focus on those areas covered by the existing tests.

Part of the desire for writing this was to record what my work looks like now and then be able to compare it later-on in the future. However, in the time since I started writing this article I changed jobs and now the future is here. Well, kind of. My new team’s development stack is a lot more varied, which means so are the tools I’m using. I think it’s still best to wait for half a year or so before I write a follow up post on the tools accelerate that work. In the meantime, what tools do you use that accelerate your testing?