You may be surprised to know that until last week, I hadn’t physically met most of the Tricentis Flood team members despite having worked closely with them for the past few months. This is because we’re a distributed team -- while originally Australia-based, we’re now all scattered across the globe, communicating and collaborating asynchronously online. Last week, that all changed: we LOLed in real life, made jokes instead of sending GIFs, and huddled into a meeting room instead of logging into a video conference.
We were recalled to the mothership at the Tricentis global headquarters in Vienna, Austria in order to attend the Tricentis Accelerate 2018 conference held on October 9th and 10th. It was my first time going to Accelerate and it looks like I chose the right time to go-- a record number of participants attended Accelerate this year, making it the largest software testing conference in Europe. This year’s Accelerate focused on DevOps, its effect on software testing, and how integrating Continuous Testing into Continuous Integration can speed up software delivery.
More and more companies are looking at how they can integrate load testing into their continuous integration pipelines, especially since the automated nature of load testing scripts lends itself particularly well to being part of a broader framework. There were some themes related to load testing that came up again and again.
The role of testers-- where to shift?
There was a lot of discussion around the changing landscape of testing, including Google’s claim that “Test is dead”. This provocative statement simply asserts that testing is becoming less and less a separate role and more a function that is integrated into development.
Shifting left, moving closer to development, means baking quality in from the beginning of the development cycle. However, shifting right, or moving closer to production, is also important in order to promote continuous improvement. This is particularly important in load testing. There is a common misconception that load testing stops after deployment. Yet, in reality, monitoring the performance in production can lead to some useful insights about how the application is actually used, rather than how the business expects it to be used.
This discussion culminated in a 45-minute session called “The Great Debate: Testers’ Role in DevOps Continuous Testing” on the second day, where the concept of shifting UP was mentioned. The idea is that there is still a need for some sort of governance layer to testing in organisations to provide rigor and structure. Shifting up means advocating for quality and building a culture and practice around quality from the very top of the hierarchy of organisations.
The future of load testing
Our very own Ivan Vanderbyl, product manager at Flood, gave a talk on the future of load testing, hypothesising what load testing might look like in the next 20 years. He talked about the possibility of self-healing scripts that automatically adjust to changing builds and update locators accordingly.
Making load testing simpler
Flood was also represented in a lightning talk, given by Molly Driscoll, and a workshop, led again by Ivan Vanderbyl, to tackle the issue of how to make load testing more approachable. We’re big on bringing load testing to the masses here, and we believe that the best way to do it is by making it as simple as possible. Load testing should not be solely the domain of a niche group of technical testers; it should belong to everyone and be a consideration at every stage of the development cycle.
Five most commonly asked load testing questions at Accelerate
I spent majority of the conference talking to people at the Flood booth, and I thought it might be interesting to cover some of the questions I got asked over and over again:
What do I need to do to start load testing with Tosca?
Front and centre of Tricentis’ load testing strategy was the newly announced integration between Tosca and Flood, which allows companies with fleshed out functional Tosca test suites to reuse those test assets as load tests. It’s actually pretty simple to integrate the two. See our step-by-step guide for details
Now that you’re part of Tricentis, will you stop supporting open-source tools?
The answer is no. Adding Tosca support to Flood is about adding to our options for test tools, not subtracting from them. We remain committed to maintaining support for a variety of test tools as well as to educating customers about which tool fits their needs best. In fact, we’ve recently also open-sourced a new tool called Flood Element, which brings us to...
What is Flood Element?
I’m glad you asked! In a nutshell, it’s a new tool we’ve created that uses headless Chrome to drive automated scripts at the browser level. Its lightweight nature makes it exceptionally good for load testing - and of course, we already support Element scripts at Flood. You can find out more and download a fully-functional version at https://element.flood.io/, but stay tuned for a lot more information about this very soon.
Do I need to script to do load testing?
It depends. We do support more traditional load testing tools that require scripting, but we also recognise that not everybody wants to or needs to script. Our Test Builder is a simple UI for JMeter that creates scripts using a much friendlier UI, asking only for URLs. It also includes support for passing static parameters if required. JMeter has a GUI for scripting while still allowing for code in its Beanshell and Groovy samplers, and Tosca of course takes a scriptless approach to automation. There are definitely more options for scriptless load testing these days.
How does load testing fit into my continuous testing pipeline?
We’ve offered an API for a long time now, which allows you to run load tests through Flood by simply making a POST call. This request can be used as part of CI tools like Jenkins to schedule and automate load tests. We’re also currently working on GitHub integration, so you’ll soon be able to launch floods upon committing code to your repo.
Accelerate 2018 was an excellent opportunity to take a sneak peek at what’s coming on the software testing horizon. It was also great to talk face-to-face with some companies that use Flood and get a sense for what they’re using Flood for. If you didn’t make it this year, take a look at some of the videos recorded of the sessions at https://www.youtube.com/user/TRICENTIS/videos. Of course, you’ve still missed out on the retro gaming section, the improv rap and beatboxing performances, Wolfgang Platz dancing to Britney Spears, the candy station, and the T-shirt printing press… but hey, all the more reason to join us next year!