What is a DevOps Test Toolchain and Why it Matters for Your Mobile App Development

Posted May 5th, 2022

Mobile Development

The digital experience is now primary to our everyday lives. Our recent consumer report, Every Experience Matters, dove into quality and how it affects consumer behavior. We know, for example, that 20% of users will abandon a brand after encountering even one error on a mobile app. At the user level, everything comes down to customer experience.

To meet these customer expectations for constant value delivery, companies have to continuously develop software and deliver hundreds or even thousands of releases every year. 

In order to accommodate these demands for quality and speed, release velocity is increasing at a breakneck pace to innovate in highly competitive markets powered by digital experiences. However, testing continues to be the bottleneck that prevents the entire SDLC to move as quickly as most would like. In fact, if your QA teams have been feeling the heat lately, look no further than this stat from the GitLab 2021 DevOps Survey: A full 60% of devs are releasing code 2x faster than ever before, thanks to DevOps. Just over 84% of devs mentioned they’re releasing code faster than before and 19% said code goes out the door 10x faster. 

Speaking of testing, the ideology of it has changed, specifically under the theory that testing is shifting both left and right. It is no longer just the QA engineers’ responsibility to ensure applications are meeting a high bar of quality. Engineers, Product Managers, Design, and Support are all involved in quality, bringing with them new frameworks, tools, and test signals. Simply put, quality is now everyone’s responsibility. 

This is the state of play in DevOps. The ramifications of these trends are causing some specific changes to testing strategies across the industry. For one, intent-based testing is getting smarter. Developers and QA teams are using the right testing tool for the right job rather than relying solely on unit or functional testing to find and fix issues prior to release. Further, production monitoring is being used more heavily to build confidence in quality with error monitoring tools helping developers manage quality risk in production. Customer journey data is being used to inform the test cases and issues that matter most to the business. With so much change afoot, folks are rightly wondering if they have the right processes and tools in place to ensure quality and instill digital confidence in their brand. Fortunately, we have just that in the form of the DevOps Test Toolchain.

Introducing the DevOps Test Toolchain (DevOTT)

What is a DevOps Test Toolchain, you ask? A mechanism that accelerates the delivery of user value by providing capabilities to manage quality risk throughout the software delivery lifecycle. Pairing this with a data-enabled collaboration platform is the best way to answer the growing demands of our consumers.

Let’s take a step back and examine why exactly DevOTT has become mission-critical. 

With an expanded commitment to deliver the best possible digital experiences, teams delivering applications in the modern era of DevOps-driven development are required to manage the software lifecycle from development to production. Today, exponentially more changes flow through the software delivery lifecycle. Combining this with the explosion in the variety of devices, scenarios, and frameworks involved in managing quality, there is a need to provide development teams with more and clearer test signals throughout all stages of the SDLC. 

Many companies today are trying to test every change using different tools throughout the software development lifecycle, but the tools are isolated and don’t inform each other for a holistic strategy for quality. Without a unified strategy, testing becomes a bottleneck, and it can result in fewer releases and no improvement to the customer experience.

Further, to deliver software faster and enable greater release frequency, teams are now pushing smaller increments of change more frequently (continuous software delivery). This puts forth challenges in analyzing which changes have specifically led to testing failures or errors. All in all, there is a lot going on and we need to properly arm our teams with the tools they need to succeed. In doing so, we can help them quickly build confidence in the quality of their application and achieve faster, reliable, and predictable releases.

Our Vision for the DevOps Test Toolchain

At Sauce Labs, we are building an open and pluggable set of tools that integrate seamlessly into development pipelines. The opposite approach would be a closed system that forces you to adopt a vendor-specific solution. At its most basic, DevOTT aims to manage quality risk. It's impossible to remove all risk but we believe we can help development teams manage it successfully so that they can release quickly & responsibly throughout the entire SDLC. We believe the most effective testing strategy is one where the right type of testing happens at the right time in the SDLC to create feedback loops that help developers identify and mitigate quality risks as soon as humanly possible. 

As delivering the best possible customer experience becomes a norm. The test toolchain, helps organizations balance risk with the need for velocity.

The World of Mobile App Development

Mobile app development is inherently more complex and fundamentally different than that of web development. With how testing is currently integrated into the software lifecycle, teams can face challenges at each stage of the SDLC. Some of these key challenges are depicted here:

Key Challenges of Mobile App Development

In this light, mobile app development demands a complementary set of tools and the ability for teams to gain visibility and insights throughout the entire software lifecycle. Therefore at Sauce Labs, while our test toolchain will address both web and mobile apps, we are beginning with building the first product proof points for mobile apps.

Benefits of the Test Toolchain with a Focus on Mobile 

The new world with the Sauce Labs DevOps Test Toolchain for mobile app development allows teams to achieve quality at speed across the software lifecycle and create the continuous feedback loop necessary to manage quality risk, by providing unique benefits at each stage of the SDLC, as seen here:

Unique Benefits of DevOTT

This toolchain helps to identify and harness quality signals throughout the software lifecycle, enabling teams to inform and drive continuous improvements for quality and velocity, i.e. accelerate development speed without sacrificing quality. And as a result, deliver the best possible customer experience.

Let’s take a deeper look into some of the benefits DevOTT provides for mobile.

Executing the right tests at the right time- consistently  

In order to spend more time on innovation and less time testing per release, teams need intelligent automation and the ability to validate multiple types of intent at different stages of the SDLC.

This includes, but is not limited to, getting early feedback on code through emulator/ simulator tests, running tests across more real devices and OSes, getting real user validation with beta testing, diagnosing API failures during functional testing, validating regressions across visual UI, and executing manual smoke tests. 

With a test toolchain that offers validation tools to be leveraged throughout the development and deployment pipelines, teams achieve more coverage and faster time to value.

Faster resolution of issues with depth of information

In order to reduce detection and resolution times, teams need the ability to identify the root cause of failures faster and fully understand the application behavior. With actionable insights delivered throughout the software lifecycle in the form of test assets including video recordings, test results, system logs, network traffic capture, device vitals (CPU, Memory, UI responsiveness), crash/error stacktrace, and more, teams can debug faster and resolve issues before the customers find them.

Covering the entire breadth of mobile use cases

Easily scalable mobile emulators and simulators help teams gain wider testing coverage earlier in the pipeline. While real devices accessed as part of live and automated testing in the cloud provide in-depth testing and a higher degree of confidence in real-world scenarios. Using a mix of real devices and emulators/simulators enables development teams to increase the quality and frequency of their software releases. 

Combining this with seamless access to app distribution and beta testing capabilities helps developers get validation with real-world users, and cover the edge cases they need to account for. They can increase testing efficiency and debug faster by using the same infrastructure to verify issues found in mobile app beta testing by instantly running real device and emulator/ simulator tests.

Confidence and experimentation in production

Production errors provide an accurate measurement of real risk. By expanding the testing toolkit to add error reporting and monitoring, development teams can address the persistent need to rapidly deploy code and quickly identify and remediate bugs in production. They can use the production test insights in the pre-production environments to guide a more holistic mobile strategy.

Risk visibility and management across the SDLC

With an evolving approach to quality, development teams need the right tools and approaches to measure the right things. Error monitoring and reporting not only help in analyzing the quality signals and mitigating deployment risk in production but further complements the front-end test frameworks to provide an additional layer of visibility into the root cause of an application failure when deployed during the development and integration phases.

Integrated and faster feedback loops

A toolchain offers an open and pluggable set of testing tools and frameworks that teams can pick and choose based on their needs, thus eliminating context-switching and improving team productivity by integrating into their development pipeline.

As bugs are identified throughout the SDLC by QA, testers, customer support, or users themselves, the ability to integrate into the team's existing workflows and route the errors to the programmers with meaningful context to further triage and resolve them, can help with creating the consistent feedback loops necessary to drive quality at speed.


A combination of these integrated tools enables customers to receive quality signals throughout all stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), including development, integration, and production to achieve high velocity and high-quality releases.

Conclusion

The market is demanding that we deploy faster and make fewer mistakes. ‘Quality and velocity;’ is no longer an ‘either or’ statement, we need to have both. The most prudent way to do this is by accelerating our testing strategy with a fully realized test toolchain to deliver results. Customer retention and acquisition are often informed by customer experience. One surefire way to deliver the quality your users expect is to leverage a test toolchain to the best of your ability. The DevOps Test Toolchain is the optimal way to address the challenges emerging in the new era of mobile development and testing to ensure digital confidence. By embracing change, you will find that perfect balance of speed and risk that keeps your customers happy.





Written by

Ashwini Sathe, Michael Donovan


Topics

Mobile TestingDevOps


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