Fish Tank , a Test Model for Android and iOS apps

For better software testing, I believe in three factors, a good test model or strategy, right set of tools and testers with the right frame of mind.

Fish Tank is one such test model, a collection of various  testing framed from the experience of  test many consumer mobile apps designed mainly for Android (upto) 5 and iOS (upto) 8. If not all some part applies to Windows Phone too. An app tested from initial design phase needs a different strategy from testing an already released app. Some of these ideas were designed upfront considering the hardware, software capabilities of mobile phones, LONG FUN CUP is one such example. Some others were framed during the time of testing, for instance Content optimization was an idea that was framed while testing an app that looked weird in smaller screens with too many texts. When this issue was raised, initial fix was to reduce the font size, later I realized instead of reducing the size cutting down unwanted text would be a better solution.

Fish Tank

I am fond of the tanks built during World War 1, so I used to call most of my work as tanks until I get appropriate name, after completing this post was just looking at my fish tank and wondering what to name it, bingo! On a side note, read this article on how to get ideas!

“People don’t invent things on the Internet. They simply expand on an idea that already exists.” – Evan Williams.

This mind map is just the What part of the model, organised under various stages of app life cycle. I will be publishing a series of post on how to do each this in coming days! Stay Tuned!

Producing Software Is Not The Purpose Of Software Development

Think Different

Producing Software Is Not The Purpose Of Software Development

[Tl;Dr: All too often we can all get so wrapped-up in the joys and frustrations of creating software that we lose sight of the real purpose.]

I often invite my conference audiences to spend a few minutes discussing, amongst themselves, some question or other relevant to the session. One of the questions which I regularly pose is:

“What is the purpose of software development?”

This question tends to confound the audience for a few moments, prior to their entering into animated discussions on the subject. It always seems like a few minutes is nowhere near long enough to do the question justice.

I ask the question for a number of reasons, not least because of Dan Pink’s assertion that the three keys to intrinsic motivation are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I rarely come across people and teams who can articulate their purpose.

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Testing != test execution

Jeff Fry on Testing

Testing includes:

  1. Building a useful mental model of the application under test, including what value it should provide and what risks could threaten that value,
  2. Designing powerful tests, using that model to investigate important questions about the application’s quality,
  3. Test execution (which might be automated entirely, partly, or not at all),
  4. Analyzing the results to determine if there’s a problem, how severe it might be, or otherwise answer stakeholder questions, and
  5. Test reporting that clearly communicates the impact of the bug, and how to quickly reproduce it.

We often talk about testing as if it’s only test execution, yet often the most interesting, challenging, skill-intensive aspects of testing are in creating a mental model that helps us understand the problem space, designing tests to quickly and effectively answer key questions, analyzing what specifically the problem is, and communicating it effectively.

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Mobile App Test Coverage Model : LONG FUN CUP

Smart phones changed the way we interact with software. Once mobile apps were used to kill time but now there are apps those could save lives.

They are changing the way live, thus we need to change the way we test.

Smartphone applications are developed with immense creativity and effort. Mobile users demand a sleeker experience with applications compared to desktop users. The mind set of mobile users is very different from web or desktop users. Smartphone apps are used on the move (e.g.: while walking or using a toilet), and mobile devices have a lot to offer through hardware location tracking, gyroscopes and other integrated features.

LONG FUN CUP model helps to achieve coverage at UI  level. This is designed factoring in the new touch generation mobile devices hardware, software and users mindset.


Location: It’s a sin to test mobile app sitting at your desk, get out!

Location tracking is a key feature offered by mobile phones, which any app must make use of it based on its core functionality. For instance, if it’s a cab booking or food ordering app, app should be smart enough to track your current location and provided suggestions surrounding your locality. Unlike web apps, where you expect user to enter location details, here the work flow should be different. Never test such apps sitting at your desk. Check if the app asks for user permission before tracking the location, does app allow users revoke the permissions? Both Android and iOS provide options to mock your locations for testing the app using emulators and simulators.

Orientation: It’s a sin to test mobile app sitting at your desk, lie in the couch.

People can change the orientation for various reasons, any mobile app should be able to provide a consistent user experience across different orientations. Test all your screens, pop-ups, toast messages, forms in all supported orientations. There are instance where the filled in form data disappears when you change the orientation. Never test a mobile app just sitting in your desk, take it to rest rooms, lie down in a couch and use it while traveling and test if it gives the same user experience with all different orientation.

Network: It’s a sin to test mobile app sitting at your desk, switch networks.

Mobile devices supports both cellular and wi-fi, they can automatically switch between any available networks. How does your app behave when the device switches between networks? These are critical especially if your apps core purpose is to send and receive data to remote server like e-commerce, banking, broadcasting apps. Make sure all such functionality behavior is tested for all such varying network switching, network strengths.

Gestures: In mobile world, app responds to gestures not clicks.

Does your app supports all standard gestures? Is it consistent across the app? If it uses any new gestures, is it easy for the users to understand? I would recommend to play The Room game (a paid game available for both iOS and Android) to understand the unlimited potential of gestures.


Any function that defines or distinguishes the product or fulfills core requirements. Test for interactions, error handling, starting and closing of the app, file access, navigation, multimedia, and sync. Did you try tapping all GUI? Did you fill in all the input fields? Did you navigate to all the screens? Are you able to navigate back?

User Scenarios:

How easy or how hard is it to complete a task using the app? Is the first time user able to understand the work flow? Any scenario should have a story that is credible, motivating, complex and easy to evaluate. List possible users and list them the ways they might use the system to accomplish a task. Try to think about disfavored users and how they might try to exploit the app. Compare with competitor or web interface to get more real life scenarios. Refer: An Introduction to Scenario Testing


Notifications enable an application to inform its users that it has something for them. How does your application use notifications? How easy is to turn on or turn off your app from notifications? Does the application use local or push notifications? How does your application behave if device is in sleep mode? Does the app provide too many notifications? Test for all available types of visual notifications, sound and vibration.


These days’ people use mobile phones for various purpose, but the primary purpose for voice calls. How does the app behave after interruptions by an incoming call or an SMS? Test for such interruptions from voice communication and all necessary functions of your app. Many times app will not be able to recover after attending a voice call for a longer duration.


Unlike desktop mobile app gets frequent updates. Not only app updates but as a tester one has to be aware of OS updates as well. How the users are informed about updates? Does the app support the silent update? Track what changes or new features are available in the latest OS update. Analyse if the app needs any modification because of the OS updates.


It is very critical for any mobile app tester to have a good understanding of the popular mobile platforms especially Apple and Android. Be a  fan-boy of either one of these platforms (it’s impossible to be a fan of both 😉 ) So, you know why Apple and Android does certain things in certain way. You need to be aware of the history and also the latest trends in the mobile platform. What tools are available for testing and what kind of test-ability layers are provided by the platform. Example Developer Options in Android, Instruments in Xcode.

Testers also should have good knowledge in App store Approval process, HIG, Android Design guidelines. This helps to take the app to the market very quick. It takes one to two weeks to get it approved by Apple App Store, so rejection wastes a lot of time. So, testers has to have a checklist handy to check those approval and guideline tests.

Testers should also should be aware of android fragmentation, you will never know in which device your app works and which it may fail. So, should keep an eye on the popular devices, new devices and the android OS market share to select an optimal device matrix to test.

Smart Phone Mobile App Needs Smart Testers

I am happy and proud to share that I will be presenting “Smart Phone Mobile app needs smart testers”  in CAST 2014.

Mobile applications are developed with immense creativity and effort. Mobile users demand a sleeker experience with applications compared to desktop users. End users set their expectations very high, based on their experience with state of the art iOS and Android platforms they use every day. The mindset of mobile users is very different from web or desktop users. The key aspects users expect from mobile app is speed, sleekness and social sharing (SSS). As a result, testing mobile apps must be on par with experience offered by state of the art mobile platforms.

This talk will cover

  • How to tune the tester’s mindset to model test approaches specific to smart phone apps
  • How to design tests at the UI level to find issues beyond the usual functional and non-functional testing.
  • How to  design mobile tests to uncover issues hidden under mobile UI.
  • How to design tests for  user experience.

Full CAST 2014 schedule is here

See you in New York!


HOLY COW!! It’s been long time since I blogged.

I was thinking for a while about what are the most important skills that help a tester to craft his own methods instead of following industry standards or best practices? This triggered while reading through one of the old posts of James Bach again recently,  especially this particular quote that grabbed my attention, “Following is for novices who are under active supervision. Instead, I craft methods on a project by project basis, and I encourage other people to do that..”


Extensive research is never possible in testing commercial software, due to time and budget constraints. So, how to test software quickly? Heuristics are used to speed up the process of finding an optimal solution. It’s something that helps you approach a problem and take decisions, which should be applied wisely. In order to write better on heuristics I wanted to know the Tamil (my mother tongue) meaning for heuristics. I decided to search in Google, from my knowledge and experience I believe Google would help me to get Tamil meaning of heuristics, but unfortunately it couldn’t get an answer for that. So, I decided to ask in Twitter addressing to few Tamil experts. This is heuristics, an approach to problem, but no guarantee that it solves problem.


If heuristics help in approaching problems or take decision, Oracles help to identify problems. Some of  oracles used in testing are

1. Requirements

2. Comparing against competitors products

3. Consistency with in the products


“A tester is someone who knows that things can be different.” – Jerry Weinberg.

Y- Why?

“Questioning ignites thinking, leads to progress”  – Dhanasekar

Whenever I train novice testers, I provide them with few tasks, when they come back with a solution, I probe them with many questions like why was this done? why was this necessary? why do they think this is right solution? why not do it in a different way? Most times there won’t be concrete answers. My next step is to ask them to find answers for my questions. After finding answers  they would realise there were many more to learn and explore, but still many wouldn’t realise that those questions ignited their minds. The important thing is not to stop questioning. What we observe is not testing in itself, but testing exposed to our way of questioning.



If HOLY Sea(C) is preparation and practice for a battle, observation is the real battle. For instance, if your application sends emails, have you ever observed how it appears in the email alert message pop-ups in  many popular clients on windows platform or popular notifiers like Growl in Mac OS X? This example is out of an observation made on such email pop-up. This client we worked for, put their branding advertisements at the start of the email, so the alert pop-ups showed the first two lines of the content which is purely marketing text, but not important content. Because of which user might assume this to be spam and ignore it. This test idea would have never triggered if I missed to observe the alert pop-up. Making observations after executing tests is not end of testing, subsequent test ideas mostly result out of those observations. So, missing critical observation is missing potentially risky tests.

Toughest Testing Challenge 1.2 : Patch 1.0

There was a major bug in Toughest Testing challenge 1.2 .

Bug Details:
Management realized later that a simple module (dialogue box) like this can’t be tested forever, also they don’t have any idea about how far or how long to test this module.

So, the management decides to give the project to  two different vendors.
First one was asked to generate  test ideas that can be executed within 15 minutes.[Time is non negotiable here]
A second vendor was asked to estimate the time required to test this module and generate test ideas for the time estimated.

What would be your test strategies if you are Vendor one?
What would be your test strategies if you are Vendor two?

And more over you should convince the client with your test strategy and estimates.

A Hint : Test Framing.

Happy Testing!

Dhanasekar S.

Norie’s Neat Nostrum :
“There’s no such thing as quick and dirty; if you want a quick job, make it a neat job” – Jerry Weinberg