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Net-a-Porter integrates testing and development

Cliff Saran

Online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter has integrated software testing and development to support agile methodologies. 

Net-a-Porter has created teams where testers work closely with developers to ensure testing remains integral to the agile methodology. The testers train developers to test the code that is produced, which allows the testing team to work on more complex testing.

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The more frequently software is released, the more difficult it becomes to test.

Traditionally, testing would be run by a separate team, as the quality step in a software production process, but this approach is considered outdated by some in the agile world.

As companies adopt agile methodologies and continuous delivery, to push out application updates regularly, testing is often left behind.

Computer Weekly recently spoke to Stephen Janaway, a test manager at fashion retailer, Net-a-Porter, about how testing was evolving. He said: "The old way of testing doesn't fit."

Janaway said Net-a-Porter was moving to deliver updates to its website through an on-demand model, over a big-bang approach. "Software is being released every three weeks, plus we do regression testing."

The company decided 18 months ago to automate testing across the software delivery lifecycle to support the increased pace of software development, but manual testing is still part of the process.

Janaway said: "Automated testing is good for maintaining what we have. It focuses on making sure we haven’t broken something that was previously working."

Net-a-Porter runs manual exploratory tests as a first step when new features are developed. This manual testing builds on top of the automated testing, which forms part of the normal development process, Janaway said.

Rather than run separate testing teams, he said Net-a-Porter uses cross-functional teams of testers and developers.

He said testing should be a contiguous part of the agile process. Net-a-Porter uses Scrum as its agile methodology for developing software.  "Small cross-function teams do a bit of work, which is then developed and tested as one process," Janaway added.

Janaway gave a presentation on  how testing was evolving at the Unicom next generation testing conference in London last week.

The old adage that testers test and programmers code is not efficient, according to Janaway. "Why shouldn't programmers test," he asked delegates at the conference.


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