QA and Testing – The Importance of Being Thorough

Rose and Ginger - West Highland Terriers

Rose and Ginger - West Highland Terriers

QA and testing is not easy. Those who do it well deserve good pay. Those who don’t, can make life interesting for a company in unpleasant and embarrassing ways. Case in point: I subscribe to a company, called HomeAgain, which provides lost pet recovery services for people who have micochiped their pets. It’s inexpensive and provides a small measure of peace of mind if one happens to care for pure breed animals. Especially if they happen to be killer cute like these two characters on the left.

I like HomeAgain. They have a number of helpful services and offer a place to collect information relevant to my dogs in one place. This makes life simpler for my dog sitter as well. But according to their web site, HomeAgain is a little confused about the hierarchy in this pack. To be clear, I’m alpha.

When confirming by email my order for Ginger’s updated pet ID card for the pet sitter to use, HomeAgain correctly identifies the request as having come from me (see Figure 1). “Dear Gregory, We have received your request for a pet ID card for GINGER.”

Gregory > Ginger

Figure 1 (Click for larger image.)

However, when attempting to do the same for Rose, HomeAgain seems to think I’m the one microchiped and Rose is ordering an updated pet ID card for me (see Figure 2). “Dear ROSE, We have received your request for a pet ID card for Gregory.”

Rose > Gregory

Figure 2 (Click for larger image.)

Oooops. Judging by the text case, I’d guess a template problem. However, the account for Rose is several years older than the one for Ginger. So perhaps there was a code change that happened in one place and not another. Worse case, the data is busted. That would be a bad thing.

What makes QA and testing so difficult are the multitude of possible code execution pathways within even a modestly complicated system. These are compounded with each successive release of an application, demanding increasingly complicated regression tests. Still, things slip through. As this case illustrates, quality QA and testing is important. It’s the last and best opportunity for preventing blemishes on the face of a company’s product. Or worse.

2012.02.19

The Colorado State Government wants us to be sure and include our “rounting” number for any online payments made from our checking accounts for license plate renewals (see Figure 3).

Colorado Payment Portal

Figure 3 (Click for larger image.)