I'd like to share a story of how support from my team as well as the global testing community helped us make a lot of progress with our automated regression tests recently.

The past 3 weeks were one of our bi-annual (is that twice a year?) "engineering sprints", meaning we get to do things to manage our technical debt and improve our infrastructure, like upgrading to new versions of the tools and frameworks we use, or big refactorings. (Usually we only get 2 weeks, but we ran into some snags upgrading to Spring 3.0 / Java 1.6 and switching our app server to Glassfish).

On the testing front, our goal was to get to the latest FitNesse and check our FitNesse tests into SVN (before, we just relied on FitNesse's versioning and our own disk backups). We also wanted to speed up all of our regression suites by running more tests concurrently.

I had a lot of frustration during this sprint because I lacked the skills to do what I really wanted to do. For example, when we upgraded to the latest FitNesse, we found the output was changed and so the results wouldn't come out in our Hudson jobs anymore. I tried various approaches to fix this (assisted greatly by Glenn Halstead, long-distance) without much progress (though I learned a lot).

Finally, Gojko Adzic checked in a new feature to FitNesse that allows running the tests from a JUnit test, thus allowing easy integration with Hudson. (As we were wrapping this up, we learned there is finally a FitNesse plugin for Hudson, but it was too late for us for now.) One of the programmers on my team got the JUnit part of this working in a few hours. One of the sys admins got one of the suites running in Hudson in a few more hours, giving me the job as an example so I could do the rest. He also created a SVN repository for FitNesse and checked in the tests. I struggled with this but with help from my teammates, finally I got it all working. We can't run all four suites in parallel until we get a couple more database schemas, but we have one running concurrently with the other three.

My fellow tester split up our Canoo WebTest suite into two, and our sys admin buddy helped her get that all set up in hudson to run in parallel and give us faster feedback.

While all this was going on, we were also all regression testing everything in our application because of all the major upgrades. Everyone on the team pitched in on that, from the DBA to the ScrumMaster.

Thanks to people across the world and everyone on my team, we are now enjoying faster feedback from our continuous builds. One of the FitNesse suites just found a regression failure this morning!

Lesson re-learned: Don't be afraid to ask for help. Testing is a team responsibility and enjoys a great community worldwide. Take advantage! And I look forward to paying this forward, helping other teams.

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Comment by Markus Gärtner on March 24, 2010 at 7:01
Indeed, this is a great story, Lisa. In fact, I can confirm that it's great to get near instant feedback from other testers and developers over the internet in such an occasion. I had a problem with version control using Perforce, where you need to explicitly check out each file you're editing. I got in contact with Uncle Bob and he put in the CM_SYSTEM mechanism for this. Now you can plug in any version control easily and it really helped us with getting our FitNesseRoot in sync within our version control system.
Comment by ElizaF on March 24, 2010 at 5:30
This is the telling of a fantastic story, there is nothing as alienating as those first few moments when you realise you are stuck fast with a project blocked and cannot (initially) think of who to turn to.

Your conclusion of paying it forward is a principle I have always tried to work to too although I think that I am currently firmly in the dept side of the ledger ;)

Delighted for you that it all worked out and you have the satisfaction of a retrospective like this one now.



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