Open source improves QA outsourcing

When your company builds a new piece of technology it goes through a complex and important process. It begins with the design phase to determine the goals of the project, plan features, and decide on the full scope of the software. The project then goes into the development phase, where the software is actually built. The build process can take some time and is often considered the single most important portion of the entire development lifecycle. 

Once the software is built, it then ventures into the realm of testing. This is where quality assurance comes into play, a process that can’t be overlooked or underestimated. During the QA portion of the cycle, bugs are found and fixed, UX is picked over, and everything could wind up drastically changing from the original spec.

Open source improves QA outsourcing 1

For some companies, the QA process is given the short end of the stick. Why? In many cases, it’s simply a matter of qualified staff. However, some businesses don’t place nearly the required importance on the QA phase. When this happens, software doesn’t go through nearly as stringent a vetting process as it should. To that end, bugs remain, the user experience isn’t nearly as good as it should be, and security isn’t up to the expected standards. 

The lesson here is that your company—and the software it produces—needs to employ quality assurance. If your IT departments don’t include the staff for such a purpose, you can always turn to QA outsourcing.

If you’re not sold on why QA services could help improve your development lifecycle, read these 5 Reasons to Hire a Quality Assurance Outsourcing Firm.

Once you’re convinced that software testing outsourcing is the right fit for your company, it’s then time to take a look at your software. In particular, the various licenses of the software you create and employ. 

If you’ve not bothered to consider the licenses that govern your software (and the various software your in-house apps interact with), you should. Why? Because there’s an option available that could make quality assurance considerably easier. 

The license in question is open source (in particular, the GNU General Public License – GPL). And just how is an open source license able to make QA easier? Let’s take a look.

What is the GPL?

Before we dive into various reasons open source could help your development lifecycle, let’s first define open source. This is easy:

Open source is a license that ensures that software is released in such a way that the code is made available to the general public. More importantly, that license allows for the alteration and redistribution of that source code.

At this point, you might be thinking, “But we can’t open-source the software we create for our company!” But you can. Let’s say, for example, you create a new Content Management System for your specific company. That CMS tool includes a number of plugins that expand the feature set such that it can interact with other pieces of software throughout your supply chain. You could open source the CMS, but leave the plugins proprietary.

What’s the benefit of doing so? First and foremost, you open that software up to a very large development community that can improve it in ways your developers might not have considered. Releasing that software with an open source license also means other (possibly smaller) companies could benefit from that work. And since your company most likely already makes use of open-source software, you could consider it a forward payment.

Now that we have the license out of the way, we can talk about ways open source makes the QA process easier.

Open standards and APIs

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) defines standards as:

“…a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose.”

Following open standards makes it considerably easier for the software you create to interact with other software. To better understand that, consider your company has created that CMS tool and needs it to function with another piece of software. If the developers of that other software haven’t used open standards or open APIs, your developers will have considerable difficulty in patching that software together.

To make matters worse, when closed standards and proprietary software is used, QA testing can only go so far, dig so deep. Your QA outsourcing team might be able to come back to you and say, “Feature A doesn’t work,” but it can’t help you understand why. With open standards and APIs, that QA team will be better able to understand why that’s the case. So instead of hearing, “Feature A” doesn’t work, you might be informed that Feature A is using a system call that can’t be interpreted by a particular API, and even illustrate how to fix the problem.

Open standards and APIs make it much easier for quality assurance to not only do their job but deliver much more detailed information.

Open source is everywhere

Your business already uses open-source software. Maybe it’s either the Apache or NGINX web servers. You might be using one of the many open source databases, or a framework that has been released under the GPL.

Because your business already employs open source technology, your QA team has the ability to know what you’re working with. Chances are fairly good they’ve already worked extensively with any number of those software titles and libraries, so there’s less ramping uptime.

Another reason your QA team will benefit from the wide-spread use of open source is that much of that software has already been documented on many levels, in numerous languages, and from just about every perspective. All of that readily-available documentation makes it easy for that team to better understand how your software fits in with the tools you’re already employing. 

And when a problem arises, chances are a fix has already been documented. This creates an incredibly short feedback loop for the QA process. And if there’s a question your developers can’t answer for the QA team, chances are good it’s been answered by someone else.

Diverse testing environments

When you use proprietary software, you limit the scope of testing environments available. With open source, that limitation is completely revoked. Think about it this way: Say you create a piece of software that requires a web server. Your current web server is IIS, which is the Microsoft proprietary offering. Because of this, your QA team will be limited to the testing environment it can use.

But what if that software you’ve created will also be employed in other locations, which may work with Apache, NGINX, or LightHTTP? When you limit that software to proprietary solutions, the QA team might not be able to test the code against other web servers. You have, effectively, limited the scope of testing.

That’s not the case with open source. When you work with open source software, you enjoy very diverse testing environments that can go a long way to ensure your software can be deployed just about anywhere.

Conclusion

The benefits of open source software are many and widespread. When applied to QA software testing, those limitations can make the difference between efficient and effective or slower, less reliable testing. Give open source software a try and expand the universe of your development cycle.

Our Software Testing and QA outsourcing services are second to none. Contact us today.

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