Thursday, September 29, 2011

AQT Saves the Day

AQT has several time saving features like Export
Relational databases are pervasive in the enterprise. More, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes in the same shop - from modest desktop DB's like Access / Excel to open source workhorses like PostgreSQL / MySQL to top-shelf like Oracle / MS-SQL / DB2 to old powerhouses like Informix.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could have just one tool to interact with all of these databases: construct queries, view data, import / export data, perform administration, compare / move data between databases, etc.? Advanced Query Tool (AQT) is that tool. Like the SQL Cookbook, AQT comes highly recommended by those same 'scary good' DB guys.

I've found AQT to be especially valuable when working with: (1) old beasts that don't have nice interactive query tools, and (2) newer beasts that require access to the DB's installation media and heavyweight installs. Our team here uses AQT everyday for developing, testing, and supporting the State's production systems.

Note: The inspiration for this post was from one of my colleagues. He used AQT to verify the recovery of image files into blob fields on an Informix database. You can imagine the command line wizardry this would require had he used the database's built-in tools.

5 Oct 2011 Update - AQT has come to our rescue again twice in the last couple of days. We used the data loader to recover about 14,000 records, and used the data compare to identify duplicate records between production and archive databases.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TestLink is a Great Test Case Management Tool

There are dozens and dozens of testing tools out there in the wild. For large custom application development projects, I've found that using a tool to store and manage test cases is very valuable. It's just too resource intensive to do this work by hand. In the old days, we'd roll-our-own solution by using the document management features of a tool like Notes or Exchange. We'd customize them so that we could create test suites, enter test results, add build numbers, assign testers, etc..

This brings us to today. Surely, someone has built a great open source tool for test case management. Thankfully, the answer is a resounding YES. Of the choices available, we selected TestLink. It's open source. It's simple. It's proven (used by test shops at Intel, Lucent, Philips, Samsung, Symantec, Toshiba, Yahoo, etc.).

After using TestLink during the system testing of Wyoming's new excise tax system (went live July 2011), I can confidently recommend TestLink. Management likes it, the users like it, and their crazy architect likes it.

Discovery: If you plan on performing formal testing for a large project, consider using TestLink.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Use Cases Example

Continuing the example from the previous post, here's a selection of use cases from that project (click here or on the pic to see the detailed example). These were written using a modified form of the fully-dressed use case template from Writing Effective Use Cases. Some notes regarding the example:

o Version History - Evidence that use cases are living documents that evolve with your project;
o Use Case List - The table form of the use case diagram (often a PM's best friend); and
o (5) Use Cases - Implemented use cases. Note their brevity. Note how the complexity of multiple flows are accounted for in their extensions. Note how the main flow focuses on the frequently traveled path (the happy path).

How to Read Extensions: The extension number indicates the step in the main success scenario for which a different path may be taken. They are usually used to describe significant options you must provide or special failure handling that you must address (rather than just give an error message and end).

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