Automated testing and continuous development have become the driving force for CTO Andy Piper as Push Technology evolves its middleware platform.
Andy Piper is CTO at London-based Push Technology, which provides a Java-based middleware platform that helps U.K. developers working on applications that require a lot of messaging to a lot of users. Most of their clients publish statistical information for either financial entities (like stocks and bonds) or for online gambling. Piper has pushed his development team forward by espousing continuous delivery and automated testing.
When it comes to functional testing, Piper says everything has to be automated. “Manual tests are almost valueless,” he said. Manual tests take too much time, and he said he needs tests that are quick, clear and repeatable. Those requirements naturally lead to automated tests. He also pointed out that there’s practically zero user interface to a middleware platform, which removes a lot of the need for user experience testing.
Conducting performance tests is one area where Piper sees benefits to manual testing. He pointed to Gil Tene’s research on latency at Azul and explained that for performance testing, he’s not looking for average behavior; he’s analyzing the effect of the outliers. He said that using tools like HdrHistogram and jHiccup and analyzing the results intuitively works better for his team than trying to set up reliable automated performance tests.
Piper said the important aspects of functional testing are maintaining quality and moving quickly. “It’s about enabling the developers to make changes more confidently,” he said, “so they work more efficiently.” Automation is an important part of keeping up with the pace at which his developers are able to make changes and making sure they get the feedback they need as soon as possible. But managing a large battery of automated tests can be challenging.