Need information but don’t have time to wade through bookracks looking for that perfect reference? The StickyMinds.com Books Guide can help. Get the scoop from StickyMinds.com members on three books that can keep you up to date on the latest issues.
Software professionals have a lot to worry about. Software gets more complicated to produce, user demands continue to increase, and security is a growing concern for stakeholders. People talk about unit testing, usability, Agile development, security, and a host of other topics. How can you find solid reference material to help you get (and stay) up to speed? Take advantage of the StickyMinds.com Books Guide, which provides descriptions, ratings, and reviews for hundreds of software books. StickyMinds.com members—Jessica McLaughlin, J.D. Kennedy, and Mike Andrews—review and recommend some recent titles on issues facing today's software professional.
Java Testing and Design by Frank Cohen is a reference book I intend to keep right on my desk. As a test professional, I have found it difficult to properly test integrated, multiprotocol Web-enabled applications. Now, thanks to this book, I am equipped with the proper tools, protocols, and APIs. Cohen’s book clearly discusses different technologies—HTML, SOAP and WSDL—and how to test them with Test Maker, an open source test tool that uses Jython, an easy-to-understand scripting language. It’s always exciting to find a test tool with a scripting language that is easy to use and understand.
Part 1 of Cohen’s book includes chapters on application performance, test modeling, and test automation tools. Part 2 presents practical examples using Test Maker agents. These chapters include plenty of code examples to allow for hands-on practice with Test Maker. Finally, Part 3 is a collection of case studies, each illustrating the individuality of projects and how the techniques and tools presented in this book can assist in any type of project.
Cohen employs a writing style that is straightforward and easy to follow, even for those with little Java testing experience. Each chapter includes a personal story, an anecdote, and a good summary. Acronyms and other vocabulary are clearly defined in tables within each chapter.
Several of the ideas mentioned in the book can assist a test professional in creating more subjective test criteria:
- Implement a daily health check based on functions, performance, and failures. The assessment in each of these is quite simple. For example, one point is awarded for each error in functionality. All points are totaled and compared to a scale, which ranges from 1 (excellent) to more than 101 (horrid).
- Create a rubric based on basic features, speed of operation, and correct operation. Frequently, testing is seen as too subjective. The rubric helps assess performance criteria more objectively and provides a clear benchmark for measurement.
- Create archetypes based on the prototype of different application users. Too often we create a “typical” user, when in fact there are many different users with different needs using our applications.
It is difficult to keep up with all of the interoperable components that fashion today’s Web applications, especially when these components require testing. Cohen’s method begins with properly building and testing Java applications.
I would recommend this book for test professionals currently working with Java applications and for those who would like to learn some valuable techniques for working with them. —reviewed by Jessica McLaughlin
Institutionalization of Usability by Eric Schaffer covers all the bases for implementing a usability program in a software development organization. With his conversational and easy-to-follow writing style, Schaffer clearly presents the challenges that a usability program is likely to encounter. The book is well organized and can be followed either sequentially or used as a reference.
Schaffer divides his book into four parts: Startup, Setup, Organization, and Long-term Operations. Throughout the book, the author emphasizes the most critical aspect of usability: It must be integral to the development efforts.
This book is