Maintenance and Support of Test Tools


existing and previously working functionality, and that the end users understand how to effectively interact with the tool's new functionality.

The new customizations to a test tool might also have a cascading effect on the training documentation. Some organizations create customized training materials for using the customized test tool, which could differ from the vendor's generic training materials. These customized training materials might need revision after the test tool undergoes a new series of customizations.

Tool Administrators
An organization undergoing test tool changes will need a dedicated resource for doing so within the project or hire consultants from the vendor. Even if a tool administrator is available to the project he/she might not have enough knowledge to upgrade a test tool or install from scratch a new version of the test tool.

Other test tool changes require support from various personnel. The project should identify its current resources and availability for initiating a tool change. For instance, an upgrade to a test management tool might necessitate an upgrade to its underlying database back-end and, thus support from the DBA, and the server administrator will be needed in addition to the tool administrator with knowledge of the test tool.

Test tool maintenance might be needed to install a new patch for the test tool. Vendors release patches for a variety of reasons, such as bugs and defects with the test tool, or a test tool's inability to recognize a particular object during recording, or it might be to include new functionality. Patches, no matter how innocuous or trivial they seem, need to be reviewed and assessed before they are installed.

Installing a patch might require that the tool be brought down for a prolonged period of time and might consume time away from other testing efforts. Additionally, some vendors do not really consider how a tool patch to one of their software solutions would affect how the software interacts with other solutions from the same vendor, which creates technical problems.

For example, in one of my projects we had a test management solution and a load-testing solution from the same vendor where the two solutions interacted with each other. I placed a patch on the test management tool to fix a problem that I had for generating reports.

After I placed this patch the load-testing solution could no longer communicate with the test management solution, and I could no longer save load-testing results into the test management tool. The test administrator installing patches on the test tool should consult with the vendor before installing any patches to ascertain whether the tool's functionality and the interaction with other test tools would be affected.

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