Testing Your Mobile Applications for Usability: An Interview with Max Saperstone


Cameron: OK. Since you said it's getting more difficult, it's getting more complex as the years go by and in five or six years it's really going to determine where mobile application testing is going, do you think it's ever going to come down to it where there's a completely separate discipline for mobile application testing versus desktop application testing?

Max: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I'd be surprised if mobile testing does not become its completely own specialty, because beyond just the usability aspect, you have a lot more different features you have to be looking at within a mobile device. You have to be looking at the all the network activity. You have all these other different sensors and features on the phone that a desktop or even a web multitiered iPhone is not going to have. So the more familiar you get with those devices, the better tester you are going to be, so that, I think, will definitely branch out into becoming its own specialty.

Cameron: OK, awesome. Now, for someone starting today, let's say, doing application testing, what are some tips or some ideas or methodologies that they should—in brief—know to become a more effective and productive tester?

Max: Really, I would say kind of look at your application within the scope of your testing with the tools you have available to you and kind of go with whatever gives you the biggest bang for your buck. What can you knock out that are really some of the major points of the application without too much effort? And go from there.

Another big thing, make sure you test in the real world. Don't just test in your office, don't just test at home, and don't just test within your computer. Make sure you get something on a device, sure that you're testing on multiple devices, because emulators and these other nonreal testing tools can only take you so far. They're called mobile applications for a reason. They're mobile. Make sure that you test them on different networks. Make sure you are moving around. That's one of the more intricate parts of testing mobile applications. One of the things, you know, if I'm switching from one network to another and my app goes down, that's often overlooked.

Cameron: And your session is very hands-on. You do encourage attendees to bring their cellphones and mobile devices. Is there anything else you would like to say to the attendees of STARCANADA?

Max: You covered it absolutely. Bring your device. Bring two. I'm going to have four completely different mobile devices they're already hooking up. Some of those activities, you can go along with me and actually be doing some of the same things on your device at the same time. Others, we'll actually step through some codes, run some emulators, see what you can actually do when you have access to the source files—so it should be really interesting.

Cameron: Awesome. Sounds very fun. Once again, this is Max Saperstone. He has a session titled "Mobile Applications Testing: From Concepts to Practice." He will be speaking at STARCANADA 2014, which is April 5 through April 9. All right, thank you so much, Max.

Max: All right. Thanks, Cameron.


Max Saperstone

For almost a decade, Max Saperstone has been a test engineer focusing on test automation and the continuous integration/continuous delivery process. Max specializes in open source tools—Selenium, JMeter, AutoIT, Cucumber, and Chef. He has led several testing automation efforts, including developing an automated suite focused on web-based software to operate over several applications. Max also headed a major project developing an automated testing structure to run Cucumber tests over multiple test interfaces and environments, while developing a system to keep test data “ageless.” He is currently developing a new testing architecture for SecureCI to allow testing of multiple interfaces, custom reporting, and minimal test upkeep.

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