“Using the Silk solutions has increased our overall product quality. Issues are caught in development, even before we start testing, and the amount of testing platform coverage, including all our mobile platforms, means that we can shorten the test cycles significantly.”
Principal Quality Assurance Engineer
This division of Siemens develops the XHQ Operations Intelligence product line which is in use with many global oil and gas and chemical companies. It aggregates, relates and presents operational and business data in real-time to improve enterprise performance.
The quality assurance team at Siemens has the task of supporting a global set of customers running different versions of the XHQ solutions. With patch releases every two months, major service pack releases every four months, and a major product release every nine months across the various versions, multiple testing teams based in North America, Latin America, EMEA, and India are involved in the effort.
With a geographically dispersed team collaboration is of vital importance, and this was an issue, as outlined by Benjamin Yim, Principal Quality Assurance Engineer at Siemens: “We used Silk Test™ but in a limited fashion. Testing teams would use different ways of storing test cases; in Word, Excel and a proprietary test case management system. There was no standardized test case management system and a real lack of visibility, and hence control, into what each of the teams was working on. We had great difficulty collecting meaningful data; couldn’t really track test execution and test results; regression tests had to be repeated; and we couldn’t test well on mobile devices.”
A large part of the testing effort was manual and when the latest XHQ version announced support for mobile devices, the team realized it needed help to increase its effectiveness. Yim comments: “Our ultimate goal was to increase the percentage of automated tests. As our customer base and our platform support have grown, we need to shorten our test cycle if we are to meet our time-to-market objectives.”
Although Siemens looked at alternatives, the fact that Silk Test was already in use, and offered excellent integration opportunities with Silk Central™, made the decision quite easy. Java is important in the XHQ development cycle, with desktop modules and server code mainly Java-based, and Silk4J, within Silk Test, was of interest to Yim: “We did a proof-of-concept and Silk4J came out really well. Implementing it means that our developers can use Silk4J to integrate additional unit testing into the development lifecycle. It had always been difficult for us to conduct unit testing at a UI level, but introducing Silk4J into our testing framework has enabled this.”
One of the Silk Central features Siemens really liked is keyword-driven testing. This allows test engineers who are unfamiliar with the code, to easily create and execute tests using a keyword library.
The Siemens team has introduced continuous integration (CI) smoke tests into its development process and automated this using the Silk solutions. A smoke test will select and run a subset of test cases that cover the most important functionality of a component or system, to determine if crucial software functions work correctly. The objective is to make this testing process as automated as is possible, without the need for manual engineering. Silk Central provides full integration with Jenkins, an extensible automation server which is used as a simple CI server. With it, Siemens can implement end-to-end automated build verification tests to support its CI process.
Yim touches on a key benefit: “The seamless integration between Silk Test and Silk Central helps us to easily query test cases and build test execution plans which are tailored to specific releases.”
The percentage of automated test cases is increasing and test execution status is easily tracked so that testing resources can be allocated more effectively. The keyword-driven testing means that test engineers can build and execute tests without any coding.
Yim comments: “Using the Silk solutions has increased our overall product quality. Issues are caught in development, even before we start testing, and the amount of testing platform coverage, including all our mobile platforms, means that we can shorten the test cycles significantly. The integration between Silk Test and Silk Central helps us to easily select our test cases and track the test cycle so that we have full visibility into its status.”
He concludes: “I look forward to designing our Silk Central charts and reports so that we can collect quality data for each release and look for ways to continuously improve our processes. Micro Focus has been with us all the way with implementation advice and great support throughout the process.”