Software Production Support, QA, Testing, and Automation

Monday, October 21, 2013

Agile Software development, Acessibility, Minification & SVN

1 year & 2 months in and I am very happy with being in an Agile pod and getting first hand experience in an Agile development software pod. Basically it's the AT&T eCommerce web site and I belong to the Global Experience Pod (Code named The Fifth Element / Tesla) and we are doing good works and so far we have made improvements to the website, especially related to the Global Navigation portion. Within the website (www.att.com), my team has added on the Top navigation (top most, on the right hand corner) the Wireless Coverage map and within the Primary navigation (orange colored area) Shop, MyAT&T and Support tabs are larger as part of the ease of use improvements that our pod has been charged with.

It is unfortunate that priorities have changed, and the original ideas of having Navigation take over the whole web site as a single ear file deployment (next gen navigation) and letting other services tap into a smaller real estate in the middle of the page for their purposes like Shopping, myAT&T account management etc have been scrapped.

Currently the system deploys 4 different ear files to run att.com and each of these will then implement their version of global nav war file. This creates an in consistent customer experience and when there is a deployment or changes, it is a painful process in general to get all services aligned.

So for now, a compromise has been reached where we deploy a universal navigation service for the Top Nav, Primary, Secondary & Tray Nav and the footer. This service is readily available for these 4 ears to call and hopefully will make navigation more versatile and "stand-alone" so that changes can be easily reflected in navigation, should there be a change and all these individual ear file owners & development groups need not worry about retrofitting the war file and to bang it into shape for it to work "seamlessly". I have much hope that the November 2013 release will prove this.

There still is, in my book, one major Achilles Heel issue with Source Code Management / SVN, and all these old school waterfall process of "code freeze" major deployment dates. It definitely is not a true Agile environment especially when it comes to software release and the whole mandatory 30 - 40 day code freeze. In general every sprint we do no release and have to wait to piggy back on to a major release just because of how the website is set up, where Global Navigation has to be uniform throughout the pages and Global Navigation touches every ear. I guess the main issue that we have with this waterfall method of release is having a time crunch to get things done and ready (especially with the FCC Mandated Accessibility compliance and AT&T's mobile first initiative) with many last minute directional changes which constantly throws a new hurdle / challenge as to what we need to aim for to develop, test & deliver.

On that note though, I have gained some experience with regards to accessibility testing. Examples are ratio color testing between background and text, ARIA markups and NVDA / JAWS screen reader testing. To a certain degree, I almost feel that we are the first penguins in the water since there is pretty limited resources out there referring to retrofitting or building appropriate styles with proper Aria Markups and it seems like NVDA is mostly in its infancy perhaps. From what I understand, seems like these screen readers actually do take a "screen shot" of what it sees and from there it interprets what it thinks it sees and reads it out. With this in mind, it is a possibility that our test servers (and perhaps client side / end user side) are slow to generate what is seen and hence many times, the NVDA is not able to pick up & read on what we perceive to "see". This has made me more appreciative of my sight, and to be more sensitive and aware of the plight and difficulty of visually impaired users when it comes to surfing the web.

A few other things that I notice is that:


  1. AT&T uses way too many cookies
  2. Due to the IE7 issue, the work around was to use images (rather than CSS image rendering etc) so that the web site looks uniform, and hence creating a lot of latency and server load in order to display the page
  3. Seems like the developers are not careful when it comes to code merge, added on top of automatic "cron jobs". In essence, everyone seems to be stepping on everyone else's toes. One minute the functionality from my Pod are working fine and on another instant everything is broken or undone.
Perhaps I am not as well versed with regards to web development, however there are so many options and choices available out there for dynamic generation of a web site I'm surprised why Ruby on Rails or PHP are not used to run the website.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Successful integration of Selenium Web Driver and Eclipse

I was tinkering around with Selenium and Eclipse at work today since there was no solid meeting (until I went for lunch) with regards to setting up our framework for the Selenium... and I was able to figure out how to successfully tie in the FireFox Web driver with Selenium and even run their tutorial successfully. I am sure the Apache Maven project would have been nice to use, but there were too many steps which weren't clear. I'm the kind of person who appreciates screen shots and clear step-by-step instructions which gets systems set up fast and efficiently. I hope my user guide will help other fellow QA programmers to get started quick with their development environment. Feel free to share the PDF. selenium_eclipse_binding.pdf

Thursday, February 9, 2012

GIT source code repository

After much contemplation, I decided to release the Screen Capture and Compiler software as Open Source Software. It's still a diamond in the rough, a working software which has a lot of potential.

https://github.com/zieglarnatta/Screen-Capture-and-Compiler-program

Feel free to visit and dive into the source code, all I ask of you is that you credit my name in the spirit of open source / copyleft GPL license.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Installing Windows 7 Ultimate

I was given the opportunity of installing Windows 7 Ultimate (32bit edition) to 2 laptops:
Toshiba Satellite A45-S121, 1.25GB RAM, Intel Celeron 2.8GHz
Dell Inspiron E1505, 512MB RAM, Intel T2050 1.6GHz

These 2 originally came with Windows XP.

Had a very good experience in general though the Dell had issues with the DVD ROM drive. I tried to extract and use the Toshiba DVD ROM but with no success so I have to give credit to the website:

http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-install-windows-7vista-from-usb-drive-detailed-100-working-guide/

for doing a good job, step by step information on building a bootable SD card (with my external multi card reader) and was able to coax the BIOS to boot from USB followed by CD / DVD ROM (which would be useless anyway since it was not detecting the DVD ROM. My only pet peeve about the Dell BIOS was the fact that they did not let you choose which order the boot sequence would be, it was just a select yes or no and top most option is Floppy, IDE, USB, CD DVD, and lastly LAN / NIC.

It was a clean install and in general the hardware was in good condition (especially the hard drives) which pretty much made it a breeze installing the OS. I wouldn't be surprised if I had simply done an upgrade, the installation would probably be flawed. Upon checking the Microsoft website in general, yes they recommended for XP systems, you need to do a clean install.

All data / information on the HDD wasn't needed / salvaged so that was definitely a time saver.

The Toshiba had some issues though, because it doesn't have an integrated WiFi NIC, the product key for the Windows 7 was not authenticated and at the bottom right it had indicated that the copy of Windows was not authentic. That went away as soon as I got it plugged online and registered. The sound and video cards did not have the proper drivers, so I had to do an update driver and seems like windows was able to find the audio driver (probably a generic one) but not for the video driver.

For older systems, this is as good as it gets. Still one more chore / task, will probably have to share the Toshiba DVD drive and do the MS Office 2010 install for the Dell, else I'd definitely check out ways to install once again from USB.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Flashed the HTC HD2 T-Mobile USA phone to Android 2.2

I'm so excited I can almost barely contain myself... after suffering almost a year of Windows Mobile 6.5 on my HTC HD2, I boldly went where no noob went before... flashed my HTC HD2 aka the LEO HTC "smart phone" and got it to work...

follow the directions in this forum and you'll be fine.

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=939682

Only thing is that the the Android 2.2 ROM is within the MAGLDR113 7z file and I used the HSPL3_PKG 7z to install without the clockworks backup method, so the best thing to do is download all the 7z & rar & zip files and then unzip them to a central folder.

One note though, they didn't mention in this guide about APNs and so specifically for T-Mobile USA the APN should be configured as such:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=523136

Name: Whatever you want to call it
APN: epc.tmobile.com
The rest are blank (not set) until you get to MMSC.
MMSC: http://mms.msg.eng.t-mobile.com/mms/wapenc
MMS proxy & port are
MCC: 310
MNC: 260
APN type:

The pitfall which I had was that

1)Did not configure APN resulting in no EDGE and / or 3G, and
2)to add more issues my damned Microsoft WiFi router doesn't play nice with the Android for wifi, but in general I have been able to connect to any open wifi networks so I knew immediately the router was to be blamed. So I'll do the Donald on the Microsoft Router and get a nice netgear else linksys N router and kick some butt.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Production tool

I'm pretty happy with the rough draft of the production tool, it came in a timely manner as soon as the time savings were realized. I had hoped that the company would have increased the number of needed personnel, however it is what it is.

That aside, it was a bit of a challenge since the initial coding of AutoIT was to capture CTRL + C key stroke, but with that it totally hinders the computer from copying / capturing anything into the Clipboard so I had to improvise to have the program do a rolling copy and paste.

Of course with that I was wary about simply dumping all data from clipboard especially if it was a binary data and what I wanted was only the text portion and was able to successfully capture the text only clipboard content. The other challenge was to code AutoIT to know when there were changes in the Clipboard, so I inserted a 250 millisecond timer to check if the clipboard index changed which did the trick beautifully.

For now it's pretty much a program that runs in the background, minding it's own business and capturing text as soon as they appear in the MS Clipboard. Near future developments are to build that coveted GUI (need to learn / experiment), text parsing of the Billing Account Number (BAN), Order ID (OID) and Order Action ID (OAID) to auto fill / build the SQL scripts quickly and accurately, not forgetting a pause button and probably I envision a left and right free text area to separate out the XML and the Production customer data and error issues.

I'm excited to see how well the final program will work. I'm already using the rough draft for now and am eager to do more coding to make it a refined tool for production.

Nothing much happening on the screen capture program for now though, but I have definitely made up my mind to have it move towards dumping into open source / freeware open office else into an Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Interesting twist in coding direction

I think I have no choice but to embrace / rely on the open source software with regards to my image compiler program and move away from proprietary MS Word. I'll need to research more on it. Not much development on the items I have planned from my last posting and I've been pretty busy developing my social circle and have neglected my inner geek.

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