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Future of Testing

This is the last post in this series on enterprise testing. The focus has been on both system and application programmers in an enterprise systems setting. The first post described enterprise testing and explained the many challenges that programmers experienced 40 years ago in deploying defect free software. The next two posts discussed system programmers and their testing methods and tools and application programmers and the significant skill pressures they experience. This post concentrates on innovations and a few products  that will impact the future of testing for these two communities of programmers.

What Recent Innovations?

Testing has changed and grown of the decades. Attend any IT conference for developers and there is sure to be one or more sessions on testing. At the session, the presenter is likely to be a full-time tester for a major company who will take you through the methods, phases and tools used for testing. It’s in sessions like this that you see the specialized and mature discipline that testing has become.

Automation Is a Key Tactic

Today, one of the approaches of professionals in testing focuses on automation which now plays an important role. Its importance has been growing over the years and its use is now pervasive. Automation can appear in different ways. System programmers sometimes take testing activities and collect them into job streams or commands issued in REXX programs from TSO. This approach saves time, reduces human error and offers the opportunity to build a repository of tests that can be run again as needed. Application programmers often take a product-based approach using tools like Rational Quality Manager that leverage automation to reduce labor-intensive activities in an effort to accelerate project schedules.

Today’s Tools Are Programmer Specific

A product-based testing system for system programmers is IBM z Systems Development and Test Environment. It covers more that just testing. It’s a platform for mainframe application demonstration, development, testing and education. It supports IBM z/OS middleware and other z/OS software to run on Intel-compatible platforms without IBM Z mainframe hardware. It’s based on the IBM System z Personal Development Tool, which provides an emulated IBM Z architecture with virtual I/O and devices. It’s not the first and probably not the last tool to emulate a mainframe but its capabilities are impressive and useful.

An example for application developers is IBM Developer for z Systems Enterprise Edition that is a broad solution for creating and maintaining z/OS applications. It has a useful set of COBOL, PL/I, C/C++, High Level Assembler, JCL and Java development tools and optimized tooling for batch, CICS, IMS and Db2 runtimes provide z/OS application developers a modern development environment that enhances their productivity. This solution consists of two modular offerings: IBM Developer for z Systems and IBM Debug for z Systems. When I see the capabilities of this software it makes me think about restarting my career as a developer. When you start with a great workbench there are fewer barriers to creating great software.

Is That It?

Hopefully, this series on enterprise testing gave you something new to think about. If I were an early career individual, I would take a serious look at a focus on testing. It has many things that are attractive: exposure to a variety of programming languages, problem solving, and impact on the business by helping to deliver defect-free systems and applications. Don’t you agree?