Fixed Budgets: A Missed Opportunity For Greatness

Working with fixed budgets, or by project, is a common practice in the IT world that I too endure as a consultant. However, from my point of view and experience, an R&D software project with a fixed project is a missed opportunity to create a great result with great value and, moreover, it can compromise quality. In this article, I’m going to explain why.

The Project Management Triangle is well known in software project management theory as a way to represent the constraints a project may have. On its corners, time, scope and budget (or schedule, scope and cost) shape the boundaries of the project, and quality is a by-product of the combination of these.

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Testing your web application in just 3 steps

It is generally known as a best practice to have automated tests for your web application, which not always is an easy nor cost-affordable task. I have recently used BugBuster, a SaaS testing platform that makes the task easy by providing a solution that does exploratory testing in a smart way.

BugBuster‘s heuristic will crawl around your web application reporting JavaScript errors, missing resources and HTTP error messages; besides, unlike regular crawlers, it will try random combinations whenever it finds an action point: clickable buttons or links, text fields to fill, areas to scroll, and so forth. It is even able to test signup and confirmation emails, and integrates with common CI systems and bug tracking applications.

Some of the most interesting features of BugBuster are:

  • Smart exploration: it discovers actions and walks through the application trying combinations that may lead to corner cases that weren’t covered by regular test cases.
  • Time-insensitive: BugBuster waits for stable states between actions, so that dealing with AJAX features is as easy as chaining events. Say goodbye to random waits in your test code.
  • Signup forms and validation emails: BugBuster can receive automated emails and check whether your signup or other email-based forms succeed or fail.
  • Nearly-zero setup effort: it is a SaaS platform, they put the infrastructure at your service; you only have to write the test cases.
  • And many others.

In this post I will show how easy it is to test a web application with BugBuster- whether in production, staging or development environments, it can also access your local and private environments thanks to a SSH tunnel. If you want to try it yourself, you can start by creating an account here if you haven’t already, and log in to the BugBuster application at app.bugbuster.com. To illustrate the example, I will test my own blog website.

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About JavaScript workers and webwork.js

Following the recent publication of the webwork.js library by @kolodny, I felt curious about the relative performance of web workers compared to regular sequential JavaScript. With this code snippet you can try by yourself – just inject the JS library in your web app:

?View Code JAVASCRIPT
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var now = 0;
var testLength = 1000000;
var batches = 10;
var fooArray = [];
var i = 0;
var j = 0;
 
var worker = webwork(function(data){
var fooArray = [];
var testLength = data[0];
var batches = data[1];
 
for (j=0; j<testLength/batches; j++){
fooArray.push(j);
}
 
return fooArray;
});
 
// First test, good-old sequential JavaScript
now = new Date().getTime();
for (i=0; i<testLength; i++){
fooArray[i] = i;
}
console.log('It took %@ milliseconds to run without web workers'.fmt((new Date().getTime()) - now))
 
// second test, paralelized with web workers
now = new Date().getTime();
fooArray = [];
for (i = 0; i < batches; i++) {
worker([testLength, batches], function (err, result) {
if (err) return console.log("goodWorker Errored with " + err.message);
fooArray = fooArray.concat(result);
 
if (fooArray.length == testLength) {
console.log('It took %@ milliseconds to run with web workers'.fmt((new Date().getTime()) - now));
}
});
}

The results, splitting a batch of one million array inserts into ten parallel workers, is quite amazing:

It took 1039 milliseconds to run without web workers
It took 391 milliseconds to run with web workers

So in this simple example, using web workers increased processing speed around three times. Yet another reason to consider them in heavyweight client-side processing tasks!

Comodoro, a Task & Project Manager for Micro-Companies

I am proudly announcing Comodoro Alpha 0.1.0, a task and project manager meant to simplify work management in micro-companies (start-up’s, freelancers, individuals…).

Comodoro lets you take full control of your work in progress, by providing a detailed insight of your ongoing tasks and increasing your awareness of the status and health of your projects. All from a single interface, at a glance.

It is a mash-up of several Agile methodologies and strongly inspired on the Visual Management principles. It brings Project Management to multi-micro-project environments where many things happen in parallel and resources are limited.

Check it out, it is open and free to use: www.comodoroapp.com!

Fix hibernate on Thinkpad X60 with 12.04 Precise Pangolin

Just for the record, I’ve spent like the last two hours of my life checking why Kubuntu would not hibernate properly.

After checking that the conditions explained here matched, and increasing my swap memory to at least the size of the system memory (I just upgraded the hardware after setting the swap partition), I finally found the solution in http://askubuntu.com/.

Thanks, askubuntu!