GS: I am a software engineer and entrepreneur. I live in New Jersey in the US. My wife and I have three grown sons. I like to learn how things work and to solve problems. My training is in physics, but most of my career has been in engineering, first at AT&T Bell Labs and now with Testcover.com. About 20 years ago I wrote my first combinatorial test tool, CATS. I was supervising a system test team responsible for a family of local area network products. The test job was large and labor intensive, with extensive configuration requirements. We needed a way to reduce the number of test configurations, and CATS was the result. I’ve been interested in software test design ever since.
QT: How does your day start and how does your day end? What all do you do in a day that corresponding to testing?
GS: Every day is different. Working in a small company I have many roles. Much of my time is spent on operations – keeping our service up and ready for use – and on consulting with customers and partners. Because Testcover.com provides a test design service, we maintain a lot of content on the site for testers. This material gives examples and instructions for generating pairwise test designs. In addition we have development projects of our own, to extend and improve our service. Before we deploy a service upgrade, much of my time is spent on being sure the upgrade is ready.
QT: How did you get the idea to develop your own product (Testcover.com)?
GS: CATS got me interested in test design problems. I began doing research on covering arrays, which are mathematical templates for test cases. This work has led to improved designs with fewer test cases. At the Labs I had worked in the IP Services Delivery Division, which developed IP services for AT&T as well as for major cable companies. The math research and the internet development experience made founding Testcover.com a natural next step. The research was fascinating to me, but to be relevant, people have to use it and benefit from it. In the end it’s about tools, giving testers what they need to work more effectively.
QT: Tell us briefly about Testcover.com and how it will be useful for a Test Engineer?
GS: Testcover.com offers a pairwise (or all-pairs) automated test case generator service. It improves test efficiency by reducing the number of test cases and by improving the test cases' ability to find defects. Customers can use the service without buying, installing or maintaining software. It’s available on a software as a service (SaaS) basis. Customers can save time and money, and get the results they need to develop quality products and services in less time. We do this with a simple HTML interface to the service. We also have a web services description language (WSDL) interface for integration with existing test tools.
QT: What is WSDL?
GS: WSDL (pronounced wiz-del) is a standard XML-based language for web services. Our WSDL interface enables other test tools to access the Testcover.com service and create test designs.
QT: Why did Testcover.com develop its WSDL interface?
GS: There are so many ways to use pairwise testing, and so many good test tools already in use, that it made the most sense for testers. Customers already have invested in specialized tools for test automation, database testing, embedded software testing, and more. Developers of these tools can enhance their value by including pairwise technology through the WSDL interface. At the same time, the customer’s investment in current tools and training is preserved.
QT: Is Testcover.com compatible with any test environment?
GS: Yes. Because the service is based on the web, it is accessible virtually anywhere, from a variety of browsers. There is no need for installation and updates: You just submit a request where and when you need to. Whether you want to specify physical test configurations, manual test cases, or automated test cases, the Testcover.com service is ready to support your need.
QT: Does the Testcover.com support Agile Development?
GS: Yes. The service is ideally suited to the incremental development and frequent releases of agile development. As new configurations or new features are proposed, corresponding test configurations and test cases are quickly and easily generated. Traditionally pairwise testing has been used in more formal processes (like Six Sigma or CMMI). But the ease of use and rapid response of the Testcover.com service make it practical for a broad range of development processes.
QT: What are the greatest threats right now to the software testing discipline? What are the greatest hopes for a brighter testing future?
GS: Our great success in developing new technologies and making them available to more people is an unprecedented testing challenge. Users increasingly depend on software for smart phones, appliances, vehicles & traffic control systems, medical devices & healthcare systems, online shopping and banking, virtual offices with virtual meetings… The list goes on and on. We expect rapid technological innovation with little room for error. (See The RISKS Digest at http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/
QT: Any message to Quality Testing (QT) Members?
GS: Effective software testing is essential to life in the 21st century, and it gets more important every day. I’m glad to see Quality Testing is here to help.
We hope you enjoyed our interview with George Sherwood.