Is IT ready for "test early, test often?"

Corporate developers building cool new applications have long shunned bringing testing tools into the overall software development process. If such tools were used at all, they were relegated to the quality assurance process at the end of the line.

In the past decade, testing tools from the likes of Mercury Interactive, Segue Software, Compuware and Rational, spawned in the age of client/server computing, have been used in some cases well, in some cases half-heartedly, and in many other cases were relegated to shelfware. Though such tools have long had a place in each step of the development process, they are still used mostly in the quality assurance phase, if at all, say testing gurus.

Today, new technologies are once again forcing development managers to put the squeeze on their charges to make testing a key piece of each phase of the development life cycle. As veteran technology writer Richard Adhikari points out in this month's Cover Story ("EJBs force testing changes"), the spread of Java and Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) has taken the need for testing to new heights. It may even bring to fruition the longtime battle cry of testing advocates—"test early, test often"—as will the spread of Microsoft's new Java-like programming language, C#, and the .NET component architecture through IT development organizations.

The new languages ease integration between multiple applications, creating a need to test early for so-called "forward compatibility." And the EJB and .NET component architectures further complicate the process because a single application can theoretically be made up of components built in a variety of architectures. For the whole process to work, developers have to ensure that each component can work with all of the other components in an application.

As Adhikari points out, the need for constant testing has escalated significantly with the spread of such new technologies through IT development operations. Some experts even told him that testing has become an honorable profession within IT. Let's hope so. None of these technologies can reach their potential unless and until they are used to build solid, breakthrough applications. So once again, we suggest it's time to take testing seriously.

This issue of ADT also features a Special Report on efforts to allay fears among IT professionals that open-source technologies could force them to lose control of some corporate software jewels. Regular contributor Johanna Ambrosio explains how suppliers of open-source technologies are creating hybrid business models to sell bundles that include open-source and proprietary software.

She finds the efforts are starting to work as more and more IT organizations are willing to try open-source technologies in some important products. We'll keep tabs on corporate open source to see where it goes from here.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.