QWE2000 Keynote Session K2-1

Lisa Crispin [USA]

Stranger in a Strange Land: Bringing QA to a Web Startup

Key Points

Presentation Abstract

It perhaps goes without saying that a Web startup is not an environment in which quality testing is typically found. Development is fast and loose. Many developers are inexperienced. They're racing to be first to market. One might be tempted to label the environment as chaotic.

When I accepted the opportunity of being the first test engineer at TRIP.com, only 25 people worked for the Web startup. The developers had produced some exciting applications and felt they were ready to "grow up and play with the big boys." The development team thought they were intellectually prepared to introduce standards and procedures.

In reality, development was frenetic, and the developers didn't have a clue as to how to stop and analyze their processes, much less how to impose discipline on them.

For my part, I was a complete stranger to Web development. For years I had been testing databases, 4-GLs, and client/server software on UNIX, NT, and Windows platforms. I spoke ODBC, but not JDBC. I knew my customers. In my experience, the software development cycle had stretched on for months or even years-during which your typical Web application has gone though numerous incarnations.

This is the story of how I learned about Web application development, preached the quality gospel, and collaborated with the software and product developers and marketing managers to implement development standards and project processes that build quality into our applications. TRIP.com now employs 200 people, has three million registered customers, and has introduced such cutting-edge products such as intelliTRIP and companyTRIP.

About the Speaker

I have eighteen years experience in the industry with the last nine in Testing and Quality Assurance. I started out as a programmer and later worked in customer support and QA for large software vendors. In March of 1998, I discovered the world of Web startups, joining TRIP.com as the first test engineer. The challenge of building quality into Web applications while meeting tight development cycles was eye-opening. At TRIP.com, I built a QA department of seven test engineers testing state-of-the-art, first-of-their-kind applications such as flightTracker and intelliTRIP. I felt, however, that we never found a really good process that worked to produce high-quality software in a short amount of time. Missed deadlines were common. Still, we were proud of our accomplishments, as TRIP.com grew to one of the highest-traffic travel Web sites, rated 4.5 out of 5 starts by BizRate and ranked near the top of the Keynote Top 40 websites for performance.

Several developers from TRIP.com left to join a new startup, iFactor-e, devoted to using eXtreme Programming to combine high quality and short time to market to wow the customer. One of these developers loaned me Kent Beck's book. After I read that, I was eager to try XP myself and was fortunate enough to be hired as the first test engineer at iFactor-e in July of 2000. Since then, I have been racing to establish a functional testing methodology that successfully applies the values of XP.

I have given successful presentations at both local and international user and QA conferences to audiences of up to 60 people. I have many years experience training both technical and end users.