Notes on Tara Nicholson’s Talk, “The Quality Of Things,” From CodeStock 2015

This year at CodeStock I attended a talk by Tara Nicholson on the subject of quality assurance. Several of my colleagues wanted access to my notes on the talk and I thought this would be the best forum for those notes. The slides from Tara’s presentation can be found here.

The following are my notes:

“Software Quality is the degree to which written code meets product requirements, has value, and is maintainable.”

Where do bugs come from?

  • Things change.
  • Ambiguity
  • Lack of understanding of requirements. (Tara stated that she thinks that this is the #1 source of bugs in software)

Think about software quality early. The cost at each stage of the development process increases exponentially.

  • The agile testing quadrants. (Source: Lisa Crispin –
  • How? Create habits that routinely draw out things you have not thought of.
    • Make use of quick cards – a card each member of the development team carries that has a list of the elements, integrations, and dependancies to think about related to QA during the development process.
    • The “Grocery List” – A list of all features and requirements that were agreed upon by the business, development team, and QA team have agreed on. Note: some may not make it to production.
  • Do you need a dedicated test team? It may not always be feasible, but it certainly is optimal.

Load and Performance Monitoring

  • Server vs Page performance – can the server handle the load vs is the app performant from the users point of view
  • Tools used at scripts
    • Load Runner – runs load tests on the server in a virtual(non-production) environment.
    • jMeter – back-end profiler
    • Webpagetest – opensource front-end profiler.
    • Speedcurve – for pay app from Webpagetest that digests the report from Webpagetest and make optimization suggestions.
    • NewRelic – Infrastructure performance tester.


  • What are the costs of supporting compatibility (what does it cost to run on IE8?)
  • Must consider the platform (Win7, linux), carrier (Verison, AT&T), and client (Firefox, IE)
  • Who owns the decision on compatibility? Do we have to support IE8 because the CEO’s son won’t use anything else?
  • Plan early for compatibility and create a strategy to support it.
  • If you decide not to support something, highly consider partial support. (i.e. works in IE8, but not optimally)
  • Know your traffic/demographics – there is no reason to support Opera if no one visits your site using it.


  • Automate tests – Scripps uses JBehave for BDD
    • Small tests – unit tests that rarely change. <- most tests here.
    • Medium tests – integration tests that change occasionally.
    • Large tests – UI/Integration tests that change frequently. (i.e. user authentication works) <- fewest tests here
  • Release Automation – Continuous integration, nuff said.
    • Jenkins
    • CloudBees
    • CruiseControl
  • Infrastructure Automation
    • Automate content updates.



2 thoughts on “Notes on Tara Nicholson’s Talk, “The Quality Of Things,” From CodeStock 2015

  1. Pingback: Professional Development – 2015 – Week 29

  2. Pingback: Professional Development – 07/20/15 – 07/26/15 | The Software Mentor

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