Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Criteria for setting up a Mobile Test Automation LAB

I recently got asked this question related to the MAD LAB (Mobile Automation Devices LAB) - "Would like to understand how can we setup something similar in our organisation?"

Since this question is applicable for all those thinking of, or have already set up their own lab, thought I would share my answer here.

To setup your own LAB for Mobile Test Automation, multiple things need to align:

Supportive management who -
  • allows experiments (within reason of course) and encourages learning through failure, 
  • willing to invest in infrastructure ($$)

Skilled and Passionate team members who -
  • understand the domain well, 
  • willing to learn, experiment, re-learn and fail fast, 
  • keep looking for innovative solutions to solve problems on hand, 
  • do not reinvent the wheel. 

Philosophy aside, our MAD LAB has the following: 
  • Mac Minis (8-12 devices per Mac Mini), 
  • Powered USB Hubs (I use the ones shown below - and they are working pretty well)

  • High-quality USB cables (I use the ones shown below - and they are working pretty well)
  • CI (Jenkins) setup correctly to keep running tests continuously, proper reporting  in place (else whats the use of running tests if you do not look at the results)

You could start with similar IF it fits your product-under-test context

After I answered this on LinkedIn, I realised, there are more parameters to think about, than just the above.
  • Knowing which devices to use in your Lab
  • Having good, reliable Internet connection
  • Devices should be "seen" easily
  • Should be easy to work on / with the devices as and when required
  • Know how you the devices will be placed in the lab. We tried the following:
    • 2-way tape - that didn't work. Devices used to stay up for a few days, then "drop" suddenly. Of course, that also depends on the back surface of the devices.
    • We tried many mobile stands / hangers (shown below) - but each had their own limitations

    • Finally I found an industrial-strength velcro (1" velcro tape that could take a couple of pounds of weight) - and my devices have not budged since. PS: Please be careful when putting on this velcro on the devices. IF it gets on your hand, you will have a velcro tattoo for a long long time.

What other parameters would you consider for setting up your own Lab? Looking forward to the comments below.