Software Testing – Automation or manual testing, that is the question.

Software Testing – Automation or manual testing, that is the question. Automation isn’t an automatic choice – Renato Quedas wonders why………….

In this recent posting, the question of when to automate and when to stick to manual got another airing. It prompted the usual flurry of comments and it’s great to see the passion out there. So here’s my view. Feel free to throw rocks at it – but I’d prefer it if you just use the comments box…!

In my view, test automation should be non-disruptive and it works best when it supplements and extends manual test to eliminate the mundane, repetitive parts of the manual test process.  But it’s always important to keep in mind that software testing is about ensuring functionality in the way that human beings use it. What that means is that until automation can anticipate every aspect of human behavior, the initial test implementation will still be, to some extent, manual.

Capture and … automate

Once the initial test procedures are captured, though, automation can eliminate the redundant test tasks that don’t change. That’s why Borland introduced keyword-driven testing (KDT). This enables test procedures to be implemented once and then assigned to a keyword, or for a keyword to be defined and the test procedures scripted for that keyword, so that it can be reused to automate repetitive features.

Test implementation can be a combination of captured keystrokes, mouse clicks, gestures etc. that are converted into script along with some manual scripting when required to complete the test procedures.  Once implemented as keywords, the test procedures can then be connected together to create complicated, multi-faceted test scripts much more easily than writing those test scripts from scratch.


Automate to collaborate

Keyword-driven testing can also facilitate role-based testing and greater test collaboration by enabling non-technical business stakeholders to participate in software testing without having to understanding the test script details. Business users can interact with keywords such as “Click Select Button” or “Select Shopping Cart” without having to understand the underlying test script that implements those operations.

As object-oriented programming accomplished for software development, keyword-driven testing enables reusable test procedures to be captured and implemented in a way that boosts test automation considerably.

It enables manual test implementation to be reduced as much as possible with automation while still recognizing that the manual variations needed for realistic software tests.  It also enables greater software test participation by all key stakeholders, including non/less-technical operations and business personnel.

So in summary, I’m joining the narrative – automate when you can but don’t treat it as a silver bullet. But that’s my view. What’s yours…?


Visual COBOL: Innovative, future-proof – and award winning?

Melissa Burns at the Micro Focus HQ explains why we’ve got the champagne on ice. The Inquirer has shortlisted Visual COBOL for ‘Best Developer Tool’ in their Tech Hero Awards 2015 and SUSE Linux has scooped a prestigious Network Computing Awards award.

Visual COBOL shortlisted for Best Developer Tool 2015

Here at Micro Focus HQ, we’ve got the Champagne on ice because UK technology website The Inquirer has shortlisted Visual COBOL for ‘Best Developer Tool’ in their Tech Hero Awards 2015.

It’s been a good year so far: our #COBOLrocks social media campaign is up  for a Markie and our SUSE colleagues won Enterprise Storage Product of the Year at the Network Computing Awards.


Happy birthday!

This month, Visual COBOL is five years young and more than 100 customers are already modernizing their COBOL applications with the ‘Best Developer Tool’.  So why do we think it is a worthy winner?

  • Development efficiency gains of up to 30%
  • Cost savings of up to 80%
  • Improved application performance of 75% by uniting development teams
  • Integration with industry-leading IDEs such as Microsoft Visual Studio and Eclipse
  • Short learning curve ensures availability of COBOL skills now and in the future
  • Integration with contemporary business languages such as C# and Java
  • Support for modern tech and disruptive innovations such as Cloud and Mobile
  • Multi-platform support​
  • Nearly $55m investments in continued R&D

Have you met Developer Dave?  He thinks Visual COBOL is the best developer tool too.

Vote for Visual COBOL!

Those already working with Visual COBOL are already enjoying these benefits. If you already know that Visual COBOL really is the best developer tool, then please take the time to vote. You’ll be entered into a prize draw to win an iPad mini. Voting closes on 17 April and winners will be announced on 19 May. We’ll be sure to pass on the details of the winners.

Check it out

If you have yet to experience the best developer tool in town, then why not take a free trial and see for yourself?

Thanks for your support!


For Mission-Critical Systems and Success: Leaders Look to CORBA

John McHugh, Micro Focus CORBA Product Director explains why leaders still rely on CORBA after nearly 25 years of active service and why this rock solid technology has a bright future ahead!

CORBA has experienced tremendous growth since its introduction nearly 25 years ago as an open industry standard for architecting and implementing high performance distributed software systems. Now considered a classic among standards-based computing methodologies, CORBA was the hot new technology and wildly popular among companies building solutions and applications during the mid- to late-90s for the very same reasons it remains so vital to system architecture today. It allows organizations to build highly performant, highly scalable systems in a platform- and language-neutral fashion.

Since that time, a number of newer technologies have brought different types of solutions to the market, each promising to be the answer to everyone’s problems. As IT organizations adopt these alternatives, they often realize that bringing their solution to market is actually a lot more complex than originally made out. While getting up and running may be a fairly straightforward task, dealing with the intricacies of ensuring correct qualities of service can pose significant delays and unplanned expenses.

As all businesses and agencies are unique and each part of an organization has different needs, there is now a general acceptance that no one solution can solve all problems. Rapid development may be important to one team, while performance is critical to another. What is important is that you can build and manage an ecosystem of different technologies that act as one and gain the benefits of each. That’s why cross-technology integration solutions have become so popular, and why products like Micro Focus Artix® is a key component for many of our customers.

CORBA technology is perfect for highly-regulated industries, among others, such as utilities, banking and government environments, where it is continually deployed in demanding environments, such as aerospace and military control applications. Moreover, if you talk to our customers, who represent the bulk of Fortune 1000 companies, CORBA is very much a part of their mission critical systems today.


While there is continual change in the entire IT space, including application integration, there is clearly no “one size fits all” solution set, and newer does not always mean better. Why incur the high risks and costs of deploying something new and untested within your infrastructure when you already have perfectly valid, stable existing systems that perform perfectly

Our longstanding and new customers know that they can deploy a CORBA solution and rely on it for decades. That superior reliability coupled with outstanding performance is exactly why our aerospace clients use CORBA applications in their satellite systems and logistics applications. They know that, not only will CORBA work as part of a wider IT ecosystem with different technologies, operating systems, hardware platforms and programming languages, but they can rely upon it to run for decades without fail.

Sure, there are multiple market options and approaches to developing, connecting and deploying complex applications, and organizations must do what’s best to meet their objectives. However, the question businesses and agencies planning for 2015 and beyond must ask is: Do I want a new programming language or systems architecture just because it’s being touted as the latest and greatest solution to hit the market – or would I rather modernize while reducing risk by leveraging my existing investments, CORBA included?

We’re finding that the answer for many forward-thinking organizations is an easy one: We’re sticking with CORBA as it’s truly been battle-tested and meets or even exceeds our needs for scalability, security, performance and deployment flexibility. Indeed, three quarters of the world’s financial institutions rely on Orbix®, the world’s most widely deployed enterprise CORBA solution. The Micro Focus CORBA solutions are also used by 80% of French mobile operators, half of the top 50 and eight of the top 10 U.S. government system integrators.



Through the acquisition of IONA and OpenFusion assets, Micro Focus is now the home of CORBA, with the world’s leading experts building and delivering solutions to continually drive improvement. With Micro Focus’s unique knowledge of mature markets and understanding of how to extract additional value from previous investments, CORBA and the organizations that use it to meet even the most demanding requirements have a long and bright future ahead.

We are continually investing in CORBA and working to make it easier to use. Whether you are developing applications with CORBA directly or utilizing Orbix®, VisiBroker®, Orbacus®, Artix® or OpenFusion®, we want to know what you want and need as we look to add and evolve CORBA features and functionality to meet the needs of today’s developers, system architects and winning enterprises across the globe. We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below, our community site or contact us directly.


Silk Test: Keyword-driven testing

Keyword driven testing is a methodology used to separate the test design, test development and test execution stages into manageable components. It contrasts the traditional automated testing approach of implementing coded test scripts as standalone test executions, or as part of a larger automated framework, by extrapolating an additional layer. This enables individual tests to be compartmentalized and referenced by an associated keyword.

Keyword-driven testing

The new Silk Test ‘keyword-driven testing’ feature unlocks the door to low maintenance testing. It does this by providing the ability to introduce testing earlier in the build cycle, to ensure your application does what it’s supposed to do and fits your business needs.

With development and testing trends becoming more agile and applications being released more frequently, keyword-driven testing complements this trend by providing the ability to create tests early, even without the application under test being available.

What is keyword-driven testing?

Keyword driven testing is a methodology used to separate the test design, test development and test execution stages into manageable components. It contrasts the traditional automated testing approach of implementing coded test scripts as standalone test executions, or as part of a larger automated framework, by extrapolating an additional layer. This enables individual tests to be compartmentalized and referenced by an associated keyword.

Keyword-driven testing makes maintenance easier when changes are applied in the application under test (AUT). For example, imagine that the ‘login screen’ layout changes in an application Graphical User Interface (GUI). Using a traditional automated testing approach would require changing all test scripts in order to include any recent changes to the AUT GUI.

However, with keyword-driven testing, changes only need to be made to the keyword associated with the ‘login screen’. No matter how many times the keyword is used in multiple test cases, this is the only change which needs to be made.

How does keyword-driven testing work in Silk Test?

The basic concept behind the Silk Test’s keyword-driven testing is to separate the test automation from the test case design. This is achieved by providing an additional layer of abstraction where tests can be defined by business-focused stakeholders such as business analysts. A keyword in Silk Test is defined as a set of actions performing a specific operation such as ‘Login’ or ‘Search’. This approach enables tests to be developed earlier in the QA process and means that tests are easier to maintain.

Additionally, skills can be divided easier based on different levels of technical expertise. For example, QA or development team members can deal with the automation (keyword implementation), and business analysts can focus on the test case design (keyword creation). This makes sense because business analysts have a clearer, more defined understanding of the business needs of the application under test.

Understanding keyword-driven testing

With keyword-driven testing, a mixture of technical and business people can work together seamlessly to provide a single test solution. Current market trends show that most customers now have a requirement to test early and often due to rapid release cycles. Therefore, if an automated testing solution only suits the most technical teams, testing early and often becomes almost impossible.

The number of browsers and devices that applications can run from adds to the complexity. Silk Test’s new keyword-driven testing functionality combats these problems by lowering the burden of testing maintenance and bringing more stakeholders into the testing environment.

The separation of ‘test design’ from ‘test implementation’ is defined by the following two phases:

1. Designing the test
Adding keywords to the keyword-driven test: the flexible keyword editor provides the ability to add, insert, remove, modify, drag and drop, as well as combine multiple keywords to make a single keyword.

2. Implementing the keywords
Keyword test code can be implemented directly from any added keyword via the ‘implement’ button, using the flexible Silk Test recorder, or by manually coding.

The screen shot below provides a high level overview of keyword-driven testing in Silk Test, highlighting how the design and implementation process are now clearly defined and separated according to the end user’s role.



The next screen shot drills down further, providing a low level look at the test implementation process. It demonstrates how keywords can be implemented in any of the existing Silk Test Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). This functionality provides enhanced flexibility which enables QA engineers and developers to implement keywords using a technology framework which best suits their expertise.


Why choose Silk Test’s keyword-driven testing?

  • Keyword-driven testing gives you the ability to create a maintainable, reliable and stable test-set. Keywords become silos, where changes can be made to keywords without impacting other keywords or tests
  • It creates clear separation between test design and test implementation
  • You can create tests early, even without the availability of the application under test. Keywords can be added and implemented at a later date
  • Keyword-driven testing enhances the readability of tests. Anyone can read a keyword-driven test and clearly understand what it’s designed to do
  • It provides the ability to create complete testing frameworks through Silk Test guided workflows
  • It enables you to capture workflows through the application
  • It ensures a structured communication of business needs. Business analysts can clearly define the testing requirements to QA and development teams
  • New test cases can reuse existing keywords, which makes it easier to achieve a greater test coverage
  • The internal complexity of the keyword implementation is invisible to a user who needs to create or execute a keyword-driven test
  • It gives you the ability to pass parameters to and from keywords in order to perform data driven testing
  • It enables the creation of a ‘start application’ keyword to ensure that the application under test is in the correct state before executing the keyword-driven test.

Integration of Silk Test with Silk Central

Silk Test’s keyword-driven testing is tightly integrated with Borland’s test management tool, Silk Central. This integration provides many mutual benefits for testing your applications, including:

  • The ability to convert existing manual tests into keyword-driven tests in Silk Central. Once the manual test steps have been converted into keywords, you can easily implement the keywords into test code using Silk Test
  • The ability to create keywords in Silk Central and then view, edit and use them from within Silk Test, as long as a valid connection between both applications exists
  • The ability to upload keywords created in Silk Test to Silk Central, then add them to an existing or new keyword-driven test in Silk Central. It can later be executed independently from Silk Test
  • A high level overview of all keyword-driven tests via web interface, ensuring requirements are met, testing coverage is complete, and results are readily available in a graphical format.

To find out more about Keyword driven testing don’t hesitate to contact us or try out any of the Products mentioned for free.

John Lyttle





A Legacy Case – Examining the Evidence

A recent posting on the Information Age website offers well-used but unconvincing arguments about legacy systems. Derek Britton, Director of Product Marketing, examines the evidence

News websites need a high turnover of fresh content to maintain their readership. In the IT world, “Legacy systems”, the age and prevalence thereof, makes for good copy. After all, aren’t we all worried about overworked, out-of-date technology breaking beneath us? It is not an unreasonable opinion. However, this piece in Information Age offers little to justify any of its claims. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Exhibit A

According to the article, the US Navy, NASA, the NHS’s Centralised Blood Supply Management System and a non-specific payment service attributed to the Department of Work and Pensions are “struggling with legacy IT”, relying on “ancient, creaking systems to run vital services”.  But the NHS system has an SLA requirement of 99.9% uptime, the DWP make 2.5m benefit payments every single day and the US Navy are at the forefront of technological breakthroughs and NASA is helping to push back the boundaries of human understanding. Not bad for archaic technology.

Exhibit B

It continues: “why are such crucial services run on systems … launched as far back as the 1960s?” Clearly it is because those systems, and the underlying infrastructure, have been supported and maintained, and still support the organization they serve perfectly well. Who changes reliable, mission-critical technology for its own sake?  Another one: “96 of the world’s top banks run … mainframes processing roughly 30bn transactions per day.” This hardly suggests the necessity to change.

Exhibit C

It seems Sainsbury’s, Tesco and John Lewis are all “running IBM mainframes”. Surely, the quality of these brands promotes, rather than negates, the use of long-established systems? And when did mainframes become synonymous with archaic technology? What about the billions of dollars IBM just spent developing and launching the z13? As for mainframe “issues”, RBS are mentioned and while they have suffered from IT issues, the causes stem from human error and a lack of investment in their technology rather than its sell-by date.

Exhibit D

The piece fails to reveal, as promised,  ‘The true scale of legacy IT’. So allow us. Our December 2013 survey contacted 590 CIOs and IT Directors from nine countries around the globe who all ran mainframes and green screen applications. They were pretty positive about their legacy IT. A more recent global mainframe survey by BMC software showed a similar reluctance to abandon solid technology – no matter what the age.

The article also references an uncited ICC survey which intends looking into how many enterprises are working with these systems, but without explaining why using them should be problematic. If you want references, this IDC whitepaper explains how “enterprises can often modernize these ‘legacy’ applications … to suit changing commercial or technological needs.”

I would contend that the article offers no evidence, why older, COBOL-based mainframe technology is a problem at all. This so-called legacy technology is the backbone of successful organizations, remains fundamentally sound, is as contemporary as any alternative, and can be future-proofed for another 30 years or so.

Safer Ground

The author is on safer ground when asserting that these systems – presumably COBOL applications on IBM mainframes – are so complex that removing, replacing or rewriting them is not an option: but as Kadi Grigg notes in this blog, many organisations are future-proofing complex legacy application systems, such as the DoD’s MOCAS application, by modernizing them.

Why not take the glass-half-full approach? This technology supports, without fuss or drama, the highly-complex, business-critical systems organizations depend on to keep and maintain their business advantage. Anything more recent hasn’t been around long enough to be considered equal.

Case closed

As witnessed at the recent SHARE event, IBM mainframes just keep getting better and, thanks to Micro Focus, COBOL remains relevant: it hit a new high in the influential TIOBE index and e-week offers 10 reasons why COBOL is still kicking.

Visual COBOL is taking COBOL applications to new platforms, supported by our continuous, ongoing and substantial investment. This includes helping students to embrace COBOL – this blog from the SD Times explains why learning COBOL is a good career move – and programmers are harnessing the power of JVM and .NET through Object Oriented Programming (OOP).

Our portable COBOL technology supports 50 leading platforms and we use feedback from high-profile industry events such as SHARE to steer further product development, while the COBOL Developer Days we have planned for Charlotte, Orlando, Brazil and Finland will help to keep ‘COBOL guys’ up to speed with all that it can do.

The evidence in support of core applications that support an organization is compelling. The investments made by suppliers and users continue to bolster the unrivalled value these systems provide. The real news here is just how valuable this technology is. We look forward to reading about it.

The Markies. 1st the worst – 2nd the best…..

For someone whose personal motto is often along Yoda’s lines of ‘Do. Or Do Not. There is no try’ making it through the heats to the Markie finals again is an emotional experience. ‘What happens if I don’t win this time?’ ‘How can I make sure I win it now?’  mixes with commonly dished out paternal advice like ‘ it’s the taking part and having fun that really matters’ (thanks Dad – it’s still ingrained!)

Making it as a Markie finalist twice in successive years for ‘Best Social Campaign’  brings mixed feelings along with an overwhelming sense of pride. Social Media is a relatively new frontier for business, participating in it professionally is a sign that a company – however old – has recognised seismic shifts in the industrial landscape and grappled with the concept of going to market in a different way. Who wouldn’t want to win recognition?


Modern marketing is digital

Sales, Marketing, Technical Support and IT departments are now brothers in arms – learning new digital skills daily as the increasingly Internet-savvy consumer educates themselves about our products and services. Modern marketers need to work hand in glove with other departments to create content that aligns to buyer journeys. Our inbound engines need to be firing on all eight cylinders to ensure people find that content. Outbound engines must be ‘oiled’ by fresh digital data which offers improved insight into what prospects and customers are interested in, which types of content work best – and when. Attaining that data is an increasingly complicated exchange with suppliers providing assets of increasingly significant value in order to get good email addresses. ‘Content is still king’ is bandied about with annoying frequency – but if that is the case then a digitally savvy consumer is an emperor.

Content and consumers of the content

Talking to customers and prospects in ways and places that they want to be spoken to is business critical, so it follows that digital performance over a variety of channels is fundamental for success. It doesn’t matter how old the product is as long as you can align that value with prospects and customers in an effective way. It’s a fairly sure bet that they are out there on Twitter or LinkedIn or YouTube or Slideshare (this list could almost stretch on forever these days). Investing in engaging with content consumers in the right place is the right thing to do.

The Micro Focus modern marketing journey and Markie hall of fame

Making the short-list twice is a sure sign in my mind that we are now addressing Social Media in a consistently excellent way. Great news for us on our journey to becoming truly modern marketers – a journey we started relatively recently.


In 2014 it was our Mainframe 50 Campaign which cut the mustard and made the hall of fame, helping IBM celebrate 50 years of the Mainframe  and making some seriously positive waves along the way. This year it’s our COBOL Campaign that’s made the grade. The IT literate among you will realise that there’s nothing new about this technology apart from the ongoing product releases adding value for increasingly demanding modern technicians. It’s the way we are communicating the value that has changed. Now #COBOLRocks with a hashtag, and ‘millennials’ who are engaging with this fundamentally critical technology for the 1st time are no doubt mixing it up with the less youthful on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Is this community first phenomena on Social Media increasingly the key to solving what the industry has known as the Skills Crisis? I have a personal feeling that YouTube ‘how to’ videos are playing a bigger part in this resolution than any formal education or training courses. The proof will be in the pudding – timeless words of wisdom.

I’ve said it before – digital performance matters

What is abundantly clear without the need for formal proof or benchmarks or metrics is that your digital performance seriously matters. Not just the content either – content is vitally important but if your infrastructure is flaky, unreliable or your ‘legacy’ apps don’t go mobile  you may have a difficult ride ahead. To make it through the heats and start to compete against the winners you need to create better software faster and breathe new life into older technology.

In concluding it strikes me that my dad was right all those years ago, winning really isn’t everything,  taking part in ‘the game’ is fun and it does really matter. We won’t stop wanting to win a Markie anytime soon – but at least we know we are holding our own against the best in the industry as a team. A prize in itself. Sometimes words of advice and wisdom, just like technology can continue to add serious value for decades. The vehicles that carry the words will be evolving digitally for years, and modern businesses need to keep up.  If you’d like to learn more about modern marketing, register yourselves for the MME15 event and don’t forget to cheer Micro Focus on during the awards……


Terminal Emulation how-to videos – Micro Focus Rumba+

Jordan Ashman from Micro Focus introduces a fantastic ‘how to’ Rumba+ Terminal Emulation video series on YouTube by Will Cass.

The thing about Rumba+ is that seeing it beats describing it. That’s what inspired Rumba doc writer Will Cass to produce a comprehensive video walk-through of everything you need to become a fully-fledged Rumba Screen Designer ninja.

This series of 19 training videos are a definitive, step-by-step user guide to working with our class leading user interface (UI) modernization technology. The videos were created for version 9.3, while most of the content works for versions 9.1 and 9.2, too.

End-users, administrators and professional services people will appreciate the practical, how-to angle while potential business users will see the potential that Rumba+ offers.


Terrific for training – ideal for demos

Written and produced to be accessible to as many people as possible, they illustrate the key selling points of Rumba+ beautifully –simple to use, no coding, no extra skills required and all the benefits of an improved UI without the pain of a global modernization project.

What’s available?

Follow them chronologically and build your own application by working your way through every Rumba+ feature. Brand new and fresh out of the box, these new postings now feature on our YouTube playlist and the demo section of our Rumba pages. Enjoy.


Here’s the list of all the videos available on the playlist

Getting started with the Rumba screen

Creating a history file

Starting a new project

Adding a Button Control

Adding a Chooser Control

Adding a Tooltip Control

Adding an AutoExecution Control

Adding an Image Control

Adding a Label Control

Adding a Calendar Control

Adding a GridCollector Control

Adding a Table Control

Adding a Collector Control

Adding a WebFrame Control

Adding a Tab Control

Adding an InputField Control

Adding a RadioButton Control

Adding a CheckBox Control

Taking the Project live