HTML5 – A blessing for developers, a curse for quality teams

When I started tinkering around with mobile development, I found myself in a whole new world.  A world that, frankly, I started to really like.  Both the iOS and Android SDK environments contain controls and reusable elements that made me look like I actually knew what I was doing.  Within a few hours, with the help of the good people at treehouse, I had built both an iOS and Android app that I was able to further hack and customize.

As I dove further into this new mobile world, as with most development learning curves, I found myself realizing how much more I needed to learn to truly master these new platforms.  Quickly my dreams of the next great app making me billions were crushed by reality.

I then realized something, if I were to start a small company, I would need to hire experts on all the major platforms I would support.  Most likely I would need Web developers, Android developers, and iOS developers with separate code bases and specific skills that, outside of the overall flow and design, couldn’t be shared.  Sounds like a recipe for delayed products and increased costs over time.

I meet with many customers who are all across the mobile adoption spectrum ranging from “we’re thinking about this” to “we’ve got 9,000,000 users on our app.”  These customers are now starting to realize this same issue and are, or shall I say, were, struggling to fix the issue.

Enter HTML5

While the usage of HTML5 in Web based applications isn’t a new concept, what is relatively new is the usage of HTML5/Hybrid mobile applications.  To those who haven’t heard of this, HTML5/Hybrid applications have the native application container wrapped around a UI/Logic layer that is reusable HTML5 with javascript and CSS.  The thought behind this is that most of the HTML5 will be reused across all devices and browsers.  One of the better examples of an HTML5/Hybrid mobile application would be Netflix.  According to Netflix, they chose HTML5 because, “HTML5 also means that our world class UI engineers can seamlessly move between working on our website, our mobile experience, and our television-based applications.”

With HTML5, developers can support more applications with native functionality and work on the same codebase with shared skills.  According to Gartner, by 2015, 50% of the applications that would have been native in 2011 will be HTML5 applications.  To respond to the demand, HTML5/hybrid frameworks have emerged such as Phone Gap, jQuery Mobile, appMobi, and many others.  A good site to see which might be right for you is located here.

While HTML5/Hybrid applications give developers a fast track to sharing skills and delivering better products on more devices and browsers, the burden now shifts to the quality teams.

Native applications with native code targeted at the device can be individually unit tested and recorded and replayed with automation.  The UI layer was an important aspect but only used to verify functionality.

With HTML5/Hybrid applications, the shared codebase evolves itself based on the container of the client using the HTML5.  Not only do QA teams have to test the functionality as usual, but now they have to visually verify that the app looks, responds, feels, acts, and performs as it should on devices and browsers.

As if QA teams didn’t have enough to do!

This is where Silk’s ability to do both cross-browser and cross-device testing eliminates the burden to QA teams.  Cross browser testing ensures applications look and function correctly across the major browser spectrum.  One test script that challenges the HTML5 applications and displays any anomalies visually so the QA tester and quickly isolate and identify issues.  With Mobile testing, Silk brings the same concept but instead of testing across browsers, it tests across devices.

Both these technologies give QA teams the ability to quickly create a visual test scripts, replay those tests across all supported platforms, and visually see what the end user would see ensuring that HTML5/Hybrid applications have the highest levels of quality.

Just as HTML5/Hybrid applications help customers do more with less resources in development, Silk helps QA teams respond to the increasing challenges presented by the usage of HTML5/Hybrid applications.

Archie Roboostoff
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