New ways to test code and apps: Codacy, TestCloud and Usetrace

Codacy, TestCloud and Usetrace are taking different approaches to code and app testing, but all three aim to make it easier for developers to get high-quality apps out the door.

The increasing popularity of development processes such as Agile have opened the door for a new generation of test tools, that are almost exclusively cloud-based.

"Our goal is to move from ad hoc project testing, where most teams wait too long before a software release gets tested, to continuous testing that's more integrated with the development process," said Frederik Fleck, chairman at German company TestCloud.

The company launched a hosted service Wednesday that's optimized for mobile apps, but also works on websites. It mixes crowd testing and automated testing of application features, such as checking if buttons work as advertised and are placed correctly on different screen sizes.

Bug squashing

A dashboard shows how many bugs have been found, how severe they are and where they are located. All of that is collated into what TestCloud calls a release readiness score, which lets managers now how close an app is to general availability.

The choice between using the crowd testing versus the automated testing depends on where in the development process an app is. In the early prototype stage, app crowdsourcing is better, but as the app gets closer to launch, automated testing is more effective at rooting out the last issues, Fleck said.

That TestCloud has focused on mobile apps isn't a coincidence.

"Mobile apps just need much more testing. It's basically not possible to test mobile efficiently in-house because of the hundreds of devices that are out there," Fleck said.

The Overnight version of TestCloud's platform costs 1,000 (around £785) per month for two developers on a yearly contract. Each additional developer adds 350 (£275) to the bill.

Make sure your site works correctly

While TestCloud has optimized its platform on mobile apps, Finnish company Usetrace is still concentrated on making sure websites work correctly. It too thinks that the cloud model has been a boon for testing.

"What's needed today are tools that are super fast and easy to use. Also, the cloud has made it possible to develop new solutions that are more lightweight," said founder and CTO Arto Vuori during an interview at the Web Summit.

Developers just need a browser and in five minutes they can test a new site. The user interface is made of an editor and window where the site that's to be tested is displayed.

The service can check that sites work correctly in Internet Explorer 9, 10 and 11 as well as Chrome and Firefox. Support for Safari is on the way, but isn't quite ready yet, according to Vuori.

"Currently, its Web only and the next area for us is mobile Web browsers and after that we'll probably add native mobile apps," Vuori said.

Usetrace's unlimited Gold plan costs $490 (£310) per month.

Error checking Javascript

Testing features can only get you so far. With British company Codacy's service, developers get help finding errors in the code they write. The company on Tuesday announced a beta implementation of the ability for users to write customized tests in Javascript.

"This is going to be very exciting. It lets companies check for specific mistakes that are made over and over," said Paul Bleicher, head of product at Codacy.

What Codacy does is break down the code quality on demand into different categories, including complexity, code style and performance. The service also lets users set goals related to each category and managers can see how each developer is performing.

The platform can analyze code written in CSS, Javascript, PHP, Python and Scala. Codacy used the latter when the company built its platform. Java will be the next language added and the company is also looking at adding Apple's new programming language Swift.

The Company version of Codacy's service costs $150 (£95) per month for up to 25 users. For that users also get a dedicated server and an unlimited number of repositories.

This story, "New ways to test code and apps: Codacy, TestCloud and Usetrace" was originally published by DigitalArts.

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