Why Integration Tests won’t save you… or your software

Did the title tease you? Great, job is done! Today I will tell you my story about Integration Tests; it came after another knowledge share lunch with my pal Kenny.

By this definition an Integration Test is

(…) the phase in software testing in which individual software modules are combined and tested as a group. Integration testing is conducted to evaluate the compliance of a system or component with specified functional requirements. It occurs after unit testing and before validation testing. Integration testing takes as its input modules that have been unit tested, groups them in larger aggregates, applies tests defined in an integration test plan to those aggregates, and delivers as its output the integrated system ready forsystem testing.

Sounds pretty waterfall, right? It is! also, the implementation approaches that I observed creates huge dependencies between teams, coupling the software release process.

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Uncle Bob and my personal programming Kata

My first [Uncle Bob] event was the 2017 [GoTo conference] in Amsterdam, where Robert Martin delivered a talk like he must have done a thousand times. And many of you will probably have seen some version of it way back when. For me it was all new, having managed to somehow avoid the experience for years. He said many things that made sense to me at the time, but what got stuck in my head was the idea of a programming Kata. The advice I distilled from his words was to take a small programming problem and try to implement a solution over and over again. The actual solution would be less important than the act of solving the problem. Allowing you to experiment in a safe and well known environment. Small techniques for problem solving would gradually become part of muscle memory, much like happens, or so I’m led to believe, in martial arts.

I liked the idea and found myself a small problem: read more…

Frictionless checkouts for GAMMA and KARWEI

Over the years, Xebia has been the driver of Agile software development at Intergamma, known for the GAMMA and KARWEI DIY stores. A year ago, we set out to replace the checkout process for their webshops. The existing checkout was slow and cumbersome to use, and no longer on par with other parts of the website. We knew there was a lot of room for improvement. In order to justify the investment we needed measurable results quickly. Within a year, we’re consistently seeing a significant conversion rate improvement.

Before starting out to replace the checkout, we discussed the technology stack and general approach. We had prior experience with React and Next.js, but decided against Next.js because of the complexity it adds. A checkout app also doesn’t need to be indexed by search engines, which is why you’d otherwise want to use Next.js. We decided to stick with a standard React setup, which enables us to focus and keep things simple. In order to measure our success, we set up A/B testing to directly compare the old and new checkout running in parallel.

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Automatic database sharding with Alibaba Cloud Table Store

At some point in your application’s lifecycle, there might come a time when you need to start scaling your data storage. If you are storing media files or other blobs that have no relations between them, you can easily add storage capacity to solve the problem. For (semi-)structured data in a database however, scaling is a whole different story. Simply adding database instances is not enough. You will need to reconsider the usage patterns and decide what solution solves the problem you have. If your database is hitting resource limits because it is accessed very frequently, adding an asynchronous read replica might be the way to go. If the size of the data is the issue and lookups become very slow, you might consider sharding your database.

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Auto-Scaling on Alibaba Cloud

When you deploy your application on compute instances on-premise or in the cloud, you have to make an educated guess about the utilisation of the resources you provision. If you have an older version of the same application running with proper monitoring, you can base your guesstimate on the current usage of compute nodes. But when this is the first time your application goes to production you are out of luck. How many users will you have each day? What will users do when they start your application and how are usage peaks distributed? Do you expect growth in the number of users? How about long term? If you have answers to all of these questions, you might be well-equipped to go with your gut-feeling and just deploy the application on the number of nodes you came up with. Let’s assume you don’t have all the answers though (which is probably the case). This is where auto-scaling comes in.

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Developing for Google Assistant with Dialogflow

You can do version control and CI/CD with Dialogflow. Although it may look like Dialogflow is not created for developers, you can set up a nice developer flow. This makes it possible to scale development to a team of developers. This article will show you the best practices for an effective development process.

When you start off using Dialogflow you can get a user friendly web interface. You can program phrases that your voice assistant should support. Even though the Dialogflow interface is useable by non programmers, you are still programming. For a software developer it is important to have access to the source code of what they’re programming.

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Facilitated discussion as a format for learning and improvement

Sharing knowledge is import to us at Xebia. It’s one of the four core values the company is built on. We share knowledge at our clients and with the community, through meetups and conferences. Every second week we organise a Xebia Knowledge Exchange (XKE), our bi-weekly mini-conference. Filled with lots of different sessions, on all sorts of topics. There is always something interesting to learn!

During a recent XKE we came up with the idea to do a peer conference. The topic of the conference was the consultancy work that we do. We all have our own approach and experience, so there is always a lot we can learn from each other. At the conference we experimented with using K-Cards.Read more →

Theming in Vue single file components

There are situations where it’s beneficial to build different CSS files for the same web app. An often seen example is theming an application. When you’re using Vue with its single file component Webpack loader, you’re in luck! You get a lot of flexibility that makes it straightforward to build such a feature.

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