Creating a Test Lab for Mobile Apps Testing – Part 1

Some of you have asked me to expand on the physical aspects of mobile app development that I described in my article: Mobile Challenges for Project Management. If we have a testing burden when we develop mobile apps, what sort of considerations should we take into account when we are setting up test labs, when using real devices? Here are some pointers from my own experience.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series.  Feel free to add comments for anything I’ve missed.

The Room

You’ll need space where you can set up PCs for managing devices and using productivity tools, a place to store devices when they aren’t in use, space for charging devices, and plenty of space for people to move around with the devices while testing. (The mobility side of mobile devices needs to be tested.)

Network

Wifi

I prefer to have at least two dedicated test wi-fi beacons to test network connections and transitions between wifi, and wifi to wireless broadband. I prefer small, cheaper devices that have weaker strength so it is easier to set up test conditions for apps that require network connections. I like to have these for test purposes only, and it is better that they have weaker signals (so testers can walk away and get weaker wifi for testing), and can be turned off or unplugged for testing outages, etc. Also since they are smaller and weaker, you can set up two in a lab and transition between the two by moving in the lab.

Simulate Dead Spots

If you don’t have an office dead spot (no wireless broadband or wifi connectivity), or one that is convenient for testing, you may need to set something up yourself. If you have an elevator or other known dead spot near your office, that works well. In some buildings you don’t.

Consider building a faraday cage to test for dead spots. Try doing network/web searches or submissions within a deadspot, or transitioning into or out of one. You can use an old microwave, but make sure you cut off the power cord so it can’t ever be powered on accidentally. They are simple to use, try a web search or submission, or any action that requires a network connection, and put the device into the microwave. It will instantly be in a dead spot.

You can also buy them from providers, or make one out of wood and wire mesh:

  • build a box out of 2×4’s, hinges and wire mesh
  • create a door in the front
  • wrap the box with wire or brass mesh
  • attach a ground wire to the box

There are different instructions online on how to make them.

To test outages, or performance issues, and to monitor and measure performance, page sizes, security, and other things,  you may want your own network for testing. It’s a good idea to have a separate test network, so you can quickly create scenarios, outages, or easily monitor mobile app traffic, whether it is a physically separate network, or a virtual network without interrupting other work.  Your administrators can figure out the implementation.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3.

Looking for ideas on how to test mobile devices? Check out my I SLICED UP FUN mnemonic to help generate ideas.

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