Bringing the various tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of a business online with simplified tools is a major part of the cloud’s purpose, and testing processes are certainly part of the engines that make today’s businesses click. It seems natural, then, that testing would find its way into the cloud space, and TestLodge has made a thorough effort to be the forerunner for this particular utility. A potentially useful service with a handful of interesting tools to offer, TestLodge might be a good fit for businesses that want to embrace better collaboration within the scope of testing while also taking advantage of online data storage. As it is, however, TestLodge’s somewhat limited functionality may make it a less attractive option than more involved in-house testing software.
Testing Out TestLodge
TestLodge offers both a free trial and access to any of its payment plans with a free thirty-day trial stage. Getting started with the service is appreciably easy, and the rather plain interface makes it simple to get oriented with a simple and functional interface. A basic dashboard environment features various tabs that can be used to browse through TestLodge’s primary functions, and most operations are fairly straightforward. There’s a reasonable amount of data entry involved in using TestLodge, but in most cases, this should operate as an enter-as-you-go affair rather than a mandatory initial data import of great proportions.
As one of the main purposes of this software is keeping relevant data organized, the ability to store and view information in a clear format is essential, and TestLodge does a decent job at approaching this basic requirement. As testing processes are likely to involve teams, the software’s ability to be picked up quickly without much need for adapting to a new system is probably a major selling point.
Making TestLodge Work
There are four basic components of the TestLodge system: test plans, requirements test cases, and test runs. Each of these elements can be defined and tweaked indefinitely by users, and the system offers optional templates in addition to blank starting points. Though the templates are a nice touch in terms of making an attempt to be helpful, users who need to rely on these materials may not be at a stage ready for testing in general, from a business perspective. Creating a framework for each component from scratch is, however, aided by TestLodge’s overall structure and organization, making it simple to form plans, define individual test cases, and usefully record data during test runs.
The availability of a test “suite” allows users to include a number of defined test runs in a given group, and the runs can be re-arranged and modified to create a meaningful series or recombined into additional test packs for re-use later (eg. a regression pack). Though this function could easily become confusing, TestLodge does a good job of ensuring that suites can be created and changed fluidly with a minimum of effort. Perks such as built-in versioning also help the suite creation and managing processes. The system has clearly been designed to work with users while tests are actually being conducted; a process of entering data into TestLodge while different steps of tests are carried out makes it easy to create live updates and use the software during, rather than after, testing. In fact, users who prefer, or who have a need, to perform off-site testing or to otherwise work with TestLodge after the actual testing process has been completed may have difficulty getting the software to efficiently work with their testing practices. Customizable yet not as versatile as it could be, TestLodge’s central operation works well, provided users’ requirements match the software’s vision of how testing should be performed.
Results and Integration
A workable testing tool should be accompanied by useful reporting and visualization functions, and TestLodge has certainly paid attention to these important areas. Viewing the results of various test runs individually and in groups via a test suite is simple, and a range of data visualizations helps make information easier to access and understand. Reports can be generated while tests are performed, and can be used to create bug tracking logs and other updates to make the process of addressing any problems smoother.
Issue tracking is especially powerful in TestLodge thanks to the software’s integration with a number of tracking-specific programs and suites, including Atlassian’s JIRA, Lighthouse, FogBugz, and Unfuddle. Though not all users will find the need to take advantage of further programs, the availability of these services could be highly useful for teams with extensive tracking requirements.
However this could be a problem for a number of Testlodge users. There is no defect or issue management built into the software. I understand that interoperability is built in with JIRA and others – and this is good, in fact, Testlodge should be commended for building these interfaces in. But why leave such basic functionality out? With plenty of test management services offering issue/defect tracking, Testlodge could be missing a trick.
Paying for TestLodge and Finding Help
Though groups with only an occasional need for testing may find TestLodge useful, it’s clear that the software’s value will increase the more that users engage in testing. Even with the most expensive plan, however, users are limited to a certain number of test cases and runs. As a result, those with very high volumes of testing to carry out may not be able to effectively implement TestLodge as a long-term solution.
The service’s support offerings are also less than impressive, as no real mention of support methodology is made, and for now, access to support is limited to a web form and there is little documentation. While the easy orientation process may lower the need for help among new users, a more open approach to support would probably draw more interest in TestLodge.
An imperfect but possibly beneficial service, TestLodge may have the right tools for turning local test tracking into a cloud-based affair, but users will have to satisfy various specific criteria before being likely candidates for successful implementation. Strong basic functionality is somewhat tarnished by limited use options and a strange approach to payment and support.
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