Great Mobile Moments Depend on Back-End and Front-End Testing
July 11, 2016

Eran Kinsbruner
Perfecto by Perforce

Will your mobile app work in your customer's moment of need in an instant?

Mobile users only have one or two seconds of patience for an app to display the requested information before leaving the app. This means the complex trip – from app tap, to call to the back-end service, to call to the database and then back to the app – must happen in a moment. As a result, it's imperative that developers ensure that users experience a seamless "mobile moment."

For example last month I missed game 7 of the NBA semi-finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The next day, I wanted to see the game highlights, so I opened up my mobile browser to ESPN.com. It was apparent that I wasn't the only one doing this, as the video replay took longer to load than usual.

So, what happens in that mobile moment? Many communication roundtrips between my smartphone and the ESPN servers just to get me to the ESPN.com homepage. When you consider the latency overhead of a single HTTP request, on 3G it could take up to 3.6 seconds just to start a homepage. On LTE, it takes one second.

Things also get worse when mobile traffic spikes and the back-end is loaded. Golden State's game 7 win was epic, but if you tried to watch the replay in near real-time, ESPN.com was slow because their servers had high user load at that time.

Sluggish service response can increase user abandonment, because mobile users have become accustomed to speed. To stay ahead of these users, DevTest teams must put themselves in the users' shoes while testing mobile apps and websites.

Mobile Testing: Front and Back

Testing for the real user experience needs to include mobile app and back-end services being tested together against real world conditions, such as high user load and network condition changes. The ESPN scenario mentioned above was not a single point of failure; it was a combination of application, network and busy servers.

To truly validate the user experience, organizations need to ensure their apps work well when the audience needs it, even in the busiest of mobile moments. For example, the WatchESPN app outage during the 2014 World Cup is another example of back-end services falling short at a crucial mobile moment. The app crashed for US users during the beginning of the US and Germany match, due to unprecedented traffic related to a perfect storm of two soccer games and live Wimbledon coverage. The server coverage in the US was not prepared to handle abnormally high traffic for a soccer game.

As a result, companies need to test for these "perfect storm" scenarios and have a plan in place for when servers reach capacity. Proper back-end testing will benefit teams in two key ways:

■ Knowing the point when the back-end services become sluggish allows teams to have more servers (or virtual servers) on standby. In addition, plan to re-route network traffic through servers in another country where there is more bandwidth. Either way, it's imperative that a contingency plan is set in place.

■ Being aware of bandwidth limits and utilizing that data to update users with alerts, such as "Due to high demand, our service is down. Try back in 10 minutes." or "Your Wi-Fi network may not have adequate bandwidth for our service. Try switching to an LTE network." While circumstances may cause frustration, it's important to engage with users and provide information updates.

It's just as critical to test the back-end services of an app as the front-end. There are many products on the market that simulate user load on back-end services, while simultaneously seeing how the app performs under real world load conditions. In addition, developers should also run user condition tests (switching network conditions, background apps) on the front-end while using service virtualization tools, to ensure back-end services are just as busy.

As mobile users consume more multimedia and IoT services, testing back-end services for user load spikes will be key for delivering the best mobile moments.

Eran Kinsbruner is Mobile Technical Evangelist for Perfecto Mobile.

Eran Kinsbruner is Chief Evangelist of Test Automation at Perfecto by Perforce
Share this

Industry News

October 06, 2022

Platform.sh announced it has partnered with MongoDB.

October 06, 2022

Veracode announced the enhancement of its Continuous Software Security Platform to include container security.

This early access program for Veracode Container Security is now underway for existing customers.

The new Veracode Container Security offering, designed to meet the needs of cloud-native software engineering teams, addresses vulnerability scanning, secure configuration, and secrets management requirements for container images.

October 06, 2022

Mirantis announced that Mirantis Container Runtime – latest generation of the Docker Enterprise Engine, the secure container runtime that forms the foundation of Mirantis Container Cloud and Mirantis Kubernetes Engine and is used at the heart of many other Kubernetes deployments – is now available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

October 05, 2022

Perforce Software announced enhanced support for automated testing with the release of Helix ALM 2022.2.

October 05, 2022

Parasoft announced the latest releases of its API and microservices testing tools, including SOAtest, Virtualize, CTP, and Selenic.

October 05, 2022

Vaadin announced the release of four Acceleration Kits designed to make it faster and easier to build and modernize Java applications for enterprise use.

October 04, 2022

Pegasystems announced the latest release of Robot Studio, the robotic process automation (RPA) low-code authoring environment for Pega's intelligent automation platform.

October 04, 2022

EvolveWare announced the Agile Business Rules Extraction (Agile BRE) solution on its Intellisys platform.

October 04, 2022

Mabl announced new features that empower quality professionals to easily validate APIs as part of their integrated end-to-end tests.

October 03, 2022

Spectro Cloud announced a major new release of its Palette Edge platform.

October 03, 2022

Arcion announced agentless change data capture (CDC) for all of its supported databases and applications.

September 29, 2022

CloudBees announced the acquisition of ReleaseIQ to expand the company’s DevSecOps capabilities, empowering customers with a low-code, end-to-end release orchestration and visibility solution.

September 29, 2022

SmartBear continues expanding its commitment to the Atlassian Marketplace, adding Bugsnag for Jira and SwaggerHub Integration for Confluence.

Bugsnag developers monitoring application stability and documenting in Jira no longer need to interrupt their workflow to access the app. Developers working in SwaggerHub can use the macro to push API definitions and changes directly to other teams and business stakeholders that work within Confluence. By increasing the presence of SmartBear tools on the Atlassian Marketplace, the company continues meeting developers where they are.

September 29, 2022

Ox Security exited stealth today with $34M in funding led by Evolution Equity Partners, Team8, and M12, Microsoft's venture fund, with participation from Rain Capital.

September 29, 2022

cnvrg.io announced that the new Intel Developer Cloud is now available via the cnvrg.io Metacloud platform, providing a fully integrated software and hardware solution.