Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Flash RIA Testing Effort

Yesterday, in my post "Why a Flash vs Ajax Debate?" I talked about how targeting an older version of the Flash player in the development of RIAs can yield a multiplication in testing effort as compared to their Ajax counterparts. See the original post for more detail, but basically this is because you have to test every minor Flash Player version back to the targeted version, on every browser, in order to make a cross-platform compatibility promise.

This prompted some great comments regarding QA methodologies for Flash, and I would like to hear more.

I'll start:

When developing solo, I test heavily on all major revisions of the Flash
player back to the targeted version. If I am targeting Player 6, I also
pay special attention to 6 r47. I spot-check a few minor revisions between
each major version.

My testing for browsers mirrors typical user
agent statistics: 85% IE PC, 10% Firefox, 5% everything else.
In other words, I test heavily on IE PC and spot-check virtually everything
else, with a little extra attention paid to Firefox.



This ends up being a manageable testing effort for solo development, and very few bugs have ever made it through. With JavaScript, the testing is usually similar, except that the Flash player is not a factor at all. I pay a little more attention to IE 5.x and Safari because of differences in their JavaScript implementation, but usually those differences are handled by a framework and don't present much of a problem.

Though my thoughts so far have been focused on the code behind the scenes, I would be remiss not to point out that one place where Flash can unquestionably reduce the QA effort is in the UI. Rendering differences between Flash player versions are almost nonexistent. In fact, this is one area in which I have come to take Flash for granted - you forget about the UI if it's not causing you problems. Getting complex components to work identically everywhere is not always a sure thing, but you can be guaranteed that they'll LOOK the same. Compare/contrast with HTML/CSS, and Flash clearly comes out the victor on that score.

So, what Flash player/browser combinations do you test in? What known issues do you specifically look out for? If you're an Ajax developer, what frameworks do you use, and which browsers do you test in? This promises to be a great discussion and one well worth having.

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2 Comments:

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