About holistic QA

Thanks for checking out Holistic QA! My name is Owen Mehegan, I’m a software engineer at BrightRoll, focused on improving software quality throughout the engineering team. The tools of my trade are Ruby, Jenkins, Puppet, Amazon Web Services, and IRC.

Holistic QA is a term that I made up to try and define the range of responsibilities I have in my job. When I joined BrightRoll, my mandate was to come up with a test automation system that would enable integration testing of our distributed web service architecture. Over time it became apparent that before we could do effective automated testing we were going to need to solve some more basic problems. We needed a better build system, a common packaging format for our various codebases (which use different languages and frameworks), and a simpler way to deploy code and roll it back if necessary.

These needs led me down a different path from what I expected, where I found myself blending the skills of software engineer, QA guy, and sysadmin. Terms like Build Engineer, Devops, and Developer in Test may apply to me in some ways, but you don’t usually see one person performing all these jobs. I’ve come to realize that there are many ways you can improve software quality in an organization, and providing test methodology is just one of them. In an agile development environment where code is being deployed constantly, anything you can do to improve developer productivity will have a net positive effect on quality. In a production environment that sees 30 billion requests per month, if there are bugs in your code the odds are good that your users will find them before you do.

I really enjoy my job, love the people I work with, and love having the opportunity to be involved in a very central way with all the development work we’re doing. I hope this blog will be useful and interesting to other people who may find themselves doing some or all of these jobs in their workplace.

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