Robert V. Binder

The Genesis of How to Test Mobile Apps

February 16, 2012  |  Blog, Mobile Apps, Software Testing, Technology

Angry mobile app userAround December 2011, the millionth mobile app was released. This is is an amazing milestone. It shows how important the mobile space has become and how rapidly it’s evolving.

I wondered, have any of these apps been tested? My guess: probably only a few.  So, I know what will happen — once users get their hands on the apps, bugs will start jumping out. Here’s a great example on You Tube.

I then wondered, how could I help, and fast? What if I could provide a short and easily accessible course that would teach mobile app devs how to do a good job of testing their apps?

The course would have to present a testing approach meeting some basic goals.

  • Any mobile app developer could get up to speed quickly
  • No special tools — fingers and eyeballs only (manual testing)
  • Must target mobile app bugs — not just rehash principles
  • Must be platform-agnostic

Okay, that’s doable. Keep it simple and clean. No tester mumbo-jumbo. Focus on the most likely bug sources in mobile apps.

But, I also know with certainty that effective testing depends on good test models, design, and analysis. Achieving that can involve some esoteric stuff. Could I reduce all this to a practical recipe without loosing the bug-zapping power of advanced techniques? And could I provide all this in a kernel that could scale to complex apps and automated testing?

I didn’t see any reason why not.

It took me a little longer than the long weekend I’d originally planned, but I think How to Test Mobile Apps meets all these design goals. It is hosted on the online education platform, so anyone can take it any where, any time.

The course includes a test plan template based on the IEEE 829 standard for test documentation and specialized for moble apps.

Each “lecture” (Udemy’s content unit) has an exercise.  In these, the user creates a test plan for their own app, step-by-step. By the last lab, they’ll have a complete ready-to-use test plan for their mobile app.

I kept it strictly platform-agnostic, so that the resulting test plan can be re-run to support cross-platform development, and multiple deployment configurations.

Here are the lectures:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why We Test
  3. Model-Driven Testing
  4. Use Cases
  5. Actions and Variables
  6. Use Case Variants
  7. Test Cases
  8. Expected Results
  9. Negative Testing
  10. The Basic Tour
  11. Testing Device Events
  12. More Tours
  13. Running Your Tests
  14. Scaling Up

The course has a Chicago influence.  I use the Groupon Mobile App as a case study providing a partial test plan (with progressive additions for each lecture) to show how to apply the techniques.  There’s also an example that uses the iconic Chicago Hot Dog as an example of how to test excluded combinations — no ketchup.



  1. That’s strange but it is an interesting post.

  2. Which part of the post seems “strange”?


  1. Testing the Limits With Bob Binder | Software Testing Blog

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.