Recent Feature Articles

May 2021

Who Tests the Tester?

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The year was 2001: the year before many countries in the EU switched from using their national currency to the new euro. As part of the switch, many financial software packages had to be upgraded. Today's submitter, Salim, was hired as an IT support staffer in a medium-sized healthcare organization in the Netherlands. While Salim had a number of colleagues, they had to support a greater number of small satellite offices, and so on occasion any of them would be left to hold the main office alone. It just so happened that Salim's first solo day was the day they were testing the software upgrade, with the CFO himself executing the test.

A Specified Integration

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Shipping meaningful data from one company's IT systems to another company's IT systems is one of those problems that's been solved a billion times, with entirely new failure modes each time. EDI alone has a dozen subspecifications and allows data transfer via everything ranging from FTP to email.

When XML made its valiant attempt to take over the world, XML schemas, SOAP and their associated related specifications were going to solve all these problems. If you needed to communicate how to interact with a service, you could publish a WSDL file. Anyone who needed to talk to your service could scrape the WSDL and automatically "learn" how to send properly formatted messages. The WSDL is, in practice, a contract offered by a web service.