Being Senior QA, I often face one and the same problem: for every project I'm involved in I need to prepare / collect / generate various sort of testing data. It might be VERY different - below are examples I had to deal with during last year only:
- XML files (application integration layer transport testing)
- Set of as-much-as-possible video files with different format encoding (online converter testing)
- ISBN number generation (publishing store testing)
- Typical office-like set of docs (MS / Open Office, PDF, PS, etc.) of various versions / formats (testing proprietary online doc viewer similar to Google Docs)
- ...And so on.
So... basically I often spend too much time for preparing / collecting things folks in the next room already have "on the shelf". That's why I'd like to organize a centralized solution, like network drive or share, with the set of test data files and / or generators available for the whole QA department.
Sure thing I tried to accomplish that many times, but I faced the following (the list is actually far from complete):
- Lack of data: new projects come, we need smth new OR current set of data is not enough.
- People still prepare data on their own and do not share it (for numerous reasons) - they're lazy or not motivated.
- It's quite difficult to maintain & keep the set up-to date: each team / QA tries to do the best - as a result, we have similar sets of data organized in different manner.
- Sometimes it's hard to decide which files should be kept as prepared set, and which ones better generate as required using appropriate software / converter / tool etc. At least we should keep in mind cost of storage, since it's not effective to store 100 x 250Mb files filled with dummy data for bandwidth load test.
- If we use generators - they should be flexible, customizable and produce desired output quickly and "as expected".
- When the storage becomes huge, the mean of inventory becomes important (for quite obvious reasons).
All in all, I'm asking for valuable advice from your experience on handling the above points, and in general - how achieve success in test data repository preparation and its further "keep going".
Any best practices, links, concepts, approaches, success stories - from handy fast format converter to examples of test bank maintenance - are highly appreciated. Thanks in advance!