Perforce Software announced today is has acquired 21 Labs, a provider of a suite of tools that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a no-code approach to testing mobile applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Tim Russell, chief product officer for Perforce Software, said the 21 Labs tools complement a set of similar AI-based tools for testing web applications that the company makes available via its Perfecto portfolio. The company also makes available Virtual Devices, a service that makes it feasible to test mobile computing devices at scale using Apple iOS and Google Android emulation software. Perforce acquired Perfecto in 2018.
21 Labs developed a test automation platform that uses algorithms to observe interactions within a mobile application that are then used to generate tests. That approach sharply reduces the need for a developer or professional application developer to employ scripts to generate those tests, said Russell.
The next step will be to integrate 21 Labs with the test recommendation engine that Perforce already makes available via its Perfecto testing platform, added Russell.
As the rate at which applications are developed accelerates, Russell noted, application testing has become a major bottleneck. The shift toward scriptless approaches to application testing will make it possible for organizations to quickly vet applications to ensure quality without having to slow down the rate at which they are being deployed. That’s especially critical at a time when mobile applications are often at the core of any digital business transformation initiative.
It’s not clear to what degree application testing will be automated, but it’s apparent that as AI becomes more advanced, the need for many of the routine tests conducted by professional developers today will be eliminated. In theory, that should afford professional developers more time to conduct complex tests, while more routine tests are automatically run as an extension of a DevOps workflow.
Application testing, of course, has always been the first thing to suffer whenever developers are pressed for time to make a delivery deadline. However, the sooner any issue is discovered, the less expensive it generally is to fix. At the same time, end users are not generally patient when it comes to mobile applications that don’t work as advertised. External-facing mobile applications, especially, need to provide a compelling experience the first time they are fired up. At the same time, internal digital business processes that are accessed by end users and business partners now need to be accessible from anywhere.
Arguably, it’s harder to provide a great application experience on mobile computing devices than it is on a desktop platform, which means there should be even more testing of mobile applications before they are deployed in a production environment. The days when developers experimented on end users by rolling out minimally viable applications are coming to an end, as end user expectations continue to rise. DevOps teams that don’t adjust to that new reality may soon discover just how critical testing has become to their own job security.