Zephyr today launched version 2.0 of its namesake software test management tool, which is now available as a SaaS in Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. Zephyr gives development teams a Flash-based system for communication, collaboration, resource, document and project management, test-case creation automation and archiving, defect tracking and reporting. The system was previously available only as a self-hosted system.
"The advantage of a SaaS is that you need no hardware," said Zephyr CEO Samir Shah. "It’s a predeveloped back-end up and running immediately with 24/7 availability, backup, restore, and high bandwidth access from from anywhere." The cost for either system is US$65 per user per year. If you deploy in-house, you also get 3 free users for the first year.
Also new in Zephyr 2.0 is Zbots, which Shah said are automation agents for integrating Zephyr with other test tools. "These are little software agents that run on the remote machines on which you run Selenium, [HP QuickTestPro] or [Borland] SilkTest." They let you run all your automated tests from within Zephyr, and bring the results back into Zephyr for analysis, reporting and communication to the team. "You build your automation scripts in those tools," he explained, "then within Zephyr, you get comprehensive views of all test cases so you can look at the coverage you have across manual and automated tests."
The system also lets you schedule test to run. "When it comes time to run automated scripts, we can kick off automation scripts on the target machines, bring results back to Zephyr and update metrics and dashboards in real time." Shah claims that moving test cases into Zephyr is largely automatic, particularly if they're stored in Excel spreadsheets or Word documents, which is said is common. "At the end of the day, you have to give a report of the quality of your software. That process is manual and laborious. We automate that by bringing all that [data] into one place, from release to release, sprint to sprint, via a live dashboard. We give the test team and management a view into everything you are testing."
Also new in Zephyr 2.0 is two-way integration with the JIRA defect tracking system. "Objects stay in JIRA, and if they’re modified in one place they’re modified in the other. We built a clean Web services integration, and the live dashboard also reflects changes in JIRA."
Version 2.0 improves the UI, Shah said, making test cases faster and easier to write thanks to a full-screen mode. "When a tester is just writing test cases, we expand that for them and let them speed through that process. Importing and reporting also were improved, he said.