Innovation from the Tester’s Viewpoint: An Interview with Jason Arbon


In this interview, Jason Arbon, founder of and a keynote speaker at STAREAST, talks about all things testing. He explains why testing is the most underappreciated side of application development, as well as how you can push for innovation and, if necessary, fail gracefully.

Josiah Renaudin: Today I'm joined by Jason Arbon, founder of and a keynote speaker at STAREAST. He'll be speaking on building mobile app quality strategy as well as innovation from the tester's viewpoint. Jason, thank you very much for joining us. First, could you tell us just a bit about your experience in the industry?

Jason Arbon: Yes. So I've been around the block I think, and I feel old... That question makes me feel pretty old, actually. I started as an intern at Microsoft in testing, working on Exchange Server when that was actually cool. I worked on a bunch of different teams at Microsoft. I worked on like BizTalk server, OneFS, Bing, MSN, a bunch of different stuff. I quit there twice. I tried to quit and they kept coming back.

So that was over about six years. And then I joined Google, and... The last team I worked on at was Bing, actually, at Microsoft, and then I went to Google and worked on the Chrome browser. People know that stuff the best. So I worked on the Chrome browser, was a test automation guy for Chrome browser, and I also headed up in ChromeOS, and I also headed up a personalized search team that nobody knows about, working on just Google search for the last two years while I was there. And then after that, I went to, which I think most people in the testing world know about.

So it's a crowd-sourced testing solution where you have, basically, the world's largest test team on the planet of 100,000 testers and companies give us their apps and then we take their apps and we test them, and give them the bugs back, and charge a little commission in the middle. So that was pretty cool, I did that for about three years. And I left there a few months ago now—it's been about three months—to start my own new company called, and it's trying to automate and speed up testers. So I've gone from an intern, lowly intern, to engineering and management, to product development and now my own little start up.

Josiah Renaudin: And you have both a tutorial and a keynote at STAREAST that's coming up, so I want to start off by focusing a little bit on the tutorial. Can you talk about the differences between native, web, and hybrid apps?

Jason Arbon: Actually, if you see me at the conference, just be very nice because I'm going to be very busy [laughs]. The tutorials are all day and they're two in a row and two talks, so ... So everyone asks this question, which is awesome actually, about the native, web, and hybrid apps, and I can give you the quick answer but the real answer is, all these things are blending, frankly, over time.

Native apps are looking more hybrid, and web apps are looking more native, so we're frankly ... Very simply, web apps are just web pages we're all used to that basically show up and look nice and friendly on an iPhone or an Android phone. The typical web page that scales down and looks pretty. The native apps are basically this generation's version of desktop applications, but nobody wants to admit it. They want to think it's something new. But basically, the idea is you write a bunch of compiled code and it's bundled into, like, a little executable that goes in the app stores and people download the things to their device. So that's a native app, and they look just like the difference between a Mac app and a Windows app look different. The buttons look different, stuff like that. So do the native apps across Android and iOS. They look different. And they're a little faster because they don't have to hit the web every time you click a button, but ... Those are native apps.

And then the hybrid apps are exactly what you'd think, they're just a blend of the two, right? So they try to take the best of both worlds but they usually end up kind of being, like, somewhere in the middle. The good thing about a hybrid app is that it's basically a native app with a web browser stuck inside the middle of it, and so—kind of parasitically a little bit—so you basically take a native app, stuff a web browser in there and then load your web page up inside that native app. The big advantage for that is that if you have a web page, you already pretty much have most of your app developed, first of all. Secondly, if you put it inside of a native app, people can find you, users can find you in the app stores and download you and they have a little bookmark, essentially, on your homescreen. Instead of being a bookmark inside the Safari. So that's basically a web native and a hybrid app.

The funny thing is that this question comes up all the time, and I've heard it for about four years and I think, “No one will ever actually be comfortable with the answer.”

Josiah Renaudin: Yeah, I mean, I write about it and I think every once in a while, I still get a little confused about the differences, but I think it's an important thing to kind of delineate before you get into that sort of discussion.

Jason Arbon: Agreed.


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