Where are all the Web Testers?

There seems to a problem on the web, there aren’t any testers. Yahoo has been scootling up lots of really intelligent people, I’ve met them, I’ve seen what they can do. Yet they seem to be releasing sites to the public that have obviously not even had the most rudimentary testing, sure they call them Beta’s, but they’re not even alpha quality. Do they simply not hire a Test team, or are the test team just no good?

Yahoo maps arrived a couple of days ago, I got nothing but a blank page using Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP service Pack 2, see the image. I can’t understand how any tester managed to not raise the bug, and as it’s a complete failure of the site and a 2 minute 100 character fix for the developer it surely would’ve been fixed if it had.

Then on the front page of the maps site, I get another obvious problem, there’s a little popup feedback request button, which I can’t click the yes please button as it’s positioned right on top of a select element which bleeds through - the bug is obvious and serious, the fix is trivial, yet it’s released in this state. I’m not running some weird browser, I run regular IE with just font-size set to smaller, and flash disabled in the manage add-ons, and my background colour a nice yellow, you’ll note the tester missed the failure to set a background colour too of course.

Yahoo aren’t the only people to not bother with testers, they’re just the people that triggered this rant. Developers generate bugs, any of the testers who’ve worked with me know I generate lots of them, fortunately testers find bugs, and together you get a good product, it seems that in too many places this is simply broken.

Now I’m sure you’ll all be thinking, come on these bugs are silly, who really cares about people who disable flash, or if they can’t click on a survey link? It works fine for normal people. However these aren’t the only bugs that the Yahoo testers have missed, there are others, anyone got a security contact for yahoo?

Yahoo Maps bleedthroug problem Screenshot of yahoo maps showing a blank page and a script error

12 Responses to “Where are all the Web Testers?”

  1. Jere Says:

    Err. I don’t really get it; why do you keep complaining about the yellow background everywhere?

    First, you set your background yellow, then you blame websites for not setting a white background. Like, you set your background yellow, and then you expect everyone to set it back to white? Do you want it yellow or not??

    By the way, your comments form is borked in Opera. Fix your floats

  2. Jim Ley Says:

    The problem is not the people not setting the background colour. The problem is when you set the foreground colour, you must also set the background colour. The CSS validator warns of it, WCAG warns of it, and it’s obvious, you can’t just set one colour and assume it will work.

    The floats problem? Interestingly only seems to hurt Opera 9.0 not 8.5, thanks for highlighting the fact we all introduce bugs and need to test…

  3. Adrian D. Says:

    >Do they simply not hire a Test team, or are the test team just no good?

    No, they just haven’t prioritised fixing this bug yet. It’s all about releasing early, releasing often.

  4. Jim Ley Says:

    Adrian D, So you would say Yahoo released the Maps Beta knowing there was an XSS security exploit in it (see the next entry), but they decided not to “prioritise” such a bug. Now I’m willing to give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt and that they are merely not testing, rather than deliberately choosing to risk our data by leaving trivial exploits in their code.

    I really hope you’re wrong, the alternative really is too scary…

  5. Curtis D Says:

    what’s the purpose for the developer to set the background color in their code? i think the only reason would be for design reasons.

    maybe yahoo didnt set a background color in their code because they respect the user’s browser settings.

    btw, im a bit color blind and the font color you chose for the calendar and top links are not readable. i can’t change my background color in my browser because you set it to white. where are the testers?

  6. Jim Ley Says:

    The reason is because they set a foreground colour! If your foreground colour is black, and the users chosen background colour is black, then the user cannot see anything.

    If yahoo respected the users settings, then they wouldn’t’ve set a foreground colour either, as if you set one, you must set both, it’s very simple.

    Sorry to hear you can’t read the colours in the calendar, I wasn’t actually aware of any grey/white colour blindness. To overcome this you should set both foreground and background colour to something you like, that’s easy to do in all major user agents, in IE just set “ignore colors” in the tools - internet options - accessibility, or in IE or other user agents, use a user stylesheet with !important rules on the colours.

  7. John Dowdell Says:

    Hi, are you saying you can’t see the Flash file at maps.yahoo.com, in an IE/SP2 setup? If so, can you see other Flash files normally in that browser? From what I can read of your description, I’m wondering whether perhaps this is the SP2 impact on extended content, although I’m not sure yet this is what you’ve got:


  8. Jim Ley Says:

    Hi John, Sorry if I was unclear the issue isn’t down to flash at all. I have my flash disabled in the manage add-ons by default, only enabling it when I want something. The complaint was purely that you get a blank page if flash is disabled or not installed, or ActiveX is disabled, to be completely honest both these errors were relatively minor and whilst illustrative I think of lack of testing, it was the security flaw which really prompted me to write about the need to test, despite the fact I couldn’t actually mention the flaw until it was fixed.

  9. JD on MX Says:

    Yahoo Maps links

    Yahoo Maps links: Justin Everett-Church showed today how mapping data can be even further separated from its presentation, by incorporating live Yahoo Maps data into a “magic pirate” interface, and an “x-files radar screen” interface… Sho Kuwamot…

  10. Adrian D. Says:

    >>Adrian D, So you would say Yahoo released the Maps Beta knowing there was an XSS security exploit in it (see the next entry), but they decided not to “prioritise” such a bug.

    No, I wouldn’t say that. It would be irresponsible for a company to release a product with a *known* security flaw at the beta stage. A mere flash detection bug on the other hand is something they have obviously decided to fix later on in the release cycle.

  11. Jim Ley Says:

    Right Adrian D. So it was pretty clear that the product wasn’t tested remotely adequately, not just bugs found but not prioritised, that’s why I think it’s clear the other bugs weren’t just not prioritised, but not found at all.

    You have to have a pretty peculiar test team who don’t test security first. Maybe you know Yahoo testers are that incompetent, but I can’t really believe that, I think they just aren’t worried about releasing security flawed software, so don’t test adequately.

  12. Security hole in Google Sitemaps | Locuras del web Says:

    […] Update: Another security problem at Google, a cross-site scripting vulnerability in Google Base. Apparently, the problem already has been fixed. [via Nathan Weinberg and Danny Sullivan] […]

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