Interview with Josh Lieberman about Kobiton and QASymphony

Transcript for episode 29 of the Test & Code Podcast

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Hello and welcome to Test and Code, episode 29. I can’t believe it is already almost the end of June. The last episode I put out was episode 28, which was with Casey Rosenthal. It got put out on April 7, and it’s been too long since we’ve had an episode. And what have I been doing? I’ve been writing a book, so the Pipest book I’ve been working on is now in the hands of technical reviewers. And I’ve got a couple of weeks while I’m waiting for feedback, and I thought maybe some episodes would be good. I’m also doing Python bites, of course, with Michael Kennedy. What are we going to talk about today? Today is going to be a different kind of episode. So most of my episodes have been about testing and development topics, and if I talk about a particular piece of software or product, it’s usually an open source product. However, I want this podcast to cover the whole spectrum of testing for both open source and small projects and also commercial projects. And I do believe there is a place for commercial products and product offerings in the tech space. And so I think it fits the podcast to bring on people with commercial testing products and let them tell me about what their product is and who ought to be possibly interested in taking a look at it. So today I’ve got Josh Lieberman, and he’s going to talk to me about both Kobaton and QA Symphony. For full disclosure, Kobaton did sponsor a previous episode, but they did not sponsor this episode. I asked them to come on.

But like I said.

They have sponsored before. This episode is sponsored by Patreon supporters. Thank you, everyone, for your contributions, and it means a lot.

Today we’re talking about Kobiton is one of the products, and it’s a mobile testing a mobile testing service, which is I don’t know anything about mobile testing, and that’s one of the reasons why I brought him on Josh On to talk about it. And then he’s also involved with Qasyphony. And since that obviously has test related stuff, I thought I might as well ask them about that as well. Qa Symphony has a product called Qtest, and they’ve got a whole suite of other testing tools.

Let me know if you like this kind of a podcast where you hear about products.

This podcast is yours also. It’s not just mine, and I want the community to help me decide whether or not I should do more of these types of product information, podcasts or not. I think they’re interesting, but maybe you don’t. So please let me know what you think. Let’s get on with the show and welcome Josh On, and let’s hear what he has to say.

Welcome to Test and Code, a podcast about software development and software testing.

Today on Test and Code, I’ve got Josh Lieberman, and he works with a couple of companies, and one of them is Kobaton, which we’re going to talk about today. First off, tell me your background. Are you a developer?

I was a developer many moons ago. I was never very good at it. It was always somewhat cynical about sales folks, but eventually got pushed over to the dark side. And I live more on the business Dev side of things rather than on the actual development side today.

Okay. And Copouton, I saw some brief information about the product launch.

Well, you’ve had a running product for a while, but are you in the middle of an open launch now?

Yes. We put the product out to beta in January of this year and had somewhere in the neighborhood, 3000 people use the product throughout the beta. And we launched, I would say three or four weeks ago.

The reception on the launch has been good in terms of the quality of the product, but to be very transparent, our pricing model, I don’t think is optimized right now. We’ve bundled some things in the launch that probably shouldn’t be bundled. We’re redoing that as we speak right now, but we are actively live today.

Is this a product for people that are writing mobile applications? Is that the target market?

Yes. What Kobe Tan is targeted for is for people and companies who are writing mobile applications who feel like it’s important not to rely upon emulators, but who want to test on actual real devices. And what Kobi Tan allows you to do is if you’re a company and you own a bunch of different devices and you want to give everybody in your company access to those devices to allow them to remotely test on real devices, you can do that. But Kobi Town has also set up a lab where we own hundreds of devices that you can rent from us on a permanent basis and sit at your desktop, dial in and use our actual devices on a permanent basis and test on real devices such that you can re enact real life situations. So it’s more for someone on the front end rather than on the back end. Okay.

How does this even work? I’m imagining my own phone. It’s all driven from my finger. So how do I remote in to drive it with? Would you have like a virtual finger or something or how does that work?

We’ve done some things with the UI on your desktop that allow you to turn your mouse into a finger and have buttons on the interface that allow you to pinch and Zoom, that allow you to double click all different types of things that you would normally do on a phone you can quickly and easily do with the use of a mouse.

Okay. I think large companies probably already know what they want to test on with this sort of a set up, I’m guessing, but a smaller person like, let’s say somebody in their den or something or basement came up with a cool app idea. They’re trying it out and they want to do the right thing. So they want to test it more on different devices, maybe, or even just one device. What are some of the types of user interface testing that I guess I’m just trying to get how to approach breakdown this problem into something smaller than just do a whole bunch of testing.

I think it depends.

Our company has a deep and rich background in different types of testing in this scenario. Kobe Thom Whether you’re a person sitting in your dinner or whether you work for a large Corporation, reasons why you may want to use Kobe Tan is you can set up and run automated tests using a Python, which you had mentioned previously, is a language you like to use, whether you use Python selenium Appium, whatever the case may be, and run those tests on an ongoing basis across different types of devices to ensure that your application behaves the way you expect it to on different types of screen sizes, operating system versions, both on the Android and on the iOS. If you’re a person at home and you only own an iOS device, maybe you don’t own any Android devices and you need access to Android devices. So you may want to leverage our lab and use our devices, which cost $0.10 per minute, which in the general market. There’s other people that do this. Where the cheapest game in town? Or I shouldn’t say cheapest, least expensive or best value.


But you can also, let’s say you have a small app that’s out there and one of your users sends you a ticket that says it’s not working on this type of device. And if you’re working out of your den, you’re probably not going to own a plethora of devices. So you can dial into our lab and choose the device that that user had and then try to replicate that defect and see if you can see what the issue is such that you can go back and fix it.

Okay. Wow, that makes sense.

What kind of issues come up with cross devices? Is it just screen resolution or is there other issues that often come up?

Once again, I’m the biz Dev guy. I’m not as much the tester per se.


But absolutely it can be how a screen displayed. Maybe it’s not set up such that it’s ready to display in different resolutions and you only see three quarters of the entire screen.

Or as you’re scrolling down through app, perhaps there’s a lag or latency with how responsive the app is or the website is. So there are lots of different issues.

And then Furthermore, there are some people who purely build web or mobile based apps. So all those same issues that you would have on a desktop, you could have on a web app as well. You could have a typo, you could have buttons that don’t work whatever the case may be so similar issues you would have on a desktop as well as those that may occur due to different sized screens and such.

Okay. You said something that intrigued me that I guess I didn’t even think about before I gave you a call. I was just thinking about applications. But you brought up that people might want to test their website or their mobile or their web application through a device. Is that something that obviously you can do through Cobaton as well, then?

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

I don’t know that I have specific figures on what portion of our users are doing apps versus responsive websites, but I think it’s a fairly even balance between the two because that’s a large part of how people we’re mobile is not core to someone’s business and not core to the user experience.

Sometimes companies will just go with a responsive website versus actually building an app.

Yeah. Everybody really just wants all of their apps to be responsive to their web apps.

So I guess I just assumed that it was going to be something like this. It would be something only large companies could afford. But it does seem like you have it set up so that just like a small time person making a couple of $100 off of something, it might make sense for them to go test on your product if possible.

Yeah. Our whole go to market strategy, quite honestly, has been to make it extremely affordable for anybody.

And a lot of people that work in large corporations are doing things on the side, whether it be for friends and family or as a hobby or to generate a little extra income. So our belief is that if we can provide a great and affordable platform for those folks and as they learn about Kobe Tom and embrace it as part of their personal solution stack, when they go back to their day job and as they talk with friends out in the social world we live in, that message gets shared, and then they start taking us back to their larger companies and we grow and scale from there.

Yeah, I think actually that makes a lot of sense. I mean, we saw that with GitHub, right. People using it at home and then open source projects, and then they want their company to do the same.

Yeah. Similar with Trello and many other tools.



Well, cool. You’re in the middle of the or you have launched already.


And so you’ve probably got a pretty exciting time going on right now.

Yeah, it is an exciting time. And what’s been interesting is just it’s a very complicated product to build because we’re working if you’re familiar with doing embedded work and that type of development, we’re working down at the operating system level of these phones. And once again, I’m not as technical as my partner and the other folks involved in the company, but what I’m told is the operating systems on phones are still somewhat immature and they’re evolving and changing much more frequently than those on desktops. So keeping up with the pace of change of these phones and of these device manufacturers and the apps coming out, it’s a very dynamic world that we’re living in, which is part of the reason we exist is to make it easier and create a very simple and usable experience for our customers. But it presents a lot of challenges to us.

I’ve been excited to see that the launch has gone very well and we’re getting great feedback from our user base.

Before we started recording, you did mention that you worked with QA Symphony as well in the past or in partly currently. Qa Symphony is obviously something QA related. Tell me what QA Symphony is.

So QASymphony is another software company that we founded. It’s a test management platform, and we started Qasmphony in 2011. And the reason we started it was you talked about GitHub and it’s evolution. You look at a company like Atlassian and their product Jira and Confluence, et cetera. We started seeing how software was being built in different ways and how agile was really taking over the market. And we felt like HP had purchased a company called Mercury in 2006, and they had a product called HPQC or Hpalm, and it allows you to manage all of your testing. So what are your test cases, what’s your test data, what’s your schedule associated with releases, those types of things. But the way that Mercury originally built their product, the HP never really invested much in was for waterfall development.

And so we saw this lag within HP, and we saw what was happening with that last year in Jira. And it felt like somebody needed to come into the market and build a product that integrated beautifully with Jira and other products like Version One and Rally and those types of tools that did something similar to what HP did, but more in an agile manner. So we started a QA Symphony in 2011, and it now has about 400 and some odd customers, I think over 12,000 users. And we just sold a private equity group called Insight Venture Partners just invested $40 million into it. So the company has done very well. And I think a lot of it is due to the fact that we’ve lived in a QA space. We understand it, and it was kind of built by testers for testers, which is similar to what we’re doing with Kobe time.

Okay. Since I’m used to testing with Python. Is this something that integrates with some of the Python test frameworks?

Yes. You could take your test frameworks and schedule them and manage them with two tests. Absolutely neat.

One of the places I know that’s still a whole in a lot of places is the reporting and reporting what tests were run on which versions and all the results and all that it looks like some of that’s covered here. So I think I might have to do a little bit more research and try some of this stuff out. So that looks neat.

Yeah. Q test released late. I think it was the middle of last year something called qtest insights, which is the product name by QA Symphony. It’s a whole bi reporting platform that you can use as you suck all of your test data and information Into Q test from frameworks that you may have in Python Or whatever the case may be. It allows you to really see everything going on from a testing perspective and gives you actionable. Insights.

Oh, I like it.

I brought Josh on and one of my requests was that we don’t turn this into a half an hour ad, and it’s not Josh’s fault that I’m looking through this stuff and thinking it’s totally cool and wanting to try it out. I think it’s both of these kobuchan and the QA Symphony suite of products Are very interesting things, and this is the first time I’ve done an interview like this Where I’ve just pretty much brought somebody on that represents a company that has a testing offering and just kind of talk about what their offering is, and I think it’s good Because people don’t get out and look to see what’s available out there.

And the other thing that I would say Just to try to make it not an infomercial, Which I sincerely is our business. We have an outsourcing business and we work with about 30 different software product companies, and the Genesis of both of these companies Was we’re working with our partners, our companies, and consistently kept hearing of the same problem over and over. So I think with something like a Kobe time.

While this may sound like an infomercial, It is something that anybody can use. It’s very easy to spin up. It’s extremely inexpensive and it’s a cool thing just to play with and try out, quite honestly. So we’re trying to solve real problems, Investing a lot in R and D And that type of thing. So hopefully, as people do try it out, they’ll think it’s a good service, and if they don’t, they’ll give us feedback and we will iterate and adjust.

Okay. Well, do you have anything else you want? Any call to action, any place somebody should go?

Yeah, just go to or and check them out and we’d love your support and feel free to reach out to us. We will help out in any way we can.

Awesome. Well, Josh, thanks for coming on the show.

All right. Thanks a bunch.