Suppose for a moment that you’re a cartoonish caricature of an affluent individual- Say, a certain copyrighted duck.  And being this caricature, rather than keeping your wealth in real estate, investments and the like, you’ve opted for a good old fashioned room full of gold coins. Who among us wouldn’t love to take a physics-defying swim in such a “pool”? Of course, a large concentration of liquid assets like that is an extremely attractive target for those who might feel themselves more worthy of your fortune, regardless of the law. Some manner of protection is obviously needed for this vault of yours.

The obvious solution is a big, heavy door with a state of the art locking mechanism. But, being this affluent caricature, you have business that takes you around the world frequently, leaving your home unoccupied for significant periods of time- such caricatures are far too miserly to employ security staff. In practice, for as long as your home is unattended, that big fancy locking door is little more than a speed bump. Sure, it would take some time, but with you gone for weeks they have all the time they need to research the lock and pick it, or even just force their way through the door with explosives or a cutting torch.

What if, instead, you made the entrance to the vault hidden, perhaps accessed by pulling a few shelves out of the pantry and opening a wall panel behind it. That would-be wealth distributor might now spend weeks combing your home and never even find the vault to get started!

It’s a no-brainer, right? Well, not exactly. In practice, this caricature would at the very least need to employ a contractor to construct this vault and its access point. Bare minimum, even with zero leaks, there are at least two more people who know the secret of your vault. And as Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

This is what we call Security by Obscurity; a strategy that employs secrecy as the primary method to secure an asset- whether this is liquid wealth, documents, or data on a server somewhere. A strategy that has been recognized for hundreds of years now as being fundamentally flawed. If an asset is to have any actual utility, there must be a means of accessing it, and this will fundamentally entail multiple people knowing the secret, one way or another. Each individual who knows this secret is a potential vector for compromise, and as soon as the information is leaked, it is in the hands of people with neither the obligation nor the inclination to protect your assets.

This very topic was heavily discussed in the mid 1800s, specifically on the topic of maintaining secrecy for lock designs.  Alfred Charles Hobbs famously stated, in favor of disclosure: “Rogues are very keen in their profession, and know already much more than we can teach them.”  Essentially, the benefits of sharing the lock designs and getting more -benevolent- eyes looking for flaws significantly outweighed the risk inherent in the potential for the information being leaked to bad actors, as said bad actors happened to specialize in figuring out the workings of locks and circumventing them.

This same concept persists to this day, not only in the realm of physical locks, but in information security. We allow security professionals (like my team) to review our code, and attempt to circumvent our security and access or modify data that is supposed to be protected. We accept a little risk in doing this, as the end result is a system that is extremely difficult for a bad actor to break into. A small reduction in secrecy for a massive increase in security.

And yet, despite the well documented centuries old falliblity of the obscurity approach, many individuals and small businesses continue to rely on it as their sole line of defense, some not even bothering to secure their wifi! Relying on being a small party that no one is likely to target is fundamentally flawed, particularly when mechanisms like malware are considered. Ransomware alone has already cost billions of dollars in damages, without any need for its creators to target any given individual or company specifically.

I’m not saying that obscurity is useless- on the contrary, keeping protected information on a need to know basis is one of the core principles of security. But if used alone, it is essentially useless, as the approach inherently provides a large attack vector in the form of the human element which (as we know) is already the single largest attack vector even with thorough security measures in place. The information leak need not be intentional or even direct; simple human error can result in the leak of a secret, poor security discipline can lead to a malware infection leaking the same, and so on. Secrecy absolutely has its place as part of an overarching security strategy. It is simply not to be used alone.

So by all means, make your vault entrance a hidden door- but still make sure you spring for that locking mechanism too.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

Background

When Apple’s Don Norman became the first person granted a “User Experience Architect” title in the 1990s, the world did not quite understand the value of UX. Fast forward to 2021: Companies from all industries have invested in the development of UX teams, realizing the advantage of a human-centered design process. However, one thing that remains is the disconnect between stakeholders and users throughout the product building process. At Softrams, we constantly work to connect our clients’ goals with end user needs. In this blog, we outline three tried and tested methods to bridge the gap.

Proven methods to connect users and stakeholders:

  1. Summarize the HCD journey succinctly
  2. Align development timelines
  3. Deploy and test rapid prototypes

Articulating the Research Journey

The first step of the UX process is to align the product team and stakeholders with a clear and concise version of the research plan. Our HCD teams ensure the viability of this deliverable by condensing our research into a one-pager. If your stakeholder doesn’t understand your one-pager, they are less likely to engage in the journey.

Aligning Timelines

In the past, product developers often ignored the timing of the UX team’s process. We work closely with our product analysts, project managers, and lead developers to stay aligned by launching routine update meetings. These coworking sessions help build trust and credibility with key stakeholders.

Deploying Rapid Prototypes

Building and testing new ideas is an exciting part of our role. We work closely within our agile teams to build prototypes that help us validate our assumptions.

Conclusion

The most integral element in connecting clients with users is communication. Beyond defining their own goals, stakeholders must be actively looped into the research regarding their target audience and user needs. Alignment is integral to a successful product development process.

 

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

The Softrams team is excited to join Health Level Seven International (HL7) as a Gold Member, an international standards body that sets standards for data sharing between modern healthcare services and advancing information technology.

Softrams has been building a patient centered health information hub, called “hDrive” (https://www.hdrive.ai) that brings health information of individuals and families in one place for a wholistic and comprehensive view. hDrive will extract meaningful information hidden inside complex healthcare data and reports and present it using plain language and visuals to ensure better understanding of personal health, along with the power to make informed decisions and healthy choices. hDrive will store all data in a secure hub and let users share data securely as needed with anyone including healthcare professionals.

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is an interoperability standard intended to facilitate the exchange of healthcare information between organizations and is the core standard hDrive relies on to make patient centered health information hub a reality.

These HL7 standards created by Health Level Seven International, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing comprehensive guidelines for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information. The adoption of these standards supports clinical practice and the management, delivery, and evaluation of health services. It leads to a more efficient, cost-effective, and higher quality of service provided by healthcare professionals.

HL7 is an international initiative supported by more than 1600 members from 50 countries, including 500+ corporate members that represent diverse healthcare providers, government stakeholders, payers, pharmaceutical companies, vendors/suppliers, and consulting firms.

Why do these HL7 standards matter?

All healthcare providers need to access multiple electronic systems to treat patients. This becomes more challenging if these healthcare providers offer services in outpatient clinics that are not integrated with the local hospital system. This is where Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) come in and how HL7 interoperability standards offer value. Interoperability in healthcare leads to quality patient care, as data can flow seamlessly across the gamut of care and is accessible by relevant parties whenever needed. This reduces errors, ensures a comprehensive health profile of the patient, and allows appropriate treatment options.

Abiding by HL7 standards is a huge step forward in terms of an open and collaborative healthcare system. As we start to emerge into a post-pandemic era, we are more aware of the value of human life and the delicate yet complicated relationship with healthcare. An interoperable healthcare system is therefore not only a convenience but a necessity in today’s digital world.

Softrams is proud to join HL7 organization as gold member, as we remain steadfast in our journey of bringing positive change in patient centered healthcare IT solutions.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

Softrams is pleased to partner with Morgan State University for collaboration on the design and development of a prototype analytical solution. The collaboration is intended to involve the participation of both faculty and students.  

The solution focuses on the use of machine learning in cloud cybersecurity with open-source technologies. Internet-based cloud communications (e.g., mobile, remote) may involve the sharing of protected confidential information and other sensitive data. Machine learning provides the power to analyze patterns in network traffic and support the detection of threats. Reliable threat detection can help prevent unauthorized entities from finding vulnerabilities and gaining access to the confidential data.   

About Morgan State University: Founded in 1867, Morgan State University is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution providing higher education to a multiethnic, multiracial, multinational student body that offers more than 125 academic programs from baccalaureate degrees to doctorate. Morgan is among the nation’s most diverse Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and the largest in Maryland.   

The Softrams and Morgan State University partnership seeks to address innovative pioneering solutions for the benefit of Morgan’s student body and ultimately the community we serve. Several additional projects are planned. 

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

Softrams mission driven innovative work has been recognized by FedHealthIT, which seeks to honor innovation across the federal health sector. Health Plan Management System (HPMS) has been selected as a recipient of the 7th Annual FedHealthIT Innovation Awards which recognizes and celebrates the federal health technology and consulting community by highlighting programs that are peer-nominated for driving innovation and results. These programs are selected from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Military Health, Health and Human Services, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. HPMS will be recognized at the 7th Annual FedHealthIT Innovation Awards on June 22 – 23, 2021, along with additional noteworthy winners. There is still time to register for the FHIT award ceremony at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021-fedhealthit-innovation-awards-tickets-150921902473.

The successful migration of the HPMS system to the cloud with continued incremental modernization of its platform has been no small undertaking. The Softrams team used a Modern Software Engineering (MSE) approach with a cloud-first API development strategy and agile development techniques to modernize HPMS. This enabled HPMS to provide an all-new digital one-stop solution for Medicare Advantage (MA) and Prescription Drug (Part D) health plans. The system handles various end-user interactions in a modernized cloud infrastructure and modern suite of tools and technologies. By overcoming challenges to rapidly build, test, and deploy legacy ASP and .NET modules, the HPMS team delivered tangible results in record time. Softrams was able to convert 20+ legacy ASP modules into modern technologies and implemented modernization into HPMS for delivering better digital service for MA and Part D user community.

This distinction reenergizes and revitalizes us to remain cognizant of the immense work and responsibility that lay ahead for us as we continue our journey of bringing positive change for all.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

Happy Effective Communications Month! June has been deemed the month of improving our interpersonal skills, and with the amount of communicating we do in today’s business climate, proper articulation holds more weight than ever before. Our ability to explicitly communicate is something that is profoundly and uniquely human. (There are very few dogs who worry about which emoji to pick or if that “k” text means something.) People throughout time have always been sending messages; however, we have come a long way from carving in caves and sending homing pigeons to today’s instant video footage. The timeline below shows how much communication has evolved (and continues to do so). 

The History of Communication

 

The present capabilities are driving us to speak more efficiently and more frequently, and with this increased communication comes increased miscommunication.

Beyond the elevated information load, the channels through which socializing is taking place have been drastically altered. Individuals have been forced to replace in person meetings and social activities with emails and video conferences. Previously, nonverbal communication was said to be over 70% of what was “heard” (Mehrabian, Albert)*. With the online climate, we have lost the majority of those unsaid details. An email, unfortunately, does not have the body language to emphasize the important points within a meeting. The question prevails: how do we adapt to making sure we are communicating not only efficiently but also effectively? 

The experts say improving your communication skills is as simple as taking a moment to reflect on the following tenets of expressing yourself eloquently.  

1. Listen.
Effective communication is not purely exchanging information correctly. Effective communication requires spending time actively listening and gaging the meaning of the message. 

2. Know your audience. 

This means understanding the other party’s intentions, as well as taking their emotions and motivations into account. 

3. Be aware of nonverbal communication. 

Effective communication means watching others to see what they may not be saying out loud. For example, if someone spends an entire meeting drumming their leg under the table, they may have had one more cup of coffee than they should have, or they might not have the patience to listen at the moment. Also, it is equally important to be conscious of the signals you may be sending back without even realizing it. 

4. Stay focused on the topic at hand.  

It may be tempting to bring up your coworker’s past mistakes during a discussion or venture off on a tangent but do your best to stick to the present material. 

5. Be confident in yourself.  

There’s a reason you believe in what you do. Take a breath and assert your views. 

6. Be willing to compromise.  

On the other hand, you may not always be 100% right. Look to see if both you and the other party can give a little to find that happy middle ground. If not, consider how compromising now may be a good investment for the future of the relationship. 

7. Be willing to apologize when needed.  

Furthermore, if you do make a mistake, candid apologies are often more remembered than the mess created. 

8. Know when it is not a good time for you to communicate.  

Stress gets the best of all of us at times, but if your emotions are ruling your decisions, it is okay to take a break. 

 

Following these tenets builds a positive work climate that allows coworkers to forge strong relationships based off that foundational skill. Speaking coherently is vital in creating a team. A well-functioning team will push each other, encourage each other, and far outperform their solo counterparts time and time again. Teams turn challenges into success whereas individuals who feel like a number will give up much more quickly.  

So, how does a company ensure effective communication and build that desired high performing team? Softrams, as a quickly growing company, is paving a clear path to prioritizing communication. There needs to be enough easily accessible pathways to connect coworkers – beyond email. For instance, platforms such as Slack serve as the present-day water cooler. While we may not be gathering around in person to show photos of our flowerbeds and children’s graduations, ideas between projects are flying through the different channels. With a top-down approach loosening the power hierarchy, anyone with a good idea can feel comfortable not only to express it, but to act on it. From there, the channels need to be in place to go public. Adding anonymous HR surveys sets a space for honest feedback and weekly learning brown bag surveys for employees continues to improve people’s comfortability.  

 I have outlined eight steps above that can be used a starting point. In reality, there is no magic formula to ensure effective communications that ultimately build a high-functioning team. It will vary from person to person and company to company. So, go out there and start communicating! Send your coworker a message; put out feelers to see how everyone is doing, what new ideas might be bouncing around. With increased quality collaboration, good things are bound to come your way. Utilize June as Effective Communications Month to break out of your comfort zone and speak to someone who you have not spoken to before. Celebrate this month to forge new connections and build new bonds! 

 

*Source: Nonverbal Communication. By Albert Mehrabian. Aldine-Atherton, 1977. 

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

TL;DR: User experience is too important to be left to designers. User journey testing that helps to build those great experiences is too important to be left to testers or developers. Read on to see why it must be a team sport and how you can enable your entire team to be part of it.

User Journey, simply put, is (a) path user may take to accomplish a goal. At times, this may involve just a single application like a website, web application or a mobile application. Other times, this may involve multiple applications, accessed in certain sequence. Even in cases where a single application is presented to users, that single application typically assembles all those interactions behind the scenes.

So it is imperative for a team that is striving to build a great, seamless experience to understand the ‘entire’ user journey and build solutions with users at the front and center. This is different from a systems based approach, where the focus is on building and optimizing systems to support and deliver capabilities.

At Softrams, we call the design approach Human Experience (HX) Design, to build engaging and empowering digital services. Our overall approach can be simplified with the following four ideas:

  • Put users at the front and center
  • Design and build with users, not just for users
  • Leverage technology to empower users
  • Build iteratively and learn more about users at every iteration

User Journey tests; tests that mimics and validates a path user may take to accomplish a goal, are hence critical, particularly in this modern world of micro-services and micro-frontends where the final end user experience is assembled from varied sources and backend systems. For almost all non-trivial applications, this end user experience is built by multiple teams.

User journey testing should not be confused with ‘Usability Testing‘. Usability testing is done by real users of the product/service as part of Human Experience Design process to evaluate if solution is indeed useful and usable. Real users are typically asked to complete tasks and/or accomplish certain goals as our teams watch and learn.

While slightly different with respect to focus and objectives, these tests are also referred to as end-to-end tests, acceptance tests etc. In some organizations, there are dedicated teams to perform these tests. Some teams (often referred to as QA teams) perform these tests manually, clicking through as a typical user interacts with a web application for example. Some teams hire ‘Automation Engineers’ to build ‘browser automation’ test suites so that these tests can be run in an automated fashion. Some organizations tend to push this responsibility to developers that build those very applications to build these automated end to end tests as part of development itself and eliminate dedicated QA or Automation teams. Some organizations use a hybrid approach in that continuum.

As building great user experiences is a team sport, we believe that this important aspect of User Journey tests cannot be left to developers, QA, or automation engineers alone, but this must be a team sport as well, where every member of the team must be engaged and be able to contribute.

This requires us to build that culture in the team to begin with and use tools and processes that nurture this culture.

One important aspect of this approach is to use tools that are accessible to everybody and enable everybody in the team, those with programming background and those without programming background. Traditionally any testing or automation tools are left to developers or automation engineers as it requires writing code to build these automation tests.

We evaluated multiple tools and finally chose Gauge framework about two years ago and have been able to successfully implement it across the organization. We also built some supporting tools to enable our teams to successfully adapt the framework in various products.

Gauge + Taiko Framework

Gauge with Taiko driver offers significant benefits to building user journey tests. You may learn more at https://gauge.org/, but here are key benefits that made a big impact to our teams.

  • Tests are written in plain english using Markdown so anybody in the team can contribute
  • Allows creating easy, readable, and maintainable tests by anybody in the team
  • Great interactive report and documentation for test runs that include a screenshot for all failures
  • Ease and flexibility to organize test cases in multiple ways to run a sub-set of test cases etc.

Fully configured browser based environments

We have also created a fully browser based environment for non-programmers to easily access test projects and environments to review, contribute, and run tests (without having to install and setup locally). This provides a docker container based environment with all test tooling setup and opens VS Code inside browser. You may provision and run workspaces using these containers to offer a fully automated browser based test environments.

Check out https://github.com/softrams/automation-toolset for more.

Softrams Automation Toolset

Gauge Taiko Steps to cover most common scenarios

Gauge Taiko Steps is an open sourced and free to use implementation of most of the common actions a typical user will rely on to interact with a web application. This repository implements common gauge steps for Taiko API, so that tests can be created in plain language without having to programmatically implement steps for most common scenarios. This means, anybody in the team can write fully executable and verifiable test specifications, in plain language, without any additional programming or development needed.

Check out https://github.com/softrams/gauge-taiko-steps for more

Softrams Gauge Taiko Steps

Sample Test Scenario

I would like to show a very simple test scenario to demonstrate the readability of test case, which is still a fully executable and automated test case. Each line that begins with * is an executable test step. You can see the plain language used in each step (compared with typical automation test that only developers can understand).

# Navigation User Journey Test
This is the place you explain the key user journey scenario in plain text or Markdown.

You may additionally **add more notes** about this test scenario. 

In this sample, we will visit https://www.cdc.gov website, one of the most widely accssed health information website and search for Covid information.


## Open the CDC.gov website and search for Covid

Visit CDC.gov website
* Goto "https://www.cdc.gov"

Verify that page is correctly loaded by looking for specific text on the page. 
The presence of this text "About CDC" confirms that page has been loaded fully.
* Check text "About CDC" exists

Now the page has been fully loaded, go ahead and run Accessibility check to see 
if there are any accessibility issues
* Audit page for accessibility


Let us test how the search functionality work on the page, by searching for "Covid" in Search box and
press Enter key on keyboard. 
* Write "Covid" into "Search"
* Press "Enter"

Once search page is fully displayed, let us go ahead and verify if there are any accessibility issues on the page
> Note the flexibility in the framework to evaluate Accessibility at each user interaction on each page. 

* Audit page for accessibility

Go to Videos tab and look for a specific video. Again, once the page is loaded audit for accessibility
* Click "Videos"
* Check text "Know Your Risk of Getting COVID-19" exists
* Audit page for accessibility

Once the test is run, here is a screenshot of the test report, again to demonstrate the ease and readability of the test case, by anybody in the team.

Screenshot showing a test run
Sample Test Case

Since the adoption about two years ago, Softrams teams have built 1000s of test cases, with contributions from every member on the team across many programs.

If you like what you see, checkout the getting started with the framework post.

We are eager to know how others are approaching to build user journey tests. Let us know your thoughts and ideas. Also, do try to use the tools or frameworks shared in this post and provide your feedback.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

My previous post, ‘Automating User Journey Tests‘, talked about the need for accessibility of user journey tests for each team member and how we chose Gauge as our framework of choice. I also introduced our open source steps library to make this possible for everybody in the team, irrespective of their programming background, to be able to contribute to user journey tests. In this post, I will expand on how to get started with the framework.

Please note that we expect the first few steps of this setup to be done by team members with a programming background and offer a fully configured workspace to the rest of the team members. Refer your colleagues with devops, development or automation skills to this repo that offers a fully setup workspace as well if your teams use container based workspaces.

Install Dependencies

These instructions are good for installing Gauge on MacOS. Please refer to Gauge docs for installing on Windows or Linux environments.

Before we begin, you must have Nodejs installed. You may install with homebrew or use appropriate installation package from Nodejs downloads page.

// Install Nodejs
brew install node

// Install Gauge
brew install gauge

// Alternately, you may also use NPM to install Gauge
// npm install -g @getgauge/cli

While not mandatory, we strongly recommend using VSCode as code editor or integrated development environment, as Gauge comes with a great extension for VSCode that makes working with user journey tests a breeze.

Setting up a new project

Start by creating a new folder for the user journey automation project and go inside the new folder created. If you would like to add user journey automation to an existing project, go to the respective folder and follow the command prompts below to proceed further.

// Create a new folder
mkdir gauge-taiko-demo

// go inside the folder
cd gauge-taiko-demo

// initialize a new Gauge project, that uses javascript and Taiko driver/test runner.
gauge init js

// Run default tests generated to verify everything is successful
npm test

Using Gauge Taiko Steps

In the next couple of steps, we will install Gauge Taiko Steps that will help build user journey tests for a majority of common scenarios without developing any code. Please refer to documentation at https://github.com/softrams/gauge-taiko-steps for more details.

// Install Gauge Taiko Steps
npm i @softrams/gauge-taiko-steps

// To include Gauge Taiko Steps to your project, update STEP_IMPL_DIR variable in./env/default/js.properties from: STEP_IMPL_DIR = tests to
STEP_IMPL_DIR = node_modules/@softrams/gauge-taiko-steps/lib, \
                tests

// Delete the default files generated during project setup
rm specs/example.spec
rm tests/step_implementation.js

That’s all! This setup is everything you need to build your first user journey test.

Creating Your First User Journey Test

Create a new file inside specs folder. For this demo, this file will be called, navigation.spec. Open the file in an editor and start creating your first step.

In the first step, we will just open cdc.gov website and check if text “About CDC” exists.

# Navigation User Journey Test
You may optionally add any notes in Markdown format

## Open CDC.gov website and check for text "About CDC" exists
* Goto "https://www.cdc.gov"
* Check text "About CDC" exists 

That’s it! Go ahead and run tests now. If everything is setup properly, you should see test executed successfully.

// Run tests
npm test

// You should see an output like this, if everything goes well

> gauge-taiko-template@ test /demos/gauge-taiko-demo
> gauge run specs/

# Navigation User Journey Test
  ## Open the CDC.gov website	 ✔ ✔

Successfully generated html-report to => /demos/gauge-taiko-demo/reports/html-report/index.html

Specifications:	1 executed	1 passed	0 failed	0 skipped
Scenarios:	1 executed	1 passed	0 failed	0 skipped

Total time taken: 3.512s

You may now open the test report in HTML file to easily review tests.

open ./reports/html-report/index.html

Here is a sample screenshot of the HTML report

In the upcoming posts, I will cover various capabilities and build a variety of user journey tests including accessibility audits without any additional programming. Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback by leaving a comment.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD

At Softrams, we believe building great software solutions require a diverse, cross functional team with all hands on deck. One of the most important aspects the team focuses on is to automate end to end user journey tests and acceptance tests to enable continuous delivery of value. To make sure everybody in the team will be able to review and actively contribute to building user journey tests, we need a testing framework that is accessible to everyone, irrespective of programming background.

After evaluating a few options, we chose Gauge, which allows writing tests in plain language that every member of the team can understand. When needed, it allows enriching with additional contextual documentation and links with simple markdown semantics. However, every step in a test scenario needs to be translated to an action that can be executed by a test runner in the context of a browser. This is almost always left to test automation engineers and developers. We chose to bridge that gap as well by completely eliminating programming or development for each step.

Introducing Gauge Taiko Steps, an open sourced and free to use implementation of most of the common actions a typical user will rely on to interact with a web application. This repository implements common gauge steps for Taiko API, so that tests can be created in plain language without having to programmatically implement steps for most common scenarios. This means, anybody in the team can write fully executable and verifiable test specifications, in plain language, without any additional programming or development needed.

Check out https://github.com/softrams/gauge-taiko-steps for more

Softrams Gauge Taiko Steps

We have also created a fully browser based environment for non-programmers to easily access test projects and environments to review, contribute and run tests (without having to install and setup locally). This provides a docker container based environment with all test tooling setup and opens VS Code inside browser. You may provision and run workspaces using these containers to offer a fully automated browser based test environments.

Check out https://github.com/softrams/automation-toolset for more.

Softrams Automation Toolset

In a follow up post, I will share more details on the framework and step by step instructions to get started and how all team members can contribute to building great experiences.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD
Deck of cards with Softrams logo

Ts or T-shaped people or T-skilled people, is a metaphor known to be first referenced by Tim Brown, CEO of the revered design firm IDEO, as the best method to assess and build inter-disciplinary teams.

The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one’s own.

I guess, that quote from Wikipedia says it all. If one is serious about agility in their teams or organization, must look for inter-disciplinary teams or many refer to as cross-functional teams. Cross-functional doesn’t mean, as some assume, a person that can do every function in the team, but have a team of people with different functional expertise.

What Ts emphasize is that we should not only look for people with functional expertise, but also have broader understanding and hence appreciation of other functions. So they can trust each other in the group and collaborate towards the goal. Many a times, if you do not appreciate what others are bringing to the table, it is very difficult to build trust and rely on each other. Trust is the key to agile teams, particularly where innovation matters, because you are always venturing in unchartered waters.

We are like building a football team of champions, that play their positions exceptionally well and trust in each other to win the game.

At Softrams, we are consciously striving to build a team. Not a one person army. So, no, we are not looking for unicorns or rock stars that can do every possible thing under the sky. But somebody that is really exceptional at one thing and understand well enough to trust in each other and collaborate with rest of the team on all other aspects.

Here are our ground rules :

  1. We define objectives and specify key skills that are required for a position at hand, as precisely as possible. Often, it will be one key skill and a few related skills.
  2. We believe that what a person learned and did in the past 2–3 years has significant impact and value than what a person learned or did years ago. So, we refrain from asking for experience in our key skills longer than 2–3 years.
  3. Softrams is built on innovation with people that push the boundaries in every direction. The key to this culture is our emphasis on continuous learning and experimentation. So we always look for people that are always learning and trying something. We value your weekend experiment trying to learn a new skill above many other factors.
  4. We love people with strong opinions and those that respect and appreciate the fact that everybody in the team have their own strong opinions. Ideas must win, no matter who brings them up. This is why, we look for Ts that are exceptionally well but also respect others and trust each other.
  5. We do not believe in factory style cubicles. We are not looking to optimize the real estate. We want to make ideas thrive and teams are built and collaboration happen. We have consciously invested and designed our workspaces, to be open, vibrant and make us huddle together anywhere and work.
  6. We always love to know more and ask every single person that is considering joining Softrams team to share their body of work and let that be the focal point of interview to assess (rather than a multi-page resume). If for any reason, it is not possible to share, we ask to do a very simple experiment for about an hour, giving you a chance to showcase your skills, your favorite tools and your approach to solving a problem.

These ground rules help us bring not only the best and brightest in the industry, but also build a team of champions, that trust in each other and work as a team to win.

If you are looking for an opportunity to challenge the status-quo and build human centered digital experiences, we are growing and hiring for our UX, DevOps, Full Stack (Angular / NodeJS) and Cloud teams in Baltimore MD, Leesburg VA, Plano TX or remotely from anywhere in the USA. Checkout for more details https://www.softrams.com/careers

Practice Areas
Softrams – Practice Areas

Have the Ts? Join our Ace Teams at one these vibrant, open and exhilarating collaboration workspaces in Baltimore MD, Leesburg VA or remotely from anywhere in the USA.

We are honored to have these awards

Tech Industry
Disruptive Tech Fast 50 Award
Inc 5000 Award
75 WD