IMVU’s Approach to Integrating Quality Assurance with Continuous Deployment (for IMVU Engineering Blog)

When I started managing IMVU’s Quality Assurance team about 18 months ago, we were just beginning to implement big changes to our product development process. Some of those changes were in the area of quality assurance, and I finally got around to writing about how QA actually functions today at IMVU. Here is an excerpt:


IMVU’s Approach to Integrating Quality Assurance with Continuous Deployment

We’ve heard a lot of interest from folks we’ve talked to in the tech community and at conferences about our Continuous Deployment process at IMVU, and how we push code up to 50 times a day. We’ve also received some questions about how we do this without introducing regressions and new bugs into our product, and how we approach Quality Assurance in this fast-paced environment.

The reality is that we occasionally do negatively impact customers due to our high velocity and drive to deliver features to our customers and to learn from them. Sometimes we impact them by delivering a feature that isn’t valuable, and sometimes we introduce regressions or new bugs into our production environment.

But we’ve delivered features our customers didn’t like even when we were moving more slowly and carefully—and it was actually more costly because it took us longer to learn and change our direction. For example, we once spent more than a month of development time working on a feature called Updates–similar to the Facebook “friend feed”, and we guessed wrong–way wrong–about how our customers would use that feature.  It took us a way too long to ship a feature nobody actually wanted, and the result was that we delayed delivery of a feature that our customers were dying to have: Groups.

Asking customers what they want takes guesswork and internal employee opinions out of product development decisions, making it easy to resolve questions such as, “Should we build tools to let users categorize their avatar outfits, or should we build a search tool, or both?”  We make the best decisions we can based on available customer data, competitive analysis, and our combined experience and insights—then build our features as quickly as possible to test them with customers to see if we were right.


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It’s Hack Week at IMVU (for IMVU Engineering Blog)

I helped launch the IMVU Engineering Blog two weeks ago as a Hack Week project. The first posting to that blog is an explanation of Hack Week and how we do it at IMVU, authored by myself and Roland Blanton, an Engineering Manager at IMVU. Here is an excerpt:


It’s Hack Week at IMVU

Yesterday we kicked off another Hack Week at IMVU, a solid week when we put product development in the hands of IMVU engineers. What does this mean? An engineer can spend the week working on something they personally feel is valuable to the company. It’s a way to harness experience and insights from across the company and give everyone more ownership over what we are building here. The buzz in the building is tangible: there are fewer meetings, less process around group work, and people are focused on finishing their features to put them in front of customers.

Hack Week has been an integral part of our engineering culture since 2007, giving our software engineers a chance to guide product development and test their ideas. This tradition has resulted in many popular features like Outfits ManagementTurbo Product Loading of 3D assets, IMVU Badges, and shopping directly from a 3D chat. All these features were driven by IMVU engineers during past Hack Weeks and then adopted by our product teams for release to all customers.


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