How Geckoboard Uses Ghost Inspector to Keep Thousands of Real-Time Data Dashboards Running Smoothly [Case Study]

Geckoboard case study

Numbers don’t lie, and it’s Geckoboard’s mission to equip data-driven companies with high-quality, real-time KPIs that help motivate teams, gauge performance, and assist in important decision-making. Because of its user-friendly interface and far-reaching data accessibility, Geckoboard boasts a client list in the thousands, including Ticketmaster, Airtable, Loom, and StanleyBlack&Decker. 

Meet Mike Harris, QA expert and lone tester at Geckoboard. In this case study, we’ll hear from Mike about his experience with automated testing through Ghost Inspector and why he recommends it for both novice and advanced Quality Assurance testers. Mike details how Ghost Inspector helps his team grow their test-building expertise while streamlining the overall testing process to ensure that production runs as it should. 

 Introduce yourself 👋

Hello. My name is Mike Harris, and I’m the lone tester at Geckoboard. I’ve been a tester for about 20 years, working as a member of test teams, a test lead, and now a lone tester. As a lone tester at Geckoboard, I’m involved in doing exploratory testing and in test automation, for which I use Ghost Inspector. I’m also involved in other initiatives to try and improve the quality of our code. As a tester, I’ve also organized and spoken at testing conferences, contributed to two eBooks (How Can I Test This? and Testing Stories), and I have my own personal testing and quality blog.

What is your business?

At Geckoboard, we aim to give every person and every organization access to understandable and relevant data. We do this by helping people to make dashboards to display their data. These dashboards can be shared on Slack, by email, embedded into your applications, and if you have an office, they can even be put on a TV or an office wall. Our dashboards are integrated with about 80 different integrations, so whatever form your data’s in, Geckoboard can help you display it, so that you can use and share it within your organization.

What challenges were you facing that made you seek out Ghost Inspector?

The challenges that we were originally facing were that we wanted to have some automated UI tests that ran on a schedule that we could run against production to check that production was working as it should and that nothing was broken. After we’d used Ghost Inspector in that way, we also decided to use Ghost Inspector to create automated tests that ran through our UI that we use as part of our continuous integration set up.

How did Ghost Inspector help you overcome those challenges?

With Ghost Inspector, tests are easy to create and easy to maintain. As well as that, we can invoke the tests either by schedule or by using Ghost Inspector’s API, both of which we use. What’s really helpful to us is that if a test fails, we can send notifications to Slack. So if you’ve got a test running in production and something fails, it comes straight to Slack, and we know immediately that there’s an issue to deal with.

What specific features on Ghost Inspector do you find the most helpful?

I’d say the most helpful feature is modularization. There is a setting that allows me to create a test and say that it can only be run as part of another test. And if I put it within my modules and steps, which I use across a number of tests, then I can import that module into those tests. That means instead of having steps in each test, I can just have tests in this module, which means there’s fewer test steps for me to maintain. It also means it’s easier for me to create tests, because I can import different modules into a test and build up my tests in that way. 

I also like the use of variables with different types of scope. So within a module, I could use a variable, and I could therefore use the module with different values for that variable in different tests. Another feature I like is the fact that if there’s a step that I want that isn’t provided by Ghost Inspector, I can write it within JavaScript, and I think that’s really helpful.

Why do you recommend Ghost Inspector to other businesses?

I would recommend Ghost Inspector, because it’s a reliable test automation tool that tests your application through the user interface. I would also recommend it because it’s something that’s going to develop your testers’ skills. If you’ve got testers that perhaps aren’t very familiar with programming, then they can gain an understanding of development through this, because if they’re working and creating tests in Ghost Inspector, they’ll want to use modularization. They’ll also want to use the variables, and they can learn to write some JavaScript. These are all great skills. So I would say, use Ghost Inspector, because it’s a great tool for your business, and it’s a great tool for developing your tester skills.

 Is there anything else you would like to tell us? 

The only thing I think I’d like to say that I haven’t said so far is I’ve always found customer support at Ghost Inspector very helpful when I’ve had a problem. And I think they deserve lots of compliments for that. So thank you very much to everyone who works at customer support on Ghost Inspector.