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Code & Architecture Certification Updates

November 2020: Article by Lloyd McFarlin
, Senior IT Engineer – Applications, Mobility Center of Excellence (MCoE)

Focus of efforts

The MCoE has been busy lately planning and implementing various changes and improvements to the process of certifying Kaiser Permanente applications. Among these include an increased focus on automation towards enhanced metrics within Sonarqube, vetting and approval of third-party dependencies (both open-sourced libraries and commercial), and accessibility testing.

Sonarqube has become our primary point of cataloging technical debt and code-coverage of KP’s suite of mobile applications. We’re hoping to enhance that further with custom plugins and metrics around things such as usage of deprecated APIs and libraries as a place to start along with enhanced pass/fail metrics for unit-test coverage. Deprecated API usage is always a risk, especially as the timeline between when those APIs were deprecated and the current release lengthens. Marking these in certifications allows for better project planning towards mitigating these risks rather than last-minute scrambles when these APIs are formally removed from iOS and/or Android OS. Meanwhile, unit-test coverage has long been a focus at KP with a goal of 80% total test coverage. While that goal may sound quite lofty, we’re hoping to encourage progress towards that end by simply focusing on improvements to overall coverage rather than hard-set percentage value requirements.

Third-party libraries

Properly approving and testing third-party libraries in an entity our size with our risk potential is something we can consider overdue. While our in-house coded apps have always been subject to review, we haven’t placed the same level of emphasis on code written outside of the company even though we bundle it as part of our applications. It naturally makes sense that we would, at this point, address this problem and seek to minimize the risk to our organization as it pertains to security threats present and any other issues that could present volatility. We’re still evaluating software that may be useful for scanning and screening of libraries and also for cataloging and managing the eventual list of approved frameworks.

Accessibility

Accessibility testing is another initiative that has been long-running in various forms and it’s certainly hit a few setbacks within our practices and operations. We no longer use LevelAccess for our mobile applications due to a change in product direction but we have been evaluating usage of scanning software from Deque. Lloyd McFarlin
, Senior IT Engineer, presented at a recent Mobility Developers Community of Practice event on the usage of Deque in automated UI testing and this route shows a great deal of promise towards making accessibility testing easier on an ongoing basis. We’re further working with Deque on enhancing their products to better fit our needs and workflows going forward so we’ll be eagerly looking ahead for such new features.

Of course, with all of this work going on to enhance our certification offerings, we continue to work to meet (and often beat) our timeline agreements with our various internal partners and we hope the enhancements upcoming will not only improve our offers but also our speed of certification. Our true hope here is to further improve our mobile technology practices and code quality throughout the entire organization and we’re very thankful that our development partners have been striving to that end in cooperation with us.

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Thank you

Thank you for reading this article. Please take a minute to send us your questions or feedback about this submission at MCoE-Comms@kp.org. Let us know if you have a mobile themed topic or suggestion for upcoming editions of the MCoE Newsletter!

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MCoE partnership – Contact us

KAISER PERMANENTE exists to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.

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