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Automating the Future at Jana Mobile

Hi, I’m Michael Mintz, Automation Lead at Jana Mobile.  After working here for several months, I’m happy to share with you how we use automation to be more productive.

At Jana Mobile, we love replacing manual processes with ones that scale efficiently over time as we grow. At the beginning of 2014, our existing processes were being pushed hard by our rapid growth. To cite some examples: integration testing was manual, code deployment deploying code was slow, accounting report generated was done ad-hoc, and our entire member support team consisted of humans responding to tickets on their own.

We’ve come a long way since. Thanks to automation, there are no more humans focused on manual QA, code is deployed multiple times per day (as opposed to once per week previously) in true continuous delivery fashion, many accounting reports are auto-generated as often as needed for business use, and there’s a member support bot (“Selenese” is her name: more on her soon) that’s processing a growing portion of incoming support requests.

I, too, have grown from my old ways, where I used to use Selenium as my Swiss-army-knife for practically all automation tasks. Now I use the right tool for the job more often. For example, instead of emulating a browser with Selenium, my scripts invoke the appropriate server-side API calls when available.

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(Jenkins – a way to keep track of your automation)

When I do use Selenium, I find ways to be better about it, such as using it in conjunction with PhantomJS, which works as a headless web browser. That alone saves a lot of time and money, because that means you don’t have to worry about buying or renting additional servers to serve as an environment for opening up and controlling actual web browsers. Sometimes APIs aren’t available, and sometimes you need more than a headless browser to get something automated. That’s when you can turn to something like BrowserStack for running your Selenium scripts when you don’t want to maintain your own EC2 virtual machines.

If you were to ask me what makes Jana Mobile an awesome place to work, I could give you a list of reasons, but I’ll just start with my favorite: Here’s a place where you can make a real difference in the world. You might not have heard of our organization yet, but you may have heard of our main app for Android: mCent (which is very popular in emerging markets such as India). mCent gives people airtime for trying out offers (such as new apps) on their mobile devices.

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(Image of Yohei and other Jana engineers in action)

Perhaps you’ve been to a website where you saw an ad for trying out a new app? For nearly all those web sites in the world, you won’t get compensated for trying out that app, and you may not even like that app once you’ve tried it. Here, we believe that your time is more valuable than that, and that you should be able to earn real credit for your time & effort. With mCent, people can earn credit in the form of airtime for prepaid mobile devices. Given that roughly half the mobile world is on a prepaid mobile device, that’s a lot of potential users. Imagine the possibilities when people have real incentives to act… That’s a game-changer because now there’s a real way to provide free internet to the next billion people in the world. For more reading on why earning airtime in emerging markets is important, see our blog.

Does our mission sound exciting? We’re hiring 🙂

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