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"Seven years ago a test run report was just a static HTML page..." Alexey Khursevich about Zebrunner launch and more

After seven years of in-house development, Solvd is glad to congratulate Zebrunner on the occasion of launching a brand new customer-oriented product. Zebrunner is an all-in-one automated testing platform providing users with insights on their testing results with AI analytical dashboards. It helps to make debugging faster with automatic issue reporting.

To check up on the platform development history, Zebrunner team's plans, and product insights, we held a great conversation with the man who stands at the origins of the project. Let us share with you the most exciting points from the interview with Alexey Khursevich, CEO at Zebrunner, Inc.
October 21, 2020
... about the idea of creating Zebrunner:
- At some point, we realized that we don't have any centralized reporting tools. Back then first versions of Selenium were introduced, which was an automation tool, but there were no tools for result reporting. To get a sort of test automation report 7 years ago, you could run automation locally or at a CI service and get only a static HTML page as a result. We were frequently approached by companies with QA departments numbered more than a hundred of engineers, so the question of reporting centralization was up-to-date. The main concept was to put all the automation results into the central database in order to analyze them and provide clear reports for managers and the engineering team directly involved in the automation and test debugging.
… about starting Zebrunner development:
- We started in 2013. There were actually two of us: Vadim, my workmate, and me. I was in charge of engineering tasks and the development process. Along with setting up infrastructure, my workmate researched industry insights and clients' requirements. After receiving any customer needs or challenges, we created tickets and implemented the very features our clients needed. That was definitely customer-driven product development. I would say that the main development factor was several large enterprises that we were and are still cooperating with.
… about team extending:
Approximately three years ago we realized that we are spending a lot of time administering our clients. This way we decided to migrate Zebrunner to the cloud and make it a multi-tenant system hosting several customers in separate workspaces at once. Another reason for that was cutting down hardware expenses. Instead of deploying a separate server space for every single customer, we transferred them to a cluster divided into workspaces. By that time we were already using Docker, so moving to Kubernetes was not an issue. Our goal was to build a fully-featured SaaS solution. Perhaps, that was the moment when we decided to form a team. In the beginning, the team consisted of a designer and 4 developers. Also, we involved several manual and automation engineers when we needed some testing. Now the team has doubled: 4 backend and 3 frontend developers, 2 UX/UI specialists, 2 QA engineers (manual and automation), and a product marketing manager.
… about challenges they were going through:
- Back in the day, we were making lots of custom features that were used differently by our customers and in most cases were narrowly specialized. Going without an explicit modular system our product was actually turning into a heap of multiple functionalities. We realized that it was becoming harder and harder to maintain and configure the infrastructure. Our solution was as follows: to unify functionalities and make it reusable. Another technical challenge was scaling under growing workloads. Despite we were already in Docker, that was still a non-scalable system. Fortunately, while migrating to Kubernetes we fixed it and now Zebrunner is fine with working under high loads. Our team was adjusting the system so that it could provide multiple workspaces based on a single application. Of course, it required in-depth refactoring and a complete rework of the database architecture, which was also a great challenge we encountered and successfully solved.
… about Zebrunner's name and mascot:
- Good question. The team wanted to put our heart and soul into the platform. We had a brainstorming session within the company and even a motivational quiz with a prize for the best name. Unfortunately, I don't remember what the candidates were. Then one day a girl from the marketing department came up with the story about Zebrunner: a runner stands for autotest running and Zebra is an animal with a unique coat pattern. We wanted our product to have an identity and be recognizable.
... about Zebrunner's customers:
- There are at least two customer personas of Zebrunner. First of all, it's an automation engineer, who writes automation scripts, supports the testing environment, and analyzes test results. Also, this persona can be a manual QA engineer analyzing automation results. The second type is a manager - a businessman in charge of product overall success. It can be a QA manager responsible for product quality or someone tracking quality changes.

In the first case, Zebrunner provides an engineer with an agent that reports automation results. Our tool builds reports and helps in analyzing results. For management purposes, Zebrunner represents an extensive dashboarding and widget system that enables tracking product's quality changes: success rate, task completion progress, or new issues (e.g., from Jira tickets), system errors, environment downtimes.

Zebrunner, as a reporting and test execution tool, is designed for engineers experienced in test automation. Let's say you've already automated test cases with Selenium, Appium, or any other popular solution, and the question comes up: how can we execute the automation within our CI pipeline and how can we manage it? Just use Zebrunner and get detailed reports with statistics in one place! For those who have no automation yet - consider Carina, our open-source automation framework - if necessary, we provide capacities for automation processes building along with consulting by Zebrunner's automation experts.
… about Zebrunner's benefits:
- Sometimes when running test automation an engineer fails to recognize events that cause sporadic errors. That can be a problem with the environment. As we know, end-to-end tests may take plenty of time, and, for example, an execution suite including 150 test cases can take up to an hour or even more. During this time 20% of the cases can be failed, but an automation engineer still has to provide a consistent report. The test run is completed and he understands that the cases were failed due to an unstable environment, not the automation code itself. Using Zebrunner's "Smart Run" feature, our abstract engineer would easily rerun the failed tests and get a consolidated report based on the previous results. With the help of the "Known Issue" feature, an automation engineer can mark a Jira ticket as a known issue, which means when test cases fail again with the same stack trace, this issue will not be analyzed. This way the engineer will be able to skip the issue and save his time. It is crucial for a business to see the structure of the product's quality changes and how the automation team performs. Zebrunner makes the real picture transparent with widgets and dashboards. We set them up according to the client's request, or provide the constructor so that the client can customize the tool on his own.
… about Zebrunner's value for the automation tools market:
- Our main value lies in the fact that when building automation absolutely any engineer - regardless of whether he works in a small business or a large enterprise, in the domain of medicine or high-tech - can implement Zebrunner at any stage of his project and get a full-fledged reporting system on a click. The system helps the company to understand what is happening with the product. I believe that if you use the whole Zebrunner package, which includes reporting and test execution, you can significantly speed up your time-to-market. Today this is a key indicator: given globalization and increasing competition, it is vital to reach the consumer with new stable features. There are industries where an error can cost everything, so we've prioritized speed and quality delivering Zebrunner.
… about making automation engineers' lives easier:
- We have real-time analytics that allows keeping track of what is going on in a particular test session at the moment. Also, Zebrunner provides test log tracking, screenshotting, and video recording. These and other features simplify the process of analyzing for both engineers and managers when dealing with failed test cases. In the nearest future, we plan to adapt the tool to new frameworks and programming languages, as well as introducing AI to our platform.
… about standing out from competitors:
- We have two main competitive advantages. Firstly, it is an extremely user-friendly UI/UX that was built by engineers for engineers. We collect insights from our clients and developers, which helps us to constantly improve. Secondly, this is our engine, which we consider as the fastest and cheapest in comparison with those on the market. Often, competitors suggest fixed prices for capacity per month. In our turn, Zebrunner offers per-minute billing, which is much more flexible and better fits in the automation industry tempos.
… about the strategy:
- Surely, we strive to remain a customer-driven company, and keep in touch with our clients, bringing them as much value as possible. At the same time, we want to position ourselves as an innovative company that provides features that have no analogs on the market.
… about plans for the next year:
- We expect to work on customer feedback on the platform and, sure, requests for new features. This will help us to understand where to scale, as well as build the proper customer support service. It seems that this is one of the essential components of a successful product. We do not set Zebrunner an objective to grow 15-20 times within a few months. Our strategy is to grow but grow steadily.
Discover more opportunities with Zebrunner by creating a free workspace for your organization and getting access to the Premium functionality for a 30-days period. In case, you want to save your time, please benefit from a quick tour and start your automation journey!