Presentation: Turn specs into high quality apps

A while ago, I shared the Dutch version of my presentation called “Turn specs into high quality apps”. Last November, I was invited to do this presentation over at the DevDayBE-conference in English. Today, I want to share the recording of that presentation. I’ve written already several articles here about ATDD/BDD with Specflow and Xamarin.

During the presentation we’ll discuss the Three Amigo’s, how specifications are written using Gherkin and being automated with Specflow and Xamarin.UITest. We even managed to introduce a new buzzword: Acceptance Driven Presentation (ADP).

The sample code can be found on Github. Enjoy!


I hope you liked the presentation and managed to get inspired. Look around on this blog to learn more about testing or Xamarin. Tell me what you think through Twitter or leave a comment below!

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Crosspost: Your Guide to Getting Feedback Fast and Building Better Apps

Last November, during Microsoft Connect();, Visual Studio App Center (previously known as Mobile Center) was made Generally available. Their Blog made some changes as well and I got invited to write a guest post. I’m proud to share my first post on that blog that I’d like to recommend!

Read “Your Guide to Getting Feedback Fast and Building Better Apps

The article contains a lot of information, but some highlights are:

  • Understand why it’s vitally important to get feedback fast to build a succesful app.
  • Why having Beta testers can help you get the feedback you need and how to set it up and enable two-way communication.
  • Learn about the use of feature flags inside your apps to hypercharge the feedback loop.
  • Understand the importance of separating Deployment and Releasing using these feature flags.
  • Combining the feedback from users and metrics from App Center Analytics to compare Qualitative & Quantitative Feedback.

And much, more more!

Read “Your Guide to Getting Feedback Fast and Building Better Apps

Let me know what you think of the post by leaving a comment or through Twitter. Expect more crossposts on the Visual Studio App Center Blog in the future!

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Facebook’s new “Explore Feed” makes its way to the app’s main navigation

 Earlier this year, Facebook was spotted testing a new type of News Feed – one that designed to help you discover content across the social network, beyond posts from friends and Pages you already follow. During tests, the feed was available through the Facebook app underneath a “rocket ship” icon – something that seemed to confuse users, who didn’t understand… Read More
Social – TechCrunch

E-Commerce and Apps Pave the Way To The Future of Retail: Inside Amazon Go, A New Retail Experience


We’re a company of builders. Of pioneers. It’s our job to make bold bets, and we get our energy from inventing on behalf of customers. Here are just some of the innovations pioneered by Amazon, and we’re always looking for the next one. – Amazon

Every industry is ripe for disruption. It’s what you do now that defines your future and legacy.

One of the most exposed industries to disruption at the moment, among many, is the retail sector. From the internet of things (IoT) to sensors to beacons to displays to apps and everything in between, each new trend introduces new challenges and opportunities to compete.

Technology trends however, do not solely define the future of retail. People count for everything. How they shop today versus how they want to and will shop in the future is the source of meaningful innovation. Technology changes. People evolve. That’s digital Darwinism at work. But there’s more at play.

Mobile, social, and every popular app or device that become the next big thing constantly push people further and further toward new and exciting experiences. Digital payments too, such as PayPal, Square, Venmo, ApplePay, Google Wallet, et al., are conditioning consumers to rethink the relationship between physical cash and transactions. With that said, even transactions are open to new dimensions.

On-demand companies such as Postmates, Uber, and the like, are hiding payments and transactions and packing everything together as “an experience.” Add everything together, and those paying close attention will see how outside forces are influencing new customer behaviors, preferences and expectations day in and day out.


Business as usual is no longer ok. Taking new tech and tying it down to old perspectives and processes is not innovation. It’s iteration at best and dangerous in common practice. Retail and e-commerce not only face new pressures to innovate, but also must explore co-existence and even collaboration to re-imagine the meaning of “space.” The reality is that competition can come from anywhere.

What’s the difference between iteration and innovation?

Iteration is using new tech to do the same things better or differently.

Innovation is doing new things that create new opportunities and value.

Only one sets the stage for a new normal.

What’s clear now is that customers do not want compromise. Yet, they’re forced to compromise in many ways throughout the customer journey. Innovation in shopper experience is all the work you do to conform to expectations and aspirations of people as they evolve instead of making them conform to your legacy perspectives, assumptions, processes and metrics of success.

Physical retail space, operations, and everything behind the scenes are your opportunities to disrupt and at the same time, thwart disruption and competitive threats.

Amazon Sets The Bar for a New Level of Customer Experience…Again

Amazon made news when it opened a brick-and-mortar bookstore to challenge everyone’s idea of what a bookstore could be in the 21st century. Now, Amazon opened a beta version of what a grocery store could be. Introducing Amazon Go. Opened only for employees in Washington at the moment, this 1800 square foot pilot demonstrates exactly how retailers need to rethink the future of retail beyond beacons, magic mirrors and apps.

What is retail?

That’s a serious question.

We tend to base the answer on retail as we know it. It’s a form of cognitive or validation bias if you will. When we consider new possibilities, they’re centered on a common perspective of today’s functional environment. We don’t start from a new center and as such, we unintentionally wrestle with iteration vs innovation.

But not Amazon…

This is a company that often starts with a blank slate, customer-first perspectives, and different questions:

What if…?

Might we…?


Amazon is yet again, demonstrating that the future of retail is left to imagination. It seems that more and more, the path to innovation is tied directly to the ability to appreciate, but also see past, iteration.

So, what is Amazon Go?

Let’s start with what it isn’t…a traditional retail store.

Amazon is beta testing a grocery store for the 21st century that reconsiders space and transactions in a world that blurs mobile, online and spatiality. It all takes place in a new 1,800 square foot space at 2131 7th Ave in Seattle.

It all starts with an app…Amazon Go. You “check in” via the app when you walk in the store. Using a combination of sensor (fusion), computer vision and deep learning, the smart shelves track what’s removed and returned creating a virtual cart of sorts. When the shopper is finished, they…wait for it…just leave. There is no check stand, register, or clerk waiting to take your money. The app charges your account and sends you a receipt.


In a statement, Amazon explained the inspiration for Amazon Go:

Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?

Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.

At the moment, the store is open to employees only. But it’s just a matter of time until it, or something like it, opens to the public. Make no mistake, analysts and strategists everywhere are now forced to rethink the future of retail from a new perspective…starting with adapting customer experiences to connected consumerism. Retail now has a new normal.

It’s smart brick-and-mortar retail fused with Amazon Prime built upon a new perspective for physical and virtual space all with the frictionless transaction model of Uber. All it takes to re-imagine the future of retail is to explore the experiences consumers love outside of the industry. Then and only then, can you balance iteration with innovation. As Steve Jobs once famously said, “Start with the customer experience and work backwards from there.”


Please read X, The Experience When Business Meets Design or visit my previous publications

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

Invite him to speak at your next event or meeting. 

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Brian Solis

[Dutch] Presentation: Turn specs into high quality apps

As an introduction, I’ve written already several articles here about ATDD/BDD with Specflow and Xamarin. All of this led up to a presentation that was given at Microsoft TechDays in the Netherlands. Here, I’ll show how InfoSupport works together with the Dutch Railways how we Turn specifications into high quality apps.

Presentation: Turn specs into high quality apps

During the presentation we’ll discuss the Three Amigo’s, how specifications are written using Gherkin and being automated with Specflow and Xamarin.UITest. We even managed to introduce a new buzzword: Acceptance Driven Presentation (ADP).

The sample code can be found on Github. Take note the presentation itself is in Dutch, the slides are English. Enjoy!

Read more… ()

Slack adds shortcut buttons for quick actions in connected apps

At Slack headquarters in San Francisco.

Slack is on a mission to make it easier for us to get things done, supported by the launch of new message buttons — interactive elements that enable better interactions with some of the 500 apps in Slack’s marketplace. Among the early launch partners include Trello, Kayak, and Riffsy.

The idea behind message buttons is to streamline the work done on other daily tools. By simply having a Slack button, you can trigger an action within the app with a single click. So you might be able to approve and submit invoices or expense reports, for example; create cards and details in a Trello board without leaving Slack; or search for flights, hotels, and rental cars with a single tap.

Although Slack said that the new feature is about providing a more convenient experience for its 3 million daily active users, it’s also an effort to increase the time users spend in the company’s own app. Slack views its product as an operating system for the workplace — the central repository for all communication — and so it needs to retain as much of our attention as possible. We’re already spending an average of at least 2 hours per weekday in the app, according to Slack.

The complete list of launch partners for the message button release are Trello, Kayak, Greenhouse, Qualtrics, Talkdesk, PagerDuty, Kip, Kyber, Riffsy, Abacus, Current, and Talkus.

Interactivity of Talkus message button on Slack. Interactivity of Trello message button on Slack. Interactivity of Abacus message button on Slack. Interactivity of Kayak message button on Slack. Interactivity of Qualtrics message button on Slack.

The launch of message buttons adheres to the schedule Slack laid out in its platform roadmap, which means that soon we’ll start to see analytics roll out, along with a developer dashboard and deeper integrations. The new feature comes weeks after Slack rolled out its sign-in buttons that third-party developers can add to let users authenticate with their Slack logins.

Get more stories like this on TwitterFacebook

Social – VentureBeat

Twitter adds more personalized follow recommendations to its apps



Twitter is trying to fix its discovery problem — again.

The company is adding a new section to its iOS and Android app that will provide users with personalized recommendations for accounts they should follow.

The update appears in the top left corner of the app, where the “find people” tab has been renamed to “Connect.” The Connect tab (not to be confused with the notifications tab that was previously called connect) now provides much more robust follow suggestions than previous versions of the app.

The section takes factors like who you’re already following and your previous activity into account in making its recommendations. It also explains why it’s making each suggestion. Twitter says it expects these recommendations to improve over time as it tweaks its method. Read more…

More about Apps And Software, Social Media, Twitter, Tech, and Apps Software

Social Media

Facebook Apps for Marketers: What You Need To Know

As you may know, Facebook has 1.59 Billion active users. But, did you know? A whopping 90% of users access the platform via their mobile devices.

This means businesses have to stay nimble with fast-loading content a la Instant Articles (coming to everyone on April 12th). And, this means you need to be able to manage your Facebook business activity on the fly. Be sure to tap into the power of the various Facebook mobile apps, as I wrote about in my latest post for Social Media Examiner.

Every Facebook Page Admin should be using the Pages Manager app for prompt access to messages, as well as scheduling content, and responding to comments and posts by your audience. Plus, the Facebook Ads Manager is super helpful for monitoring your ad campaigns and/or creating quick ads while away from your desk.

On another note, for a quick summary of the new Facebook Pixel, check out the latest #MariMinute video on

Facebook Workshop with Mari Smith, San Diego

Facebook Business Workshop: Join Mari & Team in San Diego!

Facebook ads got you down? Could you use some help mastering your Facebook marketing for much improved ROI? Come learn the very latest and best practices for your Facebook marketing. Join me and my team of professionals in San Diego, California on April 20th at this small-group, hands-on Facebook Workshop.

This is the blog version of this week’s issue of The Social Scoop. I confess, we had a typo this week in the email. I goofed and put 1.59 million Facebook users instead of billion … gah!. Thanks heaps to my subscriber Michael Carrubba for pointing out the typo! 

Btw, if you’re already subscribed to The Social Scoop, you’ll continue to receive the email on Fridays. If you’re not yet signed up and would like to be, please enter your name and email in the box to the right (desktop) or below the post (mobile). Thank you!

Mari’s Top Social Media Picks – March 25, 2016
Issue #193

Greetings! Please enjoy this week’s top articles we’ve hand-picked for you!

1. Facebook Mobile Apps: A Guide for Marketers

by Mari Smith on

The majority of Facebook’s active users are on mobile. Are you using mobile apps to connect with them? Here are the key things you need to know!

2. Too Many Channels, Too Little Time: Build a Social Media Strategy that’s Right for You


There are so many channels that you could spend your time on: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Medium, Pinterest and the list goes on! But trying to be on all of them just because they exist isn’t a good plan. This terrific post takes you through evaluating your social media and selecting a strategy that works for you and your business.

3. Grow Your Community on Instagram in 4 Simple Steps


We’ve heard a lot about Instagram recently because of the new ‘Facebookification’ change to the feed (posts are no longer in chronological order). As expected, Instagram users are a bit upset. However, Instagram is here for the long haul and is still an important network to use. Read on to learn ways to grow your community. And regarding the feed changes, this post from WeRSM explains what they will mean for businesses. That’s all for this week’s issue of The Social Scoop! Here’s wishing you a glorious Easter weekend and a lovely week ahead! I love my peeps! I heart my peeps! On a personal note, I’m delighted to be at home this weekend ready to enjoy a very special, quiet and meaningful Easter break with my partner. Wow, looks like we’re in for sunshine and 80 degree weather. By the way, I had another quick trip to Salt Lake City, Utah this week (Sun-Tues) – working with one of my top clients (a startup in the beauty industry!). Although some days are warmer and springlike in SLC, they also still get snow just now… and I did a fun Facebook Live video as the snow was falling, sharing Facebook Live tips! 😉

Facebook Live Tips … live from snowy Salt Lake City, Utah! ???* If you don’t yet have Live on your personal profile…

Posted by Mari Smith on Tuesday, March 22, 2016



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Mari Smith - Social Media Marketing Success