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Showing posts from April, 2009

UI test framework design using Watir

I wrote a little toy test automation framework recently. It's a keyword-driven framework, and the test data is kept in a CSV file. The test data look like this: goto,,, text_field,name,q,pickaxe button,name,btnG,click match,Programming Ruby,text This is the classic Google Search example from the Watir documentation. I used CSV because it's the simplest implementation. This is, after all, a toy. In the real world this might be HTML tables or wiki tables or a spreadsheet. What we want is for anyone to be able to write a test quickly and easily after a little bit of training on FireBug or the IE Developer Toolbar. (Test design is a different issue. Let's not talk about that now.) The framework grabs the test data and interprets each row in order. A simple dispatcher invokes the correct execution method depending on what the first element in the row of test data is. This has two advantages. For one thing, there are a finite number of types of

a really good bug report

I had occasion to use FireWatir recently and found a strange bit of behavior trying to manipulate a select_list element. I posted an executable bug report to the Watir-general mail list. (Please read the whole (short) discussion.) I have not been working closely with Watir for some time, so I missed some obvious diagnostic paths. Even so, though I got a reasonable explanation for the observed behavior, I pushed it farther, wondering why I did not receive a NoMethodError trying to do what I did. Please note: at no time did I ever editorialize; nor criticize; nor invent solutions. I merely discussed observed behavior with interested parties in disinterested tones. And upon examination, I had turned up not one, but two different bugs. I am pleased once again to have contributed to the Watir project. Furthermore, I think the discussion linked above is pretty close to a Platonic ideal of bug reports.

at liberty

blogging is so old-school . Thanks again Jeff! I have been amazed by and touched by and thankful for and proud of all the people who have sent nice messages, said nice things, and sent me leads since I was laid off from the best job I've had in a decade. I am seeking a telecommuting software testing/QA job or related work. I have expert-level skills and experience, a shockingly good resume, and awesome references from some of the best software people in the world.

agile COBOL is no oxymoron

Dr. Brian Hanks of Fort Lewis College said on Twitter just now: "Agile Cobol - the new oxymoron" I have to disagree. In the late 90s I worked testing a life-critical 911 data-validation system written in COBOL and C. I was the tester when we migrated from key-sequenced data files (basically VSAM, or very close) to an SQL database (albeit one with no relational integrity-- we had to write that into the code). When I joined the company, system releases were chaos. By the time I left, system releases were orderly, done on a regular basis, with great confidence. We evolved what was essentially an agile process to regularly ship running, tested features that our customers wanted. But we broke every rule in the book (of the time) to do it. We had customers talking to developers all the time, we had sysadmins reviewing features before release, we had testers reading code and running debuggers, we (quietly) ignored test plans in 5-inch binders. The Agile Manifesto validat