Automatic testing

Wednesday 16 November 2005 - Filed under Trend Sweet Trend

For a coder the pinnacle of frustration is testing…finding and fixing the bugs you want to squash. You can take one approach which is to find a bug, fix it, and pray that no other bugs appeared during the process. This unfortunately doesn’t work when you’re dealing with an application of any but the most trivial complexity.

You’ve got to have a plan: a repeatable process for testing your code to make sure nothing broke. I just created a test plan for a site I’m working on and it came to about 35 actions to test. This is for a site that has about 8 real pages and some database code.

Testing a web site is a unique challenge in that it’s hard to write a script to drive all your browsers. What’s needed is a standard browser control API. With broad support for such a standard you could write a test harness that drives IE, Firefox, Netscape and Opera all at the same time.

You could put that 21″ lcd to use tiling the four browsers while setting the zoom in each to simulate highres surfers. While I’m imagining this, why not have all the tests be recorded as macros? Wow, wouldn’t life be perfect if I had that?!?! I doubt it but there is some hope.

After a bit of searching I found this Mozilla ActiveX control project which is a step in the right direction. (tangent: Why don’t we have a free software analog to activex?) If I get a chance to check out their project, maybe I can automate some of my website testing.

Until then, I’ll be repeating my 35 steps by hand and writing test scripts whenever the opportunity arises.

2005-11-16  »  David Sterry