Saturday, September 27, 2008

Scripted GUI Testing with Ruby

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love Ruby, and I love Automation.

Ian Dees is wise enough to realize that automation is not the Ultimate Solution to Everything, pointing out that "some domains are better suited than others for automation". "So," he asks, "why not let the computers and people each do what they're good at?" To that end, he offers his new book "Scripted GUI Testing with Ruby", a book for testers who code and coders who test -- and maybe for others, as well.

As the title implies, test scripts are written in the Ruby language -- and its Java implementation, JRuby -- and the author assumes that readers will have some experience with Ruby. If you've written and run a few Ruby scripts, you'll be fine. Ian doesn't require you to be a black-belt Rubyist to understand what's going on here, and his humor helps keep it interesting.

Ian's guinea pig for client-side testing is LockNote, a simple text editor that saves your notes with password-protected encryption. The program is freely available for Windows, and Ian has developed his own cross-platform Java/Swing version, dubbed "JunqueNote". Using these two applications, Dees teaches us how to automate testing of GUI applications on both the Windows and Java platforms. You'll learn how to launch the app and use API calls to find windows, automate keystrokes and mouse-clicks, and more. This can be valuable as either a means to an end, or as the end goal itself; whether you're testing software, or simply looking to automate it via the user interface.

In one chapter, Dees provides a gentle introduction to the popular RSpec Behaviour Driven Development framework. In another, he shows how we can simplify our test code by separating out the common code from the platform-specific code.

Because the focus is on software testing, the author devotes a chapter to leveraging randomness to expose bugs that might otherwise be missed. Another chapter focuses on the ZenTest test matrix library. A later chapter delves into testing web-based applications using Selenium and WATIR, and how to combine these with RSpec.

As a Ruby on Windows advocate, I'm pleased to see a book that devotes more than just a half-dozen pages to Windows-specific task automation. But "Scripted GUI Testing with Ruby" spends a good deal of time discussing Java-based testing, as well.

This book is targeted at software testers, and they'll certainly be the section of the market that gets the maximum value from it. But it has potential value beyond that niche. There's something useful to be learned by both testers and non-testers, on both Java and Windows platforms.

Thanks for stopping by!