Review: The Way of the Web Tester

This is a book review of The Way of the Web Tester by Jonathan Rasmusson. Hat tip: Alister Scott.

A beginner’s guide to automated testing, though not specific to the web, despite the title. Covering the quintessential pyramid of UI, integration, and unit tests as well as basic building blocks of HTML, CSS, HTTP and REST APIs, and JavaScript. The book also spends time on best practices for general software programming and testing.

The goal for test automation, according to the author, is to have more time to do the fun things like developing new features, and less time on boring things like fixing bugs. We can’t test everything, yet “with the right 20%, we can sure test a lot.” Agreed. In broad strokes, this book debunks many common misconceptions of automated testing.

Don’t try to automate everything. Instead, automate just enough.

I love the dual audience of testers and developers, and how each chapter addresses the goals for each to learn in the coming text. The chapter ending summaries are handy. The text flows and the examples are easy to follow. Though a quick read, the book ends up covering important topics such as organization, naming, coupling, reusable code, and avoiding flaky tests by making them deterministic.

A few minor nitpicks: I found the metaphor of armor and mobility a tad confusing, and some of the humor seemed off-putting and unnecessary. As a beginner book I didn’t like how it conflated an important concept of CSS selectors and using similar syntax with jQuery to select elements by ID; in my opinion this difference should be understood at a beginner level. The author also doesn’t mention targeting data URIs in HTML attributes for selection, which seems to me to be worth a mention as a useful technique when working without relying on extra IDs or classes everywhere—such as legacy code or HTML output from third-party templates that you don’t control—and is present in popular JavaScript frameworks such as React.

I love the concept of a Developer Productivity team at a software company—at Spotify, Rasmusson describes a squad that went around killing and fixing flaky tests. Making things run better, making everyone happier. I think of Excellence Wranglers at Automattic as having a similar goal in our work as quality advocates.

The Way of the Web Tester does a great job introducing important concepts and covers the basics of automated testing, and I’d recommend it to everyone, even seasoned developers and testers.

 

Video: A Look into Calypso

A Look into Calypso, a talk by Matías Ventura at WordCamp Europe 2016, is an engaging survey of the open source technology running the new WordPress.com publishing interface. Why it’s important, what it’s made of, the values and principles that guide it, and how to use it today for your own projects.

The introduction of Calypso has brought the notion of a modern JavaScript approach to the front and center of the WordPress community. What does an admin UI built entirely in JavaScript (with technologies like React that have taken the JavaScript community by storm) mean for WordPress and how we think of JavaScript in the project?

Matías ends with a challenge to everyone wanting to contribute to advancing JavaScript in WordPress; I won’t spoil it, watch the video to see the call to action.

Links and resources mentioned in the video below. You can also download the slides (PDF, 10.4 MB).

Adam Savage on Problem Solving

From the “Recently Watched and Enjoyed” department, this video is now six years old, but still great: Adam Savage Presents Problem Solving: How I Do It from Maker Faire 2010.

adam-savage-maker-faire-2010.png

Questions he asks all throughout the problem solving process:

  1. How much time do I have left? Set artificial goals to help push ahead.
  2. Am I missing something stupid?
  3. How does this thing fit into the bigger picture? How does the whole look?

At the 75% mark of completing a given project Adam thinks, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” When he says, “I know how to do this,” he screws it up. Reminds me of The Investigative Mindset a bit.

AFK Oblique Strategies

If you’re not familiar with Oblique Strategies, they are a collection of short phrases, dilemmas intended to make you think. Originally published as a set of notecards in 1975, these contradictions are one of my favorite discoveries while working for Automattic.

In my case I like to say they cause brainwaves.

Luckily, you don’t need the original index cards to use Oblique Strategies any time you want to change your thinking, because there are electronic versions such as a Mac dashboard widget and an iOS mobile app (one of several apps).

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-12-38
Example of the OS X dashboard widget.

The original strategies include phrases such as:

– Listen to the quiet voice
– Make what’s perfect more human
– Do the last thing first

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-12-49
Example of the iOS mobile app “Oblique Productivity.”

I took two-and-a-half months off work this summer—a lot of AFK time (away from keyboard)—and I’d like to share with you several of my own AFK-related Oblique Strategies that came to mind as I planned meaningful activities during the break.

Which isn’t to give you advice or say I have any answers. Rather, these are food for thought that I hope jar your brainwaves like they did mine. Save them for your next thinking time, or for the next time you take a bit of vacation from your work.

– Stay at home on your travels
– Make today a dull repeat of yesterday
– Read an old book with new eyes
– Most frivolous as most meaningful
– Be still for as long as possible
– Start with the least urgent
– Turn the computer —on —off
– Are you more joyful?

Get Involved: WordPress App Testing

Want to contribute to WordPress apps on Android and iOS? If you aren’t a developer or designer, no worries, we need your help as a tester. Anyone and everyone is welcome to pitch in — all you need is a keen eye and a iOS or Android phone or tablet.

Head over to Make WordPress Mobile and subscribe to receive email updates. Notice certain posts are titled “Call for Testing” — that’s where you can jump in, read the testing notes, and test the new beta versions on your device.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 10.43.38.png

For both iOS and Android there’s a one-time step to join as a beta tester via TestFlight or Google Play Store. After you join, you’ll have access to download and use — and test — the latest and greatest versions of the WordPress apps before they are available to the public.

Help us make WordPress better on mobile!

P.S. WordPress is also now on desktop for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

WordPress.com Automated Tests Now Open Source — WatirMelon

I am very pleased to announce that all of our e2e tests for the WordPress.com platform are open source as of this morning. This is following in the footsteps of the WordPress.com Calypso front-end which is also open source. I am continually reminded of how fortunate I am to work at Automattic who takes pride in its commitment […]

via WordPress.com e2e Automated Tests Now Open Source — WatirMelon

Video: Empathy and User-centered Design

Here’s a short talk I gave at WordCamp London 2015 on the topic of empathy and user-centered design. Reblogging from the vault of yesteryear since I haven’t published it previously.

The big difference between good and bad designers (and developers, copywriters—all of us) is how they handle people struggling with their design. In this lightning session Lance will argue why empathy is important to beautiful, engaging, and useful products.

View full-screen video starting at 17:04 minute mark, and read the description on wordpress.tv.

Full text below.

Continue reading “Video: Empathy and User-centered Design”