Automating the UI process

17 03 2007

An interesting them is emerging from the markets these days. Cross-platform and cross-browser automation of the UI. The Web has gone from being just the Internet as a platform for sharing information to a Internet as a platform to share almost anything which can be along with entertainment for the users. Now this sort of a shift requires a lot of innovation on the part of the developers to capture the users imagination or as it is popularly known as the eye-balls of the users. This then again makes the issue of a cross-browser compatible feature more interesting, as the varied users of the Internet world have that many varied browsers on which they wish to portray their Internet experience on. The browsers in themselves display the static HTML displays very proficiently, but when it comes to dynamic display (excluding Flash and its brothers/sisters) the browsers have a very nasty habit have having quirks which would get any developer totally frustrated on the way of making these work.

Now comes the work of the person who has to automate this process. The developer would have used many a tricks up his sleeve to get the cross-browser functionality working, and when it comes to testing this, the person doing so, also has to use his/her ingenuity. Most of the time we can get away with checking the same on a few generic functionalities, but it would hurt the business when RIA’s come into the picture and people try to use these and encounter a place where they are about to make the highest score, but due to a browser incompatibility they are unable to proceed. This is where tools like Selenium jump in.

Selenium is cross-browser and can be used for cross-platform testing also. It can be based on a variety of scripting and proper languages, with which the person automating the process is aware of or has worked on. In my previous organization, they had used Perl and here we plan to use either Java or Perl. Along with this plans are also underfoot to use Flash and try to automate testing the Flash applications so that it makes work easier and more fruitful, as these days we seem to be getting a lot more of Flash based applications which are proliferating the Web world.

More on this later…

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