October 24, 2016

Slides from last week's Boston QA and Test Meetup, Coding Interviews for Automation Developers

Last week, I gave my first talk to the Greater Boston QA and Testing Meetup.

That was fun, but nervewracking!

 If you feel like it, you can take a look at my slides. I reformatted the slides for SlideShare, adding a few anecdotes I told during the presentation I hadn't captured.

How to pass a coding interview as an automation developer talk - Oct 17 2016 from Thomas F. "T.J." Maher Jr.

Thank you, so much, Conrad Hollomon for inviting me!

T.J. Maher @ Pixability - Coding Interviews for Automation Developers

Are you becoming Senior in your field?

Start writing articles about what Software Quality Assurance and software testing means to you!

Try to see if you can come up with your own 15 to 30 minute talk at a local Meetup.

Support your local software testing community!

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

October 19, 2016

Testing The-Internet with Geb + Groovy + Spock: Installing Yeoman and the Geb Generator

To get more familiar with the Geb Framework + Groovy Language + Spock Framework, I was planning on figuring out how to automate Dave Haeffner's Login page on his test site, The-Internet.

A few days ago, I talked a bit about scaffolding a project, laying out the basic groundwork, and the history of Yeoman.io. With this blog post, we will walk a user through downloading and installing Yeoman through the Node Package Manager.

The installation will be done on the command line: the Mac's Terminal or the Windows Command Prompt.

We will be using a Geb Generator created by Chris Hluchan ( LinkedIn ), a Software Engineer at Google, formerly at Oracle.

You can take a look at the generator’s source code on GitHub at https://github.com/chluchan/generator-geb#readme

We will be borrowing heavily from "Let's Scaffold a Web App" written by Mehdy Dara ( Github: zckers ).

Want to see what the boilerplate source code the Geb generator produces? I have uploaded it to my GitHub site at https://github.com/tjmaher/geb_project_generated_by_yo .

The next few blog posts, we will be comparing that to the official Geb + Groovy + Spock Framework documentation to figure out how it works.

First, we need to figure out how to install everything.

October 18, 2016

"Dear TJ: How can one become an expert in automation?"

"Dear T.J., 

"I am regular follower of your blog and it has really, really, really awesome info for testers who wants to move towards automation.

"I would like to know a few things :
  1. "Sometimes you talk about Selenium WebDriver with Java
  2. "Sometimes you talk about about Groovy with Rest WebServices
  3. "Sometimes you speak about SDET roles with algorithms
  4. "Sometimes you talk about protractor with java script
"I just wanted to understand... it is really difficult to get expertise on all these things.

"Please guide me how to understand this?

"Thanks & Regards

Dear S.J.,

It is VERY difficult for me to get experience in all of these things.

I am not an expert. I may become an expert if I try real hard for the next two or three years, but by then, a brand-new automation toolset will come out, and I will be a newbie, a novice, just like before.

I am still not used to programming. I have only been doing it on-the-job for two years. There is so much to learn! I always feel like I am about to drown in all the information that I need to know. Somehow, I have managed to keep my head above water, and I am very thankful for that.

The reason why my blog jumps from topic to topic is because my job does, too. A new manager, a new job, a new direction leads to a new automated toolset to learn. Coming up with sample code for my blog is how I scramble to catch up.

I have to tell you, I have never had more fun in my twenty year career as I am having right now in my adventure in automation!

I hope you are having fun, too! If we all keep at it enough, one day, we all will become experts!

As always, Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

Testing The-Internet with Geb + Groovy + Spock: About Yeoman, scaffolding, and other build tools

Have you ever needed to set up a brand-new project but were not sure where to start? I am like that right now!

For the past week, I have been trying to figure out how I wanted to set up the file and folder structure for a new Geb + Groovy + Gradle + Spock project. I was going to go back to Dave Haeffner's test site, The-Internet ( link ) and take a look at writing a test for his login page:

  • Geb (pronounced "jeb") is a mash-up of jQuery, Selenium WebDriver, with the Page Object Model, Reporting, and taking Snapshots built in. 
  • Groovy is a scripting language language that I covered before in my blog, specifically when talking about using Gradle for build.gradle configurations. 
  • Gradle does a lot more than handle installing third-party dependencies such as Chromedriver when you want to spin up a new Chrome browser on your local machine. With Gradle, you can set up tests to be kicked off on the command line, just waiting to be fed into a continuous integration environment such as Jenkins.  
  • The Spock Framework follows a Given / Then / When / Expect framework found in Cucumber's Gherkin language format that is usually paired with Ruby
But how do I set all these tools up if I want to test ? How to get them all to work together?

Should I just repurpose Sauce Labs Test Framework, Groovy-Geb-Spock-Selenium at https://github.com/saucelabs-sample-test-frameworks/Groovy-Geb-Spock-Selenium?

A new co-worker of mine referred me to a tool he had heard of at a previous job that may help: Yeoman.io.

In the next blog article, we will be borrowing heavily from "Let's Scaffold a Web App" written by Mehdy Dara ( Github: zckers ) to walk through setting up your Mac or PC for Yeoman. We will also walk through installing a Geb Generator for Yeoman created by Chris Hluchan ( LinkedIn ), a Software Engineer at Google, formerly at Oracle. This will set up the project's scaffolding.

Later articles will talk about about:

  • Diving into the scaffolding code that has been generated, figuring out how it works
  • How to set up the Gradle configuration file to be able to run tests in parallel
  • Customizing the scaffolding to work with a login page
  • How Geb works with Selenium WebDriver: entering text, clicking buttons, and capturing web elements in page objects. 
This blog article will talk a bit about the history of the Yeoman tool. 

October 17, 2016

Stop by Tonight! 10/17/2016: T.J. Maher gives a talk in Boston, "How to Pass a Coding Interview as an Automation Developer".

Tonight, I am giving a talk at the Greater Boston QA and Testing Meetup. I've been rehearsing all weekend, and I still am not "off-book" yet. Ugh! I hate public speaking, but it is something I really, really need to learn how to do.
I'll probably just be reading off my speaker notes.

Feel free to view the slides on my SlideShare account at http://www.slideshare.net/tjmaher1.

Unfortunately, SlideShare doesn't do animations, so the slides will look a little crowded.

If I have three bullet points, I usually reveal them one-by-one with animations... yeah, that doesn't work on SlideShare.

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

October 13, 2016

New job, new title: Software Engineer in Test at Good Start Genetics

I just started a new job on Monday at Good Start Genetics.

Along with the new job came a new title: Software Engineer in Test.

It's the first time in twenty years that I do not have the words "QA" in the job title. It's a brave new world.

The funny part is that it was supposed to be another Senior QA Engineer position. By my personal timetable, I didn't think I would be able to make that leap for another three years.

It was the coding test that did it.

For the past two years, I have been coming up with random Programming Projects, trying to reinforce what I have been learning on the job, doing independent research, trying to put the tools and technology I was learning in the larger context of the software testing industry.

The weekend before, I was playing around with Protractor, trying to introduce myself to the Node.js / JavaScript automation ecosystem. When it came time to figure out how to add a few end-to-end browser tests to an already running Nightwatch.js project, I found out there were a lot of similarities to what I had done for the previous week's take-home coding test.

Thank you for all the friends and family -- especially my wife -- who supported me during the last two months of intense job searching.

Thanks goes out to Fitbit for setting me out on the path to being an automation developer. Thank you, James Moore for bringing me onto your team two years ago, setting up a month's worth of study sessions in Selenium WebDriver and Java. And thank you, Lark and Joon for coaching and mentoring me. And thank you, Steve, for giving me a two month head start to job search.

And to all the manual testers who are trying to switch to automated testing...

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

October 6, 2016

Beginnings of a new slide deck: "How to pass a coding test as an automation developer"

I haven't had this much fun drafting this new slide deck since my student job as a Graphic Artist / Desktop Publisher back at Bridgewater State's Davis Alumni Center!

Back then I loved helping organize events, plan promotional campaigns, draft flyers, create T-Shirts and logos, plaster flyers I designed all around campus, and volunteer to set up chairs and join the student ushers.

I never spoke at these events. I may have been a Computer Science Major / Theater Minor, but when I was on-stage, I was safely in the middle of the chorus as a performer, or backstage where my crippling stage-fright wouldn't kick in. I may have been able to goof around on stage in cute community theater productions in elementary school and junior high, but when I was in high-school competing for parts with budding professionals, I knew where my true talents lie.

Oddly enough, I am pretty comfortable giving end-of-sprint product demos, no matter how many people are in the room. Let me have my cue-cards so I can keep the talk tight and on-track, and I am fine. Oh, I might need to spend a few years working through Toastmasters before I am anywhere near TED Talk standards.

My slide deck should be finished in the next day or two. I have a rough script for the 30 minute talk that I will go over twenty or thirty times in the next week. I know the material, first living it and then organizing the information to create the article on which the talk is based. I think I will do fine...

What do you think of the draft of the cover page and the title page? Leave your comments below!

Draft: Cover Page

Draft: About the Speaker page

... This Speaker Page was for people who are reading along at home, after the fact on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/tjmaher1.

I was going to upload the slides to my Slideshare account before the lecture.

  • Mention to the audience when I reach this page that these slides are stored on Slideshare.net/tjmaher1. They can enjoy the lecture and don't need to take notes if they don't wish to. 

Hrm... I think "About the Speaker" and "About the Talk" should go on two separate pages. Thank you Gustavo Adolfo Rivera Yeomans!

Thank you very much!

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

October 5, 2016

New speaking engagement: Monday, October 17, 2016: "How to Pass a Coding Interview as an Automation Developer"

I have a new speaking engagement coming up on Monday, October 17th, 2016 at a local QA Meetup here in Boston.

I am in the process of condensing my latest TechBeacon article: "How to Pass a Coding Interview As An Automation Developer" into a 30 minute talk.

This is fun! Hectic, but fun!

Thank you, Conrad Holloman ( @hollomancer ) for inviting me!

Until next time, Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

October 2, 2016

Learning JavaScript

I want to become fluent in JavaScript.

Not that I am fluent in Java yet, mind you. I found out the hard way that knowing how to use Selenium WebDriver with Java and being able to sketch out Java code on a whiteboard are two different things. But I have been getting better.

Why tackle JavaScript before solidifying what a Software Development Engineer in Test working with Java might need to learn?

Web application development is shifting from heavy-weight or "high ceremony" languages like Java, to Node.js style JavaScript frameworks. Automation development is racing to catch up.

Back when I spent my 2014 Christmas break taking Alan Richardson's famous online course on Selenium WebDriver with Java and dreaming about switching from being a manual to an automated tester, the rule of thumb was to pair the automated test framework (what used to be called a "test harness" ten years ago) with the web application.

September 21, 2016

How to pass a coding interview as an automation developer!

Teaser for my new TechBeacon article: How to pass a coding interview as an automation developer!

Are you an automation developer looking for a new position? Let's simulate the experience of a coding interview:

  1. Open up a browser and Google the keyword "stopwatch."
  2. Take out a blank piece of paper and a pen.
  3. Press the "Start Button" on the stopwatch web app, then attempt to answer the following question:
"Using your favorite programming language: Write a method that checks to see if a given word is a palindrome. Example palindromes: 'noon' and 'racecar'."
Ready? ... GO!

Yes. Seriously. Attempt to answer the question. I'll wait.

Try this exercise for at least a good 60 seconds, even if you think you can't do it. Don't give up!

... Time's up! How well did you do?

If you had trouble with this question, if your paper is mostly or completely blank, if your forehead is covered in flop sweat, or if your first thought was, "Why are you forcing me to do this? I'm an automation developer, not a coder!" this article is for you.

What is an automation developer?

A software quality assurance engineer is an end-user advocate, crafting the software testing process so it ensures quality—meeting and exceeding the wants and needs of the stakeholders on the project.

One of a QA engineer's responsibilities is software testing, validating whether the new features added to a web or mobile application meet the designated requirements and design specifications.

September 15, 2016

What is Your Strategy for Writing an Automated Test Framework?

I have been giving this particular question a lot of thought in the past couple of months. The question is:
"What is Your Strategy for Writing an Automated Test Framework?" 
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to assembling an automated test language:

A way to write and execute the tests, such as TestNG or JUnit in a Selenium WebDriver / Java based framework. A way to display to display what passed and failed. Detailed logging telling what the test is actually doing. A way to rerun failing tests. A way to run tests in a continuous fashion, whether once a day, or once an hour, or anywhere it between. A way to spin up multiple browsers and platforms...

You can easily spend a good six months putting the perfect framework in place and not have time to create a single test... and that is the problem.

How can you tell if your automation framework is fitting the needs of the people who are using it: The manual testers trying to figure out what tests are covered with the automation regression test suite, the developers who need to see what the automation finds, the QA Manager who is attempting to assess what the tests are covered by automation and where manual testers should fill in the gaps?

If you are trying to build a testing framework that fits the needs of so many stakeholders... why not use the same process that you are using to construct the web app you are building: Use Agile.

Make it an iterative process:

  • Sprint 1: Bad code. Good tests. Run from local browser. No CI/ CD.
  • Sprint 2: Good code. Good tests. Run from local Selenium Grid. Investigate setting up CI/CD locally.
  • Sprint 3: Better code. Better tests. Good building blocks for tests assembled? More tests, faster! Work with DevOps to get Selenium Grid and Jenkins server remotely.

... What is your strategy for building an Automation Test Framework? Leave comments below!

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Sr. QA Engineer

// Software QA Engineer since 1996.
// Working with Selenium WebDriver since 2014.
// Follow Adventures in Automation and Like us on Facebook!

September 13, 2016

Playing with Protractor: The complexities of testing JavaScript frameworks, according to Vojtěch Jína

Vojtěch Jína, a Software Engineer at Google, finished his Master's thesis, JavaScript Test Runner, at the Czech Technical University in Prague in 2013. Vojtěch talked about, in his thesis, the difficulty developers had when attempting to write unit tests for their code when using JavaScript.

"The language for web applications is JavaScript, which is a very dynamic language without static typing. There is no compiler that could catch mistakes like misspelling a variable name or calling a non existing method on an object - developers have to actually run the code to catch these issues. Therefore testing is absolutely necessary".

JavaScript Test Runner, by Vojtěch Jína

September 12, 2016

Playing with Protractor: Learning AngularJS by setting up the PhoneCat Tutorial App

Normally, when investigating new automation tools and technologies, my modus operandi is to take a good two or three hours to figure out who created the tool, how the tool evolved, if it was based on earlier work, etc. After all that is done, I spend another hour or so formatting my research notes into a pretty blog entry.

This time around, I wanted to do something different...

Instead of starting with researching which Google employees made AngularJS and Protractor, what projects they both were based on, and how they are used, I wanted to continue what I did the previous blog entry about Protractor, AngularJS, JavaScript and Jasmine, and dive right into the code itself.

This blog is geared towards the manual tester who is attempting to learn automation, exactly where I was back in December 2014. You can read more about that transition in my TechBeacon article, Switching Careers in QA: From Manual Testing to Automation Development.

For this blog entry, I'll walk you through installing the PhoneCat Tutorial App at https://docs.angularjs.org/tutorial. If you aren't familiar working every day with Git or the Command Line interface, and haven't tinkered with using Node.js or the Node Package Manager (npm), every extra bit of instruction helps.

Once you have everything set up, you can go at your own pace through Google's tutorial.

September 11, 2016

Playing with Protractor: Testing an AngularJS application with Protractor, Jasmine, and JavaScript

Yesterday was a lot of fun! I was given an automation development assignment a few days ago in preparation for an upcoming job interview:

Using any technology I’d like, as long as it could be run using freely available software, after filling out a questionnaire given on the company's healthcare web app and writing a test journal post, I was to produce automated checks for the following:
  • An “Assessment Complete” badge appears on the dashboard
  • The journal entry created is present on the journal page.
  • The personality type displayed on the dashboard matches the one given to me in the assessment
What the instructions didn't say was that before each test, you had to navigate a login procedure: