April 15, 2015

How Fitbit - Boston sets up an automation development environment

Without actually having an automation developer position, it was very difficult for me to figure out what tools I needed to learn in order to make the switch from being a manual tester to doing automation.

Here, in this post, I'll highlight a bit of of the tools and technologies Fitbit - Boston uses for automated testing.

Development Platform

  • MacBook Pro with OS X Yosemite (10.10)
My first day at Fitbit was like Christmas. A new job, new colleagues, new Fitbit swag, and a brand new MacBook Pro with the plastic wrapping still on it. It was amazing to unbox and set it up. Fitbit was the first company where my my primary work computer was from Apple. Even though my position for the past four years at my last company was mobile IOS testing and I knew my way around a Macbook in general, it is completely different making a Macbook my primary machine. 

As a manual tester, the tester works with the web application exactly like the end-user would, operating the web app in a browser with a keyboard and a mouse testing the user interface. Testing graphical user interfaces -- how the web app looks and feels -- locks you in that mindset.

As an automated tester, I find I am more like software developer, really needing to know my way around a Unix Command Line Interface. I have had some familiarity with Mac's Terminal and the basic Unix commands when kicking off and running the mobile automation scripts at my last position, and back during grad school, but it wasn't something I have used all the time, so it is a bit of a learning curve. 

Software Testing Framework

  • Selenium WebDriver w/ Java 8 
  • TestNG
When I was job interviewing, I found that although some companies were using Selenium WebDriver with Python, one of them was using Selenium WebDriver with Ruby, most of them seemed to pair the Selenium WebDriver API with the latest version of the Java programming language, Java 8..

If you are a manual tester who is unfamiliar with programming, make sure to take a course in Java. You won't need to know the language as well as if you were developing software, but you will need to know if statements, the basics of object oriented programming, methods, lists, etc in Java. Online courses are offered everywhere. Since Advanced Programming in Java 1 & 2 was almost ten years ago for me, those and Alan Richardson's book Java for Testers was a good resource to get back in the swing of things. 

The biggest help for me in regards to Selenium WebDriver instruction was Alan Richardson's online course Selenium 2 WebDriver with Java. Although it is $299, it is well worth the money. I've gone back to this course many times since I first purchased it on Udemy.com back in Christmas 2013. I find that I review them again and again. This course won "Best Tutorial" when it was co-presented by Alan and Simon Stewart -- the creator of WebDriver -- back at the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference of 2012.

For unit testing, Fitbit uses TestNG instead of JUnit to set up @Test but the two are similar enough in how it is used for automated testing. 


  • IntelliJ Ultimate Edition

For an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Fitbit - Boston uses IntelliJ's Ultimate Edition. IntelliJ Community Edition is just as good, and is free. The Ultimate Edition seems to integrate database support into the tool. 

For those who are not familiar with working with an IDE, writing code with an IDE is like writing a thesis paper with Microsoft Word. Yes, you can use a simple text editor to write code, but there is something to be said for all the tools such as the auto-complete features and tools to help you refactor code. 

If you need help getting started and setting up IntelliJ with Selenium WebDriver, there is a free course on Alan Richardson's site, Selenium Simplified, Get Started With Selenium WebDriver Using Maven, IntelliJ and Java, which can walk you through setting up your testing environment. 

Another top IDE I have come across being used in automated software testing: Eclipse. As a coding novice who hasn't done much professional software development as of yet, they seem pretty similar. This was used in my last position.  

Source Control

When many people are working on a project at the same time, it helps organize the process to use Source Control. What is it? According to Git-SCM:

What is “version control”, and why should you care? Version control is a system that records changes to a file or set of files over time so that you can recall specific versions later. [Y]ou [...] use software source code as the files being version controlled, though in reality you can do this with nearly any type of file on a computer. 
If you are a graphic or web designer and want to keep every version of an image or layout (which you would most certainly want to), a Version Control System (VCS) is a very wise thing to use. It allows you to revert files back to a previous state, revert the entire project back to a previous state, compare changes over time, see who last modified something that might be causing a problem, who introduced an issue and when, and more. Using a VCS also generally means that if you screw things up or lose files, you can easily recover. In addition, you get all this for very little overhead.

At my last company, we used TortoiseSVN to check code in and out of Subversion, a code repository site.

At Fitbit we use Git to check code into and out of Stash, an Atlassian product, the makers of Jira (for bug reporting) and Confluence (a document repository).

If you are not familiar with Git or source control, feel free to read Git-SCM: Getting Started: Git Basics.

-T.J. Maher
 Sr. QA Engineer, Fitbit
 Boston, MA
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