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


-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 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 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:

September 9, 2016

Selenium can be slow: When could we use API testing?

A Selenium WebDriver test can be slow. Imagine running a test for a login screen:

... waiting, waiting, waiting... Surprise, it's a browser! ... waiting, waiting, waiting... It's a login screen! ... waiting for SendKeys to enter the username and password into the proper textboxes... and for the Login button to be clicked.

September 3, 2016

Here's to Twenty Years in Testing!

With all that's been going on lately, I missed a very important anniversary...

As of last month, I have spent twenty years in the software testing industry.

How I Started: From a Computer Science Major to a QA Engineer

Unsure how I wanted to apply my Computer Science degree, I left college for a bit during my Junior year at Bridgewater State. Businesses were just starting to invade the web, causing the early pioneers of this new electronic frontier to grumble.

Demand was so high to find people to staff these new "dot.coms", placement agencies were called in to weed through job applications and find good candidates. I found myself at one of these agencies, Sally Silver Contract Services. After testing my analytical skills and reviewing my technical background, some code samples of work I was doing in the classroom, and a rough portfolio from when I spent two years in a college job as a graphic artist / desktop publisher, they asked me, "Have you ever heard of 'Quality Assurance'? Oracle has a new division in Massachusetts, a three month contract position with an option for extension..."