November 29, 2016

What I am Thankful For...

Two years ago, I thought I was doing quite well, career-wise, not realizing just how precarious my situation really was at my job.

Within four years, I had worked my way up at this past company to acting as a QA Lead, supervising an offshore team of manual testers manually testing mobile applications. The week after a productive meeting with my boss to see how I could work my way to being a QA Manager, this company laid off all but a few manual testers, myself included, since I hadn't coded since grad school, ten years before.

Since then, it's been a mad scramble. A desperate three month job search where I spent a good fifty to sixty hours a week either studying automation development, or prepping for automation development interviews. My research notes became this blog.

When I finally found a company willing to take me on and train me in automation based on my coding portfolio I managed to assemble, I still spent a good fifty to sixty hours a week studying Selenium WebDriver + Java automation development.

Then it was another desperate three month job search when my two years of automation experience didn't live up to the vision of a new manager. It was tough, but I survived.

I've now been at my new job, working with my nose to the grindstone for the past two months, working with REST Assured to test RESTful APIs, Nightwatch.js for our Node.js projects, and trying to teach myself Geb + Groovy + Spock for future Groovy projects, trying not to get swept away by the current like so many of my manual QA co-workers.

Somehow, I managed in just two years, to go from being just a manual tester, to an automation developer,  to a software developer in test. But that is not what I am thankful for...

What I am thankful for, this Thanksgiving season, is my brilliant wife, who has supported me, stood by me, rooted for me, and coached me all throughout this turmoil... Thank you, sweetie!

Happy Testing to all, and to all a Good Night!

-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!"

November 17, 2016

Testing The-Internet with Geb + Groovy + Spock: How did Yeoman set up the tests to run in Gradle?

Part 3 of 5. Need to read from the beginning

For the past few weeks, we've been examining in this blog how to build an automation framework with Geb + the Groovy Language + the Spock Framework, something I have been experimenting with in my new job as a Software Engineer in Test.

One of the developers at my workplace putting together a Geb + Groovy project heard about Yeoman, an open-source tooling application sponsored by the Google Chrome Developer Relations team. This series of blog posts have been examining the software design tool.

Yeoman creates the basic scaffolding for your projects, right out of the box. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, a basic template for the project is produced, depending on what Yeoman generator we picked.

We are using Chris Hluchan's Geb Generator. We will be testing against Dave Haeffner's site, The-Internet, at, taking a look at his Login Page.

Examining the Build.Gradle Configuration File 

If you don't wish to install and configure Node.js, update npm, install and configure Yeoman, and install and configure the Geb Generator, I took the source code that was generated, and placed it as-is on my GitHub site.

Here's an original name! "Geb Project Generated By Yo".

We will be kicking off a few of their built in tests, and examine the build.gradle file and surrounding files to see how they are kicked off.

The next blog article we will be starting to look at the tests themselves. For now, we are focusing on...

Setting Up The Build.Gradle File

When we explored setting up a WebDriver development environment a few months ago, we talked about how, instead of using Maven to handle third-party dependencies, such as ChromeDriver we were going to be looking at Gradle.

November 5, 2016

Learn a Programming Language by Contributing to an Open Source Project! One trick to remember if working on an old Maven project.

I just started a new job as a Software Engineer in Test three weeks ago. The main task right now is to try to get to know the product as a whole where our SET team will be writing an automated test framework.

What I Have Been Doing For Work

I've been spending the past few weeks executing huge stack of manual test scripts, asking the QA Engineers for help executing the test steps, getting to know both the system, how the system is being manually tested, and the system's documentation at the same time. I've also been creating onboarding documentation for any other new SET hires that come after me. If being an Software Engineer in Test doesn't work out (heaven forbid!) and every single manual QA job is phased out, I can start my third career in the software industry as a tech writer.

What I haven't been doing yet is coding. The team narrowed down the automation stack to be Geb + Groovy + Spock, so I have been trying to learn that during my nights and weekends with little side projects.

My Ongoing Side Projects: Learn Geb + Groovy + Spock

Side Project #1: Investigating Yeoman

... This might take me another week to finish up.

Side Project #2: Contributing Geb + Groovy Tests to Open Source project

  • Contributing to someone else's open-source automation project. I noticed there are automation examples in Java, Ruby, and sometimes C#... but there aren't any in Geb + Groovy + Spock. I wonder if I could learn that tech stack by helping out? 
... Why this side project? ... 

Why Contributing to an Open Source Project is a Great Learning Tool -- Code Reviews!

As an automation developer, the real learning begins...

... Not when I am researching how to code the first draft of an assignment...
... Not when I am actually writing the code to get the darned thing to compile...
... It happens during the code review...

Imagine writing a research paper. You spend a few days gathering research materials. You sketch out an outline. You spend four or five hours writing a good rough draft, and submit it to the teacher for review... and it is returned to you, covered with annotations and corrections written in red ink. After the first, second and third draft, you find out all about incorrect grammar, poor sentence structure, etc. But through the process you become a better writer.

The same exact process happens when coding. The first time someone reviews your code, you might be getting more lines of comments than there are lines of code! It may be painful to go through, having to re-write everything again and again, but it is helping you up your game.  

I've spent the past two years being paid to contribute to a closed-source automated test framework for an eCommerce platform accessible worldwide. I've made hundreds of contributions to that project and, let me tell you, going through a code review is never is easy. Over time it becomes easier. It is all about trying to meet the team's wants and expectations. Over time, you learn. 

This will be my first time contributing to an open-source project. If you want to learn how to do the same, I have written up instruction on,...

Setting Up an Open Source Project On Your Local Machine 

Let's say you found on GitHub an open-source project looking for contributors, and you want to contribute:

  • Sign up for an account on GitHub. Me? My account is @tjmaher.
  • Are you familiar with the command line interface? If not, install GitHub for Desktop
  • Not familiar with GitHub, repositories, branches, committing changes or pull requests? Follow this Hello World walkthrough that GitHub has created.
  • Not familiar with forking other people's repositories into your own GitHub repository? GitHub has a forking tutorial, too. 
  • Go to the GitHub project and create a fork of their project, copying it to your own account on GitHub. 
  • Go to your local computer. Pick a folder or directory to download the open source project. I created a subfolder called "code" in my Home directory, so on my Windows 10 PC, I download everything into C:\Users\tmaher\code 
  • Clone or Download the project. Set it up to download it using GitHub for Desktop. 
  • Think about what micro-additions or subtractions you want to make the project. Make a new branch for that project. Are you done with that small task? Commit your code for that branch. Want to do another task? Commit that code, too.
  • Done with the contribution? Create a pull request for your branch. It will start the code review process.
  • You will start hearing corrections, both major and minor, from other contributors. Listen to what they are saying, and learn from them. 

So, I Tried Opening The Project In IntelliJ...

I love using IntelliJ as an IDE! It has a free Community Edition, suitable for any Groovy, Gradle, or plain ole Java project. If you want you can download it here. I have the latest version, IntelliJ IDEA version 2016.3.

The project I wanted to contribute to was a few years old, still written using Apache Maven to handle all the dependencies ( Read More). When I opened the project in IntelliJ, and tried to set the project up to recognize the pom.xml file that was handling all the dependencies... I found out that I couldn't! Maven just didn't exist in IntelliJ! I couldn't figure it out! And I couldn't download it as a plugin...

What the heck? Did IntelliJ switch over completely to Gradle?

Oh... wait a minute... I found the answer...

Here is a little Public Service Announcement:

Happy Coding!

-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!"

November 2, 2016

(Video: 10/17/2016) "How to Pass a Coding Interview as an Automation Developer" @ Greater Boston QA and Testing Meetup

I was invited to give a talk to the Greater Boston QA and Testing Meetup, based on my recently published TechBeacon article, How to Pass a Coding Interview as an Automation Developer. I've given internal talks about QA and informal training sessions to small groups of fellow co-workers before, but this was was my first public talk in my twenty year software testing career! Thank you Conrad Holloman!

Boston QA Meetup: How to Pass a Coding Interview as an Automation Developer
Speaker: T.J. Maher
Date Given: Monday, October 17, 2016

Slides from Presentation:

The slides are slightly fuzzy in the presentation. I altered them slightly and placed them on my account on so you could get a better look at them.

If you really want more information, make sure to read the original article!

Want me to give this talk to your local Boston Meetup? A more polished presentation should be ready by January. Contact me on Twitter, @tjmaher1!

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!"