June 4, 2017

Notes: Automation, Selenium WebDriver, and PageObjects with AndrewBoyer (5/31/2017)

Have you ever wanted to learn about Automated Testing but wasn't sure where to start?

Members of the Ministry of Testing - Boston met last week to listen and bring questions to Andrew Boyer, a Software Developer in Test who has worked at both Google and Amazon. Andrew talked with us Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 about Functional Web Automation using Selenium WebDriver. 

Andrew Boyer, SDET

About the Speaker:

Andrew Boyer has worked in the software industry for more than twenty years, for companies as small as ten people, and as large as Google and Amazon. Working at times as a developer, tester, or even a sales engineer, he focuses now on process improvements and creating automation frameworks. He believes good automation is accessible to all job roles, and improves not just the quality of the shipping product, but also the velocity of the engineering organization.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-boyer-4a00685/

Where The Talk Was Held:

The event was held at iZotope’s office https://www.izotope.com, an eleven minute walk from the Kendall / MBTA Red Line stop. Thank you so much iZotope for letting our ragtag group crash your place of business twice a month since Janauary 2017!

iZotope is looking for an Automation Engineer! "We are seeking an experienced Quality Assurance (QA) Automation Engineer to join our Test Automation Services team focused on enhancing and testing iZotope’s customer-facing web and desktop applications. The right candidate will possess demonstrable experience developing automated tests and testing software products, has the ability to work within different scripting languages, has fluency in critiquing requirements and writing test plans, and has experience working with Agile software development". For more about the position, see: http://izotope.applytojob.com/apply/sazsDc7U8l/QA-Automation-Engineer

About the Talk: Automation, Selenium WebDriver, and PageObjects 

Andrew is an amazing speaker! I have had the pleasure of working with him back when I was at Intralinks. When I was interviewing for a position at Amazon last summer (which I completely botched not counting on the whiteboard tests) he helped prep me for the interview. And when our group needed a speaker to talk about the basics, Andrew created this presentation in just under a month.

Thank you Andrew! It perfectly summed up everything that I have learned in the past two years in my little Adventures in Automation.

... Andrew has graciously shared the slides of his presentation on Slideshare.Net. Feel free to click through the slides below.

Just in case any of these topics are new to the reader, I have either added links to the official toolsets Andrew mentions, or have added links as footnotes to various parts of Adventures in Automation that explores these topics in a bit more depth. - T.J. Maher

With Automation Development, Andrew mentioned, we have long passed the point where a few tests can solve a problem.

What we are doing with automation nowadays is developing software. Automation code is Production code. A few tips:
  • Get dev buy-in to help extend and maintain framework. You can leverage them, workign on developing tests they need.
  • Pick a language that developers want to code in. You may like Visual Basic, but if nobody wants to use it... Or if a language is too specialized, it might be tough to find people who can code in it.
  • Use good software development practices (which he gets into later in his talk), 
  • Show the benefit of test automation. Show how bugs can be found by the tests that you have created.  
  • Unless developers come from a TDD (Test Driven Development) background writing their own unit or integration tests, they may not know the value of having good quality tests!

Good development practices

What did Andrew mean by good software development practices?
  • Object Oriented design.
  • Don’t Repeat Yourself. (Dry)
  • Launch and iterate. Don’t just wait for for it to be pretty. Get it out there.
  • Yagni: You ain’t gonna need it

Object Oriented Design: You are going to want to study about to model a process using objects. Terms such as encapsulation, and inheritance. When to make a method public, private, or protected.

Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY): Don't Repeat Yourself has been a maxim since the early days of the Agile Development movement. Don't just copy-and-paste code throughout your software. Bundle it up into a method that you can easily reuse. Learn how to refactor your code. [Originating from Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas' The Pragmatic Programmer]

Launch and iterate: Don't come up with the perfect solution. Get what is just good enough, get it out there, show it to others, see if it is what they need, learn from their feedback, and make changes accordingly.

"Often you will be building some class and you’ll hear yourself saying 'We’re going to need…' Resist that impulse, every time. Always implement things when you actually need them, never when you just foresee that you need them.
"The best way to implement code quickly is to implement less of it. The best way to have fewer bugs is to implement less code. You’re not gonna need it!" —Blog post by Ron Jeffries

Other Tips By Andrew: 

Don’t do UI automation before the User Interface is ready for it.
  • When the web developers are still changing what the web or mobile interface is supposed to look like, it isn't ready to write automated tests. 
Code every day.
  • Learning to code is like learning a foreign language. You need to use it every day. You need to put in the investment to learn it. 

You also may need to learn domain expertise:
  • ... Especially for big data and machine learning. It is not enough to learn how to write automation. You need to really learn the product you are testing. How do all the back end systems work? How can you test at that level? 
  • To write good automation, you need to know the product. What is a good test? What is good test data? You need to really know the product to determine if a test truly passes or fails.

Fluent Testing

Fluent Programming

Compare the code…

 HomePage page = driver.load(HOME_PAGE);  
 ProfilePage profile = page.openProfile():  

... with...
 ProfilePage page = HomePage  
      .login(user, password)  

... Which looks more readable? Which style of framework would you get a DEVs buy-in?

[The steps of the test are being chained together using behind-the-scenes a Builder pattern. See T.J.'s blog.]

What Test Runner Do You Want To Use?

Maybe you want to use JUNit or TestNG. Maybe you want to do Spock. Maybe you want to do BDD and use Cucumber ...

Or maybe you want to get a little weird and use Exploratory testing model which tests around the edges of your model.

For most tests, automate after the UI stabilizes.

[ Read the official documentation about JUnit, TestNG, and the Spock Framework! ]

Driver Classes

When designing a framework, make sure to separate out your own Driver class. You should not see in your test anything relating to the driver. You can also put in your own custom elements.

… Use custom extensions that you can design yourself such as one Andrew likes, isPresentNoWait, with a default timeout to be zero. Is the element not on the page immediately? Fail and move on.

Driver classes are a good place to put your Actions.perform methods … moving the mouse. Hover here, move there, etc.

[ See Keyboard and Mouse Actions with ActionClass at Guru99 ]

Page Objects

Page Objects represent a single page. It consists of locators, elements, and operations you need to interact with a web page.

The Page Object handles Synchronizations, how long to wait for a slow loading element. Don't add it to the test, waiting for an element to show up. Add it to the public method.

And make sure to use Object Oriented principles. Do you have a lot of common elements between your many page objects? Refactor out the common elements, put them in abstract base pages, and have each Page Object extend from that.

[ Read SeleniumHQ's article on Page Objects ]


Before, it use to be css selectors vs xpath. Are you looking for text in a link name? XPath may be good.  But in Andrew's opinion:

  • ID > CSS > XPath

Steer away from generators that claim to create locators for you. They tend to create poor locators. Try the Google Web Toolkit (GWT). It adds good tags you can use.

Generators also create poor XPATH. It always is too complex. See if you can simplify it.

What about common elements such as headers, footers, menu bars? Extract these objects out into its own object.

[ Go to the official Google Web Toolkit page] [ Read T.J.'s blog about CSS Selectors ]


Bad synchronization is the most common cause for flaky tests. With Dynamic HTML you now can have page elements which do not yet appear on the page.

How do you handle that? Thread.sleep? NO. This is building unnecessary lag into the system.

Imagine if you wait arbitrarily for a button to appear, say, ten seconds. What if the button appears in just five? That is five seconds of lag. You now are unnecessarily waiting explicitly too long. It would be better to have an implicit wait. Use a WebdriverWait that checks if the element is there every 100 milliseconds, then times out, failing after ten seconds. You are implicitly waiting for the button to pop up.


The Page Factory initializes web element for you. This hands you a page object that is ready to use. You call it right after opening a page in a browser.

[ Read SeleniumHQ's article about Page Factory pattern ]
[ See a demo of the Page Factory with T.J.'s Basic Appium Framework ]

Test Classes

  • Should rarely call driver functions. 
  • Avoid explicit waits, where you arbitrarily sleep for 10 seconds.
  • Use Implicit Waits: Wait for ten seconds (checking in 100 millisecond increments) until this Expected Condition is shown.
  • You want your tests to fail fast. Test one thing. No point in using 25 assertions in one test. 


  • Asserts should not be buried in the code. They should live in the Test Class.
  • If you wish, you can verify that multiple items on a page, such as a receipt with a softAssert. Remember, though, this all takes time. You don't want do check the same thing in multiple tests. 

What Went Wrong?

  • Did something go wrong? What is it? Is this a test failure or is this a Broken test?
  • Did your automated test throw a Null pointer exception? It should not be considered a test failure… it is a broken test. It is an -error-. An unhandled case that popped up. 

When do you say a test is stable enough to put into production? You don’t want developers to turn of your test. You want the framework to be rock solid and any failures are rock solid.

Hamcrest Matchers

  • More human readbale conditions.
  • Increased logical complexity, such as X or y but not c… you can do that with Hamcrest matchers.

[ See a tutorial on Hamcrest ]

Additional Pieces:

Test Case Management System

There are many ways to show traceability:

  • TestRail
  • Zephyr
  • SerenityBDD
... Keeps track of what passed, what failed, and reports results over time.


  • Andrew writes all results to a sql database, and then figures out how to do the reporting he wants.

Tagging and Grouping tests

  • What kind of test is it? Is it a smoke test, a regression test?
  • How can your system run a single test?

Build Tools You Can Use:

  • Apache Ant
  • Apache Maven
  • Make
  • Gradle
[ Read in T.J.'s blog about a Free Course in Gradle ]

Continuous Integration / Deployment 

  • How do you want to set it up for tests to run each how, or each time code is deployed on a QA Server?
  • Do you want to use Jenkins, Bamboo, TeamCity?

Version Control 

  • Your automated test framework is code. 
  • Where do you want to store it? Git? SVN? Perforce?

Static Inspections:

  • FindBugs, Checkstyle


How would you handle promotion testing when a new feature replaces an old feature, and the automation for each is incompatible?

When you want to run production tests vs production environments?

You can hide feature behind a feature flag!

Dependency Injection

  • If you add dependency injection with spring, you can  go to Mock credit card system instead of the real thing.

Networking Testing 

  •  RFCs, Charles Proxy, Wireshark.

Tips on How to Start

A Quote from Michael C. Feathers, Working Effectively With Legacy Code
Andrew talked about a certain chapter in Michael C. Feather's "Working Effectively With Legacy Code" (2004), which talks about how easy it is to get overwhelmed when a job seems to big. There are too many parts. When that feeling creeps in, one way to deal with it is to try to connect with others. Other developers in the same situation. Thanks, Andrew for doing that with us!

A few final tips Andrew expressed:
  • Start small, with Selenium IDE then export
  • Take classes in Codeacademy.com. They have courses in HTML, Java ,Python. You need to become fluent in the language before we writing good automation.

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!"


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