March 17, 2018

Getting to Know GitLab and How They Test the UI

The past three years as an automation developer, I have worked with many different continuous integration platforms such as Jenkins, TeamCity, and CircleCI, hooking up my automation to it so the tests can be run once an hour, nightly, or every single time is checked in.

Threat Stack uses GitLab for its Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI / CD) pipeline. Why? You should ask Pete Cheslock, head of DevOps. He is currently writing about his experience in our company blog:
With GitLab, I am more concerned with finding out what it does in general. Lucky for me, they give YouTube tours such as this one shot back in November 2017, Idea to Production with GitLabs.

This video gives you a good idea of using GitLab to do issue tracking, planning, committing to the repo, testing with CI, debugging in the terminal, deploying to production, scaling an application and application performance monitoring.

The History of GitLab

According to

"2011: Our CTO Dmitriy needed an great tool to collaborate with his team. He wanted something efficient and enjoyable so he could focus on his work, not the tools. He created GitLab from his house in Ukraine. It was a house without running water but Dmitriy perceived not having a great collaboration tool as a bigger problem than his daily trip to the communal well. [...] So together with Valery, he started to build GitLab as a solution for this. This commit was the very start of GitLab.
"2012: Sid saw GitLab for the first time and thought it was natural that a collaboration tool for programmers was an open source so you could contribute to it. Being a Ruby programmer he checked out the source code and was impressed with the code quality of GitLab after more than 300 contributions in the first year. He asked Hacker News if they were interested in using and hundreds of people signed up for the beta. In November 2012, Dmitriy made the first version of GitLab CI".

Wait a Second... GitLab Uses Ruby?

Oh, that is interesting! GitLab is coded using Ruby! The Test Engineering  team picked the Ruby language for its automation framework because Chef and Test Kitchen use Ruby. As a Ruby Newbie, I have been finding it helpful to review the great work the people have done creating examples using their BDD framework with Capybara.

What I find more fortunate is that it appears that GitLab uses for its UI tests what I am attempting to use: Capybara + Ruby + Headless Chrome.

I need to check out Mike Greiling's article, "How GitLab switched to Headless Chrome for testing: A detailed explanation with examples of how GitLab made the switch to headless Chrome".

As Mike put it, last year, "news spread that Chrome 59 would support a native, cross-platform headless mode. It was previously possible to simulate a headless Chrome browser in CI/CD using virtual frame buffer, but this required a lot of memory and extra complexities. A native headless mode is a game changer. It is now possible to run integration tests in a headless environment on a real, modern web browser that our users actually use!

"Soon after this was revealed, Vitaly Slobodin, PhantomJS's chief developer, announced that the project would no longer be maintained".

And all of the source code for GitLab's Community Edition is stored on GitLab. Awesome!

At my job there are so many things that are new to me:

  • I am new to
  • I am new to Ruby
  • I am new to Capybara
  • I am new to GitLab
  • I am new to Headless Chrome. 
... For the last week, since I was placed on Threat Stack's UI team, I've written a few UI tests, but they all run locally, on my own computer, but I was stumped when it came to using CI with GitLab. I've been searching for a model to base my new framework on.

Looks like I found one. This should be fun! 

Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test
Meetup Organizer, Ministry of Testing - Boston

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