Friday, June 25, 2010

Meetup Your Way To Better Selenium Understanding

This past week I had an opportunity to get together with other people in the community of testers, developers and IT professionals surrounding the Selenium suite of open source testing tools. As a lone gun tester, I have grown to value the opportunities to hear different approaches to using tools and to talk with other people who are using the tools in ways I either hadn't considered or who have a different focus than I do (plus, the pizza was really good, too :) ).

This particular meeting was hosted by the San Francisco Selenium Meetup Group, and was organized, as the name implies, using Meetup. For those not familiar with Meetup, it’s a way to find those people out there with general interests, or specific ones, and have an opportunity to gather together and discuss topics and opportunities that would be of benefit to the entire group. This was my first opportunity to join this group in a formal setting, and I have to say it made an excellent first impression.

The first aspect was that there are people using Selenium that I didn’t think would be. I had an interesting conversation with a small company that helped proofread and comment on university dissertations, and their approach to using Selenium to perform searches related to a particular paper’s contents to help determine what ideas were cited correctly, as opposed to what might be plagiarized, gave me an insight into an approach to using Selenium I otherwise might not have considered. Too often, when we use a tool, we only apply it to the scenarios that we can think of because of a sense of exigency. Getting other perspectives from other users is a valuable way to see that there may be other uses for your tool of choice.

The topic covered on this particular evening Meetup was to show how Selenium could be used with Hudson (a continuous integration environment) to control distributed builds and aid in the Unit test and Integration test steps. I will admit that this particular set of topics was not immediately applicable to my current work environment (our applications are not Java based, but .NET and VB based), so the specifics of the talk couldn’t just be dropped into my environment as is. The real value, though, was that it gave me a glimpse into some different ideas as to how to use a tool I currently have deployed (Selenium IDE and Selenium RC) and see how I might be able to apply some of the ideas in my current environment, if not all of them.

My thanks and appreciation to Sauce Labs, who hosted this month’s meetup, for letting a bunch of us invade their office space, eat pizza, drink their beer, soda and water, and have an opportunity to talk about how we use our tools and consider different implementations for those tools. For those in the San Francisco area interested in this type of interaction, consider joining the Meetup group and come out and hang with us. The next Meetup for the San Francisco Selenium Group is tentatively July 21, 2010 at Digg HQ in San Francisco, and will be a “Whiteboard Night” where contributors will set up and explain how they are using Selenium in their organizations, and allow others the chance to walk around and ask questions. More on this as the program draws closer, but I am already planning on being there. Here’s hoping some other San Francisco and Bay Area Selenium testers will be there, too :).
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