Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 2 of 40: TESTHEAD BOOT CAMP: Rails, Firebug, and IE Tab

Here's my day 2 report for TESTHEAD BOOT CAMP. I just realised that my TESTHEAD BOOK CLUB and TESTHEAD BOOT CAMP posts are going to look really cluttered if they bunch up together, so I'm changing the format of the BOOT CAMP posts. With that, let's talk about today...

It figures, I announce I’m going to do something dramatic, and what happens? Mother Nature gives me a back hand! I woke up on Thursday feeling like someone shoved a cork in my nose and swabbed my throat with sandpaper. In short, not feeling good at all, but with a ticking countdown, I couldn’t just do nothing.

Day 2 of boot camp consisted of me de-cluttering, de-junking and installing tools that I hope will get me towards my goal of “supa-fly web test ninja”… hey, I don’t have a better phrase at the moment, but I’m of course open to suggestions :). Seriously though, taking the time to de-clutter and de-junk a work area, room or system is imperative; it sets the stage and tells your body and mind that you are serious and going for broke here!

So what was the first job I decided to tackle? Get Ruby On Rails running on my laptop. Since I am running Windows 7, that meant I had to see what steps had to be jumped through to get the software installed. As is often the case with applications and environments not necessarily developed for Windows, I expected there’d be a few steps that would be bulky and require me to dig around and do modifications. I was wrong. The Ruby installer worked right out of the box as did the Development Kit, and from there the steps to install the necessary Ruby Gems, install Rails, install SQLite (just to keep things relatively easy; I’ll be playing with MYSQL a little later).

So what’s my first share item here? For starters, my tip of the hat to the good people who have created and maintain the Rails Wiki and their steps to making a darn near painless experience for installing on Windows. The steps are relatively straightforward and describe with the needed details without becoming overwhelming or mired in minutiae the important steps:

Installing Ruby and RubyGems
Installing Rails
Installing your Database engine of choice (decided to keep it simple and used SQLite)
Setup your first project
Open the URL to your Rails project

All of these are spelled out admirably in the Rails Wiki, so for those looking to install and get up and running with Rails, allow yourself about 30 minutes and you’ll be good to go.

Additionally, I have to give some props to another tool that was also recommended as an “immediate first" and that’s Firebug. This is a nice little tool that allows the user/developer the ability to monitor, edit and debug HTML, CSS and JavaScript in real time.

It seems many of the really cool tools are likewise limited to Firefox, which makes for a mild drag when applications are optimized for IE, which a few I’m testing are… ah, but there is still hope, young ninja to be. There’s an extension to Firefox called IE Tab, which allows you to run Internet Explorer only pages inside of Firefox. It’s not a perfect fit, there are some oddities with layout, but so far, it’s letting me use a number of my favorite Firefox tool and still let me test the apps that have the IE limitation, so that’s a definite bonus! Now if I can find a way to run a “virtual browser” of Firefox 2.0 inside of an up-to-date version of Firefox, my quest would be complete (ummm, well, not really, but it would have been a neat cap for today :) ).

So there you have it, Day 2 of Boot Camp was focused on installing and identifying tools, putting them in place, and making sure they fired up effectively. Of course, installing and starting is the (relatively) easy part. Putting them to good use? That takes time and with that, basic training really begins!
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