Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: Selenium Testing Tools Cookbook


As the experience level with Selenium and other open source automation tools grows, naturally there will also develop more questions. How would I effectively access elements? What's a good way to compartmentalize tests? Howe can I make my tests extensible? What's the best way to parallelize tests? What if my project doesn't use a standard approach like so many others? What if I'm not on Linux, or don't use Java?

The idea and benefit of a "Cookbook" approach is that it allows developers and testers to look at the aspects that they need at that time, and see how they work in example formats, and then see how they relate to other topics. Packt has decided to take this approach with Selenium by publishing the Selenium Testing Tools Cookbook. In it, author Unmesh Gundecha has broken down thirteen areas of interest (eleven in the book itself, plus two additional areas as bonus download sections), and presents small sections and ideas to allow the developer or tester to leverage the ability to create tests, use the Selenium API, and test applications such as browsers and mobile applications. The book demonstrates examples primarily in Java, but several are provided that use C#, Python and Ruby.

For the tl;dr crowd, if you have never used Selenium before, this should not be the book to start your exploration. I would suggest reading David Burns "Selenium 2 Testing Tools Beginner's Guide" or Alan Richardson's "Selenium Simplified" first. David's book is also a Packt Publishing title, and uses many of the same documentation standards, so it would feel very natural looking at section's of David's book, and then coming back to try out more examples in Unmesh's Cookbook here.


As this is a Cookbook style title, I must give a disclaimer that I have not yet tried every single example in the book. For that matter, I haven't gone through even a minority of the examples, and that's OK. Cookbook's are not designed to be read from cover to cover, and neither is this one. It is expected, and intended, that the user pick an area that interested them, and explore that area. Different projects have different needs, and being able to skip around will help focus the reader's time on the areas that matter most to them at that given time.

Each chapter uses a similar structure, with an introduction to explain the tools and calls that will be used in that section. The given recipe is described  and gives the reader an idea as to what can be done (along with sample code for each of the recipes, which can be downloaded from Packt's site if you prefer to see the projects in their entirety, and would rather not have to type out the examples from the book directly. Each item then goes through and describes what you will need to accomplish the project at hand (if you need tools like Firebug or Intellij IDEA, it tells you what you need and where to get them). The recipe concludes with a How it Works section, and in many cases, additional recipes that relate to the one you are working with.

The book starts out with locating elements, and the different ways in which that can be accomplished (CSS, XPath, text values, jQuery, locating table rows and cells, etc.).

Next the Selenium API is explored and the various methods available to examine and determine what you are looking at (text, attributes, CSS values, interacting with the mouse and keyboard, using JavaScript, capturing screenshots, drop downs and menu items, even going in and changing values in the Windows Registry if desired).

Chapters Three and Four will be important to testers especially, since these chapters deal with test flow and ways to create data driven tests. Topics such as waiting for elements, handling pop-ups, determining if elements are the correct state, working with JavaScript alerts, handling frames and iFRAME's, plus using a variety of frameworks to interact with tests and set up data driven tests in these frameworks are explored, with examples for Java, win32, Ruby and Python.

Chapter Five talks about the Page Object model and how to use it when developing your tests in the languages covered in the book (Java especially, but examples also show how to use .NET, Python and Ruby).

Chapter Six gets into some examples of how to extend selenium and shows some in depth examples using Java (examples include making an extension class for web tables, jQueryUI Tab widget, creating an object map for Selenium tests, capturing screenshots and comparing images).

Chapter Seven Shows how to perform mobile testing using Selenium, and some of the tools and ways to automate tests on iPhone an Android devices using RemoteWebDriver and other tools, such as the iWebDriver App to be used on a simulator or real device, or AndroidDriver on an android Simulator or device)

Chapter Eight demonstrates some examples of how to get a handle on the Performance aspects of your sites or applications. Using timers, accessing and using BrowserMob proxy, and integrating with dynaTrace or HttpWatch are likewise covered. For the Ruby users among us, an example with Watir-WebDriver-Performance is demonstrated.

Chapter Nine covers HTML5 and some of the unique tools provided with HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3, such as video widgets, canvas and web storage, and how to interact with those elements.

Chapter Ten shows a number of ways in which a user could Record a Video of a Test (not record and playback of a test, actually recording an instance of the test being run as a video file, so it can be reviewed later. Tools such as the Monte Media Library (Java), Microsoft Expression Encoder (.NET) and Castro (Python) are demonstrated.

Chapter Eleven discusses Behavior Driven Development (BDD). There are several different books that go into this topic at length, so for more on how this works and how to leverage that aspect, you will definitely want to read more than this single chapter. Still, if you are interested in how BDD can be performed in different environments, this will be of interest. The goal of TDD is meant to be a way to write test cases in a more natural language that those who do not program can both read and, in some cases, create themselves. Ruby users will find examples using Cucumber and Cabybara. Java users will see examples using Cucumber-JVM and JBehave. .NET uses will see examples using SpecFlow.NET.

Two additional chapters, Integration with Other Tools and Distributed Testing with Selenium Grid are not included with the book itself, but can be downloaded from the Packt site. these deal with integrating with tools like Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA, as well as using Ant and Maven for Continuous Integration, as well as parallelization of tests using Selenium Grid.

Bottom Line:

We now have a number of titles to help users get into the world of Selenium and SeleniumWebDrier. Each of these titles, by necessity, can only go so deep and with so many examples. For many, that would be fine. For those who want to know "what's next" or "where could I take these ideas and expand on them" or even "can you give me some ideas as to where I might use the variety of options?", then Selenium Testing Tools Cookbook may be a great next step to explore. One thing's for sure, there's plenty in this book to keep the Selenium enthusiast busy for quite some time.
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