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Welcome to issue #7 of Front-end Testing Weekly. I know it's been a month since the last newsletter went out. Apologies for that, but really, did you miss not having yet another email in your inbox? On to the content!

The other day I posted on twitter a rather oversimplified thought on software testing:

"Good news and bad news on automated ui testing: It's easier than ever to get started, and harder than ever to keep going."

This thought came after presenting on Automated UI testing and having several conversations on the topic at CSSDevConf in my hometown of San Antonio

Let's start with the bad news: Testing is harder than ever.

Websites are not getting simpler. Building them is not getting easier. Testing them is getting trickier by the day.

Let's look at what's happened in the last decade of the web:
  • Hundreds of mobile browsers have been added to the scene.
  • Rich front-end interfaces have taken off, with a large percentage of the UI interaction being handled on the client-side.
  • CSS has added animations, fonts, and media queries to the bag of tricks.
The sheer amount of variations to test has grown exponentially. You may find a bug that only appears in X browser when a font file failed to load (is DynDNS down anyone?) and the user took Z specific actions. How are we supposed to test all these scenarios, every single time?!?

I don't know. Not for you at least. It all depends on how your environment is set up, what resources you have available, and what stage your website is in.

Testing is hard. It's vitally important, but it's deceivingly complex. There's a real need for honest folks who feel the value of testing yet realize and accept the intricacy of the situation.

Phew. Let's think about the good news: Testing is easier than ever to get started with.

What's happened in the last 10 years for testing?
  • Testing culture has matured, learning many lessons about writing testable code, the process behind it (e.g. TDD/BDD), and how to integrate tests in to projects (e.g. CICD tools)
  • The test tools are amazing and numerous. You can now pick your favorite flavor of syntax, in your favorite language with your favorite code editor.
  • Software testing services are blooming. Companies like Browserstack and Sauce Labs add an awesome way to access hundreds of different devices/browsers from your desktop, including Selenium integration.
The industry has also added a plethora of tutorials and talks on the subject. One or two short tutorials can get you started down the path of test automation. It's a jungle to traverse, and you'll need to bring a machete, but the first step is easier than ever.  

If you're just starting out, know that it will be tricky, but the water is inviting.

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Copyright © 2016 Kevin Lamping, All rights reserved.

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