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The right tool for the job!

Thu 08 Nov 2012

One of the biggest things that always shocks me is the way people approach problems. Software developers are essentially pattern matchers using experience to figure out how to solve problems that are placed in front of them.

This can unfortunately lead them to a problem where developers use their current knowledge to solve problems. Imagine that you are in QA and your only experience of automation is using Selenium. You are told that you need to test a REST API, or as I have seen in forums to test stored procedures in your database, you go for the tool that you know and feel comfortable with. The downside to this is that you could possibly pick the wrong tool!

If you are thinking that people don't use Selenium to test Databases/SOAP/REST think again and go have a read of the Selenium User Forum!

Selenium is a wonderful tool! I am not just saying that because I have written two books or because part of my time is to try support the project, I say it because I love watching the tests run! Unfortunately it uses a browser to drive a web application. This means that you have the entire stack to worry about when testing. Actually you have more than your stack to worry about when testing. A Browser is a very complex bit of software. Both Google and Mozilla have shown that it can be its own operating system with Chrome OS and Firefox OS respectively.

That is a lot of lines of code that are run just to make sure that your tests do what they are expected. When you need a browser you use it and then make sure everything is working. The browser start up time annoys you but for the coverage you are getting it is acceptable.

But when you are testing something that isn't rendering there is a lot of wasted parts of the browser stack that are called and aren't really used.

So when running your tests thing about how much is being invoked and how much really needs to be invoked. Try not to be wasteful with the resources that are consumed. When little resources are consumed in a test then the tests will run run quicker making feed back loops take less time.

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