Monthly Archives: August 2008


the myths about off-shoring…

I recently had a discussion with some colleagues, some of whom have been in the industry for over 10 years and we touched on some interesting points. Off-shoring and outsourcing plays a major part in the testing and development world, simply because it’s cheaper to send the complex and time consuming tasks to a company who will promise to do it all for you and deliver it in a neat little package. And that’s exactly what you get, nothing more than a promise. Now, I don’t mean to be cynical but the experiences I’ve had have left me with a bad taste for off-shoring. Personally, I can’t control business decisions, but I wish I could influence them a little. For some reason there is this myth that off-shoring is cheaper than doing things in-house. The reality is that it actually costs the company more money and increases the risk to the organisation, if you look at the long term effects.

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ruby watir

automation made easy::irb

I’ve used many automation tools, and have always faced many complex problems that often required solutions which needed much effort to maintain. There has never really been an automation solution that made life easy, quite ironic, considering the purpose of automation.

I found the most time consuming part of writing an automated script was shaking out the script during development. Normally I find that the culprit lies in the 7th or 8th screen, and thats when my script falls over…normally because of an invalid object or object name. So I fix it, and re run it, then the script falls over on the next screen…fix it, re run it….until I feel like I am an infinite loop that has no <break> statement…But now, I can write a script, without having to run it 50 times, and I can be confident that it will run, first time. How? you ask, with watir and irb….

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loadrunner & content checks

At the moment, I’m using laodrunner to performance test a web application. The application, like all, has an array of regular error messages that appear. All scripts should have some form of error checking/handling, but as there is limited re-usability in scripts for performance/load testing, I believe its best to keep it to a minimal. It’s a ‘run and throw away’ style of scripting, there is no performance regression suite, even though you could go through several phases of an application, and performance testing would be required in each phase, more often than not, the application has changed so much, that a need to re-record and re-correlate is required. Therefore you would be forced to throw away the error checking logic that you spent hours defining == waste of time and $$.

Sure, some level of error checking is needed to determine the source of failure, when an error occurs, and being able to easily identify the client side error messages helps eliminate many tangents. I’ve seen performance scripts with complex error handling, that usually have taken hours to code, expensive time which the client is paying for and code which could possibly never be executed. So it only makes sense to KISS.

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ruby, oracle and excel

Databases exist everywhere, they normally contain gigabytes of valuable historical information that can be pulled by a simple sql query….or a not so simple one.

Either way, data is data, and its useless if its not being presented in a fashion that can be read and understood by the intended party. Excel spreadsheets are ever so popular in the presentation of data, and I’ve found that management prefer a spreadsheet in their inbox rather than a complicated sql query that I cooked up. Let’s face it, running an sql query in sql developer or toad every morning , pasting the results into a spreadsheet and emailing isn’t exactly fun…Sounds like a job for our old friend ruby.

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reading a pdf with ruby

I’ll begin by admitting my new found love for ruby. A colleague of mine introduced me to ruby a few weeks ago, and at first, it seemed too good to be true…and I still think it is. Ruby offers a simple, efficient and ‘easy to maintain’ language, that can do the impossible in the least amount of lines I have ever seen…Being able to build scripts that take care of tedious tasks quickly, has never been easier, so to you ruby, I take my hat off.

Recently, I came across a question that was asked on the watir general google group. Watir stands for “web application testing in ruby”, but more on that later. The user wanted to know how to read a pdf file in ruby. So I took it upon myself to work it out.

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