Category Archives: Uncategorized

Test Automation Curriculum

Two things happened to me lately. First, I was trying to find a career tester in the San Diego area that knows at least a little bit about automated testing. It isn’t going well. I’ve reviewed a lot of resumes. all the submitters are career manual testers.

Surely somebody sometime must have wondered if they need to learn more about automation. Elisabeth Hendrickson once asked Do Testers Have to Write Code? They did a survey to figure out what companies were looking for from tester skills. In our case, we aren’t looking for somebody to write the test code, but to write and review the cucumber scenarios. Just the same, even on a light desire level, I was disappointed.

Second, a younger person asked me what he should learn in test automation last week. I had already been contemplating writing this curriculum, so I was resolved to do it. Srini, here it is.

Other people who don’t work with LAMPs, such as .Net environments etc. will probably not appreciate this list. Make your own list on your own blog and put the link in a comment here. I don’t begrudge anybody doing something else. I just don’t want to go there.

I created this curriculum for testers learning test automation. While some addresses how and why, most of the list is about tools that can help create a full solution. Anyway, here is my list in priority order:

  • An open source tool such as Watir-Webdriver or Selenium/Java – do not mess around with the QTP and TestComplete. The cargo cults that buy those tools will expect “anybody can automate”.  With open source tools, you can download your own learning playground and incorporate that with the other products.
    • Learn how to create page objects. Even if you take advantage of a library like WatirMark or Page-Objects, you will have to do some tailoring yourself. I have been working with Selenium/Java so I am developing my skills on that combination now. Either way, you need to know how to work on that in an efficient way. In fact, you can address a lot of the entries in here just be using Cheezy’s book Cucumbers and Cheese (well worth the $15). I swear that I do not get a dime from it or Cheezy’s work, it’s just such a big benefit for anybody learning that I cannot miss the chance to say how good it is.
    • An open source framework such as Cucumber, Cucumber-jvm, or RSpec.
  • Github and Git – there are other good source control tools out there, including subversion. Git is easy to use locally for managing your own practice code. It’s easy go get copies of other people’s public projects onto your own system (how did they do that?). CodeSchool has a free course on git. There is also a nice paper on the differences between git/mercurial and subversion so you can understand the differences.
  • Ant and Maven if you use Java. Most of what I learned was through osmosis, but being able to shoehorn cucumber into your project is good to know.
  • Jenkins or Hudson, CruiseControl, or some other open source continuous integration tool. If you ever work at a place that will be introducing automated testing for the first time, this is great to know how to set it up.
  • Performance testing in JMeter – I think you can find a ruby alternative (BlitzIO or Grinder) but you don’t really need this tool to be in a ruby language. The importance is to learn the different kinds of testing you find under this umbrella (incorrectly) called Performance Testing. The other important skill is creating the right monitors so you can discover where things are bottled up.
  • Owasp‘s ZAProxy – learn how to capture the http calls between your browser or simulator and the server under test. You will learn a lot there. While you are there, download the GoatWeb project where you can learn about security vulnerabilities through practice.
  • Monitoring tools (Splunk or Graylog2) – One way to find the errors that are occurring on the system under test is through logging. Those are deleted nearly every time the server is redeployed. You can monitor those logs and server performance much better through a monitoring server.
  • A true startup is probably not going to hire a newb unless they are cost-control-centered. But if you find you get there are there is no issue tracking, it would be good to know how to set up issue tracking and integrate to your version control and continuous integration server. I’ve tried RedMine and it was fine.

If you see that you think should be on the list that is not there, please add a comment.

Article: Secrets to Success in Web Test Automation

Automating tests is an investment that is valuable as long as the investment is not too great. We want to get to the payback more quickly. The true investment is not only the cost of creating and maintaining automated tests. Learn more in my article for Software Test Magazine at Secrets to Successful Test Automation with Watir.

Popularity on Twitter (for my blog tags)

I went to a good presentation on twitter tags in January by Kym Raines.

She showed us how to identify has tags that are popular using #HashTagBattle. The idea is that if you use the hashtag that more people use, the more your tweet can show up in people’s twitter searches (yes, some people search by hashtags). So I looked into it because a lurker like me should make the most out of the few tweets I make. I found that HashTagBattle uses a search engine called Topsy. Just for fun, I created a script to capture the popularity of the tags I use in this blog.


#in IRB
load 'hashcount.rb'
list = """ all the tags scraped out of my blog """
tags = list.split(" ")
tags.each do |tag|
  h =
  puts "#{tag} : #{h.get(MONTH)}"

require 'hpricot'
require 'mechanize'
MONTH = 'off tab-m'
class Hashcount
    URL = ""
    def initialize(hash)
        mech =
        @doc = Hpricot(mech.get("{hash}").body)
    def get(t)
        xpath = %Q(//li[@class='xxxx']/a/span[@class='count'])
        rescue Exception => e
            # puts e.message             

And here is the output of them:

adjuster : 44
author : 19K
automatedtesting : 11
Automation : 3,006
books : 84K
brand : 23K
Bugzilla :
caine : 126
Change : 31K
character : 6,140
children : 30K
choose : 1,661
commitment : 5,058
communityservice : 1,716
competence : 167
Compuware : 104
Confidence : 8,212
Continuousintegration : 44
Cucumber : 2,914
Cucumber-JVM : 0
Culture : 40K
database : 3,837
decision : 1,791
delegates : 83
dictators : 218
ElasticSearch : 357
Exceptional : 316
experience : 6,955
exploratorytesting : 2
Functionaltesting : 4
future : 38K
Git : 5,368
Graphicaluserinterface : 2
grasshopper :
graylog2 : 6
HardWork : 27K
help : 129K
helpingothers : 333
interactiveautomation :
interest : 1,067
investigate : 197
IRB : 274
java : 29K
Jenkins : 449
JeremyLin : 373
job : 1M
Kids : 75K
Leader : 13K
leaders : 7,144
Leadership* : 59K
Learn : 11K
Libraries : 3,339
Library : 16K
Linux : 68K
listener : 228
manager : 19K
masterpo : 1
MongoDB : 2,790
NBA : 246K
NewYorkKnicks : 1,478
Opensource : 10K
Opportunity : 5,545
organization : 2,771
Organizations : 276
payitforward : 4,025
Perserverance : 169
planner : 2,509
practice : 14K
ProblemSolving : 408
problems : 12K
program : 5,688
pursuer : 1
recognition : 1,660
recognize : 1,541
Redmine : 112
reluctantleader : 0
Resistance : 2,759
Revisioncontrol : 0
rewarding : 372
Ruby* : 12K
RubyOnRails : 844
scripts : 1,210
servant : 493
Service : 17K
software : 28K
softwaredevelopment : 1,483
softwaretest : 19
Softwaretesting : 976
speaker : 2,599
Splunk : 273
success : 63K
team : 60K
testautomation : 78
testmanager : 17
TestStack : 0
testingautomationgeneratecases :
tests : 2,539
toolsupported :
Trac : 245
training : 41K
trust : 30K
Unittesting : 70
vendor : 429
vendortesttools :
vendortools :
victimofchanges : 1
VM(operatingsystem) : 1,364
WatirPodcast : 0

Note: When I scraped them, I removed the spaces from between words as is typical of twitter hash tags.