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J Valdivia

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Software Development ranks as the number one job in 2018, spanning industries such as healthcare, finance and manufacturing sectors. This being the case, it becomes really important to write good quality code when developing programs and apps for these industries. Even the slightest coding mistake can lead to big problems in the future. 

Below you will find 7 Critical Tips to generate high-quality code.

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  1. Developing Test Frameworks is Essential

With all of the different tools available to programmers, choosing the right ones can be a bit confusing. Utilizing the power of testing frameworks is a great way to see how well your code will perform. Most of the programs that offer these frameworks are automated and very easy to use.

If you are trying to perform a unit test, then using some of the commonly used unit test frameworks is a great idea. For programs in need of GUI testing, working with tools like Testim is beneficial. Regardless of what your testing needs are, there is a tool/framework out there for you.

  1. Have a Coding Standard in Place is Crucial

Most newcomers to the world of programming fail to realize just how easy it is to write bad and unorganized code. In order to write good code, you will need to put some time into developing standards. Following standards that require you to do things like having name conventions and using good formatting is a must.

By following these standards, you can rest assured that your code can be easily read by you and anyone else that comes across it. There are a number of widely accepted coding standards like the W3C standards that can take all of the guesswork out of this process.

  1. Code Documenters Can Be Helpful

If you are working on larger coding projects that span numerous namespaces and classes, working with software that instantly generates API documentation is a wise choice. With this software, you can help your team identify key pieces of the code without investing a lot of time in research. This type of software is also helpful for developers who are working on a number of projects simultaneously. For years, programmers have used JavaDoc  as their code documenter of choice.

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  1. You Need to Make Sure Your Comments Are Useful

One of the most important pieces of a sound coding structure is good comments. If you take a break from a thousand line script you are developing, the notes you leave will help you make sense of it all upon your return. These comments can also be helpful to the people who will have to maintain your code once you are finished. Vague lines should have meaningful single-line comments attached to them.

Functions and methods should have meaningful names and parameter descriptions. You should also focus on keeping each of the comments you write up to date. Failing to change these comments when major alterations are made to the existing code is a recipe for confusion and disaster.

  1. Automated Build Tools can be a Life Saver

Using tools like Maven or Ant can assist you in getting your source code developed, compressed and deployed in a relatively short amount of time. By building your program or application with a single command, you can avoid errors and omissions, as well as performing repetitive tasks. 

  1. Get Familiar With Code Refactoring

Failing to refactor your code on a daily basis may lead to big problems in the future. Most programmers believe that refactoring is the key element to keeping their code healthy. When taking on this process, you need to make sure that everything from your program’s architecture to methods and functions are properly refactored.

Functions that have more than 25 lines of code, will generally have far too much logic contained in it. This means you should refactor it and split it into smaller functions or methods. While learning how to properly refactor your code will take time, it is well worth the effort and time you invest.

  1. Try to Avoid Using Global Code

Most new programmers fail to realize what a mess global variables and loops can create. Using global code will usually lead to a number of clashes and error developing. Ideally, you should avoid having blocks that are defined globally. Making sure your methods are written inside of class definitions can be very beneficial. You should also focus on putting class and function definitions within the right namespaces as well.

By following the advice in this article, you can avoid major headaches when developing new code and ensure good quality code.

Selenium has been a popular automation testing framework for the past several decades. But, as applications have become more complex in the past several years, especially with the use of popular JavaScript frameworks such as Angular.js, Vue.js, React.js and Ember.js for building web applications; Selenium has found it hard to adapt to these technologies.

For example– If you are a currently using Selenium, have you ever experienced any of the below problems-

  • Spending majority of your valuable testing time fixing flaky tests?
  • Unable to make automation progress due to the lack of skilled programmers to write automated tests?
  • Not finding enough support in the open source community when new libraries and updates break existing tests and you have no idea what to do?
  • Need visual validation when a step fails, to visually understand the exact reason for the failure?
  • Insufficient logging information when your tests fail?
  • Finding it hard to seamlessly integrate your automated tests within your CI/CD pipeline?

If you answered YES, to any of the above questions, then you are not alone!!! According to new Gartner research, “Selenium is the de facto standard for front-end test automation of modern web technologies due to the flexible and powerful browser automation capabilities of WebDriver… It’s a sophisticated tool that isn’t easy to learn. It requires your team to have programming expertise and familiarity with object-oriented languages.” So, Selenium is good if you have the necessary programming expertise in your team, if not it becomes an obstacle.

There is no need to fear as there are good alternatives to Selenium. Below are the top 3 widely used alternatives currently available to give you and your team the flexibility to build robust automation test suites/frameworks.

NOTE:  Selenium is an open source community. People volunteer to make the framework better so the limitations of Selenium is not their fault as it is the responsibility of the user using the framework to extend its functionalities and make it better for his/her own automation needs.

  1. Cucumber

This is an open source testing tool that focuses on BDD (Behavior Driven Development). It emphasizes writing requirements in plain english in the form of Given, When and Then statements. This is commonly referred to as “Gherkin” syntax. You then convert these GWT statements into code using Java, JavaScript, Ruby or Kotlin.  This helps to enforce collaboration and bring more clarity to requirements.

On the flip side, it still needs someone with programming background to write the binding code to convert these GWT statements into usable actions. Also, the GWT format leads to a maintenance nightmare especially when many people collaborate and start making changes to different steps. Finally, it does not have any visual validation and has insufficient logging features making it hard to troubleshoot errors.

  1. SikuliX

This is an open source GUI based automation tool. It uses image recognition powered by OpenCV to automate anything with a UI. This includes desktop and web applications. It supports multiple programming languages including Python, Ruby and JavaScript.

Although this tool has robust UI validation functionalities, it lacks a lot of necessary features that are needed for stable automation such as locating elements based on attributes, creating reusable components and modularizing your tests for easier maintenance.

  1. Testim

Testim uses artificial intelligence (AI) for the authoring and execution of automated tests. The focus is on functional testing, end-to-end testing and UI testing. The Dynamic Location strategy used within the tool sets it year’s apart from its competitors. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) underneath the platform in real time, analyzes all the DOM objects of a page and extracts the objects and its properties. Finally, the AI decides the best location strategy to locate a particular element based on this analysis. Due to this, even if a developer changes the attribute of an element, the test still continues to run and this leads to more stable tests. This is the major advantage of using Testim compared to other frameworks like Selenium which uses static locators. Also, the “self-healing” mechanism of the AI helps to proactively detect problems in your test and fixes it automatically for you. As a result, the authoring and execution of automated tests are much faster and more stable.

Testim is not a completely code-less tool; you can use JavaScript and HTML to write complex programming logic (if needed) for your applications. This helps to make the automation suite more extensible. It provides easy integration with your CI/CD pipeline and most importantly helps to involve the whole team in automation including technical and non-technical people.

In summary, Selenium has really good capabilities but knowing there are other alternatives out there helps to give your more options to make your automation effort more easier and stable.

 

In the current era, where applications are becoming more complex due to the varied functionalities to support growing customer demands, it becomes all the more important to have a sophisticated IDE to write tests and automate these types of applications.

Selenium IDE was once popular with their Firefox and Chrome extensions but as applications became more complex in the past several years, there have been continual problems while using the Selenium IDE, such as-

  • Inability to handle dynamically changing elements on the web page
  • No inbuilt functionalities to automate actions that involve multiple tabs, hovers, scroll and other complex user actions
  • The need to give explicit and implicit waits manually to make tests more stable
  • Flakiness with the inbuilt options of the IDE such as Record/Playback where it seizes to work in some situations for no reason

Knowing these limitations; it is good to be open to other alternatives. Below are the top 3 alternatives that are currently popular among teams and organizations.

NOTE:  Selenium is an open source community. People volunteer to make the framework better so the limitations of Selenium is not their fault as it is the responsibility of the user using the framework to extend its functionalities and make it better for his/her own automation needs.

  1. Unified Functional Testing (UFT)

UFT (originally QTP – Quick Test Professional) was part of Mercury Interactive and was quite popular in the testing community. It was acquired by Hewlett Packard (HP) in 2006, then was renamed to UFT before it got sold to MicroFocus in 2016.

UFT is an automated function testing tool used for functional and regression testing. Using UFT, you can automate different user actions on multiple desktop and mobile browsers with different users and data sets, on various Windows OS versions.The down side of UFT is that, the IDE is built mainly for Windows OS. It has limited support for Mac and no support for Linux OS. Also, the execution of tests is really slow, especially when there is parallelism. So, there seems to be a huge gap between the amount of features offered and the price you pay for the tool given its limitations.

  1.  Protractor

This framework was born as a result of the inabilities of Selenium to handle javascript frameworks such as Angular.js. It is an end to end testing framework to specifically test Angular and Angular JS applications.  It has built in functions to identify different types of elements in these applications. One of the coolest feature of the framework is its support for parallel testing, where you can run several browser instances simultaneously.

Although protractor has good features to do web automation it does have its limitations. It only supports JavaScript and automating Angular.js applications. It does not support mobile apps. Also, the biggest complaint from users is, there is not enough developers in the open source community working to fix the current issues with the framework. As a result. it is really time consuming for teams and organizations to wait on fixes which becomes a big obstacle in automation progress and affects release cycles.

  1. Testim

Testim uses artificial intelligence (AI) for the authoring and execution of automated tests. The focus is on functional testing, end-to-end testing and UI testing.The Dynamic Location strategy  used within the tool sets it year’s apart from its competitors. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) underneath the platform in real time, analyzes all the DOM objects of a page and extracts the objects and its properties. Finally, the AI decides the best location strategy to locate a particular element based on this analysis. Due to this, even if a developer changes the attribute of an element, the test still continues to run and this leads to more stable tests. This is the major advantage of using Testim compared to other frameworks like Selenium which uses static locators. Also, the “self-healing” mechanism of the AI helps to proactively detect problems in your test and fixes it automatically for you. As a result, the authoring and execution of automated tests are much faster and more stable.

Testim is not a completely code-less tool; you can use JavaScript and HTML to write complex programming logic (if needed) for your applications. This helps to make the automation suite more extensible. It provides easy integration with your CI/CD pipeline and most importantly helps to involve the whole team in automation including technical and non-technical people. It supports multiple browsers – Firefox, Chrome, Edge, IE and Safari, multiple OS versions in Windows, Mac and Linux and also supports parallel testing on both web and mobile applications.

In summary, Selenium IDE does have great functionalities but unless like minded developers in the open source community come together and fix the existing issues with the IDE, users will have to look for better alternatives that are highlighted in this post.

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