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Raj Subramanian

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Over the past few years, our team has been working hard to improve the functionality and usability of our autonomous testing platform. This mindset is what made us successful in building a product that people love and trust. In 2019, we released many new features that help testers author and execute tests more efficiently.

In this webinar, we discussed how the AI works underneath the hood, what are some of the features that help in faster authoring, execution and maintenance of automated tests and finally, discussed the top features within Testim that were released this year.

Here is the recording of the webinar

Below are some useful links related to features discussed in this webinar

Some useful blog posts to quickly get to know Testim

Quite often there is a need to validate the content of a downloaded document which could be a PDF, Word Document, CSV file or databases such as MySQL, MongoDB. All these are possible within Testim using the CLI action step. This feature helps to create and execute custom Node.js scripts at runtime; to perform different validations. Below are some tips to help with CLI action steps.

Tip 1: How to find out what node.js packages you can use?

The different node.js packages that can be used within Testim are the ones found in https://www.npmjs.com/. This is the official website that has references to all the open source node.js packages. Say for example, you are searching for a package related to pdf documents; just search for “pdf” and you will get a list of all the node.js packages available for pdf.

Tip 2:  What are the available CLI action steps within Testim?

Below are the available CLI action steps within Testim-

  • Add CLI action
  • Add CLI validation
  • Add CLI wait for
  • Validate download
  • Wait for download

Tip 3:  How to add node.js packages to Testim?

To add node.js packages to Testim, follow the below steps

  • Add one of the above mentioned CLI action steps
  • In the Properties Panel, click on PARAMS-> PACKAGE

Tip 4: How to execute CLI action steps locally?

To execute node.js scripts via CLI action steps locally, you need to first set up the runtime environment using the below command. Ensure this command is executed from the command line before running a test with a CLI action step.

npm i -g @testim/testim-cli && testim –agent

Putting everything together

Lets see how all the tips work together to execute node.js scripts. Say you want to validate the content of a downloaded document such as a PDF file. The steps to do this would be-

  • Ensure CLI Action feature is enabled (Contact our CSM or customer support for this)
  • Add the “Validate Download” action
  • Add the necessary node.js package for the pdf content validation. In this case, we are adding the latest version of the package pdf-parse
  • Then, add the necessary code to do the content validation

Here is a sample test to show how to do PDF content validation – PDF Validation

For more CLI action examples, check out the last section of this doc – CLI Action

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken over the world in the past few years. Not a day goes by without hearing something new that has come up in the field of finance, healthcare, ecommerce, computer vision and much more. Now we have AI in the field of software testing.

In this webinar we discussed how Testim has implemented AI to speed up authoring, execution and maintenance of automated tests and has significantly reduced the cost of maintenance. We covered-

  • How the AI works underneath the hood?
  • How we reduce the time spent on authoring, execution and maintenance of tests?
  • How we integrate Testim in a CI/CD pipeline?
  • What kind of reporting we get when using Testim?

Here is the recording of the webinar

Introduction
We work hard to improve the functionality and usability of our autonomous testing platform to support your software quality initiatives. This month we’re thrilled to release a few of your most requested features; Multi Tab Screenshots, Generate Random Value Step, Suite View Free Text Search, Test List Export Feature. Check them out and let us know what you think.

Multi Tab Screenshots

What is it?

As a follow up to the multi tab indicator feature released last month, we now provide additional visibility when working with multi tab steps. You will now see test fail screenshots from all test tabs.

NOTE: The bottom carousel displays all tabs. There is indication of which tab the step executed on (the “Run Tab” label) as well as an indication of which tab is currently presented in the main viewport.

Why should I care? 

There is no longer a need to open a step and look at the screenshots or other related information to know what tab the step ran on. With the tab number indication and the screenshots, the user has more visibility into test runs that involve multiple tabs/windows. Learn More

Generate Random Value Step

What is it?

You now have a step to generate random values containing text, numbers and certain prefixes during run time. The value gets stored in a variable name which can be used in other steps as well. By default the variable name is randomValue.

In the interest of making this step more robust, we’ve added a few simple (but useful) features:

● Ability to generate letters only, numbers only, or letters and numbers (mixed) strings.

● Ability to control the length of the output string

● Ability to add a prefix to the generated value (can be a string, variable, or JS expression)

Why should I care? 

Until now, you had to add custom code to generate random strings. With this new step everything is handled by Testim within one click and the need for code is eliminated.

Suite View Free Text Search

What is it?

You now have the ability to do free text search in the Suite Runs tab to search for a particular suite.  As you type in the characters, a list of suggestions (based on the existing test suites) are automatically pre-populated for you to click on.

Why should I care? 

There is no longer the need to scroll through all the suites and then click on the required one. Instead, you just search for the suite and it automatically shows up.

Test List Export Feature

What is it?

You will now see an export button in the test list page. Clicking this button will download the test list as a CSV file, which can then be imported into excel or Google sheets.

NOTE: We have the same feature in the results page as well. Learn More

Why should I care? 

We now have the ability to easily share the tests across teams with people who use and do not use Testim. This also gives the flexibility to feed the generated CSV file to any external tool or framework for more customized reporting. The possibilities are endless.


Quite often there are some elements and attributes that change dynamically on a page. For example – Say you have a currency conversion application. Today, 1 US Dollar would be equal to 0.89 Euros. The same dollar could be 0.90 Euros the very next day; as they change dynamically on a daily basis. In Testim, you have the following ways to handle dynamically changing elements-

Tip 1: Validating Dynamically Changing Elements

Whenever you want to validate dynamically changing elements, Testim has export parameters to handle this situation. 

For example – Say you want to validate the price of your flight trip. The price changes dynamically on a daily basis based on multiple factors. In this case, you can use export parameters; where in, you can store the element in an export variable and use the variable in different steps as parameters and also use it to do different validations in a page.

Tip 2: Generating random values during run time

Quite often there is a need to generate random values containing text, numbers and certain prefixes during run time. This is possible using the generate random value step in Testim. The value gets stored in a variable name which can be used in other steps as well. By default the variable name is randomValue.

We recently hosted a webinar on Common Automation Pitfalls and Solutions with an awesome panel consisting of Jonathan Lipps, Philip Lew and me. There were a lot of great discussions on this topic and we wanted to share this with the community as well.

Several topics related to automation were covered in this webinar, including-

  • How automation fits in the SDLC?
  • Is the Testing Pyramid still relevant in this day and age?
  • How automation complements manual testing?
  • How it fits in the CI/CD pipeline?
  • How to come up with a good test automation strategy?
  • What are common pitfalls we fall into while doing test automation?
  • What are some good practices of automation to keep in mind?
  • What are the new trends in automation?

Automation is not a “one size fits all” solution. It does not solve all testing problems. It is just one aspect of the overall testing process. This webinar helps to instil that mindset. It will also be a good resource for all the testers starting to do test automation and experienced testers who are looking for more ideas to build and maintain robust automation frameworks.

Below are some quotes from the conversation-

Phil: “I think when we talk about automation strategy, a lot of folks start digging down really quickly and do tools and frameworks and things like that. But to me, I think that’s the easy part, the hard part, determining why and how are we going to show value?”

Johanthan: “Don’t call something a flake, investigate, figure out exactly what the problem is with it and then either fix that problem in your app or your infrastructure or consider doing away with the test entirely.”

Me: “When you’re trying to build automation frameworks try to also make it as simple as possible because in that way you can further avoid a lot of pitfalls in running and maintaining it.

Below is the recorded video of the webinar-

If you have any feedback or ideas for other webinar topics, we would love to hear that as well. You can email us at raj@testim.io and share them.

Introduction

We work hard to improve the functionality and usability of our autonomous testing platform to support your software quality initiatives. This month we’re thrilled to release a few of your most requested features; Multi Tab Indicator, Advanced Merge, Failed Test Retry Flag and Refresh Option. Check them out and let us know what you think.

Multi Tab Indicator

What is it?

You now have a numeric value that displays in the top right section of each step that executes in multiple tabs.

Why should I care?

There is no longer a need to open a step and look at the screenshots or other related information to know what tab the step ran on. With the tab number indication, the user has more visibility into test runs that involve multiple tabs/windows. Learn More

Advanced Merge

What is it?

When merging changes into a branch, a modal window will now pop up showing different changes that are being merged into the branch. The changes are categorized into Test, Shared Steps and Suites.

At the top level, users will be able to see what changed in each category – how many new items were created, updated, or deleted. Expanding each item, will display more details about individual changes.

Why should I care?

You now have better visibility and confidence before merging branches. All the details that are getting into the branch are clearly detailed in the modal window.

Failed Test Retry Flag

What is it?

When this flag is set, a failed test will be executed repeatedly until either the test passes or the max number of retries has been reached (in which case the test will finish execution with a failed status). This flag is passed in via the CLI by using the below syntax

––retries <max_num_of_retries>

Why should I care?

You now have the ability to re-run failed tests automatically, with the use of this flag. So even if a test fails once or twice because of some unexpected issues, it will automatically run again so that the test passes the next time.  

NOTE: When a test passes after one or more retries, it will be indicated in the UI as shown below

Refresh Option

What is it?

This new option will completely reload the page before proceeding to the next step.

Why should I care?

You no longer have to add custom action to reload the page. Now, there is a one click option to do it.

Testim gives you the flexibility to add regular expressions (RegEx) to help in easier string searching and validations.  It is extremely helpful in extracting required information from a web page or when there is a need to validate strings that has a portion of it changing dynamically.

For Example – Say you want to validate the label  “Price” in the below page.

The price value is going to change dynamically based on the itinerary booked; every time you run the test. So, if you want to ensure the label “Price” is displayed correctly in the page no matter what the price value maybe, RegEx can be of great help here.

You could add /^Price/ in the Expected Value Field in the properties panel of the Test Step; within Testim.  What this does is, it validates whether the text starts with the word “Price”, allowing the rest of the text to be dynamic and still pass the validation.

Commonly used RegEx and their syntax are as follows-

More references on how to use RegEx can be found below-

https://docs.testim.io/advanced-steps/advanced-text-validations

https://www.w3schools.com/jsref/jsref_obj_regexp.asp

https://regexone.com/



While working on our daily tasks in agile teams, we quite often have this feeling where we are working on multiple tasks all day long and at the end of day when we review our work, we realize we haven’t accomplished anything concrete. The main reason for this is, our work environments are filled with distractions from having unnecessary and unproductive meetings to people checking their messages on phones, emails and slack channels. As a result, we feel demotivated, less productive and burnt out by the end of the day.

After years of working in the tech industry and going through the above experiences, I decided to take a hiatus from my job and do some reflection on my personal and career growth. In 2017, I started a 6 month journey of self exploration and discovery. I read books, listened to podcasts on mindfulness, productivity, leadership and self-motivation and interviewed successful people. Finally, when I went back into the workforce I tried to apply various concepts learnt from this journey in my daily tasks at the workplace.

The concepts I learnt helped me to get more focus, improved my critical thinking skills, helped to figure out ways to prioritize my tasks and I made myself more approachable to people in my personal and professional life. Below you will find the different hacks, tools, tips and tricks that I learnt and practiced, that can help anyone become a highly accomplished and productive tester; while working in a vastly chaotic and fast paced environment.

Different Hacks to become mindful and productive

There are 2 books worth mentioning here that has deeply influenced the way I do things. They were Deep Work by Cal Newport and Procrastinating on Purpose by Rory Vaden. In Deep Work, the author discusses the science and practical steps for focusing without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks. You can refer to this blog post for more detailed information – Deep Work. In Procrastinating on purpose, the author discusses a methodology through which you can prioritize your tasks. This was termed the “Focus Funnel”.

In a nutshell this is how it works, say you have a task – TASK A. This is how you decide whether you can work on TASK A by putting it through the focus funnel.

Step 1: Can TASK A be eliminated?

Step 2: If NO, Can TASK A be automated?

Step 3: If NO, Can TASK A be delegated?

Step 4: If NO, Can TASK A can be delayed further by Procrastinating on purpose?

Step 5: If NO, then you work on TASK A by Concentrating on it

Priority Dilution is, when you delay the most important tasks by allowing your attention to focus on less important but urgent tasks. Priority Concentrate is, when you concentrate on the most important tasks and that is your priority NOW. You can find more information from the book, but I have used these ideas to help in my daily decision making process.

Based on the above readings, the numerous research I have done and applying these concepts in real life; I came up with the different hacks to become a mindful tester. It can be broadly classified into 3 categories. In each category there are different tips and tools that can make you more efficient

  • Planning Hacks
  • Mindfulness Hacks
  • Social Hacks

PLANNING HACKS


Daily and Weekly Planning

  • Everyday in the morning spend just 5- 10 minutes reviewing what tasks need to be accomplished for the day with the help of a To do list.
  • Prioritize the list based on the focus funnel described in the initial section. My motto is to finish the top 3 items on my list everyday. The rest gets carried over to next day
  • Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time each focusing on one particular task. I usually try to do 3 blocks/day (about 45 minutes each)
  • At the end of the day spend 5 minutes to review what tasks were accomplished, what gets carried over the next day and finally what are the tasks that need to be accomplished the next day
  • As part of my job I need to do 5 things – Learning, Reading, Writing, Conference Presenting and working with Customers
  • I want to make sure I dedicate time for each one of them. So I already know how many time blocks minimum I need for each of these items; starting with 2 Time Blocks/Week for Learning, Writing and Conference related tasks and do reading when I take breaks between time blocks. Customers are always first priority and they usually vary from 1-3 time blocks a day based on what customer tasks need to be accomplished that particular day.
  • I usually keep Monday – Wednesdays as my customer days and keep Thursday and Friday as my writing days and tasks that need my creativity and thinking

You can always customize the above routines based on your tasks and context.

Meetings

Here are some interesting facts regarding meetings

There are great talks about how unproductive meetings have a huge negative impact on companies and people. Check out the TED talks from David Grady and Jason Fried (co founder of BaseCamp and 37 Signals) for more information.

Based on the above findings it is clear that having unproductive meetings has a detrimental impact on the overall workplace productivity. So how do you avoid them? Here are some tips to help you make that decision.

  • First of all, you need to decide whether a meeting is necessary to discuss a particular issue. Is this something that can be solved by talking to the person directly? Is it something that can be an email conversation?
  • If you have decided a meeting is necessary, not more than 7-8 people should be invited to the meeting. Research suggests that having more than 8 people in a meeting prevents clear decisions being made at the end of the meeting. Remember if you have 15 – 20 people in a meeting it is a conference; not a meeting
  • Meeting invites need to have a clear title and agenda
  • Everyone needs to come prepared for the meeting
  • Start and finish meetings on time
  • Have clear action items and follow up on them

Remote Meetings

How many of you have experienced this situation before when attending remote meetings?

  • Not announcing who is in the meeting room
  • Not paying attention to food chomping, coffee slurping and sounds generated by putting your laptop, notepad or coffee mug on the table. This may seem like a trivial/normal thing for people in the room but for the person joining in remotely, this sounds like a loud noise going right through your ear buds, especially when wearing noise cancelling headphones. I have been there and done that
  • Not sharing screens while going over presentations or when someone is talking about something he/she is projecting on the screen in the room. The remote employee is left to tap into their visualization techniques to make assumptions about what the presenter is showing and create his/her own interpretation of things. This is a really useful technique for meditation but not so much for work meetings
  • Finally, the thing that annoys me the MOST is, a lot of little conversations happen throughout the room during the meeting and it sounds like the remote employee is in the fish market and has no clue of what is happening

So, how to avoid these problems?

  • Be cognizant of the fact that there are remote employees/attendees in the meeting
  • Ensure you announce the people who are present in the room
  • The facilitator should ensure there is a web-cam so that the attendees of the meeting can see each other and this gives a feeling of inclusion
  • Ensure there is only one conversation-taking place at any point of time during the meeting. Also, ensure we check in periodically with remote attendees in case they have any questions or things they want to add to the current conversation
  • Try to use remote collaboration tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, WebEx and other softwares that help to bring everyone together and encourages more collaboration
  • Act like an adult and stop putting things on the table really hard, banging on the table or chomping on food near the speakerphone

E-Folders

Organizing papers into physical folders has been a productivity hack for many decades now. The same applies to electronic content as well.  On a daily basis we get numerous emails and also have a lot of content on our own laptops that keep polluting our desktop screen. A good way to handle this electronic clutter is to use email filters to automatically sort incoming emails into their respective folders and also have a folder structure in our laptops to put relevant content in the appropriate buckets respectively.

Emails

Email has become the universal defacto standard for communication. Research shows that globally a staggering 269 billion emails are sent each day. It’s estimated that by the end of 2021 over 316 billion emails will be sent each day and there will be 4.1 billion email users – that’s over half the entire world’s population.

Above being the situation, how do we ensure our email communications are useful, productive and less time consuming to read. Here are some tips for that-

  • E-mail should MOSTLY be in 3-4 bullet points, highlighting the key things we want to convey. If there is more information to convey we are better off talking to the person directly or calling over the phone
  • E-mail with more than 2 e-mail threads is an immediate RED FLAG; it should be stopped then and there. It is like a virus that is going to start spreading and affecting everyone’s productivity and time. This is a sign that the people involved need to talk directly or in the worst case scenario have a short meeting ONLY with the people necessary to get clarity on things.
  • It should fit within a normal laptop screen resolution about 11-13’’ without needing to scroll

Reminders

On a daily basis, there are numerous follow ups to do, timely tasks to accomplish and miscellaneous things we need to take care off; at a certain time of the day, week or month. To ensure we do not forget any of these things it is a good idea to set reminders. There are various ways to set reminders for ourselves. I personally set reminders using google calendar, sticky notes and Asana the task management tool. Usually sticky notes go on my table and google calendar reminders help me access them online at any place and at anytime as they seamlessly sync with all the devices.

Coming to work early

This is one of the most overlooked aspects of productivity. When we come early to work and there is no one in the office; we can get so much stuff done even before the regular day starts.  For example – Say the usual work hours of your office is from 9 AM – 6 PM, just by coming in at 7 AM and getting some high priority work done before the day starts, gives a huge feeling of accomplishment and enables you to do highly focused, uninterrupted sessions of work.

Working from Home

Nowadays, more companies are encouraging their employees to adopt more flexible work from home options; as they are able to get a lot more work done. They do not have to waste time in commuting to and from the office and getting distracted with constant interruptions at the workplace. According to a recent study employees who work from home at least once a month are 24% more likely to feel happy and productive at work. Another study found companies that allow remote work see 25% less turnover than companies who don’t.

MINDFULNESS HACKS

Focusing/De-focusing

The human mind can focus only for a maximum of 45 minutes at a stretch. After which, it is necessary to take a 5 to 20 minute break to recharge. In the book Deep Work, Cal Newport suggests having 1 hour Time Blocks and then taking 10 min breaks in between. He suggests doing 3-4 time blocks of highly focused productive work per day.

I currently have a 100% remote job. This being the case it becomes all the more important to have some routines to do focused work. I end up doing 3-4 timeboxes session/day with a 5 to 10 minute break.

Breaking for Lunch

We need to break for lunch and physically get out of the office to recharge. We can do a lot of activities during our lunch break like reading, listening to podcasts, watching TV, hanging out with co-workers or just sitting by the sun and enjoying nature. Some people choose to work out during this time as well. There is scientific research that shows the value of having well defined lunch breaks to recharge our minds and help us be productive for the rest of the day.

Being Mindful and doing focused work

On an average people spend about 4 hours a day on their smartphones. Half of those is in using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Youtube. This is 20 hours/week out of a 40 hour workday. This being the case, it becomes all the more important to track how much time is spent on your phone to increase productivity at work. Apple came out with Screen time; an app inbuilt into the operating system which tracks phone usage. There is another app I personally use call Moments that also has a feature to exclude apps that you want to ignore as part of your phone usage tracking like listening to Spotify while working.

Also there is research which suggests that, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back concentration on your original task after interruption. At work we have constant interruptions that prevents us from doing good quality work. To avoid these interruptions at work we can do the following-

  • Book a conference room or find a quiet place to do focused work
  • Put our phones and laptops on Do Not Disturb mode to prevent getting distracted from messages from our phones or other communication channels like Slack

Finally, I personally have found a lot of value from doing meditation before starting the day. There are various benefits in doing meditation; one of which is to become more mindful and focused in work and life. I personally use the Headspace app for meditation in the morning. They have different guided exercises to help reduce stress, increase creativity, be more productive and be aware of your breathing throughout the day.

SOCIAL HACKS

Being Social

After family, work is where we spend the majority of our life time. That being said, why not make it a fun experience getting to know our team and co-workers on a personal level? It is good to be social and approachable to people; at the same time. There are different tips to do this-

  • Try to hangout with your coworkers one day a week/month. You could do some social activity with them and get to know each other
  • Make it a point to smile and say “Hi” to at least 2 people every day. This simple gesture can change your work and personal life dramatically

Appreciate Good Work

People value words of encouragement and appreciation more than monetary benefits. There are numerous research that have proved this point. This being the case, it helps to build better relationships through words of appreciation. We could send notes of appreciation via emails, thank you notes and letting other peers know when someone does a great job; that made a positive impact on another individual or team.


Testim gives you the ability to playback tests in incognito mode. The reason you may want to use incognito mode is, to get the true behavior of the application without any cached data. This is similar to running tests on the grid, where in each test runs on a new browser instance without any cached data (same as running in incognito mode). The different tips to help you playback tests in incognito mode are as follows-

NOTE: Ensure you allow Testim to run in incognito, before playing the tests.

Tip 1: Running a single test in incognito

If you want to play a test you just created in incognito, follow the below steps

  • Click on the drop down arrow next to the play button
  • Click on “Run in Incognito mode”

Tip 2: Running multiple tests in Incognito

Multiple tests can be run in incognito mode by using the CLI. Each time a test is run on the grid a fresh browser instance opens up without any cached data. Follow the below steps to run multiple tests in incognito all at once-

NOTE: Tests cannot be run in incognito mode from the Test List view. The CLI needs to be used to run multiple tests in incognito.

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