Thursday, March 20, 2008

Press Play on Test with IT Mill TestingTools

Testing ajax and RIA UIs can be a major pita annoyance, and manual testing is often required. IT Mill TestingTools was released yesterday, and though it does not make all Test Engineers obsolete in one swift blow, it hopefully eases UI testing significantly, leading to more testing and better quality. RIA testing is now point-click-save-run, or as the TestingTools slogan puts it: "Press Play on Test".
I've been working on TestingTools (as well as the IT Mill Toolkit), and thought I'd make a quick video, showing the basic functionality that's great for Joe Tester and me:

(excuse the bad quality on youtube, I'll see if I can put the full-sized swf somewhere soon...)
Update: it wasn't too hard to get the my recording hosted at IT Mill - it's even featured as a quick tour. Watch the full-size version.

No programming skills required, no more waitForCondition scripting - the boss can do it too.
And it's quick enough to be useful for programmers like me; I can record my own tests to make sure my changes to do not break HelloWorld - so quickly and easily my attention span can actually handle it. (TT replays tests as quickly as possible, as you can see in the video)
But perhaps the biggest potential benefit is for all those projects that do not have the means or will to set up real testing.
A testing tool for non-testers, if you will.

IT Mill TestingTools does not replace all other testing tools - you'll probably still want to use your favorite unit-tests, performance- and profiling tools for your server-side stuff (we do). But I do think it fills a gap in the toolchain, and hopefully the end result will be more testing and better quality.

A final note: Although TestingTools is especially good for testing IT Mill Toolkit applications (it knows about the components, and is able to wait for ajaxy tasks to complete), you can actually test other sites as well. For security reasons, you must first enable testing in the application/site, mainly to get around browser domain restrictions (no, sorry, you can't test with the online demo) .

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lightboxd - A lightbox with direct links

Quicklink for the impatient: try Lightboxd.

I just love the "lightbox" -pattern for displaying images, and I've tried quite a few implementations. However, there is one feature I've been missing from all of them (admittedly, I should perhaps have rtfm more in some instances), and that feature is direct linking.

For instance, I might want to send a link saying "here, this is the image I was talking about", or the newlyweds I photographed might want to send me a link saying "this is the shot we want printed big".

Being lazy, I tried complaining first, but since that did not seem to work very well, I decided to add this functionality to my favourite lightbox implementation, Lightbox2 by Lokesh Dhakar (I just happen to think it has a very good 'feel'. That, and it was easy to modify... Lightview is looking good too, but it's license does not allow any modifications or derivate work.) However, I'm fully expecting all lightboxes to follow suit and add support for direct linking by the end of next week... ;-)

Lightboxd is a slightly modified Lightbox2, with added direct linking support. It uses standard HTML anchors, so it kind of works even if javascript is disabled (the page jumps to the anchor, but does not open the linked image).
A direct link looks like this (try it!):

It's by no means perfect - but it's a 1.0.

And for the record: I'm totally hoping this will make it into the original 'distribution' some day - the world does not really need one more lightbox -implementation ;-)

Go get Lightboxd »

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Slice animation in plain JavaScript, minus data-uri

I made a slightly more dynamic version of Joonas Lehtinen's Slice animation in plain JavaScript.
Joonas' example creates a 3d animation by using data-uris to embed 1px wide image slices in html. It's a fun animation example and an interesting use of data-uris, but data-uris are a bit of a pain to encode (though you could of course automate the process server-side). I wanted to see if I could keep the fun part while making the script a little more dynamic by getting rid of the need to encode data-uris.

The resulting example animates any image, in the browser (no server needed), using plain javascript (only the initialization is changed, the animation code is basically unmodified).

Try it »

I have yet to find a use for this, other than checking how quickly your browser (and computer) slows down when you feed it a bigger image - but I find it interesting nonetheless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

ME Blog is online!

Jup, I finally configured the blog, and here's the first post. I'm actually new to blogging, so I'm sure there will be some changes once I figure out what's possible.

The main idea with this blog is to post about updates to my stuff around the web (like my main site and my flickr photos), and whenever I contribute to other sites, but I'm sure I'll start posting some stuff exclusively on the blog as well, once I get used to it. Actually, I would not be surprised if the point with separate 'main site' is lost completely at some point, and everything is moved here.

Time will tell...