Re: [Question/RFE] Automated Testing ?

Subject: Re: [Question/RFE] Automated Testing ?
From: Michael D. Crawford (
Date: Tue Mar 27 2001 - 00:53:36 CST

> Is there an automated systemmatic way of checking that all buttons and
> menu items within the program work?

Once Hubert gets far enough along with his fine work to bring AbiWord to the
Mac that doing automated UI testing is worthile - I still want to help on the
Mac but the consulting business continues to be hectic...:

yes, this will only test the Mac platform, but having a VU test suite for one
platform will be a good test for the XP code too. I'm not clear whether or
not it works on Mac OS X, but I think it probably does as Virtual User is a
central component of Apple's own testing strategy. And it's now
free-as-in-beer; you used to have to pay for it.

It is within the realm of possibility that someone could write a test harness
that accepts plug-ins for communicating with the UI of an app built in any
kind of framework via a stub that's built into the app for testing purposes.
Then they could communicate by some kind of RPC protocol.

Such a test harness could be made to work with any application framework if
the concept of what a UI element was sufficiently abstracted and then you used
an adapter to bind it to your particular idea of a framework.

What would probably be the quickest way to get something like this running
would be to link a python interpreter into Abiword, then run the test all in
one application. It would be best to have the test harness and the
application under test running as separate programs but then you'd need to
define a protocol.

You can find out about scripting your application with Python at:

Extending and Embedding the Python Interpreter

You would "embed" the python interpreter by building it into AbiWord. You
would "Extend" python by making python peers to AbiWord UI objects, and python
classes that could serve as containers and descriptions for the UI objects (or
else copy your existing containment heirarchy into native python tuples and lists).

Python runs on many platforms, not just POSIX but also Mac OS, Windows, BeOS,
QNX and a number of others.

Note that while scripting AbiWord with something like Python would be an
admirable way to handle things like automatic generation of formatted reports,
doing it by simulating button clicks is probably not the way to go about it.

What would work better for end-user scripting is setting and retrieving
logical properties of documents, as is done in the Apple Object Model and the
BeOS scripting API (but if you use Python for this the scripts would be platform-independent).

Simulating button clicks and keystrokes by entering them from python scripts,
though, would be a nice way to do automated user _testing_. And if done the
right way, it could eventually be done over a TCP connection with some RPC
protocol, so that you could have a very compact stub in AbiWord, maybe just
leave it in your beta builds, but the test scripts used in the first phase
could be used in the second phase without modification.


Michael D. Crawford
GoingWare Inc. - Expert Software Development and Consulting

Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.

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