Fitnesse for dummies?

We pride ourselves on our technical prowess, by we i mean my team and I and by team i mean the greater QA team at work.

As testers we are often thought of as not being technical and in some institutions it is actively discouraged. However being a technical tester is dependent on the domain you work in.

In our domain we need to be holistic on our approach to testing, we need to be multidisciplinary with skills in Linux, Apache, Jboss, J2EE and Oracle. We work for a large website so we all need to understand headers, HTTP, cookies, dynamic HTML/Json.

So it was with some surprise (read, it caught us out) that we found ourselves staring at FitNesse (the Acceptance Testing Framework) like the apes staring at the monolith at the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). We understand its importance, and we can see the benefits, but how do we turn it on? what makes it go?

Well a few hours later and to our horror we have installed JDK and eclipse and we are coding in java. But this doesn’t really sit well at all, testers writing tests in java? who will test our tests?

Worse than this, we don’t have Java coding skills across the team (nor do we want them) so what can we do?

A few googles later and we can see that we are not the only people that think this sucks. For every test case we write in Fitnesse we ill have to write a corresponding fixture (read some java code). Until i run across Anubhava’s Tech Blog and his post Introducing Generic Fixture for FitNesse. Here he talks of the same problem of having write java code for every test. His solution is rather neat, the GenericFixture.

I followed his examples and hit a few dead ends, so i emailed Anubhava and after a few question from him discovered that what i believed to be the GenricFixture.jar was in fact a 700Kb web page (an error message from sourceforge). With the proper jar downloaded from sourceforge we are off and running, and can now write tests without cutting a single line of java, but wait that’s not all…

Something was still unsettling about the whole deal, and that was the fact that FitNesse allows users to create tests using natural language.

here is a simple example in fitness

users opens the URL
page has the title Google
page has an element named q true
page has an element named btnG true
user types chocolate into q field
user clicks on the button named btnG
page loads in less than 5 seconds
page has the title chocolate – Google Search
user clicks on the link named Chocolate – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
page loads in less than 5 seconds
page has the title Chocolate – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

and here is the same example in selenease

assertTitle Google
type q chocolate
clickAtAndWait btnG
assertTitle chocolate – Google Search
clickAtAndWait link=Chocolate – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
assertTitle Chocolate – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As you can see the FitNesse example is easily read and understood whereas the selenim version requires the user to understand the selenium syntax (selenease).

Our friend Anubhava (above) had hit upon the same problem, and implemented a Domain Specific Language (DLS) adepter for the GenricFixture, so problem solved, for now…

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