Agile Automation

Do you know something I never heard is “the project is finished ahead of schedule”, its always behind. Now I thought maybe this is down to over-optimistic planning, and so cursing project to be behind schedule right from the start. Certain seemingly minor dependencies grow into big ones over time as they start to affect other dependencies. One thing that can be planned, and be delivered either on schedule or ahead of schedule, Agile-run projects, simply because the whole outlook is one of blinding optimism, but solid processes. How good it would be to say to a client that the project is ahead of schedule, so if they have any other requirements it is possible to include them. Of course, I am not realistic – it is considered prudent to hold back on reporting too much progress, to give yourself a buffer zone for the unpredictable.

An optional element of Agile is test automation, but it is with automation that you really get the full benefit of Agile. Test automation is another part of the end to end process of delivering user stories/requirements in finished product. And not just unit testing, but front-end driven testing (the best way to validate user stories). But it is not a forgiving area – try implementing that kind of test automation too late, and it could hamper progress of project, and end up too much trouble than it’s worth. Test Automation can result in actually hearing “the project is finished ahead of schedule”, because good test automation process means less bugs, and far more bugs caught early.

But now start planning at the beginning; if tests are drawn up against user stories as they are done, then that means the test automation setup can run in parallel with development (in fact many of the developers unit tests can be utilised to speed up progress). This is in realms of BDD, but I do believe this should be a rule, rather than methodology specific. Always assume automation when writing test scripts, and user story scenarios to write them. They are what is to be tested, after all. This process means that everything in the chain is hanging tighter together. As development requirements change, as user stories may be added or changed, the test automation is updated as part of same process.

There are tools where you can do all of this in one bit of software, or a few tools hooked up together (Selenium/Fitnesse) has been a long favourite for Acceptance Test Management and test automation.  The user stories go straight to Acceptance Tests – important to keep the goal in focus. All the stakeholder is interested is progress, and if they need to worry – so they will be looking at user story history, generally percentage completion – maybe the test results. The Product Owner and Scrummaster will be keeping an eye on testing activities, and with something like Fitnesse or SpecFlow, can initiate automated tests with click of a button, by simply selecting user stories, or set of user stories, or just one scenario. Transparency is a favourite word in business at the moment, and Agile goes some way to provide it.

Something I am bad at maintaining but so…

Something I am bad at maintaining, but so simple to do it has to be done. Nothing more annoying in a form if the tab order is illogical. While designers usually remember to do this, what is often forgotten the the tabbing order for an entire page selectable elements. Just go to any website and press tab and see where it selects first. It should be home link, but rarely is.

Dress up your fonts

Something simple to make your site font a little more modern and smooth. Google provide ability to add free embedded fonts – they can also be purchased at a charge you want to pay. You can pay nothing, but that would be mean spirited – people do a lot of work for free in web world, myself included. Payment isnt expected but believe me, it is hoped for 😉

How to do it

<link href=’,italic,bold,bolditalic&#8217; rel=’stylesheet’ type=’text/css’>

Just place the above string in <HEAD> section of you header file (assuming you are still not madly using static web page). The next stage is to alter your stylesheet, for example:-

font: normal 12px/18px ‘Arial’, Helvetica, sans-serif;
font: normal 12px/18px ‘Ubuntu’, Helvetica, sans-serif;

Simple! (Ensure you change all CSS font definitions where you want this embedded font to appear)

Wikimedia Foundation

I love wikipedia, ones of Wikimedia’s largest and longest running projects.  It is a truly democratic source of information.  The people who whine about its accuracy amuse me – if people have the passion to be angry, but no passion to do anything about it,  it is singularly unimpressive.  Wikipedia is based on USER CONTRIBIUTION – if you disgaree with something on there, you can contribute with your “truth”.  The facts are balanced by usefiul links to other sites of information, or just other opinions.

What I have neglected to do in the last 7 years of using it, and using it a lot more in the last year, was bother to find out about them.  I hang my head in shame, as just reading their FAQ site showed me that here truly was a web effort worth supporting actively.  Wikimedia (registered US charity than runs wikipedia) is a non-profit organisation, involved in worldwide charity inititatives. Wikipedia’s ultimate goal is to be global source of information, and more importantly democratic in its approach to the data it holds.

The most underrated web organisation, along with w3c (world wide web consortium).  These type of organisations are trying to keep the web in way we should hold dear – free and unobstructed access to fundamental information – be it Transformers 2 production history or The Taliban.  Or maybe you should just continue trusting the information from media, governments or some conspiracy theorist.

Wikipedia is the world’s largest and most popular encyclopedia. It’s online, free to use, and free of advertising. Wikipedia contains more than 14 million volunteer-authored articles in over 250 languages, and is visited by more than 330 million people every month, making it the number five most-popular site in the world. It is a collaborative creation that has been added to and edited by millions of people during the past eight years: anyone can edit it, at any time. Wikipedia is the largest collection of shared knowledge in human history, and the people who support it are united by their love of learning, their intellectual curiosity, and their awareness that we know much more together, than any of us does alone.

Wikimedia Foundation


bing-search-engineSo Microsoft are seriously contending with Google … I dont think so – what they are doing is what MS usually do – trying to dominate by stealth and dishonesty.  MS have latched onto the newspapers/publishing industry, as they have still failed to find significant foothold in web services.  Google are rightly unfazed by this, as traditional publishing industry has no power regards web news and articles.  They have still failed to realise the web isnt waiting for them, the web is waiting for them to catch up.  Is Bing any good?  Who cares – its Microsoft – their product wont be concerned with quality, only ultimate control. To compete with Google is a waste of time, when creating something different with different purpose would be more valuable.  This just highlights why MS no longer belong – their approach is to challenge existing popular technologies rather than be original.  And so waste billions of dollars that could be more effectively put into development.  Their R&D section must be thoroughly sick of innovation being sacrificed for stakeholder returns.


Cult of the amateur

A little over-reaction I would say, but the web has become a mess again. The danger of the masses invading the web, as he puts it, was a positive playground to begin with. But now the professionals are needed again. Still, something sinister about the undertones of this video, the same previous attempts by corporations to instigate control and centralization of the www.

RedZee Revolution

Not the most revolutionary search engine in terms of results – but a unique presentation, which once you use a few times, you will enjoy.  The previews are good enough size to review a site before you visit, and when you open a link,  it opens in a new tabbed page (within the RedZee site.  A good search engine for those that are not so experienced, or for those who want to try something different.