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Automated testing of Rich Internet Applications (RIA)

Igor Gershovich, president and principal consultant of Connected Testing, Inc. spoke this month at the Software Quality Association of Denver (SQuAD) meeting. The topic is one the group had been clamoring for: Automation of Web 2.0 Rich Internet Applications (RIA).

Gershovich started by talking about Web 2.0, sometimes known as “social software,” and the technologies used to create these types of applications. Popular RIA Frameworks and toolkits incude AJAX, Adobe Flash/Flex, Google Web Toolkit and Silverlight. Gershovich said there were hundreds more, but focused his presentation on AJAX, one of the most popular RIA technologies, probably due to it’s pricetag: free!

AJAX is a framework that combines Asynchronous JavaScript and XML and uses techniques that combine and exploit long-standing Web technologies. Examples of Web technologies AJAX uses are XHTML and CSS for structure and presentation and the Document Object Model (DOM) for displaying and manipulating objects. Gershovich went over some of the pros and cons of using AJAX and then explained how Google Web Toolkit (GWT) could be used to write AJAX front-end code in Java, which can then be compiled into optimized, standalone JavaScript files.

Can automation tools, such as HPs Quick Test Pro (QTP) or Selenium be used to create automated scripts for AJAX? Gershovich says he is often asked this question. He says the real question is: Does QTP [or Selenium] work with custom objects from various JavaScript toolkits? The answer is yes, but it’s not easy!

Gerchovich described some of the technical challenges involved in automating GWT-based applications:

  • They use custom or 3rd party Web controls
  • They have no unique object properities
  • Synchronization for AJAX
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • No common design framework between GWT applications
  • Can’t view HTML using View->Source


Gerchovich went on to show the technical details about how these obstacles can be overcome, but the bottom line is advanced test automation expertise is required. Gerchovich’s examples used QTP, but he said the same techniques could be used with other automated tools such as Selenium. Coordination with the development team is required as well in order to gain insights into the objects and their properties.

Gerchovich’s presentation, as well as past SQuAD presentations are available for download.

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