Monday, June 17, 2013

automating web tests with Ghost

Developing reliable software for the web is a challenging proposition. A site's code organization is complex, with libraries interacting with each other in an exponentially expanding number of possibilities.  It's quite easy to make a minor change in one part of the site that breaks another part.

Manual testing isn't an option. If you have a rarely-used but critical part of the site's workflow, like "email me my forgotten password", it would affect users if the functionality breaks. With manual testing you might never know your users are getting a poor experience.

One technique for making reliable web software is using automated tests.  In addition to the lower-level unit tests of code, it's valuable to have a scriptable "browser" that is able to click through your site and check various features.

Install and verify Ghost

Here's how to install and use Ghost, a Python library that emulates a Webkit browser. The browser is comparable to Apple Safari or Google Chrome.  Instructions are for Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get install python-pyside
sudo pip install

Verify that things were installed correctly:
python -c 'from ghost import Ghost'

Example headless web scripting

Here's a sample program.  It loads the Duck Duck Go search page, then types in a search query. It then clicks the submit button, waits for the search results to load, and prints out the HTML of the first result. Finally it captures a snapshot of the page!

from ghost import Ghost

ghost = Ghost()'')
ghost.fill("#search_form_homepage", {'q': 'beer'})
result, _resources = ghost.evaluate(
print result

Here's the above in a Gist for your use: Ghost example with Duck Duck Go


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