New automated UI testing goodies just landed in dojo, and I’m moved to blog about them. Getting test coverage of the messy stuff - user interactions, mouse-movement, clicks, drags - has always been an achiles heel of testing web UIs. Any kind of automated testing is better than none (provided you are testing the right things and keeping a good testing/developing balance), but for UI testing so much can go wrong when your page/app loads up in a real browser and has a real user start poking at it you’re left with a giant hole to fill with tedious, manual testing. doh.robot (and its dojo, dijit descendants) offer the ability to write tests that include real keyboard and mouse events, that can mimic actual use of interactive widgets.

Let’s not kid ourselves - manual testing isnt going away anytime soon - and nor should it - but having a suite of tests that can catch regressions, can run though some basic load, click, move, enter input, clear input kind of interactions across key components of your app is a huge plus. It allows you some confidence to make otherwise punishing changes - that would normally require real humans to step though a test script in all your target browsers to confirm nothing got broken.

Some people may love the precarious feeling of developing without unit tests, but personally it gives me the willies. It can be paralyzing as the codebase grows and each addition and change multiplies the potential for error. When you do stop and test how much will you have to tear back when an error pops up? You dont see construction workers free-climbing as a building goes up. You build a stable scaffolding, and anchor that against each successive floor that you add. So with testing. Unit tests let you look forwards at what remains to be done, rather than worrying constantly about what you’ve already built. And with accurate, non-synthetic automated UI interaction testing that doh.robot offers, that can only be a good thing for the growth of the web as an application platform.