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Ovid (2709)

Ovid
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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Thursday November 17, 2005
04:12 PM

Violating HTML Objects

[ #27618 ]

I finally realized why I was being stupid about how I was testing HTML and XML. The realization was so blindingly obvious that, in retrospect, I'm embarrased that I didn't appreciate it before. You see, if you squint, HTML and XML documents are instances of objects. I don't care about the whitespace, the attribute order, or if the nav links are at the top, bottom, left, etc. What I care about is the information these documents present and the things I can do with them.

When I test an object's API, I shouldn't care if it's implemented with a hashref, inside out objects or RPC calls. I should only care if it does what it promises. Can I click a link and go to the correct page? Does it even have that link? Is the title correct? Those are the things I care about. I'm embarrassed that I've wasted so much time testing rapidly changing internals when the things I really needed to test weren't changing that much.

Realizations like that really hammer home how much I have to learn.

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  • We're getting a disgusting amount of functionality out of this teeny-tiny program I wrote called simple_scan. It basically lets nearly anybody write TAP-based tests vs. anything you can talk to over HTTP.

    You use test specs to tell it what you want:
    http://yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com] /Yahoo!/ Y branded properly
    Run through simple_scan, that generates a nice Perl test that uses Test::WWW::Simple to see if the regex matches the page. Dead simple.

    It actually turns out that a lot of what we're worried about is "is the content ther

    • I should break down that test spec:
      1. URL to access
      2. regex to match against it
        • Y - match it
        • N - don't match it
        • TY - TODO, should eventually match
        • TN - TODO, should eventually not match
      3. comment

      And it's all TAP, so you can use Test::Harness to write tools to summarize. Should have lots more by CFP time.
  • Sounds like you want something like Test::WWW::Mechanize [cpan.org], but without the Mechanize part.

  • What are you doing now ? Which tools are helping you (Test::WWW::Mechanize, no more XPath based tests etc...) ?

    By the way, were you testing the HTML page itself or the behaviour of the application generating the HTML page ?

    Thanks!