Speaking at RailsConf 2013: Front-end testing for Skeptics

On Monday, I’ll be speaking at RailsConf 2013 in Portland. I’m excited about this because I’ll be able to share some of the cool stuff I’ve learned at Swiftype. Also, I’ve never gotten a chance to speak at RailsConf before, so that is exciting in itself.

My talk abstract is below. I speak at 2:50 on Monday, April 29. After I give the talk, I will most some material from it. Also, if you’re going to be at RailsConf, check out the bike ride I’m organizing.

Front-end Testing for Skeptics

Paul Graham once quipped that “Web 2.0” really meant “JavaScript now works”. Nearly ten years later, more and more functionality of our web applications is written in JavaScript. But for those of us who came of age when JavaScript was unreliable, it’s been preferable to test the server-side, while leaving the UI a thin-as-possible shell. Testing the front-end was error prone and brittle.

However, when you’re delivering a JavaScript widget hundreds of thousands of times a day on diverse third party websites, it needs to work. So: we need to test it, and those tests need to be as painless as possible to write and maintain.

This is a session for front-end testing skeptics (like me): It is possible to create tests that drive your web UI (JavaScript and all) that are automated, fast, reliable, headless – no browser required – and written in pure Ruby instead of some obtuse syntax. We’ll explore the challenges and gotchas of testing the front-end and walk through an example that meets the above goals.