Fast Forwarding Assert


In order to make this test automation code I used Arrange Act Assert.

  • First I had to Arrange, that given my Selenium web driver is in the Form Authentication of
  • I had to Act: when my Selenium web driver will enter the user name and password, and pressing the Enter button.
  • I had to Assert: then I got a message that I had entered the right credentials.

I had finished Arrange. The next step was to add Assert. I know that this seems a bit of order, but you are allowed to read the section “Trust”. It would be great that you would return for the technical stuff in the next section.

Connecting Arrange and Assert

My first attempt to make Assert was a failure. It was code which tested my code instead of the code under test.

Now I needed to look again to the Red Green Refactor cycle of Test Driven Development or TDD in Assert.
In the upper part there is a rectangle "Assert". Under this rectangle there are two groups rectangles "Red", "Green", "Refactor". The left group is lower than the right group!

What was Assert supposed to do?
It was supposed to show some message. I had to translate Assert to Red Green Refactor.

  • Red: no message is shown.
  • Green: a message is shown.
  • Refactor: cleanup code.

If it was too difficult for one cycle, I could always use additional Red Green Refactor cycles.

The first step is Red or make a failing test. How did I determine whether the message was not shown?
I looked with my own eyes. Guess what? I had already a failing test.

The second step is Green or make enough code to pass the failing test,
It was time for my rebound. I had enough code in Arrange to make useful code for Assert.

              .contains("You logged into a secure area!"),
              "Alert text is incorrect");

I could plug in my code like this:

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
  LoginPage loginPage = homePage.clickFormAuthentication();
             .contains("You logged into a secure area!"),
             "Alert text is incorrect");

But this would lead to code, which could not be compiled. For starters secureAreaPage was not initialised and did not have a method getAlertText. Code which is not executable can not be tested. The line with assertTrue was unusable.

The test could not be performed, so it is not really a proper Assert.

Now I had to introduce a secureAreaPage.

public class LoginPage {

  private WebDriver driver;
  private By loginButton = By.cssSelector("#login button");

  public LoginPage(WebDriver driver){
    this.driver = driver;

  public SecureAreaPage clickLoginButton(){
    return new SecureAreaPage(driver);

Painful discoveries

While blogging my code looked perfect to me, but my memory was not that perfect. When I coded, I did not use version control system for my personal project at that moment. Luckily I had made short notes in charters. I missed some notes, but I was still able to reconstruct my steps.

Another thing I noticed was, that the code for testBackspacePressed was written before testSuccessfulLogin. I could change flash forward to flash backward. But that would be quite confusing for the reader. So this blog post serie is based on real stories.

Connecting Assert and Act Continued

A way to introduce secureAreaPage in the code is to insert a new line of code:
“SecureAreaPage secureAreaPage = loginPage.clickLoginButton();”

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
  LoginPage loginPage = homePage.clickFormAuthentication();
  SecureAreaPage secureAreaPage = loginPage.clickLoginButton();
             .contains("You logged into a secure area!"),
             "Alert text is incorrect");

Now secureAreaPage was initialised, but now I had to code a method clickLoginButton.

public SecureAreaPage clickLoginButton(){
  return new SecureAreaPage(driver);

There was still something missing. I missed a class for SecureAreaPage. So I coded a class with a constructor SecureAreaPage and the long awaited method getAlertText. For the newbie programmers a constructor is a method to make object. If there is no constructor, then there is no object to manipulate or test.

public class SecureAreaPage {
  private WebDriver driver;
  private By statusAlert ="flash");

  public SecureAreaPage(WebDriver driver){
    this.driver = driver;

  public String getAlertText(){
    return "ran394594";

Notice, that I put in some random text in the method getAlertText. So every time getAlertText is invoked, it will return “ran394594”.

Now comes the interesting part. Let us have a look what happens, if the following line is executed:

             .contains("You logged into a secure area!"),
             "Alert text is incorrect");

secureAreaPage.getAlertText() returns “ran394594”.
This is different from “You logged into a secure area!”,
so the following error message was shown to me:
“Alert text is incorrect”.

So I had finished Green: a message is shown.

The third step of the cycle in TDD is Refactor. The code was already well structured. End of cycle.

Time for a flash forward for another example

public void testBackspacePressed(){
  // Arrange
  // String header  = "Random text";
  var keyPressesPage = homePage.clickKeyPresses();

  String header  = keyPressesPage.getHeader();
  Assert.assertEquals(header, "Key Presses", "You entered the wrong page.");

  // Assert
  String result = keyPressesPage.getResult();
  Assert.assertEquals(result, "You entered: BACK_SPACE", "Wrong key detected");

Stumbling around

Some readers might prefer a straight forward description of TDD in test automation. And yes, I will describe it more concisely in the next blog post. My message is that it took time to adjust my mind to a new way of developing. I had to unlearn things. That is difficult.

Let me clarify this a bit more. Test Driven Development in test automation sounds like programming and testing of programming and testing. It took me a lot of effort to keep the Arrange, Act, and Assert apart from the Red, Green, and Refactor.

Another thing is that blogging this way gives me a better understanding how it works. It is no theory; it is real practice; it does actually work.


“Never trust a test you have never seen fail.”

I have seen talks of Angie Jones and Bas Dijkstra, two good test automation experts. Their recurring warning is always to see whether the test actually worked. They used Arrange, Act, and Assert in this order. Then they changed Act to see whether the Assert would show an error.

By using the order Arrange, Assert, and Act I know that Assert is testing the right thing. If I will finish my Act in the next blog post, I do not have to change Act to verify my Assert.

A small story to end this blog post

Maybe you remember the story about the walk from the Rijksmuseum to the palace in Amsterdam from the previous blog post. It is not some palace, but a real royal palace is used by the Dutch king and queen.

Lots of kids would go like
“Awwww, white castle with rank towers.
We want to see it!

Only the royal palace is different from the one from a fairy tale. If you are on The Dam, there is no single building looking like that castle of a Sleeping Beauty.

How do I describe this palace to a tourist?
It looks like a grey huge townhall with a dome. This is a way to assert that a tourist is looking to the right building.
Sorry kids for spoiling the fun.

My next blog post is about inserting Act between Arrange and Assert.

Fast Forwarding Arrange

At that moment I had a test, which would always pass. This was not the right starting point.


The first phase of a test is to arrange, that things can be tested. Somehow I had to land on the Login Page on In other words put the automation tool on the same page. And off I coded.

What is a way to identify this screen?
Okay, the header is “Login Page”.
Now I can use Red, Green, and Refactor to make the final step to this screen.

Red or making a failing test was simple, because nothing could be seen.

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
               .contains("Login page"),
               "You entered the wrong page.");

Green: now I had to make enough code to pass the test. The code was quite simple.
In I made a method for the class LoginPage:

public String getHeader(){
  return "ran394594";

Refactor: the code looked simple. So there was no need for cleanup.

There was a drawback. I had a continuous passing test. This reminded me of the last unsuccessful attempt. In that case I started with a failing test of the Assert. Also in this case I ended with test code unconnected with the code under test.


Then I realised that I had repeated the same wrong steps. This walk was clumsy. I started at the end of the Arrange and wanted to walk back with Red, Green, and Refactor.

In the upper part there is a rectangle "Arrange". Under this rectangle there are two groups rectangles "Red", "Green", and "Refactor" under an arrow pointing to the left. The left group is lower than the right group!

A lot of people state that you should start with the desination and then try to figure out what you need to get there. I had the feeling that I was rather awkward.

Let us assume that I have to provide some information to a wondering visitor of The Netherlands.
Imagine me walking backwards from the Palace on the Dam to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
They might mistake me for being a tourist. I hope.
Better to take some extra pictures. A habit of tourist. I think.

In the right order

It was better to start with Red, Green, and Refactor at the beginning of the Arrange. And from there I would slowly walk in the right direction.
Under the rectangle Assert there are two arrows RGR pointing to the right. The left RGR is higher than the right RGR!

So I needed to have code to get to the home page. But extends This basically means that all code in also applies to LoginPage. I discovered that the code to get to the Home Page was already present.

public void setUp(){
  System.setProperty("", "resources/chromedriver.exe");
  driver = new ChromeDriver();

  homePage = new HomePage(driver);

My first step was to put the code with getHeader in a comment.

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
               .contains("Login page"),
               "You entered the wrong page.");

Red: now I had to test that the Login Page was not shown. There was no code in place, so my test would always fail. I checked with my own eyes, that the Login dialog was not shown

Green: then I made some code to get there

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
               .contains("Login page"),
               "You entered the wrong page.");
  LoginPage loginPage = homePage.clickFormAuthentication();

I also needed some code for the method clickFormAuthentication in

private By formAuthenticationLink = By.linkText("Form Authentication");

public LoginPage clickFormAuthentication(){
  return new LoginPage(driver);

I executed the code again. And I saw the Login dialog.

Refactor: the code contained some comment with old code.

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
               .contains("Login page"),
               "You entered the wrong page.");
  LoginPage loginPage = homePage.clickFormAuthentication();

I deleted the comment:

public void testSuccessfulLogin(){
  LoginPage loginPage = homePage.clickFormAuthentication();

Also I noticed, that there were only manual checks and no automatic tests in the code of login page. Somehow I let my attention slip away. Again.

It is time for a flash forward. A few practice runs later:

public void testBackspacePressed(){
  // Arrange
  // String header  = "Random text";
  var keyPressesPage = homePage.clickKeyPresses();

  String header  = keyPressesPage.getHeader();
  Assert.assertEquals(header, "Key Presses", "You entered the wrong page.");

Why should I bother to use Red, Green, and Refactor so intensively?
This was the only way for me to fully experience this new way of developing. Later on I could always change things.

Okay, back to the point where I was trying to test a login form.
There I was. Ready to make actual tests.

This exercise was so small, that I started at the wrong point twice.

  1. At the end of the Assert
  2. At the end of the Arrange.

The whole way of programming in the right direction was still not a natural thing for me.

Somehow I forgot the time being a test coordinator for performance tests. My team members had to make scripts for complete unknown websites. My task was to simplify this by asking for click paths.
“Would you please provide screenshots, which are shown to to the user, and the input of the users?”

Another side note

In music there is a saying that the tape does not lie. If you are a good musician, then the recording will prove it. For software development I could translate it to “the code does not lie”. For doubtful people I could change it to the “the version control system does not lie”.

I could write about an error free test automation experience, which is not real.
My coding in TDD in test automation was still in progress. I was learning.

My next blog post is about fixing the Assert.

Fast Forwarding Slow Down

On the day of my talk about TDD in Test Automation the meetup was postponed.


One month later I was still exploring Test Driven Development or TDD. The talk is still available. In this blog post I will write about my latest experiences.

Test automation is about programming and TDD is about programming. In a talk Kent Beck told about crazy ideas, which would bring him laughter. TDD in Test Automation made me laugh. What was holding me back?

“What is holding me back?”
Kent Beck about Explore at YOW! Conference 2018.

In TDD there is a continuous loop of Red, Green, and Refactor. Red is writing a failing test. Green is writing enough code to let the test pass. Refactor is clean up the code.

Refactor is like something like “Let me put that recurring piece of code in 1 method”. This sounds easy, but it is still tempting to optimise during coding or Green. I already made the optimised code, so why should I spend more time on refactoring? There might be a chance that I miss 2 out of 3 improvements.

A post it with the text Red posing to the post it with the text Green, pointing to the post it to the post it "Refactor". The Refactor post it points to the Red post it!


A common pattern in test automation is Arrange, Act, and Assert. The first phase is to arrange that everything is ready for testing. E.g. I am logged in with the right user name and password on the right website. The second phase is to act or do something, which must be checked. E.g. I have to press on this button, so a dialog will pop up. The third and last phase is to assert or check, whether the result is right. E.g. I can see a dialog.

At that moment I had two patterns to work with:

  1. Arrange Act Assert
  2. Red Green Refactor

On a high level I used Arrange, Act, and Assert for the general structure. On a low level I used the Red Green Refactor cycle to make the code. So the Assert block contained several Red Green Refactor cycles. A cycle can also be shown as a serie of actions.

In the upper part there is a rectangle "Assert". Under this rectangle there are two groups rectangles "Red", "Green", "Refactor". The left group is lower than the right group!

In the next image I add Arrange and Act. For my convenience I abbreviated to “Red, Green, Refactor” to “RGR”.

There are 3 rectangles, Arrange, Act, and Assert. Under the rectangle Assert RGR is written twice. The left RGR is lower than the right RGR!
In order to improve my skills I used the Selenium WebDriver with Java course of Angie Jones. It was very free, very good, and filled with useful code.

My deliberate practice exercise was to see, whether I could log in via the link Form Authentication on  See chapter 4.2 of the course.

In the corner

Maybe you noticed that I started with Assert. But why did I start with the Assert?
Frankly I cannot remember it. Maybe Assert was my final destination for my test script. Or perhaps I used Red Green Refactor on the wrong level. Any way I had a starting point for my test automation script.

public class LoginTests {
SecureAreaPage secureAreaPage = new SecureAreaPage();

public void testSuccesfulLogin(){
    "You logged into a secure area!",
    "Alert text is incorrect.");

In I made a method for the class SecureAreaPage:

public String getMessage(){
  return "ran394594";

So I made my failing test. Red.

Now I could easily pass this test by changing the return value in Green.

public String getAlertText(){
  return "You logged into a secure area!";

At this moment I had a problem. There was no connection with the website. The test would always pass regardless of the correctness of the form authentication.

Looking back I could even use the code to test pizzas. The test results would be of no value. What about testing that gravity is pulling me sideways? Same story. I must have been sleeping on my right side. The wrong side.

I needed to make some code to connect the website and Assert.
In the next blog post I will start with Arrange.

Test Automation is a quick way to check items in a web site. Fast Forwarding.
Coding is an activity which still needs consideration. Slow Down.

Find That Thing In The Room

80 % is not good enough.

A lot of readers might wonder about this statement. 80 % is quite good. Unless your boss does not accept any mistakes. But Agile is the new norm, so learn and adapt. Errors are some great and uncomfortable way to learn.

On the other hand a test automation result should not be right in 80 % of the cases. Especially when it was executed several times within 15 minutes. It is difficult for me to interpret these results.

My draft FAQ for test automation

This one is not perfect, but it will be better at the end of this blog post.

Q: What to do, if I always have a No Such Element Exception?
A: There is a good chance, that the web element cannot be found. So my way to locate the web element is bad. There are several ways to find a web element.

A: What to do, if I always have a Stale Element Exception?
A: There is a high chance, that TestNG is used. The element to be used cannot be found any more. In this can use a findElement as late as possible.

Q: What to do, if I have a No Such Element Exception once in a while?
A: My solution was to retry the required action. After an exception I would wait and try again.

Boolean individualOrderNotFound = false;
For (int i = 0; i < 3 && !individualOrderNotFound; i++){
  try {
      individualOrderNotFound = true;
  catch(NoSuchElementException e){

Q: What to do, if I have a Stale Element Exception once in a while?
A: See the answer on the previous question.

Q: Would you like to write a blog post about it?
A: You are reading one of the blog post serie.

Q: Do you have anything to add?
A: Sure. How about from 80 % to 100% reliability?

Q: Why is 80 % not good enough?
A: If you perform a test, then the result cannot be trusted.

Q: I would just execute the test several times. 80 % of the results would point in the right direction.
A: So you take extra test execution for granted. And what if 90% of the test results are the same. Do you still execute tests until you get to 80 %?

Q: This is supposed to be a frequently asked questions.
A: You are right. Now it is a dialogue. Does it matter?

Q: I am the person who should be posing the question.
A: Why?

Pretty sure

The morale of the following story is that statistics should be used carefully to help your customers. So you can go straight to the next chapter with more Java and Selenium stuff.

Content warning: the following story contains a scene about a date with an unfortunate ending.

Imaginary situation in the cinema more than 2 decades ago. I am recognized by one of the employees.

Me: “I want to have a Cola.”
Employee: “Here you are. And the nachos and the hot sauce.”
Me: [puzzled] “How did you know that?”

Employee: “You always have the Nachos, if you order the Cola.”
Me: “Yes, you are right. I also want to order a Lemonade.”
Employee: “With a chance of 80 % …”
Employee: [Writes something on the cup and places the drink with a wink] “Here you are.”

Me: [Surprised] “What did you write??”
Brunette: [Walks to the counter] “Amy! Who is Amy?”
Me [Turning to the lady with a cramped smile.]
Employee: “Hi Amy.”

Me [Turning to the blond lady with a cramped smile.]
Brunette [Turning to the blond lady] “I am 5 minutes away and …”
Brunette: [Picks up my drink and throws it over me. Walks away angrily.]

Me: “And Amy, did you figure out the situation with the pointers?”
Young man [Approaches counter]: “So, that’s why you are interested in programming.”
Young man [Picks up the drink of Amy and pours over me. Walks away angry]

Amy: [Sighs] “I finally found a young man, who wants to talk about programming.”
Amy: [Picks up my hot sauce and pours it over me. Followed by the nachos]
Amy [Walks away angrily]

Employee: “If this get worse, I pay you bill. 100 % chance of no way.”
A TV crew pops up. A woman with a microphone: “People do the strangest things to stand the desert heat of the desert scene of Monsters Unlimited. More at 9. What is the cooling effect of Nachos and the hot sauce?”

Employee: [Shows receipt with a message: the receiver gets a lifetime membership of Cinema Hype VIP.]
[The sound of a paper being shredded.]

[The end]

Say it again Sam

Back to reality.
In my office I had the following quality check of my automation scripts. If a script would pass in 4 out of 5 cases, then it would be good. OK next test.

Now I had my honour to make my test results 100 % reliable.

The biggest advantage of the Cinema Hype VIP application was the two stage order. First an order could be placed for the movie tickets, so the seats were reserved. On the day of the movie drinks and snacks could be added to the order.

Let me try to remember what happened.
On first sight the actions were not that complicated:

  • Select a day.
  • Select a movie.
  • Select a time slot.

What did I see on screen?
There were 7 buttons to select a day. I implemented this step flawlessly.

The next step was to select the right movie in a combo box. I really liked Outside In, which would be shown from Thursday.

WebElement moviesComboBox = driver.findElement(By.xpath(contains(@id,
filterField.sendKeys(“Outside In”);

The selection in the combo box went wrong: Stale Element Exception.

Maybe a loop might solve this problem.

Boolean individualOrderNotFound = false;
For (int i = 0; i < 3 && !individualOrderNotFound; i++){
  try {
      WebElement moviesComboBox = driver.findElement(By.xpath(contains(@id,
      filterField.sendKeys(“Outside In”);
      individualOrderNotFound = true;
  catch(StaleElementException e){

After some tweaking I got No Such Element Exception. I also added this exception, but it did not help.

Boolean individualOrderNotFound = false;
For (int i = 0; i < 3 && !individualOrderNotFound; i++){
  try {
      WebElement moviesComboBox = driver.findElement(By.xpath(contains(@id,
      filterField.sendKeys(“Outside In”);
      individualOrderNotFound = true;
  catch(StaleElementException e){
  catch(NoSuchElementException e){

I found my monster in the room. So I asked for help.

A tester from another team replaced the loop for the movie selection by a couple of sleeps.


filterField.sendKeys(“Outside In”);

The code was a bit slower, but more reliable. 5 out of 5 passed. I better got used to this.

Hypothetical causes

Retrospecting my coding was not pleasant. I did not stick to my own FAQ. And this can happen.

Now let me focus on the working code.
My fellow tester gave me the tip to use sleep. This way any delays would be handled.

There were two statements “;” and “selectMovieOption();”, which were preceded with sleeps. Therefore there were two places where exceptions could occur. In my loop I assumed that there was only one place for exceptions. The worst part was that I picked the wrong action.

Let me illustrate, what would happen, if I handle exceptions by starting over at the wrong spot.
I have a recipe for baking. I have enough flour and more than enough eggs. First I find the flour. Everything goes right: there is no exception. Then I put 200 gram of flour into a bowl.

For the second step I pick an egg. I break the egg and the smell is bad. That is an exception. The egg goes into the wastebin. So I start all over. I empty the bowl.

First step I have to weigh the flour, but there is no flour any more. Now I have an exception and I cannot finish the recipe.

A much better way to find a good egg without throwing away the flour.

This is something I need to research.

Final Fantast I C Assert

At the end of every regression test there should be one final check. A simple yes or no would indicate, whether the test has passed. For the cinema reservation system this was quite simple. Has the order for the tickets, drinks, and snacks sent to the cinema?

I let Selenium set the search field to Order Id and enter the Order id. I saw a Stale Element Exception. Time for my FAQ. I used findElement at the latest moment. Stale Element Exception.

I let Selenium switch to another menu and back to the right page to continue.
Stale Element Exception.

Which other steps were possible?
I let Selenium log off and log on. A search of the Order Id followed.
The order was not found, so it was sent. Test passed.

Another look at Continuous Delivery

It was like delivering a message. If one way did not work out, another way was explored. What had a mail delivery person, a milk delivery person, and a mail delivery teacher in common?

They all wanted to deliver a letter to Mr. H. Potter. Persistence paid off. And be nice to the messenger. The delivery story had a nasty tail.

Deliberate Practice

Of course this post should end with some smart code.

While blogging I was going through the chapters of the free course about Selenium WebDriver and Java of Angie Jones on the Test Automation University. In Chapter 9 about Wait Strategies I found FluentWait. One of the cool things about this command, that it could ignore exceptions.

A part of the solution was:



This code was not optimal. If the environment or network is changed, then the sleep time might be adopted each time. A FluentWait would provide a robust and fast solution in this case.

FluentWait wait = new FluentWait(driver)

Also Alan Richardson released a paid course about test automation on LinkedIn: Advanced Selenium: 3 Synchronization Strategies. If I need more tricks, I consider to have a close look.

My improved FAQ for test automation

Q: What to do, if I always have a No Such Element Exception?
A: There is a good chance, that the web element cannot be found. So my way for to locate the web element is bad. There are several ways to find a web element.

Q: What to do, if I always have a Stale Element Exception?
A: There is a high chance, that TestNG is used. The element to be used cannot be found any more. In this case I use a findElement as late as possible.  Another option is to add some additional steps like logging out and logging in.

Q: What to do, if I have a No Such Element Exception once in a while?
A: Use a FluentWait.

Q: What to do, if I have a Stale Element Exception once in a while?
A: See the answer on the previous question.

Q: Do you have anything to add?
A: Have a look at Deliberate Practice. I mean the way of learning and not the previous chapter.

Selenium, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Find The Button Sometimes In The Room

Small recap also known as cliff hanger

At the end of the sprint I demonstrated my automated regression tests. An unknown dialog popped up and interrupted the normal flow of the tests.

An unexpected dialog

After the demo one of my team mates asked the standard routine questions:
“Did you test before the demo?”
“Yes, of course”
“Did everything go right?”

I had done all the standard actions and still this dialog popped up. I studied it. Something went wrong with saving a file. This neat feature offered the user to add a personalised picture with a text like “Happy birthday, Cap. Loves from Dom, Sam, and George.” This way nicknames “Captain Marvel” or “Captain America” can be used or even abbreviated to Cap.

So the first attempt to save the file failed. I pressed the OK button to upload the picture again. After two other attempts, an error dialog popped up. It was not possible.

Of course I tried to reproduce this error manually, but all uploading went just fine. Hmm. Another attempt with the automated test showed the file upload problem straight away. The computer was too fast with testing.

The Need For Brakes

Imaginary scene in a shop in a cinema. I am recognised by one of the employees.

Employee: “Good evening, what do you want to drink?”
Me: “Well.”
Employee: “Here is your favourite drink, Cola.”
Me: “I was thinking about .. ”

Employee: “Here is your second favourite drink, Lemonade.”
Me: “Actually ….”
Employee: “This is the last drink we offer: Sparkling Orange.”

Me: “This was not in my mind.”
Employee: “You are going to watch Monsters Unlimited with the famous desert scene. Right?”
Me: [Nods]
Employee: “Excuse me for being so rude.”
Employee [Removes the 3 drinks from the counter and places a bucket on the counter.]
Employee: “This will take a few seconds.”
Employee: [Places a thick tube into the bucket.]
[The sound of 1 gallon of Sparkling Orange being pumped into the bucket.]
Employee [Removes the tube and smiles at me]

Me: “And …”
Employee: “You are going to the 5D experience with the real desert temperature.”
Me [Nods slightly]
Employee: [Empties a box of ice cubes into the bucket.]
[The sound of overflowing Sparkling Orange, followed by dripping sounds on the floor.]

Me: “I am trying to tell you …”
Employee: “I got it. Drinking out of a bucket is a drinking hazard, so you get this special straw.”
Employee [Pulls out a mini submarine with a tube on top and places it on the drink.]
[Again the sound of dripping Sparkling Orange on the floor]

Me; “I want ..”
Employee [Shows receipt of 100 Euro.]
Me: “nothing to drink.”
[The end]

This story describes a timing issue. The employee is way too fast. And guess what? Programs are also very fast. For example a test automation tool.

Wait a few seconds

Something had been changed in the program and a dialog popped up. There should be a way to let the test automation tool wait. I picked Thread.sleep(2000). This command let the tool wait for 2000 milliseconds or 2 seconds.

I started the tests again. This time no problems with the Error dialog were encountered.

Next stop was to ponder whether this was a proper solution. I was actually hiding a performance issue. My team lead had already given me a hint about this kind of cases.

Personally I never had any problems with the upload of the file. So this should not happen with other human beings. Waiting for 2 seconds was not that bad.

The Untouchable

On my screen I had a nice combo box. I wanted to select an option. This was not that difficult I thought.

My test failed. Wait, this cannot be true. All the time the combo box was in full view and my test automation tool Selenium web driver could find it until that very moment. I opened the console to look at the problem: it was a Stale Element Reference Exception.

On the internet I read about a situation that a web element was somehow disconnected with the element on the screen. This read quite cryptic. I tried to imagine what happened.

There was a combo box with movies to be shown, Monsters Unlimited and Finding Marlin. After the selection of a new date a new movie would be shown, the combo box was updated with the latest movie, Outside In.

What actually happens was that the old combo box was replaced by another combo box. So the old combo box did not exist anymore. Small courtesy of the low code development tool. Not really helpful.

But why did this error happen right now?
The code of the website was not changed. But. I had changed the structure of my tests.
How can a restructuring of my tests cause this problem? Give me a few paragraphs to explain.

A popular design pattern for test automation is the Page Object Model. A design pattern is an experience based way of working, which saves a lot of time and frustration. Using Page Object Model or POM I put all the old code associated with a page like Select Movie Page in one single class.

The class contains the following useful information:

  • Constructor (how can I make this page object?)
  • Methods (which actions can I do on this particular page?)
  • Fields (which web elements are contained on this page? What other relevant information is used by this page?)

A movie combo box can be coded like:

@FindBy(contains(@id, “moviesComboBox”))
WebElement moviesComboBox ;

This is an abbreviation of TestNG, a test framework, for

WebElement moviesComboBox = driver.findElement(By.xpath(contains(@id,“moviesComboBox”))

For the reader wondering about the word contains, there is an explanation about this construction.

What I set up, was an administration, which connects moviesComboBox to the movie combo box with the movies Monsters Unlimited and Finding Marlin on screen.
The program replaced the combo box with the two movies by the movie combo box with Monsters Unlimited, Finding Marlin, and Outside In.
Now my web element moviesComboBox was referencing nothing.

My solution was to make the connection between the web element moviesComboBox and the combo box on screen as last as possible. Just before selecting a movie I placed the following code:

WebElement moviesComboBox = driver.findElement(By.xpath(contains(@id,

I got a Stale Element Reference Exception. No worries, I use a sleep.

WebElement moviesComboBox = driver.findElement(By.xpath(contains(@id,

This was a flaky test. I could tweak my number of milliseconds of sleep, but a reliable test was slipping out of my hands.

The Unfindable

Now I had a situation that in 60 % of the cases my tests would execute with Passed. This was quite disturbing for me, because the website was not changed. Same test, same unpredictable result.

I focused on my latest test automation challenge: finding the right order identity often abbreviated to order id. Users were allowed to use an order Name like “Cap 13”. This is short for the 13th birthday of Captain Marvel or Captain America.

But this could hurt the handling of orders. Suppose a parent of Cap had made two reservations with the same name. If this persons calls the cinema, which order must be deleted by the customer agent? Cap 13 or Cap 13? So an order id was introduced.

For test automation this was really helpful. The organizer or parent placed the order for the movie visit. And she or he got an order id. In turn all attendees or kids could use this order id to order a snack and a drink.

If I automated my manual steps, then everything would be okay.
My steps were:

  • Search for the order name.
  • Determine the first row in the table.
  • Determine the order id in this row.

The code was ready, but the test did not pass. Another fail on my record. I better got used to this.

This time I saw a No Such Element Exception in my console. This meant, that the first row could not be found. Then I got a déjà vu. The test automation tool was too fast, so I built in a sleep. This did not solve the problem completely.

Sent until accepted

Suppose there is a character, who wants to reach someone else. Let me pick an arbitrary person called M. McGonagall. Her employer does not receive a response on her letter.

So every responseless day she resends a letter and also slowly increases the number from 1 via 3 via 12 via 24 via 30 – 40 to some 100. Until a pink umbrella wielding bloke delivers the long awaited letter to Mr. H. Potter.

The Multiple

In the meantime I was tweaking my sleep time in milliseconds. It looks that a response time was between the 2 and 6 seconds. If I only used the worst case scenario time, then this would lead to an increased execution time of my regression tests. Because the low code tool automatically made the code for the website, there was no way to tweak this code.

I got an idea. What about trying to find the first row 3 times instead of once?

Boolean individualOrderNotFound = false;
For (int i = 0; i < 3 && !individualOrderNotFound; i++){
  try {
      individualOrderNotFound = true;
  catch(NoSuchElementException e){

While blogging I fully realise that this is not the best piece of code to be shown. But things in the past cannot be changed.

I performed my test 5 times in a row. There was 1 fail. I felt relieved, that my tests were more reliable than before. Less fails on my record. I better got used to it.

There was still one more thing to check.

Time for another blog post.

Find The Button In The Room


This is my second blog post in the Find In The Room blog post serie. In order to avoid any legal issues I sanitised my story. It is about software testing and IT: test automation.

For this story I will use the Cinema Hype VIP website.

Voice commercial:
“Are you tired to buy drinks and snacks for a child birthday party in a cinema?
Cinema Hype VIP website is here to rescue you.”
Author – that’s me: “Let me turn down the volume.”
[Presses a button]
Commercial [Loud voice] “Now you can order everything before setting a foot in the cinema.”
Me: “Excuse me. Let me mute the volume.”
[Presses a button]
Commercial: [Loud voice] “What are you waiting for?”

Me: [Surprised]
[Presses a button]
Commercial: [Silent]
Me: [Silently smiling]
[Presses a button]
Commercial: [Silent]
Me: “Test. 1 2 3. ”

Commercial: [Silent]
Me [Remains a few seconds silent.]
Commercial: [Silent]
Me [Looks a few lines up and down.]
Me [Remains a few seconds silent.]
Commercial: [Silent]
Me: “Ahum.”
Commercial: [Silent]
Me: “Someone is watching me from a few lines above.
Oh, I watched myself.”

The moment of approval

In my introduction I wrote several times about the button. It took me some effort to find the right button.

Now it is time for a real world test automation example. For my first big test automation experience I programmed the steps in Java. Selenium was used for the interaction with the website.

One of the most important steps of a website is pushing a button. These days a lot of deals are closed with a press of a button. Also online transactions need some key presses to pay. So I must be able to find a button on the web page.

Let me return to the Cinema hype VIP website.
My kid has a birthday party and all tickets, snacks, and drinks are listed. The only thing I have to do is to press a button.

The quickest way

Years ago I thought that there was one way to find a button.

  • Right click the button and select Inspect in the Option menu.
    An option  menu is shown above the OK button. The last menu option is Inspecteren or inspect in English!
  • Select the HTML code of the button and copy XPath.
    In DevTools  menu is shown above the HTML text for the OK button. This menu contains the sub menu Copy containing the option Copy XPath!
  • Give XPath to Selenium to find the button.
  • Pat myself on my shoulder.

Then my attention was drawn to the free online course of Andrew Knight, Web Element Locator Strategies, on Test Automation University.
So what did I actually use?

An XPath is basically a route description through the web page. And it can look a bit scary:
This is of course automatically followed by Selenium. That is something programs tend to do. There is 1 huge problem. If signs change, then Selenium cannot find its way.

Let me use an arbitrary text on a letter and transform it to a more computer friendly notation.

/Surrey / Little Whinging / Privet Drive 4 \/The Cupboard under the Stairs / Mr. H. Potter.

If his uncle would move Mr. Potter to a bed room, then the postman had still no problem with delivery. Same address and a decent room this time.

Would it a bit more convenient to address the letter to a mister called H. Potter? A muggle postman would have serious problems, if this Mr. is evacuated to an island before his 12th anniversary. But finding him is a Half Giant job for a bloke like Hagrid.

This would lead to:
//Mr. H. Potter

But computers need more details:
//Human[contains(text() = 'Mr. H. Potter`]

Find a button with text OK.In that case I would get something like

The HTML code of the OK is hightlighted, while the search bar contains the text “//button[text()='OK']” followed by the text “1 of 1”!

Let me give you a more precise translation:

  • “//” means “Find somewhere on the page”
  • “button” means “the first button you encounter”
  • “[text()= ‘OK’]” means with the condition, that the text is equal to ‘OK’

No idea

But this does not completely explains:

  • “/” means “search directly under”
    “body/div” means “search the first div under the body”
  • “[2]” means the second, so
    “div[2]” is the second div.
  • The rectangular brackes, “[” and “]”, are useful, if I do not need the first , but another one in the row.

The website I was testing was created with a low code tool. This tool can be compared with an advanced presentation tool, which also builds a fully functional website.

With great power comes great creativity. This basically means, that certain things were not fully under control of the developers. As a tester I had to solve these problems.

Placing a button on a web page led to an explosion of actions. Lots of code were automatically added, but this led to names like 1_saveFiles.

So I used ‘1_saveFiles’. A fellow tester pointed out, that the low code tool could change the button name to ‘2_saveFiles’ at will.

So I focused on the last part of the string.
//Button[contains(@name, 'saveFiles')]
This means such much as
“Search a button with the name containing saveFiles”
Of course there is a faster way to address an element using the attribute id. There is no magic needed to find Mr. Potter, if we were on the same page.
//Human[contains(@id, 'Mr. H. Potter`]

By the way id is pronounced as at Eye Dee instead of it. If you want to surprise your big sister or brother test automator, then use a sentence like “That element had probably no id.” Don’t forget a little sigh.

In my case id was not always set. To make things a little more challenging for me a single condition was not enough.

This is an exaggerated situation:
Code for dirnks: <input class="radio" name="2_drink" type="radio" value="one"> Cola</label> <br> <input class="radio" name="2_drink" type="radio" value="two"> Lemonade</label> <br> <input class="radio" name="2_drink" type="radio" value="three”> Sparkling Orange</label> <br>!

//input[contains(@name, 'drink')]
This might lead to some drink

//input[@value = 'two')]
could lead to the second drink or second snack.

So I chose for two conditions:
//input[contains(@name, 'drink')][@value = 'two']

There were other cool tricks in the course of Andrew Knight. The described ones in this blog post were big time savers.

Show and fail

It was time for the demo. My team liked that I would show my scripts in action. People were looking when I kicked off the tests.

An unexpected dialog popped up. I had to close it. What went wrong?

I apologised and left the stage. My team members postponed the demonstration of my tests.

Time for another blog post.

Find The Monster In The Room

One evening in the winter I was having a dinner. People enjoyed their meal and there was a lot of talk.

The mood
was good.

Then the youngest child shrieked of panic. All talk stopped.

The first steps would be like: go to the bedroom and put on the light.

Everyone at the dinner table looked at the kid a few meters away. The kid was in the same room.

The mother said that the kid had seen something. She went to the little child and tried to talk about it. This was difficult, because the kid knew only a few words.

The mother looked in the direction of the fearful eyes and saw nothing strange.

Back at the dinner table she told a story about curtains with triangles which looked like eyes to another little kid.

The second shriek was handled in the same way. The mother went to comfort the child. While looking for the source of fear.

The 3rd time an adult was with the frightened child within a second. The person lowered the head to the same height of the kid and looked carefully.

A machine showed some scrolling text. It was like the pupil of an eye looking for …

One of my kids asked: “Can I draw out the power cord?”
My answer was: “Yes.”
This was immediately followed by a familiar sound.
The display went blank.

Earlier that evening there was a power outage. The machine was switched on and had no current time. So it politely asked to set the proper time and scared a little child.

Some readers might remark, that this blog is about IT and  testing.
My answer is: “Yes”.

My New Year’s resolution is to Find The Monster In The Room.

Now I gave it a name.

My Workshop At Agile Testing Days 2019

Preparation costs energy

After all the last weeks’ changes I could finally start my actual workshop.

I felt an energy drop and watched an expectant audience from a far distance. I used my automatic pilot for the intro.

While nobody moved, my distance to the audience became closer while I was talking.

I was back in the room.

First test session

For me the most elementary things of Exploratory Testing are

  • Charter
  • Test idea
  • Explore
  • Debrief

For this I created a heuristic. CTED is pronounced as See TED. If I need some inspirational talks, then I go to

A charter is a short instruction for a test session.

Explore < target >
with < resources >
to discover < information>

This template of Elisabeth Hendrickson is compact and informative. As mentioned in Explore it.

For the interested people test charter is not found in the index, charter is.

In my workshop the Target was a website. But it is still quite big. Resources is often a web browser.

Information was focused on privacy. General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, an European privacy law, is still quite huge, so the next step was to select some articles of GDPR.

Ik picked 2. 1 lead to the following question:
Does the website ask consent to gather information?

A charter can be quite abstract. A test idea can be used to focus on a feature, window, or term used in the website to explore.

Consent is not frequently used, but which words are used in a web site?
Privacy, cookies, permission, private data, etcetera.

Using the charter and test ideas it is possible to explore the web site, whether consent is actually asked from the user.

During the debrief the attendees shared their information, which could be used for the following test session.

Background information first test session

For the basic structure of the test session I used the heuristic DiSSS from Tim Ferriss. This stands for Deconstruction Selection Sequence Stakes.
I assume that i was added for pronounciation reasons.

I looked to all the steps I took during Exploratory testing.
Are detailed test cases needed? Not in every case. Most of the times a good description of the precondition is good enough.

What I noticed during Deconstruction was that certain steps always came back. These steps I used for the Selection for CTED. This also led to a logical Sequence. The Stakes were twofold: people had to tell whether the workshop is worthwhile. Also the fines for privacy could be quite high.

Second test session

One test session done.
Another one to do.

At the beginning of the session I enhanced the resources with personas. For me a persona is a person with a need, who interacts with the system.

Examples for a need are: acceptance, cooperation , safety, purpose, learning, support, inclusion, etc.

E.g. a known persona is a marketeer. The more she or he knows about a website visitor, the more she or he will sell.
For this purpose I had made a set of persona cards.

I also handed out an one pager to the attendees with articles and test techniques which could be used for testing websites on GDPR compliancy.

The test techniques were selected using DiSSS.

After the Explore phase more issues were mentioned during the Debrief phase.

Background information second test session

Once again I used a heuristic of Tim Feriss, CaFE. This is an abbreviation for Compression Frequency Encryption. Once again I assume that ‘a’ was added for pronunciation.

Was it possible to compress information for testing GDPR? Yes, by making an one pager.

I tried to make to Frequency high, so attendees had to go through Charter – Test idea – Explore – Debrief cycle multiple times.
I used Encryption by using CTED.

In case you need more background information, please have a mind map.

What went wrong

The time to explore was quite short. I did this on purpose. For beginners it can be terrible to click through a site for 10 minutes on your own without finding anything.

In hindsight a group activity was better suited to explore the website.

While I tried to keep the introvert involved, it was a challenge to give them enough speaking time. I really liked the sticky notes for found bugs in the workshop of Lisa Crispin and Lena Pejgan.

My prerequisite for the workshop for a laptop was not needed. I could demo certain tools using my own laptop. Luckily there was an Open Space to demonstrate GDPR and Exploratory Testing.

What went right

The demo was a great way to change the pace of the workshop. I had good feedback during the repetitions

My impression was, that most attendees were hesitant to test their own websites or websites of their employers. My test website provided a safe environment to explore.

During the preparations I learned a lot about websites and tools.

Thank you José Diaz and your team for this wonderful journey.

Tweaking My Workshop Accessibility

During the Speakers Dinner of Agile Testing Days 2019 I told Abby Bangser about my attempts to make my workshop accessible.
“It is even possible to add alternative text to images in PowerPoint. If you click on the image, there are several tabs. One tab contains Alternative text. [ … ]

Don’t forget the exclamation mark (!). The screen reader will read it differently.”

Tobias Geyer, another speaker, was confused. I saw him thinking: “Alternative to what?”
I told him about a screen reader which could read information aloud to people. This is handy for people with a visual impairment. Alternative text is used on web sites to add more information to pictures.

If the presentation would be downloadable at the beginning of the presentation, then attendees would be able to hear the information on the slides.

Blind review

Some people state that a blind review is the best one. The reviewer is not distracted by the looks of the speaker or the beauty of the pictures.

One of my reviewers was blind, so I really needed to speak well. Without the use of my slides it was difficult to tell a story. The main feedback was no clear structure.

So I added a mind map which gave a proper view of the workshop. This was really appreciated by the next reviewer.

For the exercises I had already tested the website with a screen reader. Once again it was time for the real thing.

My blind reviewer went through the website without any delay. The reading speed was so high, that it looked like a normal person was skimming the webpages. The feedback was almost instantaneous.

It was strange for me to hear, that bugs were found by clicking around. Navigation was on hearing. My test website passed the accessibility test.

Sound advice

The Friday before Agile Testing Days I had a talk with someone with a bad hearing. I told about my workshop. How should I speak to people who cannot hear well?

“What would be your best advice?”
“Ask whether people can hear you.
It is a professional thing you can do:
“Can you hear me?”

What also helpful is, are pictures. Next to key words on the slides.” This way a talk could be reconstructed, if words would be missed.

Somehow I lost sight on my slides.

I told about the handheld microphones seen on one of the pictures. Most of the time I put it in front of my mouth.
“It can be lowered. The quality will not decrease much, but people are able to see your mouth.” Lip reading for the win.

In the days before the workshop I focused on big fonts on my slides and my cards. I increased the contrast between the text and the background.

What could go wrong?

What went wrong?

I completely forgot to ask the audience whether they could hear me. Where was my checklist?
I had none.

The most embarrassing part of the downloadable stuff was, that there were no files on the promised location at the start of my workshop.
Big oops from my side.

After this painful discovery I repeated all the steps: I went to my github and uploaded my presentation. This time I scrolled down. A commit button?! I forgot to press it.

Github is git in the cloud. It can be used to store different versions of files. I still wrestle with it. As Janet Gregory stated in her talk it is about deliberate practice. I had only practiced once. In my case I had cut one corner too many.

Days after my workshop I checked the alternative text in the pdf file of my presentation on my laptop. I double clicked the file and the file was opened in my browser.

The text of the slide was told aloud by the screen reader. I hovered above a picture. Not a sound. I was also silent.

Last weekend I did another attempt to get some sound of a picture. I double clicked the file on my PC and Acrobat reader opened the file.

I searched a picture and placed my mouse pointer on it. A hover text was shown and read aloud. That’s what I liked to hear.

So Acrobat reader can handle alternative text of pictures, but my favourite browser not. And I had not made Acrobat reader a requisite for the workshop. A bit late, but alternative text can be used.

What went right?

I maximised pictures. Leaving out irrelevant parts from the slides.

In the right top corner of the slides I used small pictures to show the state of the test session.

During my preparation I looked at the presentation. There were no spots shining on the screen, so the contrast was good.

During the demo part I used a headset microphone. Attendees could hear me and I could talk at a normal volume. Most important is the fact, that the small microphone did not hide my mouth.

Warning: Code of Conduct ahead

On November 5th I gave a workshop about Exploratory Testing and General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR is an European privacy law.


In the past I wrote about the Code of Conduct. A good set of rules will ensure the safety of the delegates, the speakers, and the organisers of a conference. When enforced.

Therefore I was keen to adhere to this Code. The more diverse people at a conference, the more perspectives being shared. A new perspective is not always out of the box thinking, but natural for some people.

A woman looks different to privacy than a man.

Now I had a dilemma: I had a workshop about privacy. If a name and address would become public, then unpleasant things could happen to certain people.

I remembered a conversation with a white man not realising the consequences of a data breach. So I shared a story with him. It had some impact on him.

But this same trick would have a bad impact on women present in my workshop. So I would not stick to the Code of Conduct.

Imagine being removed from the conference as a speaker. Not good. At all.


It was time for me to mail to Uwe Gelfrich, my contact at the conference. I made a brutal honest warning like:
the workshop contains situations about violence and harassment.

In this way I could still talk about certain situations. Because people were warned in advance.

Uwe replied thoughtfully: violence and harassment would not be used in the workshop. And he proposed a warning along the following lines:
the workshop may contain situations about violence and harassment.

I agreed.
The warning was set on my abstract on the website.

And I would not use a rant.


During the preparation of my workshop I read a tweet about an anxiety attack of a delegate on a conference. According to me this person was angered about the vague content warning.

I reacted with the following tweet:
“During Global Diversity CFP Day this year I heard about trigger warnings for the first time.

So I did my homework.

I contacted the conference about a suitable and specific warning. It is on my abstract. It will be shown before and right after the start. I will tell it.”


On the day of my workshop I tweeted about the warning. It was retweeted by Agile Testing Days.

During the arrival of the delegates I regularly switched between the workshop title slide and the warning slide.

After the opening I gave a warning and an explicit permission to leave the room. I would not be offended. Then I waited about 20 seconds before continuing.

So this looked like an inclusive opening of my workshop.

Actually no.
I missed some accessibility items which will be covered in the next blog post. Reads like a pretty cliff-hanger.


On the Women and Allies evening a delegate told about a talk with HR. If colleagues would not behave themselves, then they would probably be removed from conferences because of the Code of Conduct.

Sharing knowledge about testing and other things on my mind