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The UI Test That Cried Wolf

with Alex Burlton

What You'll Learn

By the end of this workshop you'll be able to:

  • Flakes in CI pipelines are a productivity killer, and UI tests are particularly susceptible
  • Whilst you can learn from flakes and develop strategies to minimise them, it is inevitable that you'll continue to introduce new ones
  • Therefore, strong observability around your UI tests is important to stay on top of the problem

About This Masterclass

Automated UI tests give you confidence that whole areas of your system are playing nicely together. But they also come at a price, and it's not just that they're slower than other types of test. Worse than that, they can also be unreliable - I'm talking about "that test" which occasionally falls over when nothing is actually wrong.

This flakey behaviour is by no means unique to UI tests, but they are much more susceptible to it. By definition, they are covering many areas of your system at once, meaning there's a bigger set of moving parts in which something can go wrong. Mis-fired requests, elements stealing focus at the wrong moment, variable loading times - it can be a minefield. And when a test does start acting up, diagnosing and fixing it can be even more awkward.

So what do we do? The first important step is to acknowledge that these flakes are inevitable, just as bugs in production are. By embracing failure and investing in observability, we can ensure that they are as easy to diagnose and quick to fix as possible. In this talk, I will demonstrate some strategies for achieving this, as well as outlining why it is crucial to do so for your team's productivity.

Your Speaker

Alex Burlton

Alex Burlton

Software Engineer

Alex is a Developer, DevOps engineer and line manager from Leeds in the UK, working at Sonocent. He has worked in development for 6 years, and over that time focused on writing easily deployable, testable software. An infrastructure as code fan, he writes repeatable architecture scripts and loves teaching others. Outside of work, he’s a Taskmaster fan, and has even has made it into the official #HomeTasking compilations! He enjoys sailing, the odd pair of high heels and a good ale.

Your Host

Gwen Diagram

Gwen Diagram

Engineering Manager

Gwen Diagram is a technology professional from Leeds who specialises in testing.  She is an avid automation evangelist with a focus on testing complemented by repeatable build processes with monitoring. She has had varied roles throughout her career including Scrum Master at a Start Up, Engineering Manager at a bank and DevOps kid at a large Financial Services organisation. She is currently an Engineering Manager at Sonocent in Leeds.

As a strong believer in making the tech industry as open and punk as possible, she co-organises a twice yearly free day long testing conference called the Leeds Testing Atelier.  She speaks regularly at local meet-up groups, Agile Yorkshire and Leeds DevOps, duels with creative types at events like the Tech Off, speaks internationally at conferences such as Nordic Testing Days in Tallinn and was the closing keynote at Agile on the Beach in Falmouth, UK in 2018.

Outside of work, you will usually find her hanging around a Natural History Museum somewhere in the world marvelling at how incredibly excellent dinosaurs are, feeding pigeons or ducks or obsessing over transport.