Combining the power of open-source projects and communities
Together, we can accomplish great things.
January 14, 2022 – Jani Palsamäki
Suppose you are automating a web-based process.
The target system is a modern single-page application built with React.
Modern web apps are dynamic (/dʌɪˈnamɪk/: "characterized by constant change, activity, or progress").
The views change on the fly. The HTML markup that defines the structure of those views is ever-mutating. Things happen immediately, almost immediately, after a while, and sometimes in no particular order (asynchronously).
To automate a modern target application, you need a modern automation tool capable of handling all that dynamic behavior.
The solution - Part I
> "Playwright enables reliable end-to-end testing for modern web apps." - https://playwright.dev/
Playwright itself started as a fork of another open-source automation tool - Puppeteer.
The Playwright community seems active. All the source code is available at their repository. The issues are open for all to participate.
Open-source contributions can come in as feature requests, bug reports, solutions or workarounds for tricky cases, documentation, examples, helping others on the forums, chats, and discussion groups, improvements to existing code, or even entirely new features in the form of pull requests.
The solution - Part II
Another open-source project, Robot Framework, looks promising:
> "Robot Framework is a generic open source automation framework. Robot Framework has an easy syntax, utilizing human-readable keywords." - https://robotframework.org/
Human-readable syntax sounds excellent. Again, there's an active community contributing to the project.
Robot Framework Browser. What's this?
> "powered by Playwright"
Great! Now you can leverage the power of a modern web automation tool and use human-readable syntax.
The installation instructions seem to indicate you need quite a bunch of stuff to run all this.
Maybe there's another solution that enables the use of Playwright, Robot Framework, and Robot Framework Browser and makes installing all that easy and consistent everywhere (you are planning to develop the automation with a team of three people - keeping the environments in sync on everyone's machine is important).
The solution - Part III
Yet another open-source project, rcc, does the trick of making things more convenient:
> "RCC is a set of tooling that allows you to create, manage, and distribute Python-based self-contained automation packages. RCC is a foundation that allows anyone to build and share automation with ease." - https://github.com/robocorp/rcc
There's even a template for creating a Playwright-based project, utilizing the Robot Framework Browser library and the human-readable syntax of Robot Framework!
Now you still need a good tool for authoring the automation. The tool should support at least code auto-completion, syntax validation, formatting, running the automation...
The solution - Part IV
Robocorp suggests the use of VS Code, an open-source integrated development environment (IDE) plus a couple of open-source extensions for building automations.
> "Visual Studio Code is a code editor redefined and optimized for building and debugging modern web and cloud applications. Visual Studio Code is free and available on your favorite platform - Linux, macOS, and Windows." - https://code.visualstudio.com/
> "The Robocorp extension makes it easy to create Python or Robot Framework based automation projects and software robots." - https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=robocorp.robocorp-code
Together, we can accomplish great things
So many great open-source projects, so many communities working for the benefit of all, so many possibilities for combining the pieces to build something new. Standing on the shoulders of others.
This feels powerful. This feels right. This is the way.