Windmill 1.0 set for release, promises dedicated support

Alex Handy
December 11, 2008 —  (Page 1 of 2)
When two developers became dissatisfied with the lack of support provided by their Web application testing program, they set out to create their own and to supplement it with an always-available place users could go to for technical support. In the coming weeks, their creation, Windmill, will hit version 1.0.

Mikeal Rogers, a Python developer at Mozilla, and Adam Christian, front-end developer for Slide, a photo hosting and sharing Web company, have seen the demand for their talents increase since they both began work on Windmill two years ago. Earlier this year, Rogers accepted a job at Mozilla, working on Windmill customizations for their browser work, while Christian uses it to test at Slide.

Despite their current status as core contributors to Windmill, both Christian and Rogers began as users of Selenium, another open-source testing framework.

Said Rogers, "The Selenium community skill wasn't there. Their IRC room is empty. We used to answer peoples questions in there when we were using it. During that time we never saw anyone from the core team helping people."

That lack of support and the pair's need for constant tweaks and customizations of the Selenium framework sparked the creation of Windmill. Rogers said that there were things he needed to test that Selenium simply couldn't handle.

Christian said that the Windmill team prides itself on being accessible to users. "Talk to anyone who uses the application and runs into issues; we are personally very involved to resolve their issues. Web testing is sort of a weird space. There's so much you can do with the Web and so much you probably shouldn't do, but people do [it anyway] and they want to test it. I think we're probably the most responsive project I've ever seen for getting fixes."

But the differences between Selenium and Windmill are deeper than that. Rogers said that Windmill is easier to deal with when tested code evolves. "When all that code changed, it took longer to debug and maintain tests with Selenium than it would to just rewrite the entire set of tests," said Rogers. "The debugging was just not there in Selenium. When you're using the Selenium proxy, it's not tightly coupled to the JavaScript end. We decided this was not going to work for us.

Related Search Term(s): debugging, open source, testing, Selenium, Windmill

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