Open Source BBQ, Sunday, June 27th 2010

Time for another Open Source BBQ!

All are welcome, contributions appreciated, I’m gonna start cooking around 3pm and probably close it down when the sun goes down.

Please RSVP:

or on Plancast

Open Source BBQ this Friday 4/9/2010

That’s right! Open Source BBQ this Friday 4/9/2010 in Oakland, CA in my backyard at 4pm until it gets dark.

There will be meat, and stuff that’s not meat, and beer. Contributions welcome, it’s open source after all.

Everyone that writes code is welcome. Please RSVP at

I live walking distance from MacAurthur BART, here is a map. When you get there just walk down the driveway in to the backyard.

Friday is also “open friday” at the office so you can come and work/play at the office during the day and then roll up to the BBQ around 4 if you like.


Disclaimer: Image is for effect only, hot rod BBQ will not be attending.

Up for a Pint?

I’m in London for the next few days and would love to grab a drink with any community members be you Mozilla, CouchDB, Python, Windmill, JavaScript or just plain old coffee, whisky or beer geeks :)

Conference Season Begins

I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning for [Open Source Bridge]( in Portland, Oregon.

I’m putting together a new [Windmill talk]( that tries to incorporate all the feedback we’ve received over the last year of speaking which I’ll be presenting on Thursday.

Mozilla is also a [sponsoring]( the conference and there is going to be some great [Firefox related sprints in the hacker lounge]( Dietrich is also giving what sounds like an awesome talk on extending Firefox called [Firefox Switchblade](

Hope to see you all there!

PS. I’ll also be at EuroPython and the Community Leadership Summit, more on those later :)

PyCon 2009 Recap

Getting back in the swing of things after conferencing for weeks can be pretty painful, thus the lateness of the post. However I think it’s important to go over some thoughts still lingering in my brain as a result.

First off, I have to say that for those of you who don’t know, PyCon is a community organized event, and amazingly well done. I was impressed by the design of the conference, the way they had four talks going on at once and they tried to keep them in a similar interest track. Every talk I attended was at least “good”, and many were “great”. You could really feel a community vibe, and for a conference that had 800+ attendees in the middle of a major recession they had every right to be excited.

There were two major themes content wise that really impressed me, the first was an amazing amount of web framework focus. Django obviously being the twinkle in the eye of the community, but there were smaller communities for each of the other projects, Pylons-Turbo Gears, web2py and lots of tools built on top of them. One that struck me with some major promise is the Pinax Project. Their goal is to make it so that I don’t ever have to deal with building user registration and in site messaging… and all the other features expected for any site that has social network functionality.

The other major theme was a mini testing conference going on within PyCon, that I was very comfortable hanging around with. We had a hugely successful Birds Of a Feather, as well as a surprisingly active Open Space talk for Windmill.

The “Using Windmill” talk turns out to be pretty successful in every aspect that I really care about. I do wish that I had been able to get a little more sleep the night before, and I have to admit the size of the venue was a bit overwhelming. I now realize watching the footage that I used the word “UM” way too much, and the demo videos must have been hard to watch from the very back of the room. But barring those two things, I am quite happy (I shall learn and practice for the next round of shameless PR at OSCON 2009).

The “Functional Testing Tools in Python” panel was very successful, and a lot of fun. I always enjoy the friendly banter between the different project owners. Everyone has a different opinion on what they care about, focus on and feel they do the best. Obviously since the only two projects represented that focused on Web Testing were Windmill and Selenium, we got a lot of attention.

Watching that panel footage I definitely think that the introductions were too long, but I still think our Journey themed – mind blowing – Windmill demo video was a great intro. At the very least, the audience had a little entertainment before the geek droning began :)

Slide had an awesome presence this year, a fun booth, huge banners everywhere and 6 attendees. It was fun to see all of the great responses I received about Slide from people out there in Python land.

Here are links to the videos:

And some pictures:

Me, with the great Slide backdrop

Mikeal answering Questions More me

If you are interested in seeing the new and improved version of the “Using Windmill” talk, please make it out to OSCON 2009, “Scheduled for 16:30 on 22 Jul 2009.” in San Jose, CA.

OSCON 2009

We are waiting to hear back from both Open Source Bridge and the AJAX Experience as to whether we will be participating in those conferences (fingers crossed)!

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Windmill 1.0beta2 Released

We are another step closer to 1.0, if you have been watching the mailing lists or the trac timeline you already know that we have had some serious bug fixes over the past couple weeks as well as one new feature.

Bug Fixes:

  • Major fixes and updates for the Windmill Unit Tests
  • IE fixes for: Drag and Drop, Click, UI usability, Non Compress deps broken
  • JS Test Framework bug fixes, JUM assertions, unit tests,
  • Improved XPath Generation and bug fixes


  • Full support for launching and killing Google Chrome on Windows (requires Python 2.6)

We really appreciate all the bug reports and emails from you all, thanks for your patience as we try to squash all the bugs.

An additional encouraging note is that we got some great PR this week, which can be found here: Windmill Article in the SDTimes.

Happy testing.

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Bringing Windmill to Life

Windmill Logo

Project Status

I have spent nearly every day since July 7th working to bring the Windmill Project up to a level where it can be used reliably in a production environment. Our mission starts with “Windmill is a web testing framework intended for complete automation of user interface testing”, of course this refers to the web including everything and anything inside the browser window. This turns out to be a very large task, one that only an Open Source labor of love could possibly attempt to accomplish.

Windmill has slowly evolved as a project with user contributions, a moderately active IRC channel, and enough users to keep me from forgetting what a useful and powerful tool it is. When I was offered the opportunity to work on the project I quickly saw how much needed to be done in order to get to where we needed to be. We still aren’t quite there, and like most Open Source projects we might not ever get to the envisioned perfection, however recently we hit a very important milestone. The project is now fully hosted and run by the committers, and in many ways “Grown Up”, thanks to a lot of good advise and hard work. The milestone we have reached, is that Windmill is ready for YOU to use. This week we pushed 0.8.2, which is a release that has addressed all of the major issues that we know about and have discovered with heavy usage over the past months. Our hopes are that you will go install Windmill 0.8.2 and things will just WORK. If not, I can’t wait to get your issues in trac and see what we can do to fix them.


The main things we care about when it comes to our web testing tools:

  • Low barrier to entry, low learning curve, and ease of use
  • Thorough documentation, community and project support
  • Support for the big 3 platforms; Windows, MacOSX and Linux
  • Support for the big 4 browsers; Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera
  • Easy integration with continuous integration tools
  • Reliability; developers aren’t going to pay attention if the failures aren’t real
  • A really nice looking logo, and a web site that is easy on the eyes..

There are always more features to implement, but Windmill hasn’t needed new features for a very long time. What Windmill needed was some serious QA, some code cleanup and a whole mess of bug fixes. If you look through the Trac Timeline you will see the massive amounts of all of the above that have happened and I am proud as hell when I launch the application today and see all that it can do.

What can Windmill do?

Windmill offers the ability to build, write, record and run tests as well as aid in debugging and development. In addition, the framework provides the ability to create and maintain hierarchies of smart and thorough tests that will ensure the quality of your web applications over time. Not only can we save you hours creating and maintaing tests, but we can also help you see your web application as a growing feature rich product, instead of a QA nightmare.

Many tools out there provide ways to write tests, some even provide recorders and DOM explorers, but none that I have ever seen provide this rich functionality cross platform and cross browser, which is really what is required in order to build a thorough test repository that represents all your possible users.

The current set of major features can be found at the Windmill Features Page as well as more details about what is currently available. One of the more exciting new features is the full integration with Firebug Lite. Web developers rely on the existence of Firebug in order to quickly build and debug web applications, and Firebug Lite is the next best thing. It’s hard to even describe how useful it has been to instantly access the JavaScript Console and DOM inspector in IE to debug a failing test. As the Open Source community grows, and tools are improved and brought to light, I think it’s very important to do everything we can to utilize these tools and use them to enhance the Windmill Framework.

Keeping it Open

The Open Source aspect of Windmill has turned out to be it’s greatest asset. The project is almost entirely written in JavaScript and Python, which instantly gives us many advantages over the competition. The JavaScript community is constantly evolving and is most certainly the futures technology platform. Python has a very strong community as well and has given us immense amounts of functionality and flexibility right out of the box.

One of the most exciting things to me personally about this particular project is the immense potential user base out there, and the large impact the Windmill Tools can have on the daily work flow of it’s users. Windmill was obviously inspired with the hopes of minimizing the need for manual testing of rich web applications, and has grown to be much more than that.

The future of the work to be done on Windmill will primarily be driven by the needs of it’s users, the changes and development of the industry and the success of it reaching the goal, to make web automation better.

Moving Forward

Concluding this major push of work, testing, documentation and moving of infrastructure; we now need to see how the community feels. There are lots of choices out there for web automation and we have made many differentiating choices along the way. It is now time to get the word out and take in some real feedback.

Thanks you all for input, contributions, patience and valuable feedback. Those of you who spent many hours on Freenode in #windmill with us debugging and hunting down those spastic blockers are troopers and we really appreciate it.