Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Continous Integration for the Front End

Category: Testing, Utility

Gareth Rushgrove has posted on continous integration for the front end.

He talks about a new site, inursite.com that does one thing:

The premise is simple; enter a few of your sites and inursite will visit them once a day and run a markup validation service over the page. You then get a feed of the pass or failure status. It’s simple but brilliant. For example, I have this very site added to the service. If I put some invalid markup in this post, tomorrow morning I’ll get an item in my feedreader telling me of my mistake. I’ll get that every day until I fix the problem.

This green/red (pass/fail) type approach to simple tests is what I find most powerful about continuous integration systems like Cruise Control.

Gareth also has some ideas for improvement:

  • Has all the CSS been compressed using something like CSSTidy.
  • Has all the javascript been compressed using something like JSMin.
  • Does any Javascript pass the harsh taskmaster that is JSLint.
  • If my markup a little bloated? Maybe I could set a maximum size for the markup and get a fail is I go over that.
  • Ditto CSS file size.
  • Ditt Javascript.
  • Ditto images.
  • If pages have associated feeds, then validate them as well according to the relevant specification (probably RSS or Atom).
  • How many HTTP Requests does it take to load the whole page, including all the relevant assets.
  • How many hosts are required to load the whole page? I’d like to be able to set a maximum number and get a fail if I go over that.
  • Is the page gzipped on the server.
  • And just to keep this topical, does the page have either the IE8 meta element or the associated HTTP header set to a particular value.

This sounds like setting up YSlow to run in a continous manner.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 7:04 am
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As advisable as these tests are, shouldn’t the front-end developer take them into account before launching? If I’m so oblivious that I need an emailed report a day later to point out my failings… well, yeah. :/

Also, making a clear distinction between “infratstructre” and “updateable content” would probably be wise. If the blog/cms tool allows me to completely fudge-up the markup in a simple news post, then that’s a failing in the admin controls. If I am allowed to post that invalid markup and hose, say, the entire front page then waiting a day for a report is a pretty poor way of retaining users.

(Not to be harsh or anything…)

Comment by bclaydon — February 5, 2008

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