Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Watir 1.5.6 released with "Zippy" speed by Bret Pettichord

Found this article at http://www.io.com/~wazmo/blog/archives/2008_06.html#000279

Watir 1.5.6 released with "Zippy" speed

Last week we released a new version of Watir. We've mostly been accumulating bug fixes and minor enhancements. However there is one new feature that may be worth the upgrade. We've added a speed improvement to Watir, which we call "Zippy" speed.


Watir now has a two-step install process (assuming you've already installed Ruby). Type this at the command prompt:
gem update --system
gem install watir
This will update your version of the Rubygems installer and then install the latest version of Watir. Some people have had install problems with 1.5.4 and 1.5.5. Those problems are now fixed.

We are also now recommending that people use Ruby 1.8.6-26 final with Watir. A Ruby bug affecting many Watir users in earlier versions of 1.8.6 is now fixed. If you are upgrading your version of Ruby, you basically have to do a fresh install. There is no upgrade option. Sorry.

Zippy Speed

When you first use Watir, it is rather slow. This is intentional. We made Watir run slow at first because we found that new users wanted to be able to watch their scripts and make sure they were working correctly. So we added some delays to slow Watir down to an auditable speed.

However, once you have confidence in your tests, you probably want to run them faster. This is just one command.

ie = Watir::IE.new
ie.speed = :fast
I know this is a surprise to some Watir users: we haven't done a great job of letting this trick be known. This feature has been in Watir for a long time, certainly as far back as Watir 1.4.

What is new is that we now have an even faster way to run Watir. We call this "zippy" and it works the same way.

ie = Watir::IE.new
ie.speed = :zippy
Normally, when Watir enters text into a text field, it does so letter by letter. Two reasons. One, it looks cooler. Two, there are rare cases where you have to do this to realistically engage Javascript attached to the text field that, say, limits the characters that can be entered. But with tests that had lots of data entry, this could really slow things down.

The new :zippy speed speeds up tests by enter text fields all at once. If you have tests that require character-by-character text entry, you'll need to continue to use :fast.

In the past, many Watir users realized that they could speed up their tests by using value instead of set. Thus, instead of

ie.text_field(:id, 'payment').set '25'
They would use
ie.text_field(:id, 'payment').value = '25'
The new :zippy speed does exactly the same thing, only behind the scenes so you don't have to modify your individual scripts.

Zippy speed was originally included in Watir 1.5.4, but I've been reluctant to brag about it until we got our install problems fixed. It is based on a proof of concept by Jonathan Kohl.

Should You Upgrade?

Other features new since 1.5.3 (released last fall) include support for Chinese character input and the ability to locate more elements using multiple attributes. However, multiple attribute support for text fields, buttons and other input elements has yet to be implemented. We know you are waiting for it.

You can now call the row method from within a table, also frequently requested. There are a number of other fixes. (See the Release Notes for details.)

I know many of you are still using Watir 1.4.1. There is only one reason I know of why you should not upgrade. We have had several reports that Watir 1.5.3 and later is slower with some complex pages. We recently got a reproducible case of this problem and will be looking at fixing it in 1.5.7.

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