Saturday 31 March 2018

A Month in Selenium: March

The month from February to March has been a fun one. At the beginning of March, I attended SauceCon, and gave a keynote on "Lessons From a Decade in Selenium". While the original talk had focused on milestones such as when we first started shipping code, or when we switched to Git, or when someone joined the project, as I sat in the airport waiting to fly, I realised that this was an incredibly dull talk; surely the point of keynote is to give people something to think about and consider?

This explains why I was busy rewriting the entire thing at 12km above the ground in a metal tube zipping along at a smidge over 900km/h.

In the end, I spoke about what makes working on Selenium so rewarding, focusing on the themes of "Joy", "Serendipity", "Thankfulness", "Community", "Growth", and "Striving". I've yet to see the official feedback, but I believe that the talk was well received, as people kept returning to the main themes throughout the conference.

SauceCon itself was a lot of fun. We were lucky to have some of the Selenium committers (old and new), and also supporters of the project from companies such as Sauce Labs itself, and Applitools (who are providing almost all the effort going into the new Selenium IDE) In addition, the Appium developers were well represented too. It was great to be surrounded by so many people who have spent so much time pouring energy into Open Source Software, and to catch up with some of my favourite people. There's a lovely photo of Jonathan Lipps and myself in matching bowling shirts, which I'm happy to see he tweeted.

Since we had so many people in the same place, we decided to release Selenium 3.10. The main highlights of this release were behind the scenes for most users, as we focused on the continued clean up of the internal of Grid, and the continued use of our own abstractions to handle HTTP and JSON. Having said this, there were user-supplied patches, notably moving us from Selenium's own "Duration" class to the one that ships with the JRE. Deleting code is a lot of fun.

One reason for shipping 3.10 was to lay the groundwork for a terrible dad-joke: releasing Selenium 3.11 on the 11th March (3/11 in US date format). Jim Evans and I had noticed that 3.11 was also one of the most famous of the Windows releases, so we decided to lean into the joke, and shipped "Selenium for Workgroups" as well in March. The Selenium server even reports this to users. 3.12 won't have this feature.

In a bid to help our Windows developers ship the Selenium jars, I merged a ton of upstream changes to our fork of Buck, and then spent some time attempting to resolve the issue where zips created on Windows create unreadable directories when unpacked. My fix doesn't resolve the issue, so I filed an issue with the upstream Buck project in the hope that they'd fix it for me. If I get some free time, I'll try this as well.

I've also been working on replacing GSON within our tree (though on my local machine). By the end of the month of work, I had a forked version of Selenium that didn't use GSON at all for outputting JSON. Sadly, I was a little over-ambitious when attempting to finish the work by also deserialising from JSON to proper types. It turns out that there's a bunch of code in Grid that relies on the current semantics of GSON to function. Stepping back, it looks like most of this is because GSON isn't aware of our own types, and it should be relatively easy to replace some of this. At least I know I should be working on next….

Well, that, and a new way of starting sessions that allow users to properly make use of all the features that the W3C New Session command offer.