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Importance of DSL in Testing tools and frameworks

Importance of DSL in Testing tools and frameworks

Testing tools and frameworks address a broad range of application domains (broad focus). This is natural because the Jenkins testing tool vendor or developer wants to see his tool applied in a broad range of applications. For instance the Selenium test automation tool can be used to test a web shop application and the same tool can be used to test a social community web application. 

The tester or test automation developer is at the other extreme; he has a very narrow functional focus on the complexity of his application. He needs tooling that fits as well as possible in order to be able to succeed with the initiative and gain efficiency. He will probably start a new framework to exactly address his requirements. That is one of the reasons why there are so many frameworks available.

DSLs are by definition special purpose languages:

Concrete expressions of domain knowledge (captured in human readable form, not buried into system source code).

Direct involvement of the domain experts. The DSL format in Jenkins can often be designed in a way that matches the format typically used by domain experts. This results in keeping experts in a very tight software life cycle loop.

As explained in the last section, domain experts are often lacking technical background, but it is necessary to involve them in order to get domain specific testing right. The DSL you and I are going to build has its focus on the application domain and hides the complexity of the testing framework away. 

Since no testing framework knowledge is necessary this brings test automation in reach of application domain experts. With a little help they will be able to review and comment on test cases and draft outlines of new test cases soon. 

The Goal of DSL testing

The goal of a functional testing DSL is to be as human readable as possible and to abstract the complexity of the underlying testing tools. The following example test case for the openstreetmap should give you an intuitive idea of what we want to achieve.

Another test automation problem we want to address with the functional testing DSL is the expensive maintenance of the test suites. The DSL commands enforce reuse and reduce code duplication. The decomposition of the test cases into commands makes it easier to identify where to apply changes and simplify the changes as well. 

The DSL will enable maintenance of the test suite without the necessity of re-recording test cases after each change. This will significantly reduce maintenance costs and the cost of ownership of the automated test suite.

DSL Modelling

Most of the testing companies prefer using DSL modeling in most of the architecture. It offers a good room for testers to complete certain elements in an effective way. The term DSL modelling is rarely used in literature. Most of the scientific papers on DSL use the terms DSL design and development. Most authors focus on the topic of implementing a DSL. They discuss differences, pros and cons of internal and external DSLs and describe implementation related patterns in great detail.