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Most areas of computer programming have the privilege of access to many reference books.  QuickTest automation, which I have always stated is more of a programming activity than testing activity, is not one of those areas.  This is why a new book on QuickTest programming is always a gem!  The latest work by Anshoo Arora and Tarun Lalwani, titled “QTP Descriptive Programming Unplugged” does not disappoint.

This is not the first book for Tarun.  Those who are still learning the in’s and out’s of QuickTest should check out his first book titled “QuickTest Professional Unplugged”.  I also reviewed his second book “And I thought I knew QTP!” which utilizes a narrative technique to introduce technical concepts.  This latest book, with the help of Anshoo Arora, is a return to the typical style of a technical reference manual.

I have been working with GUI test automation for 13 years, and there is one key aspect of interacting with a GUI that has never changed; you must be able to recognize the UI objects!  Anyone who has ever been given a new application to test has had the realization that comes when you fire up your automation tool only to see that few, if any, of the screen objects are recognized by the tool.  This is the “knife to the heart” of any automation effort because object recognition is so vital to successful automation projects.  We face enough challenges with GUI automation, that object recognition should not be one of them.

When you find that QuickTest is able to recognize your objects, be thankful!  The journey typically does not end there, and that is where this book is a valuable resource.  Even when working with supported technologies, getting QuickTest to properly and consistently recognize your objects is a must.

This book is a valuable resource because it takes many years of experience in QuickTest object recognition and presents it in a clear, well-organized fashion.  You will learn the differences between Local and Shared object repositories, and which strategy to use.  Those who prefer to avoid object repositories will receive a healthy discussion on descriptive programming, the art of defining your objects at the time you use them instead of within a repository.  Even advanced topics such as using the Document Object Model (DOM) for web applications or XPATH to identify elements are covered in detail.

The authors do more than just introduce topics.  Topics are what you can expect from the QuickTest-provided documentation.  This book takes those topics and discusses the risks and benefits of each.  This was evident when I read about the topic of “Smart Identification” (I’ve always believed it’s one of the biggest misnomers since Little John in the Robin Hood stories), how it works, and why disabling it is the first thing you should do.  For example, you can quickly learn about the concept of descriptive programming, but this book explains why you might want to use it, suggestions for improving success on large projects, and the potential pitfalls like escaping regular expression characters.

While primarily a discussion on object recognition techniques, the book does go off-topic on a few extras such as how you could write test code in a .NET language.

Those who are new to QuickTest should still start out with “QuickTest Professional Unplugged”, but they should quickly follow it up with this latest title.  Even automators with several years and projects behind them have something to gain through the reference.