Working up to the Windmill 1.0 Beta 1 Release, I finally had the opportunity to put some time into making the IDE (that a lot of you live in when in test writing mode) a little bit nicer to look at.

The IDE has been growing organically since 0.1 and there was a lot of functionality hacked into it that wasn’t in the original game plan, so I did what I could to improve the beauty of the CSS/Layout as well as the whole mess of code behind it.

If you have used our latest release, or are running trunk you know that we have significantly improved the load times for the Windmill IDE. By compressing the JavaScript when the service is instantiated we can simply hand the IDE window one file that contains the vast majority of the required code.

The reason that this makes such a huge performance difference is because we are loading the source via the local windmill proxy and the data size size had very little impact, the overhead was in the browser two connection limit. When you have to pull down ~30 files two at a time it takes its toll and made the IDE feel very sluggish and more like a web page loading than an IDE.

In the process of figuring out exactly what was slowing down the launch time we added some more informative messages and output so you don’t sit there staring at a twirling circle graphic wondering if anything is happening. And to make the experience even more fun, I couldn’t help but implement a progress bar.

General Layout
I removed the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, which I felt it was an irritation for test editing (especially with the drag and droppable actions). It is now in a drop down menu at the top right of the screen, with the rest of the UI access to IDE functions.

Settings and Firebug Lite Improvements
The settings dialog has continued to improve by implementing more useful defaults, adding new options, removing deprecated options and simply making it just look better. Thanks jQuery UI!

Firebug Lite has been a very popular feature since we first announced it, which has led to a handful of bug fixes over the last month. The most major of these was that the initial Windmill implementation of Firebug Lite required you to have Internet access as it was using resources that were hosted elsewhere.

These have since been copied to our source tree and are made available by the Windmill server so you can happily introspect your Web Apps JavaScript while writing tests on your Intranet.

Output and Performance
Instead of writing all the raw windmill output to the output and performance tabs there is now an array called windmill.errorArr, where all terrible errors and warnings about technical details are pushed in the case you are interested to see all that data. However, it’s more likely that you aren’t and scrolling through all that output data becomes tedious.

This is why we have implemented output in blocks with the background color representing pass/failure with green/red (white for performance). These blocks are expandable, clicking them will reveal all output (or performance information) we know about the action that was executed. This should give you a faster general overview of your results and allow you to quickly see the details you care about.

Other Worthwhile Mentions
We moved our XPath implementation from Ajax-Slt to JS-XPath, which has proven to be more accurate when it comes to resolving XPath generated in Firefox (or using Firebug) against non XPath native browsers such as IE.

Many bugs and improvements have been made to the DOM Explorer, which should now feel a lot more like the Firebug DOM inspector, but should work in any browser.

We have also put a lot of effort into improving the communication between the JavaScript Controller and the Python Service so that when a test fails you get as much detailed information in the service as you do in the IDE.

Timing and MozMill
The timing has lined up nicely as we are working on both a 1.0 release for Windmill and MozMill. MozMill is geared towards automated testing of all applications on the Mozilla Platform and functions in the trusted space providing lots of very useful flexibility.

You can currently try out MozMill 1.0rc1 as a Firefox Add-on, and keep your eyes pealed as some exciting new MozMill feature work is around the corner.

We are always trying to make life easier for the test writer, so please log your bugs and feel free to come chat with us in #windmill on FreeNode.

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