Join our first Automation Training days on March 24/26

Building software is fun. Spending countless hours or even days on something to get it finally working. Helping someone who uses your software to speed-up the daily workflow. All that is fantastic and every developer loves that. But don’t let the dark side come up, when customers are pointing you to a lot of software defects. Are you still proud and will you continue the work as how you did it before?

Most likely not. Or well, lets say at least not when quality is what you want to ship. So you will start to think about how to test your application. You can do a lot of manual testing based on test plans or just do exploratory testing. That will work as long as your application is not complex enough, and can be done in a couple of minutes. But once you have to do the same kind of steps over and over again for each release, you will find it boring and loose the interest or concentration on it. Failures will happen so that issues slip through your testing, and bugs becoming part of the new release.

That’s indeed something you eventually want to kill in the future. But how? There is an easy answer to this question! Use test automation! Create tests for each feature you implement, or regression you got fixed. Over time the enlarged suite of tests will make you happy, given that you have to spend nearly no time on manual tests, and have results in a split of the time needed before. Releasing new versions of the application can be done much faster.

At some point, when your application is large enough, you might even not work alone anymore on that product. There will be other developers, or even software testers whose job is to plan and execute the testing strategy. Given that in the past there was not such a high demand on automation knowledge for them, the requirements for jobs have been changed in the past months. So lesser companies will hire engineers for quality assurance who do not have a coding background. This is hard for them, given that it can take ages to find a new position. Something has to change for them.

We, the Firefox Automation team at Mozilla want to help out here. Given our knowledge in automation for various Mozilla related projects, our goal is to support interested people in gaining their knowledge in software development and especially test automation. Therefor we are planning to have automation trainings on a regular basis. And all based on our own projects, so you will have the chance to practice all the new things, which you have learned. All that indeed depends on the acceptance for that offer, and the number of participants.

The first two training days will happen on March 24th and 26th, and will mainly take place in our #automation channel on IRC. Given that we have no idea how many of you will join us during that day, and what your knowledge is, we will start with the basics. That means we will guide you through courses of Javascript, Python, HTML, or CSS. We will collect your feedback and extend the etherpad for automation trainings to finally have a wonderful list of getting started tutorials.

For those of you who already have more experience, we will offer tasks to work on depending on your skills and directions. Please see the before mentioned etherpad for areas of work and appropriate mentors. We will guarantee that it will be fun!

We would love to see you next week, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask here, or in the automation mailing list.

Firefox Automation report – week 5/6 2014

A lot of things were happening in weeks 5 and 6, and we made some good progress regards the stability of Mozmill.


The unexpected and intermittent Jenkins crashes our Mozmill CI system was affected with are totally gone now. Most likely the delayed creation of jobs made that possible, which also gave Jenkins a bit more breath and not bomb it with hundreds of API calls.

For the upcoming release of Mozmill 2.0.4 a version bump for package dependencies was necessary for mozdownload. So we released mozdownload 1.11. Sadly a newly introduced regression in packaging caused us to release mozdownload 1.11.1 a day later.

After a lot of work for stability improvements we were able to release Mozmill 2.0.4. This version is one with the largest amount of changes in the last couple of months. Restarts and shutdowns of the application is way better handled by Mozmill now. Sadly we noticed another problem during restarts of the application on OS X (bug 966234) which forced us to fix mozrunner.

Henrik released mozrunner 5.34 which includes a fix how mozrunner retrieves the state of the application during a restart. It was failing here by telling us that the application has quit while it was still running. As result Mozmill started a new Firefox process, which was not able to access the still used profile. A follow-up Mozmill release was necessary, so we went for testing it.

As another great highlight for community members who are usually not able to attend our Firefox Automation meetings, we have started to record our meetings now. So if you want to replay the meetings please check our archive.

Individual Updates

For more granular updates of each individual team member please visit our weekly team etherpad for week 5 and week 6.

Meeting Details

If you are interested in further details and discussions you might also want to have a look at the meeting agenda and notes from the Firefox Automation meetings of week 5 and week 6.

Firefox Automation report – week 3/4 2014

Due to the high work load and a week of vacation I was not able to give some updates for work done by the Firefox Automation team. In the next days I really want to catch up with the reports, and bring you all on the latest state.


After the staging system for Mozmill CI has been setup by IT and Henrik got all the VMs connected, also the remaining Mac Minis for OS X 10.6 to 10.9 have been delivered. That means our staging system is complete and can be used to test upcoming updates, and to investigate failures.

For the production system the Ubuntu 13.04 machines have been replaced by 13.10. It’s again a bit late but other work was stopping us from updating earlier. The next update to 14.04 should become live faster.

Beside the above news we also had 2 major blockers. First one was a top crasher of Firefox caused by the cycle collector. Henrik filed it as bug 956284 and together with Tim Taubert we got it fixed kinda quick. The second one was actually a critical problem with Mozmill, which didn’t let us successfully run restart tests anymore. As it has been turned out the zombie processes, which were affecting us for a while, kept the socks server port open, and the new Firefox process couldn’t start its own server. As result JSBridge failed to establish a connection. Henrik got this fixed on bug 956315

Individual Updates

For more granular updates of each individual team member please visit our weekly team etherpad for week 3 and week 4.

Meeting Details

If you are interested in further details and discussions you might also want to have a look at the meeting agenda and notes from the Firefox Automation meetings of week 3 and week 4.