Test Design Studio 4.0 Released

We are pleased to announce that Test Design Studio 4.0 is now generally available and can be downloaded here.

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This release continues our push to re-architect and modernize the back end code of the application while also moving the front-end away from Windows Forms and toward Windows Presentation Foundation with a modern look-and-feel.  The tool windows for Output, Server Explorer, and Toolbox were all converted in this release.  Even the splash screen saw the first update since v2 with a flatter design.

Release Highlights

The following are some highlights from the 4.0 release

Naming Conventions

We’re very excited about this feature.  So excited, in fact, that it gets its own blog post!

Floating Document Windows

Those with multiple monitors know how convenient it can be to float your tool windows on a secondary monitor while leaving Test Design Studio on a primary monitor, but document windows were also bound to the main window.  Not anymore!  You can now drag the document tab outside of the main window to float it, or simply right-click the document tab and select ‘Floating’.  When combined with the long-standing ability to dock document windows side-by-side in the main part of the application, you now have a new tool to customize your view to see exactly what you want and where you want to see it.

Disable Code Analysis Rule from Context Menu

We love the code analysis feature, but sometimes a rule just isn’t a good fit for your organization.  You no longer have to dig through the options dialog to find the rule you want to turn off.  If it shows up in the Error List and you don’t want to see it, simply right-click and turn it off.  You can always turn it back on from the original Options dialog.

ALM Updates

Sometimes it’s the little things.  Many users were confused about how to get Test Design Studio connected to ALM or, even worse, didn’t know the feature was available.  The Server Explorer tool window, when not connected to ALM, should remove all doubt about the capability and how to get started:

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We even redesigned the login screen with a friendly reminder that you must register the ALM Client for the integration to work properly:

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We also removed the special feature called “Offline Mode”.  This was a carry over from functionality prior to TDS 3 where server connections were managed very differently, and it created a confusing interface.  You no longer have to enter “Offline Mode” to work with any files offline.  If you’re not connected to ALM, you’ll be in offline mode.  Simple as that!  We even added the option to have your credentials stored so that your ALM connection is automatically restored every time you launch TDS.

Now TDS even scans a project before you open it to look for any ALM files and will prompt you to connect to ALM before opening (with the option to cancel) so that you are not presented with errors opening the files.

Customer Upgrades

All customers with an active maintenance agreement will receive this upgrade at no change.  Users with a Seat License will need a new serial number for this version and it will begin with "TDS40-".  Users with a Concurrent License will not need to modify their License Server, but will need a new client license file to use along with the new version.

Please contact support@patterson-consulting.net if you are ready to upgrade and have not already received your new license.

New Feature - Naming Conventions

The feature we’re most excited about with TDS 4.0 is support for naming conventions.  Most of us work on teams that contribute to the same code base.  It is important that the unified product of that team’s effort be presented consistently no matter who contributed the code.  Choosing to name variables or functions a certain way can make your framework more cohesive and easier to use by everyone.

By default, Test Design Studio comes pre-configured for the most basic naming conventions around character casing for language elements.  These defaults are based on generally accepted industry norms for VBScript and include:

  • Variables and parameters start with lower-case letter and capitalize each new word.
  • Functions, subs, and properties start with upper-case letter and capitalize each new word.
  • Class names start with upper-case letter and capitalize each new word.
  • Constants use all upper-case letters with underscore between words.

The following illustrates a Sub whose name begins with a lower-case letter instead of upper-case

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The violations for naming rules are displayed in the Error List along with any syntax errors and code analysis feedback.  Each violation is also underlined in the editor with green “squiggles” to draw attention to the oversight.

These default rules are a great start for naming conventions, but individual policies at your organization are likely far more complex.  Since every organization is different, we designed this feature from the beginning to be user-driven.  All naming conventions are based on a series of rules in an XML-formatted file.  We’ve provided a powerful set of criteria to help you define your individual conventions.  We’ve even provided a working sample of a much more complicated rules file that you can use as a template for your own rules (look at ‘CodeAnalysis\rules.sample.typePrefix.xml’ under the TDS installation directory).

Not only can you define different rules based on item type (e.g. Sub, Function, Variable), you can also define rules based on the content.  Do you name integer variables one way and boolean variable another way?  No problem!  Different convention for public vs. private items?  We have that, too!

You can change the location of the naming rules XML file in the same spot where you turn individual code analysis rules on/off by selecting “Tools –> Options” from the main menu.

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While we’ve tried to prepare a solid foundation for the rules engine, we know our customers will be the truest test of when the feature is complete.  We fully support the functionality, but are releasing it under a “Beta” tag for now.  We’re confident in the core functionality for the default rules we have provided, but we need to hear from more customers about how they want to implement rules.

If you are unable to implement your naming conventions using our present rules engine, we want to hear from you!  Please contact us with examples of the rules you want to implement.  If we can’t make the current rules engine work, we’ll see what we can do to add the support your need.

We hope you enjoy this new feature, and look forward to hearing your feedback.

Test Design Studio Compatible with UFT 14

With the recent release of Unified Functional Testing 14, we are happy to report that Test Design Studio continues to be fully compatible with the latest version.  In fact, it doesn’t appear that the core GUI Test functionality has changed at all… and hasn’t for years!  That should speak volumes about how much this manufacturer cares about those who still write code for UFT, but that’s why we have Test Design Studio anyway!

We’ve Moved!

What Happened?

We woke up to a nice little surprise a few days ago… our web host of 10 years had mysteriously started turning off our servers!  First to go was e-mail delivery, and that’s what tipped us off to the problem.  It turns out our web host had migrated our account to a new platform a couple of months ago, but failed to tell us.  Not only did communication fall apart, their migration was a total failure.  They copied some files… that’s about all the credit they get.  None of our web services worked, the server was configured incorrectly, our database was empty, and their control panel tools were useless!

After juggling support from multiple contacts, we quickly realized this was a situation we never wanted to be in again.  We abandoned any effort to get our site working on their new platform and looked for greener pastures.  And boy did we find them!

A Brave New World

A lot can change in 10 years.  When it comes to technology, 10 years is like a lifetime.  Needless to say, the landscape has improved greatly!  We settled on building all new web apps on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure.  The service is amazing and highly recommended for anyone looking for web hosting.  We’ve also migrated our email handling to new Microsoft-powered cloud services, and everything is working great!

How Does This Impact You?

For the most part, there is no impact.  The same web address gets automagically ported to our new servers.  We’ve tried to re-write any old URL’s that were no longer valid, so those bookmarks will keep working.  Two important aspects did change, however.

We needed to relocate some of our web services into stand alone web apps.  This is a much better design, but does break compatibility with prior applications.  Most importantly, this impacts web-based license activation.  The “check for updates” feature will also stop working, but you will continue to get news alerts on the Start Page.

Test Design Studio v3.0.7020 and higher will support the new server, and you can download it now.  All users who have ever owned a license to v3.0 will be able to upgrade to this release even if your maintenance has expired.  **There is not an upgrade path for Test Design Studio v2.5 or prior releases!**  You will still be able to activate your licenses, but the activations will need to be performed manually.  Contact support@patterson-consulting.net if you have concerns about applying any legacy licenses or if you want to explore options to reinstate your maintenance.

The Concurrent License Server is also impacted by the change to the licensing service, and we will be working on a fix in the near future.  Concurrent licenses of Test Design Studio will continue to operate without issue on an already activated Concurrent License Server instance.  If you have immediate license activation needs, please contact support@patterson-consulting.net and we will make sure your request is handled.