Monday, March 28, 2011

Taking Screenshots with CFSelenium

In addition to doing browser behavior testing, there are four functions in CFSelenium that you can use to capture screenshots.  The first two are:

captureScreenshotToString(): captures a shot of your current monitor display in .png format and returns the image data as a base-64 encoded string. **

captureScreenshot(string filename): captures a shot of your current monitor display in .png format and writes the image data to the filename passed in as the argument.  The filename parameter must be a full path ending in a filename, like "C:\Data\Screenshots\screenshot1.png." **


**These two functions work for all supported browsers, but because they take an image of the entire monitor screen, the browser window launched by *CFSelenium may be obscured by other windows on your monitor, and sometimes CFSelenium (or more specifically the Selenium Server) places the browser window in the lower half of the monitor, cutting off the view of the lower half of the window.

The other two screenshot functions capture only an image of the web page in the browser launched by CFSelenium, and they capture that page in its entirety: even if the page is long enough to scroll for several screens, all of that content will be captured.  While that can make for some very elongated images, it does capture all parts of the page.  But unlike the first two functions, these can only be used with certain browsers:


captureEntirePageScreenshotToString(): captures the entire web page in .png format and returns the image data as a base-64 encoded string.  Only works when used with Firefox.

captureEntirePageScreenshot(string filename, string kwargs): captures the entire web page in .png format and writes the image data to the filename passed in as the first argument.  The filename parameter must be a full path ending in a filename, like "C:\Data\Screenshots\screenshot1.png." The second argument is a string that modifies the way the screenshot is captured.  At the moment, it can only be used to alter the background of the HTML document object of the page.  An empty string can be passed as the argument, like so:



The captureEntirePageScreenshot works when used with Firefox.  You call also use it with Internet Explorer with a helper program called snapsIE if you do the following:

  1. Go to and click on the "snapsie-0.2" link to download the file. The file is a compressed .tar.gz file, so you will need a program that can extract the files from that package (Mac OS X can open it as if it were a .zip file).

  2. Ignore the first of the bullet points on the page but follow the rest of them to register the snapsIE .dll file.

  3. The last of the bullet points alludes to the fact that the security restrictions regarding ActiveX controls can block the use of snapsIE. In experimenting with it, I ended up making the following changes to Internet Explorer's security settings under "Internet Options":

    • Automatic prompting for ActiveX controls: Disable

    • Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins: Enable

    • Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting: Enable

    (Even after making those changes, the first time I had CFSelenium try to capture a acreenshot with IE, I had to watch the test run and click on the prompt at the top of the web page and tell IE to allow the snapsIE script to run on all sites.)

  4. When you instantiate the CFSelenium object to run the test that will take the screenshots, make sure you use "*iexploreproxy" as the browser string instead of the regular "*iexplore"


...The ability to take screenshots with CFSelenium lets you use CFSelenium to test the look of your web pages in other browsers in addition to testing how the page behave. And if you have a need to generate a portfolio of screenshots for a client, using the captureEntirePageScreenshot function could save you some time with that task.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Using CFSelenium With The Most Common Browsers

When using CFSelenium to send Selenium commands to the Selenium Server, you start off by instantiating CFSelenium as an object.  If you're using the ColdFusion 9 version, you would instantiate it with a statement like this:

browserUrl= "";
selenium = new CFSelenium.selenium(browserUrl);


If you're using the ColdFusion 7 or 8 version, you might instantiate it like so:

<cfset var browserUrl= "" />
<cfset variables.selenium= CreateObject("component","CFSelenium.selenium_tags").init(browserUrl) />


In both cases, you're calling the init() function of the respective CFSelenium .cfc file. The init() function can take 4 arguments:

  • browserURL: (required) the URL of the website (just the address to the webroot, not to any subfolders) you want to run the Selenium commands against.

  • host: (optional) the IP address or hostname of the machine running the Selenium Server instance CFSelenium will be communicating with. The default value is "localhost"

  • port: (optional) the port number used to communicate with the Selenium Server instance. The default is 4444.

  • browserStartCommand: (optional) a string that tells Selenium which web browser on the machine running the Selenium Server instance to use. The default value is "*firefox"

By default, CFSelenium uses Firefox to conduct the browser tests (which makes sense because most of the time you'll use the Selenium IDE Firefox plugin to create your tests). In order to have CFSelenium run a test case through a different browser, you'll have to pass a different browserStartCommand string into the init() function.  You can see a list of the different browserStartCommand strings in this post on StackOveflow:

Sometimes it's just that simple, but sometimes it's not...and when it's not, it can be a real pain to figure out.  WIth some trial and error, I was able to get Selenium Server/CFSelenium to interact with all of the browsers I had installed on my Windows and Macintosh laptops.  Here's what I had to do it each case:


Windows 7: The typical browser string shorthand for starting Firefox ("*firefox") only works if Selenium Server can use your operating system to find out where the browser executable file is. Because Firefox isn't documented in my Windows 7 PATH envionment value, I had to add the full path to the firefox.exe file in the browser string. So my CFSelenium instantiation statement ended up looking like this:

selenium = createObject("component","CFSelenium.selenium").init("","localhost", 4444, "*firefox C:\Program Files\Firefox\firefox.exe");

Mac OS X: The default/regular Firefox browser string "*firefox" worked just fine.

Google Chrome

Windows 7: The regular "*googlechrome" browser string worked fine.

Mac OS X: The regular "*googlechrome" browser string worked fine.


Windows 7: Safari comes with a pop-up window blocker that is turned on by default, and while on it will prevent the Selenium Server from doing anything beyond opening the browser window. To turn off that blocker in the Windows version, click on the gear icon in the upper right corner and click on "Block Pop-Up Windows" to uncheck it. Once I did that, I was able to run Safari using the "*safariproxy" browser string (it wouldn't take the regular Safari browser string) and specifying the location of the Safari executable file (similar to what I did with Firefox).

Mac OS X: Once I turned off the pop-up blocker (by clicking on "Safari" in the menu bar and unchecking "Block Pop-Up Windows"), I was able to run Safari with the normal "*safari" browser string>.


Windows 7: Although Opera 9 was the last version of Opera officially supported for the Selenium Server, I was able to run Opera 11.01 using the "*opera" string and specifying the location of the opera.exe file.

Mac OS X: This was the hardest one to figure out. Here's what I ended up doing:

  • I had to define a proxy server in Opera that would accept the commands coming from the Selenium Server using the following steps:

    1. In the Opera menu bar, I clicked on "Opera" and then "Preferences".

    2. In the Preferences window, I clicked on "Advanced", then choose "Networks" from the column of options on the left, then clicked on the "Proxy Servers..." button.

    3. In the Proxy Servers window, I put a checkmark next to "HTTP", entered "localhost" in the text box to the right of the "HTTP" checkbox, and entered "4444" in the corresponding Port box.

  • I could not use any of the Opera-specific browser strings. I ended up having to use the "*custom" browser string and specify the location of the Opera executable...which is NOT the "" listed in the Application folder but a file within that application package/folder:

selenium = createObject("component","CFSelenium.selenium").init("","localhost", 4444, "*custom /Applications/");

Even after all that, the behavior was still a bit flaky. Sometimes Opera would start with a dialog box asking if you wanted to restore the last session (as if Opera had crashed after the last session). Sometimes Selenium wouldn't proceed past the "Speed Dial" Opera startup page: telling Opera to use an actual homepage helped but that setting change didn't seem to take effect upon the next startup of Opera but rather the startup after that.

Internet Explorer 8

Windows 7: I wasn't able to use the regular "*iexplore" browser string, but "*iexploreproxy" worked fine (and with IE being part of the OS, I didn't need to specify the path to the executable).

Mac OS X: If you're running virtual machine software (I use VMWare Fusion) on your Mac in order to run a Windows environment, you can run your CFSelenium tests against IE running in that VM by doing the following:

  • Place a copy of the Selenium Server .jar file on your VM instance of Windows just as you did when you installed CFSelenium on your Mac.

  • Find out what the IP address of your VM instance is. The easiest way to do that is to open a command-line interface in Windows (by clicking the Start button, choosing "Run...", typing "cmd" in the text box and hitting the Enter key), and typing "ipconfig -all" to get the current network statistics for the Windows instance: you want the address under "IP Address".

  • Use the command-line interface to start the Selenium Server on your Windows instance (just as you would do on your Mac).

  • Instantiate CFSelenium using the IP address of the Windows VM and "*iexplore" as the browser string. So if the IP address of your Windows VM is, the instantation statement would look like this:

selenium = createObject("component","CFSelenium.selenium").init("","", 4444, "*iexplore");

When you run CFSelenium against the Selenium Server on your Windows VM, you'll see the Selenium Server on the VM doing all the work, even though the test results will be reported back to whatever browser you're using to run the test on the Mac side.

...This was how I got all the browsers to run with CFSelenium on my computers. It may be different for your computer(s), but hopefully the information I've provided here will at least be of some help.

Brief Guide to Testing Browser Behavior with Selenium IDE and CFSelenium

The Selenium IDE Firefox plugin makes it easy to record the actions you perform on a web pages or series of web pages as a set of commands.  You simply open the Selenium IDE tool from the "Tools" menu in Firefox, make sure the Record button (the red circle in the upper right) is active, and then click and type away.  Once you've stopped recording, you can re-run the the recorded steps any number of times and even save the steps as a test case file to run again later.

Simply recording your actions as described above can be useful when you're troubleshooting a browser behavior (usually a Javascript function) that only executes after you've changed certain form fields or performed particular actions:  it saves you the time of constantly reloading the page and manually going through the actions again.  But you don't end up with an actual verifiable test:  you're verifying whether or not the page is behaving correctly by visually observing the outcome each time.  In order to use Selenium (and especially CFSelenium within the context of MXUnit) as a true testing tool, you need to add verification and assertion statements into your Selenium recordings.

Fortunately, it's easy to add such statements with Selenium IDE.  If the browser behavior results in a visible change to the page (like updating text in a form field), right-click on the changed part of the page.  At the bottom of the context menu that appears will be several Selenium commands you can choose to add to your current recording.  One or more of the commands will be a "verify" or "assert" command that you can add to your recording that basically means "return true if this page element contains this value or this text; return false if not".

Take the example below.  If the user selects "College" from the first select box on the bottom line, an AJAX call is made that populates the third select box on that line with the acronyms of the various colleges.  When I right-click on that third select box, I can select the verification command that verifies whether or not the select box contains all of the acronyms (you can see all of the text labels for the options in the select are concatenated together).  Other verfication and assertion commands for the element you selected might also be available under the "Show All Available Commands" option at the bottom of the context menu.

It's these verfications and assertions that you save in your recording that form the basis for your testing with CFSelenium and MXUnit.  When you export your Selenium recording as a CFSelenium/MXUnit test case and then run it, MXUnit is going to receive the results of the verifications/assertions from the Selenium Server and report the test case as having passed or failed based on those results.  When your CFSelenium/MXUnit test case passes in Firefox, you can then use CFSelenium to run the test case against other browsers and see if it passes or fails.  If it fails in Browser X, you can look at the test results to see which verifications/assertions failed and then figure out how to modify your page's behavior/Javascript so that it works in that Browser X...and once it works in Browser X, you'd re-run the test for Firefox and the other browsers to make sure the newly modified page still passes the tests in those browsers.

If you're running CFSelenium on ColdFusion 8 or 9 in conjunction with MXUnit, you can add MXUnit debug() statements to your test cases to retrieve additional information from the test (beyond the success or failure of the verifications or assertions).  For example, you could add the following line to your MXUnit test case to retrieve all of the text on the web page used in the test:



For more information about the debug() statement, consult the MXUnit documentation. For more information about what kinds of data CFSelenium can return from the test, look through the functions and read the hints in the relevant CFSelenium .cfc file (selenium.cfc for ColdFusion 9, selenium_tags.cfc for ColdFusion 7 and 8).

Quick Guide for Installing and Running CFSelenium

I've been playing around with CFSelenium this week in order to come up with an implementation that will let me easily replicate and run tests I've created with the Firefox Selenium IDE plugin on multiple browsers.  I've learned a few things along the way that are worth blogging about, but I thought I should start with a blog post on how to get CFSelenium up and running quickly.

Installating CFSelenium

  1. First, you need to have a computer that has either ColdFusion 7, ColdFusion 8, or ColdFusion 9 installed and running such that you can call and execute a .cfm page on the machine (example "http://localhost/myLocalSite/index.cfm"), and you'll need Firefox installed.
  2. Go to Bob Silverberg's CFSelenium GitHub site - - and click on the "Downloads" button.  In the pop-up window that appears, click one of the two buttons under "Download source" to download either a .tar.gz archive or a .zip archive, and download the file to your computer.
  3. Extract the files and folders from the downloaded file wherever you like to start with - let's say a folder called cfSeleniumFiles.
  4. Create a folder called CFSelenium within your webroot folder (usually "http" or "www").  Copy the following files and folder from your cfSeleniumFiles folder into the new CFSelenium folder (*updated in August 2012 to reflect additional files):
    • selenium.cfc
    • selenium_tags.cfc
    • server.cfc
    • CFSeleniumTestCase.cfc
    • CFSeleniumTestCase_Tags.cfc
    • test
  5. Create a folder called selenium somewhere on your hard drive that isn't too deep in your folder hierarchy. On my Windows machine, I created it at the root of the hard drive (C:/selenium), while on my Macintosh system I created it under my user account (/Users/Brian/selenium).
  6. In your cfSeleniumFiles folder, open the Selenium-RC folder and copy the .jar file (the Selenium Server file) within that directory to the selenium folder you created in the previous step.
  7. If you're running ColdFusion 8 or ColdFusion 9, you'll want to download and install the MXUnit ColdFusion unit test framework (if you're running ColdFusion 7, skip this step; you'll still be able to execute Selenium commands via CFSelenium but in a different way).  If you don't already have MXUnit installed:
    • Go to the MXUnit website - - and click the download link ("1. Download").
    • Once the .zip file is downloaded, unzip the files into an mxunit folder in your webroot (so you should now have a CFSelenium folder and mxunit folder in your webroot).
That's all you need to do to install what you need to try out CFSelenium. Now you're ready to issue commands to the Selenium Server via CFSelenium and see it in action:

Testing CFSelenium

  1. Any time you want to run Selenium tests through CFSelenium, you need to start the Selenium Server (previously called Selenium-RC):
    • Open up a command line interface. On a Mac, simply open up the Terminal application. If you're machine runs windows, click on the Start button, choose "Run" from the menu, type "cmd" in the input box that appears, and hit the Enter key.
    • Use the "cd" command to navigate to the selenium folder you created earlier (the one where you copied the .jar file).
    • Type in the following command and hit the Enter key:
         java -jar selenium-server-standalone-2.0b2.jar
    • The Selenium Server should start: it will output several lines of activity then stop. If the server does not start, you may need to install Java 1.5 or Java 1.6 on your computer:  if you go to, the download link/button is front and center.
  2. Now the Selenium Server is ready to respond to commands issued through CFSelenium. What you do next depends on the version of ColdFusion you're running:
    • If you're running ColdFusion 9, run the seleniumTest.cfc MXUnit test in the CFSelenium/test/cf9 folder by calling it in the browser like so:
    • If you're running ColdFusion 8, run the seleniumTest_cf8.cfc MXUnit test in the CFSelenium/test/cf7_cf8 folder by calling it in the browser like so:
    • If you're running ColdFusion 7, run the seleniumTest_cf7.cfm file in the CFSelenium/test/cf7_cf8 folder like so (it mimics the MXUnit test for CF8 and CF9 without using MXUnit):
  3. If everything works, you should observe the Selenium Server react to the commands issued by CFSelenium.  It should start up an instance of Firefox, run through the test routines, and shut down again, and you should be presented with the results of those test routines.
    • If you're on a Windows machine and the Selenium Server fails to launch Firefox, that probably means that Firefox is not defined in your system path, so the Selenium Server does not know the location of the Firefox executable and cannot start Firefox. You can fix this by doing the following:
      • Locate where your firefox.exe file is on your machine (example: C:\Program Files\firefox.exe).
      • Open the appropriate "seleniumTest" file (as listed above).
      • Do a search for " *firefox " (it should only appear once in the file). Add a space after " *firefox " and type in the path to the firefox.exe file, like so:
           *firefox C:\Program Files\firefox.exe
      • Save the file and try again: it should work this time.
  4. To shut down the Selenium Server when you're done, go back to your command window and hit Control-C on your keyboard to shut down the server.

Going Further

Now you have CFSelenium installed, know how to start the Selenium Server that receives the commands from CFSelenium, and have run through one of the included tests, hopefully you'll want to learn how to create your own tests. For that, you should download and install the Selenium IDE plugin for Firefox so that you can record your own browser behavior tests. The documentation for using Selenium IDE is quite thorough.  Pay particular attention to the "Adding Verifications and Asserts With the Context Menu" section:  verifications and asserts are key to actually doing browser behavior testing with Selenium/CFSelenium (I'll touch on that briefly in my next blog post).

Included in the CFSelenium download file is a plugin for the Selenium IDE (yes, a plugin for a plugin) that adds the ability to export the Selenium IDE recordings (test cases) as CFSelenium commands wrapped in an MXUnit test case.  To install it, double-click on the cfml-formatters-1.0.xpi file in the cfSeleniumFiles/formats folder you created out of the CFSelenium download file.  Even if you're running ColdFusion 7 and can't run the plugin output directly (as MXUnit isn't supported in ColdFusion 7), the plugin still saves you the step of translating the recorded steps into CFML cfscript statements.  If you are using ColdFusion 8 or 9 and can run CFSelenium via MXUnit tests, I would suggest checking out the MXUnit documentation, especially the "Testing Basics" section, so you know a bit about how MXUnit works.

After you've recorded a few tests, you'll probably want to run those tests on other browsers.  The Selenium Server supports a number of different browsers but sometimes you have to do some tweaking to get the Selenium Server and the browser working together:  that'll be the subject of another post.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CFSelenium Now Compatible With ColdFusion 7 and 8

A few weeks ago, Bob Silverberg released his latest open-source project, CFSelenium.  For those who don't know about the project, a little background:  Selenium is a tool suite for testing web pages.  The most well-known member of the Selenium product family is Selenium IDE, a Firefox plugin that lets you record the actions performed on a web page (or a series of connected web pages) and the results of those actions.  You can then use the recording (stored as a series of commands) to redo those steps whenever you need to test the page or pages after making changes.  Another member of the Selenium product family is Selenium Server (formerly called Selenium-RC), which is a small, Java-based server that can run scripts comprised of Selenium commands in multiple browsers, allowing you to conduct the same kinds of tests recorded by Selenium IDE in browsers other than Firefox:  a great way to test web page functionality across multiple browsers.

In creating CFSelenium, Bob made it possible (easy, in fact) to create and run Selenium Server scripts using ColdFusion 9, and created a plugin for Selenium IDE that would output the recording statements in CFSelenium format within MXUnit test case functions.

Bob wrote CFSelenium in ColdFusion 9-compatible cfscript, and after he announced the project a few folks inquired about the possibility of having a version written in tag-based CFML.  On somewhat of a whim, I decided to take on that task, and ended up with a tag-based version of Bob's original selenium.cfc file that is compatible with both ColdFusion 7 and ColdFusion 8, as well as a few test files that run against the tag-based version.

Bob has now incorporated my tag-based version and my test files into the CFSelenium project, and we've agreed that I will maintain the tag-based version while he maintains the CF9 script verison.  You can download CFSelenium from either RIAForge ( or from GitHub (  For more about Selenium in general, I'd suggest reading Bob's blog post announcing CFSelenium as well as the Selenium website.

So if you're a developer whose responsibilities include cross-browser testing of your web pages, you should really check out CFSelenium.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Things To Know About Creating Multiple jQuery UI Datepicker Widgets on the Fly

The first time I created a UI where users could create new jQuery UI Datepicker widgets on the web page as needed, I thought about blogging about some of the "gotchas" I ran into trying to do that, but never got around to it.

But after today, when I had to relearn those lessons, I figured I should write something down.  :)

Here's what I've observed about creating new (multiple) Datepicker widgets on the fly:

  • Cloning a text field that already has the Datepicker applied to it won't work.  You're better off either cloning a "plain" text input element (<input type="text">) or creating one from scratch when you need it.

  • If there's any chance that you're going to end up with multiple Datepicker widgets on the page, you need to make sure that each Datepicker-powered text element ends up with a unique value in the "id" attribute.  Otherwise, the user will click on a date on the pop-up calendar for the most recently-added Datepicker widget, but it'll change the text box value of the first Datepicker widget you added!

    One way to address this is to add a global numeric variable at the top of your Javascript block, increment it every time you want to add a new Datepicker, and combine the current value of that variable with some text and assign that as the id of the text element you're about to add as a Datepicker.

  • Do not invoke the datepicker() function (the function that turns the text field into a Datepicker widget) on the new text input element until after it has been added to the page:  clone or create your text input first, place it in the page using prepend(), append(), whatever, and then invoke the datepicker() function on it.

  • If you need to remove one of the Datepicker widgets, use the datepicker("destroy") method on it.

ColdFusion Builder 2 Extension That List Keyboard Shortcuts in an Eclipse View Panel

Last night, I posted a simple ColdFusion Builder 2 extension that, when activated, creates an Eclipse view that lists all of the defaut Builder-specific keyboard shortcuts in the current ColdFusion Builder 2 beta.  You can get it from RIAForge at

I created this extension using Sagar Ganatra's list of CF Builder 2 keyboard shortcuts and by looking at how Ray Camden altered the VarScoper extension to display in an Eclipse view (see  The ability to display extension UIs in an Eclipse view (a movable windowed component, like the built-in Navigator or Outline views) rather than a modal window is a wonderful enhancement in Builder 2.

A few notes about the extension:

  • When you open the extension view, you have to click on either the Windows or Mac link to display the proper shortcut list (although the only difference in the shortcuts is that you use either the Ctrl key or the Cmd key).  If there's a way to detect the user's OS automatically, I haven't found it yet (cgi.http_user_agent wasn't useful in this regard).

  • It is a static list of the shortcut defaults as they are shipped in Builder 2.  If you change one of these shortcuts in your preferences, the change WILL NOT be reflected in the list.  I looked around to see if the default keyboard shorcuts were stored in a readable file somewhere that the extension could examine and parse, but it looks like that isn't the case:  user-defined and user-modified shortcuts are written to certain configuration files, but the default shortcuts are not exposed in that manner (if someone knows differently, speak up).

  • However, the advantage to it being a static list is that you can go ahead and customize the list in your copy of the extension.  If you pay attention to where the extension files are copied to when you install the extension, it's easy enough to go to that location, find the extension folder, and edit the index.cfm file in the extension.  It's a simple file, so it's easy to edit.

Hopefully this extension will be useful to folks who are trying to learn the new shortcuts, as you can use it to put the list right next to your editor window as you work.

UPDATE: per Sam Farmer's suggestion in the comments (thanks, Sam!), I've updated the shortcut to do OS detection using the variable value in the server scope.