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  1. #1
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    Cross-platform Eggplant

    Hey, I'm sure someone here might be able to comment on this...

    What are the chances that Eggplant (currently mac only - but can test cross platform) would be ported to something more than simply 3% of the market?

    I know that the developers might LIKE Macs, but if you're trying to make a living, you probably shouldn't sell hamburgers in India.

    If it's not written in Objective C, you'd think there might be a possibility of other platforms.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    Note: this is not intended as a religious question (I'm sorry for the "hamburgers in India" comment now), but more of a business/technical question.

    Is there something special about the mac platform that makes it especially suited to image based testing?

  3. #3
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    Originally posted by WhollyMindless:
    Is there something special about the mac platform that makes it especially suited to image based testing?
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">No, not really.

    Yes, the developers here like Macs (actually, "like" may be a little too mild a word!), but the decision to develop Eggplant for the Mac platform was made for a number of strategic business reasons having nothing to do with that. I believe it was a good decision, although I wasn't part of that decision-making process -- in fact, I was hired as a result of it, as a Mac developer.

    One of the reasons for choosing the Mac was specifically development-related. The Mac's Cocoa development toolset (yes, Eggplant is written in Objective C) is a wonderfully productive environment. It enabled us to deliver the original version of Eggplant very quickly, and allows us to continue to maintain and improve it in response to our customers' needs with a relatively small team.

    This doesn't preclude the possibility that Eggplant could be ported to another platform (we have considered it), but - quite honestly - why do you care? Would you buy a dozen licenses if it ran on Linux? on Windows? If so, I presume that's because Eggplant looks to you like a tool that will solve a problem for you (namely, automating some testing). But no tool (even a free one!) comes without a price.

    If you're spending money to buy a tool, then you're also going to be spending time (which is money) to learn how to use that tool, to develop a plan, to develop scripts, etc. Now that we're looking at the overall picture, is another $499 for a Mac all that significant? You can buy Eggplant and a Mac for less than the price of many other tools.

    I suppose we could produce a version of Eggplant for Windows and charge an extra $500 per license to cover the cost of the porting effort. Would that be any better for you than receiving a Mac Mini (about the size of an external hard drive) free with every purchase at the same price? Oh, wait, we'd better call it a "testing appliance" instead of a computer, because "Macs" may not be allowed.

    It always seems rather funny to me. People complain that Mac owners are emotional (i.e. "irrational") about their Macs, but it strikes me that it's the people who refuse to admit Macs into their companies who are not being entirely rational. Or maybe they're just not well informed about the current state of things. Macs today are extremely easy to plug into almost any network, where they behave themselves as polite, cooperative citizens that almost never carry viruses. &lt;sigh&gt; Ah, well, I'm probably starting to sound religious now myself! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Sorry for rambling on at such length, but I would be interested to hear your response to my questions: Why do you care? Does the fact that it's only on a Mac significantly impact your puchasing decision? and Why?

    Thanks,
    Doug Simons, Principal Developer
    TestPlant, makers of eggPlant, the Cross-Platform GUI Testing Tool
    http://www.testplant.com

  4. #4
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    The real problem is that it is a barrier to entry. Without the ability to easily "Just Try It", there's no opportunity to see if it really solves a problem or not. As you know, testing tools are often used as a "I wonder if..." and management finds out and says "Let's go with it". That's how we ended up with Test Complete.

    I agree with all your points -

    When compared to most other testing applications (with the exception of Test Complete) $1,000 isn't going to make much of a difference.

    A good/quick development environment is a great thing and there are not too many people complaining on the mac.

    Would a port be worth it? Dunno. If your product is as unique as it sounds and competes with the big boys, you might be pricing yourself too low to be taken seriously. This is the problem we had with Test Complete. Management couldn't accept that a flexible and usable tool could be had for that price. Charging extra to port is a cop out - charging the right amount for your unique product should let you deliver it on whatever platform people are willing to pay money for. If you could double your sales by offering it on two platforms and it doesn't cost twice as much to have it on two platforms - then you make more money. Would having it on Mac/Linux double your sales - Unknown. I don't know what your sales are. I'm pretty sure that offering on Linux would only result in cries of "open source" so it's probably not a great target but it might be a way to broaden your market.

    I'm having trouble getting my guys to stop thinking that testing is better if more money is thrown at it. They seem to have this vision that one of the big guys is the right choice when we don't pay our QA guys enough to keep someone competitive. Why spend $50,000 on a testing tool when the employee's paid $7/hr and has to leave to make $9 in six months - selling timeshares. I'd rather see us pay $2,000 for the software, $2,000 for training and pay enough to keep people a few years.

    I'm not down on eggplant, in fact, I'd like to give image based testing a try. Do I have time? No. If I did, do I have the hardware? No. Do I have a need not being met by my current tool? I don't know, I don't have time to use the tool I've got effectively.

    BUT, If I got time. I'd still have a roadblock.

    Oh, I'm jealous of you guys. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  5. #5
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    Hello Wholly - thanks for your comments!

    You're right, of course: the fact that most people don't have a Mac sitting on their desks presents a significant barrier for people who want to try Eggplant.

    For now, we do what we can to make it easy for people to evaluate Eggplant -- by providing as much straightforward information as we can (so people can decide whether it looks like a good fit for their needs) and by making loaner Macs available for evaluating Eggplant in cases where there is a clear project need. In the future we will undoubtedly continue to weigh the possibility of porting as a means of eliminating that obstacle... if Apple doesn't do it for us by selling a Mac to everyone who buys an iPod! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
    Doug Simons, Principal Developer
    TestPlant, makers of eggPlant, the Cross-Platform GUI Testing Tool
    http://www.testplant.com

  6. #6
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    I just ran into the platform issue: I really like how eggplant looks, if I had a Macintosh I'd download it right now, evaluate it, and I'm 95% sure would be purchasing a bunch of licenses next week. But I don't have a Macintosh, so now what? I'm not going to buy a Macintosh just to try this out. I don't have anyone that would lend me their Macintosh for a week so I can bang on it.

    On top of that, I'm not familiar with the Macintosh platform, nor is our IT staff. That may even be a more significant cost than the actual hardware cost of the Mac.

    So what am I going to do? I must do a bunch more research to see if there's a Windows-based tool that will do what I want. Maybe I'll find one, maybe not. If not, then I'll circle back to Eggplant and think through the Macintosh only issue and see if we can live with it. I may still end up purchasing Eggplant, but the sale is obviously much harder because of the Macintosh only limitation.

    It's such a shame to see what looks like such a great tool hamstrung in this way. In short, I think Eggplant made a poor business decision, but it's hard for me to second guess that from the outside - maybe the initial developers were only familiar with Macintosh, or maybe the initial sales were easier to a Macintosh market? (Or maybe I so badly want the right testing tool that I've got some sour grapes [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] )

    I don't believe that any language is that much more productive that you should limit your business so severely.

  7. #7
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    We are in the process of evaluating different automated testing tools from different vendors. This is with respect to our effort in finding a tool that suite our requirements.

    Following are some of our functional requirements for an automated testing tool.

    -Supported on platforms: Solaris 10, Linux RH 4&amp;5
    -Scheduled test execution.
    -Batch test execution
    -Scripting language easy to understand and modify.
    -Image comparison against expected results.
    -Good reporting mechanism.

    Our application is developed using Motif widget set.
    Does Eggplant meet our hardware &amp; OS requirements?

    Regards
    Haroon
    Dont wait for a miracle, be a miracle..
    http://e-pyramid.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
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    Re: Cross-platform Eggplant

    [ QUOTE ]
    Following are some of our functional requirements for an automated testing tool.

    -Supported on platforms: Solaris 10, Linux RH 4&amp;5
    -Scheduled test execution.
    -Batch test execution
    -Scripting language easy to understand and modify.
    -Image comparison against expected results.
    -Good reporting mechanism.

    Our application is developed using Motif widget set.
    Does Eggplant meet our hardware &amp; OS requirements?


    [/ QUOTE ]
    Fundamentally, yes! Given, of course, that Eggplant only runs on a Mac (as noted at length earlier in this discussion [img]/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] ) it performs tests by automating tasks on another computer through a VNC connection. This allows it to test applications on Solaris, RedHat, or any other system for which a VNC server is available.

    Addressing your other requirements:
    - You can create and run batches of tests from the Schedules interface in each test suite.
    - The scripting language (SenseTalk) is the probably the friendliest and most readable of any testing tool, which makes scripts easier to maintain.
    - Image comparison is Eggplant's fundamental mode of interaction with the system under test, and can be used to verify results.
    - The built-in reporting is minimal, but all of the results are stored in standard file formats which makes it easy to integrate them with other reporting tools, load them into a spreadsheet, etc. We also provide example scripts on our website for generating reports in HTML format.

    Let us know if you have other questions.
    Doug Simons, Principal Developer
    TestPlant, makers of eggPlant, the Cross-Platform GUI Testing Tool
    http://www.testplant.com

 

 

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