June 29, 2011

Jasmine Guard for CoffeeScript rocks on Rails 3

CoffeeScript sure is interesting and I had a very positive experience trying it with Jasmine BDD testing kit. With Guard autocompiling the .js files, it becomes a charm on Rails 3.

Jasmine BDD in CoffeeScript on Vimeo.

This setup guide from pivotallabs.com coupled with this updated gist you will have the infrastructure set up in no time. Any change to the CoffeeScript source or spec files should trigger the Guard to recompile the JavaScript.

To compile "bare" js see this tip to add :bare => true to your Guardfile.

Start guard and jasmine servers and browse to localhost:8888 to run the test suite.
$ guard
$ rake jasmine

Here is a good example of writing a CoffeeScript spec. More spec examples will eventually sprout up, undeniably. And naturally, the Jasmine wiki is a good source of information.

Here's one example: timer.coffee
class Timer
  constructor: (@timer_json) ->
    @start_date = new Date(@timer_json.start_date)
    @end_date = new Date(@timer_json.end_date)
    [@start_hours, @start_minutes] = @timer_json.start_at.split(":")
    [@end_hours, @end_minutes] = @timer_json.end_at.split(":")
And the corresponding test: timer_spec.coffee
describe 'timer-parser', ->

  timer_data = {
    start_date: "2011/06/20", end_date: "2011/06/25",
    start_at: "12:00", end_at: "04:04"

  it 'should parse properly', ->
    timer_json = JSON.parse JSON.stringify timer_data
    timer = new Timer(timer_json)
    expect(timer.start_date).toEqual new Date "2011/06/20"
    expect(timer.end_date).toEqual new Date "2011/06/25"
    expect(timer.start_hours).toEqual "12"
    expect(timer.start_minutes).toEqual "00"
    expect(timer.end_hours).toEqual "04"
    expect(timer.end_minutes).toEqual "04"

June 1, 2011

Writing JavaScript in 2011 - catching up with the latest trends

JavaScript has definitely bloomed during the last few years. I do remember the first time I heard of JavaScript in the late 90s - I wrote a small script that showed a random image (out of a static array) on a static HTML page that I tested in Netscape and IE5-or-so. Today people run JavaScript in top- and mid-range mobile devices, on their web browsers, on servers, on the Gnome3 desktop.

JavaScript is the only language for building an application for all major "smart" mobile devices from within a singular codebase. That, already, interests me enough to give a closer look on some modern JavaScript tools - and write my observations about them.

Foremost, testing JavaScript was something I had completely neglected before. If I was to write serious applications using JavaScript, I'd absolutely needed a way to write unit tests. Secondly, I wanted to have a look at CoffeeScript, which has had a lot of positive attention lately.

I started out by digging into the recent archives of JavaScriptWeekly newsletter. Out of a good number of testing tools, I selected to try out JsTestDriver. It is compact, requiring only a single jar file and a configuration file. The jar contains a small web server that is ran on the source code directory, and exposes a specific url that should be opened in the browsers that will run the JavaScript code to be tested. Cool! If you consider to try out JsTestDriver yourself, I recommend you checkout their SVN repository and compile the jar yourself - the jar file given in the example is outdated and does not contain all the features that the guides may refer to - for example, mocking a piece of HTML that the JavaScript modifies.

Mocking AJAX was out of my scope at this stage, for that you may find this article to be helpful.

For learning to use JsTestDriver, I chose to write a simple slideshow application that uses CSS3 transformations to change the pictures. The required JavaScript for this seemed simple enough, and I wanted to learn some new CSS tricks as well. ;) So, this is "bébé", written in a few days using jQuery-powered CoffeeScript. I started out by getting the basics of CoffeeScript, having it to load the images onto the page, and then wrote tests to see the pictures were actually loaded. Testing the user interface seems to be very difficult, due to differences in how different browsers behave under JsTestDriver. I set the picture position to absolute, since elsehow I could not get the CSS transition to appear smooth (and have the image to disappear without hiding it with JavaScript). CoffeeScript is pretty amazing, and works really well with jQuery. :)

The code for this, along with the JsTestDriver tests, can be found on Github. This seems to work reasonably well in Firefox 4, Chrome, Opera 11, Safari (and Mobile Safari on iOS) and Android browsers. Firefox 3 behaves correctly, it just doesn't show the transition effect. IE fails miserably, never showing anything except the first image. :/

Here are some nice pointers to related articles:

..and now for something different ..
PC emulator in the browser running Linux on JavaScript