For example, consider the follow which tests for a custom data namespace attribute in jQuery Mobile:
The above test may appear quite straightforward, yet it serves as a good example by illustrating how each test in QUnit is implemented by the QUnit test fixture. The first argument is simply a String which describes the test case. This is quite convenient in that the intent of a particular test case can be expressed more naturally in textual form as opposed to using a long, descriptive test method name. The Second argument contains the actual test implementation itself, which is defined as an anonymous function and passed as an argument to QUnit.test.
As you may have also noticed from the above example, there are some, perhaps subtle, differences between the QUnit style of testing and the traditional xUnit style. Specifically, whereas in xUnit assertions expected values are specified first and preceded by actuals, in QUnit actuals are specified first followed by expected values. This may feel a bit odd at first however, after a few tests it’s easy to get used to. Additionally, where an assertion message is specified before any arguments in xUnit, in QUnit assertion messages are specified after all arguments. With regard to test descriptions, this is a difference I prefer as, a test message is always optional so passing this value last make sense. While somewhat subtle differences, these are worth noting.
A Complete Example
As code can typically convey much more information than any lengthy article could ever hope to achieve, I have provided a simple, yet complete, example which demonstrates a basic qUnit test implementation. (run) (source).
I have been giving a lot of thought lately about designing software in a Multi-Form Factor paradigm and felt I would share some initial thoughts on the subject. Keep in mind much of this is still quite new and subject to change; however, I have made an attempt to isolate what I feel will remain constant moving forward.
First, User Experience Design
My initial thoughts on the implications of what an ever growing Multi-Form Factor paradigm will have on the way we think about the design of software are primarily concerned with User Experience Design. While using CSS3 media queries to facilitate dynamic layouts will be needed for most Web Applications, I do not believe these types of solutions alone will allow for the kinds of compelling experiences users have come to expect, especially as they will likely compare Mobile Web Application experiences to their native counterparts. Sure some basic solutions will be needed, and for some simple websites they may suffice. However, in the context Web Applications, as well as just about every application developed specifically for a PC, too, I believe UX Design will need to leverage the unique opportunities presented by each particular form factor, be it a PC, smartphone, tablet or TV. Likewise, UX will need to account for the constraints of each form-factor as well. Architecturally, all of the above presents both opportunity and challenge.
To further illustrate this point, consider the fact that it is arguably quite rare that a UX Design intended for users of a PC will easily translate directly to a Mobile or Tablet User Experience. The interactions of a traditional physical keyboard and mouse do not always equate to those of soft keys, virtual keyboards and touch gesture interactions. Moreover, the navigation and transitions between different views and even certain concepts and metaphors are completely different. In simplest terms; it’s not “Apples to Apples”, as the expression goes.
With this in mind, as always, UX Design will need to remain at the forefront of Software Design.
Multi-Form Factor design obviously poses some new Architectural challenges considering the growing number of form factors which will need to be taken into account. The good news is, most existing, well designed software architectures may have been designed with this in mind to a certain degree. That is, the key factor in managing this complexity I believe will be code reuse; specifically, generalization and abstraction. A common theme amongst many of my posts, code reuse has many obvious benefits, and in the context of Multi-Form Factor concerns it will allow for different device specific applications to leverage general, well defined and well tested APIs. A good example being a well designed RESTful JSON service.
Code reuse will certainly be of tremendous value when considering the complexities encountered with Multi-Form Factor design. Such shared libraries, APIs and Services can be reused across applications which are designed for particular Form-Factors or extended to provide screen / device specific implementations.
Some Concluding Thoughts
In short, I believe both users and developers alike will be best served by providing unique User Experiences for specific Form Factors as opposed to attempting to adapt the same application across Multiple Form Factors. One of the easiest ways of managing this complexity will inevitably be code reuse.
I also believe the main point of focus should be on the medium and small form factors; i.e. Tablets and Smart phones. Not only for the more common reasons but, also because I believe PCs and Laptops will eventually be used almost exclusively for developing the applications which run on the other form factors. In fact, I can say this from my own experiences already.
While there is still much to learn in the area of Multi-Form Factor Design, I feel the ideas I’ve expressed here will remain relevant. Over the course of the coming months I plan to dedicate much of my time towards further exploration of this topic and will certainly continue to share my findings.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
The HTML5 Family of Technologies has been receiving considerable coverage lately; and, rightfully so, as, many next generation browsers – specifically those in the Mobile space based on WebKit: Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry etc. are now beginning to implement it’s specification, or parts thereof. On the Desktop more HTML5 support is also being seen in the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9 and Opera.
The HTML5 Family of technologies will without question play a vital role in the future of the web; and currently, in the mobile Web space, that future is now.
A Brief Overview of the HTML5 Family
For anyone who is unfamiliar with what has been termed “The HTML5 Family“, allow me to provide succinct overview of the technologies which I feel encompass what has already become a rather overloaded term. In general, on a very high level, I would summarize the HTML5 Family simply as follows:
While the above could be considered the umbrella Technologies upon which The HTML5 Family is based, there are certainly more associated technologies which themselves further augment what could be considered the HTML5 Family, some of which are (based on current specification status at the time of this writing ):
Web Storage (localStorage, sessionStorage) APIs
Web SQL Database API
Web Workers API
Web Sockets API
First, HTML5. HTML5 is the next major revision of HTML which aims to advance the open Web through web standards and semantically rich content. HTML5 defines an emphasis on semantic structure and meaning.
In general, HTML5 provides a content model which can be broadly defined into the following categories: Metadata content, Flow content, Sectioning content, Heading content, Phrasing content, Embedded content and Interactive content as well as form-associated elements etc.. HTML5 defines new tags such as canvas, audio, video, keygen, header, footer, nav, article, aside, datalist and more.
HTML5 Microdata provides a mechanism which allows machine-readable data to be embedded in HTML documents in the form of annotations, with an unambiguous parsing model. Microdata is compatible with numerous data formats such as JSON. Micro-data is intended to provide a standard to replace other similar concepts such as RDFa, from which browsers and other applications can discover relevant content based on the context of an applications markup. Such examples include markup for contact information, calendar events and more. This markup is understood by HTML5 compatible browsers which can then automatically offer to add the relevant content to the appropriate application. At an implementation level, microdata simply consists of a group of name-value pairs; with the groups being called items, and each name-value pair is a property.
The HTML5 Geolocation API is rather straightforward; it simply provides a means by which the location of a device can be determined via a native API (as opposed to say, determining the clients IP address). The Geolocation spec is currently in last call status in the W3C.
Device APIs are client-side APIs which allow for direct interaction with native device services such as a device Camera, Calendar, Contacts etc.
Web Storage API
The Web Storage API allows for the persistence of local (permanent) and session based (browser session) data on the client. The API for Web Storage is extremely simple as it is based upon simple Key / Value pairs; with which Keys are simply Strings. Each site contains its own separate storage area.
Web SQL Database
While not a part of the actual HTML5 specification, the Web SQL Database presents some extremely interesting possibilities within Web Applications. The Web SQL Database provides a set of APIs which allow for the manipulation of client-side databases using SQL. The Web SQL Database is based upon SQLite (3.1.19) thus supporting the features as specified therein.
Web Workers API
Web Workers provide a mechanism by which web content can execute scripts in background threads. Web Workers allow for a much needed multi-threaded implementation for web based applications executing in a browser. While somewhat similar, Web Workers are different from threads in that they are primarily intended for executing long running, expensive computations and algorithms so as to facilitate non-blocking UI background processes. One specific aspect of Web Workers which has considerable positive implications for the web moving forward is that they run in native threads as opposed to Green Threads; as is the case in VM architectures. This is quite significant as it essentially means Web Workers can scale vertically. Considering the inevitable proliferation of multi-core desktop and mobile devices, this is certainly something that will prove advantageous.
Web Sockets API
If you are interested in learning more about each of these technologies I recommend the following resources:
Moving forward, I plan to go into further detail for each of these associated HTML5 Family technologies, providing working examples and detailed information as to how each can be utilized to create some very unique and interesting possibilities on the Web.