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Gorilla Logic Reloads FlexMonkey with Major Changes

The advanced primates over at Gorilla Logic have been working those opposable thumbs overtime recently. The results: FlexMonkey 5, a revamped version of the company's flagship open source automated testing tool for Adobe Flex and AIR. The company is calling this release "a major re-write" of the core open source tool that was driven by real-world feedback from the FlexMonkey community and Gorilla Logic's customers.

"We'd evolved the platform tremendously, and with [version] 4.19 we really hit our stride," Gorilla Logic's VP of engineering, Ed Schwarz, told me, "but we also got a lot of feedback about some aspects of it, and we realized that if we were going to take FlexMonkey to the next level, we had to do a bottom-to-top review and come out with a brand new version."

That version, code named "FlexMonkey Reloaded," had been in beta since the beginning of the year. It became the platform's main code base as of August 1.

The list of enhancements in this version is a long one. It includes more robust recording, playback and verification of all Flex UI interactions including mouse, keyboard, drag/drop and timed actions; a new graphical console for creating and editing test suites; assertions to verify results; "wait for" functions for robust interactions with internet services and different-speed devices; the ability to generates ActionScript versions of the tests that can be easily extended with additional control or data-driving logic; and compatibility with unit test suites and continuous integrations environments.

Gorilla Logic is primarily a software services firm specializing in rich Internet applications (RIAs) and enterprise app development with Java, Adobe Flex and mobile platforms. The Broomfield, Colo.-based company was founded by a group of former Sun Microsystems execs back in 2002, but FlexMonkey has only been on the market since 2008. The tool has been downloaded more than 11,000 times since then, so the company's claim that it has become "the de-facto standard in the industry" is more than marketing hyperbole.

The band of founding Gorillas includes Schwarz, who founded the global e-Business consulting organization at Sun; CEO Stu Stern, who ran the Sun Java Center, Sun's global Java professional services organization; and CFO Hank Harris, who directed Sun's Professional Services group, which was responsible for telecom accounts in North America. (And it's really "band." I looked it up.)

"When we were at Sun during those late '90s days, running Java consulting, we had access to a tremendous pool of talent, folks who were excited to work this then-new technology called Java," Schwarz told me. "We were able to hire really strong, experienced developers from all over the country. We still know those folks, and that experience is at the core of what we do here at Gorilla Logic."

In addition to FlexMonkey, the company makes FoneMonkey, a free and open source testing tool for iOS apps. The company recently released FoneMonkey 5; and FoneMonkium, a free Selenium IDE plugin that adds FlexMonkey capabilities to that tool.

"Conceptually they do the same thing," Schwarz explained. "They record and playback user interactions right off the application. Our frameworks live inside the applications, and can get tremendously robust and detailed information to the automation engine. And then they automate out to continuous integration environments so they can form the backbone of the regression test suite."

The company's efforts have been focused, at least in part, Schwarz said, by the founders' belief that automated functional testing is essential for developer productivity.

"Developers end up being able to be bolder, to do more, and to realize the value of Agile methodologies much more strongly when they have that regression-testing safety net around them," Schwarz said. "Because of that, we were driven to develop the open source tools that are central to our strategy."

FlexMonkey 5 is upward-compatible for tests recorded with FlexMonkey 4.1. The FlexMonkey development team intends to support the 4.1.x version for sustaining development for six months. To download a copy of FlexMonkey 5, click here.

Posted by John K. Waters on August 24, 2011