Author Archives: colema18

UI Automated Testing with Sitecore


Automated Unit Testing with Sitecore can be a bit tricky because of the context and configuration that goes along with Sitecore, but from a pure UI perspective, testing can be automated with a screenshot comparison approach. I posted an article over at Code Project called Screenshot Smoke Testing. I came up with this approach for my current client witch is a Sitecore engagement. This approach would actually work with any ASP.NET project, not just Sitecore and it  allows one to catch a number of issues that could surface while writing very little code.

Instead of having to write a test script for every element on the page, the test can simply take screenshots of the site and compare them against approved versions. If there is a difference, than the delta would get highlighted and the test would fail.

Feel free to check out the article and let me know what you think:


ESATA, SSD and Virtual Machine Goodness (improved)

About a year ago I posted some details on how I setup my environment for each client:

Today I finally upgraded and bought a few Solid State III 2.5″ Drives, the specific one is here:

I have to kick myself for not doing this sooner. Bootup is much faster and opening Visual Studio and debugging my web applications is twice as fast (perceived, I didn’t actually time things). I should be getting a new laptop from work soon, but this will hold me off for a while. The other nice thing is I can suspend my VM images extremely quickly and the resume just as fast.

Multi-site / Multi-languages with Sitecore

My current client has a number of domains for various regions and some regions will support multiple languages, including Right-to-Left languages such as Arabic. So let’s highlight what needs to be done in Sitecore and our code to allow for this requirement.


Sites Node

Above you can see that we have 3 sites defined. The .com site has en as the default language, the has en-GB and the .ae has ar-EG (arabic egyption). The next section goes over language fallback, but for now notice that and .ae have a fallback to english.

Langugage Fallback

Alex Shyba who works for Sitecore has contributed a nice Shared Source module called Partial Language Fallback that allows Sitecore to fallback to a different language for an item or field if there is not a value available within the current language context. Alex goes into more detail about this module on his blog located here:

Multiple Languages

The client’s requirement is that the .ae site should default to arabic but allow the user to choose english if they prefer. We already set the default language to arabic in our web.config above, so we have that covered but now we need the ability to set a site’s supported languages.

Site Languages

Above I have updated the Website Root template, which is the root template of each site item in my solution. We have added a Site_Languages treelist field that has the System/Languages as the source. This allows for the content authors to select which languages they want supported for each site.

Site Languages 2

Changing Languages

Now that the backend is setup, we can create a control that can be used in the site’s footer to appear when 2 or more languages for the site is available and allow the user to select a different language.


Language Context

Our frontend code above is simply building out a dropdown list that is bound to the languages and it is adding a “selected” tag to the language that matches the current context.


Language Context 2

The ManageLanguages function is in charge of binding the repeater to the available languages and it only shows the repeater if there are 2 or more languages available. So in our .com and sites this control will not be displayed but it will show up on the .ae site.

If the request is a PostBack, then it will set the language context for the user and then redirect to the original url to ensure the page and any controls loaded before this point are aware of the context change.


Then the last piece is simply to wire up the select box to submit the form on value change.

Right-to-Left Support

Still in proof of concept mode on this one but what I have so far to support right to left languages is to check to see if the current language context is right to left and if it is then swap out the style sheet with a different one. I will post an update if this approach changes after our UI developers take a look at it.

Right to Left

eSATA + Virtual Machines = Goodness

I am not sure if it is the norm or not, but I like to create a virtual machine image for each project I work on. Being a consultant, I am usually on a few projects at a time and at very least need to refer back to past projects. Having a development environment on a virtual machine for each client makes it easy to stay organized and keep things isolated from one another.

The base image that I use to clone has a base install with the necessary IIS components, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio 2010 with the settings just how I like them along with the plug-ins such as ReSharper in place. I also have my AHK script in place as well, because your AHK scripts on your host machine will not work when in your VM (they do work when you are remoted into a server however).

My disk space was getting pretty tight this week because I started a new client and I duplicated an existing clients environment so I can test out upgrading to Sitecore 6.5 while still keeping the 6.4 in place. So today I went out and bought a BlacX SATA HDD eSATA + USB 2.0 Docking Station and a 500 GB drive. I could have gone larger or even gone with a solid state drive but I didn’t want to shell out a lot just yet because I wasn’t sure how performance would be. I tried to run my VMs from a MyBook back in 2006 and it just wasn’t possible and I was a bit pesimistic.

Well after a day of developing, I can officially say, I like it a lot. It is actually a bit more responsive than when the image was on my host machine’s hard drive. I imagine this is due to the fact that the host and VM do not have to compete for attention from a single drive.

I will probably end up getting a second docking station for the office so I just have to carry the small 2.5 mobile hard drive with me when commuting to/from work. The one downside to this is, I won’t be able to code on the train because I will not have access to the external drive. I figure I can catch up on non-development tasks during my commute or if I need, I could keep a copy of one of my images on my laptop too and only use it when commuting (I will just need to remember to get latest/check-in to ensure the external image and local image are in synch).

Web.Config Transformations when Debugging

I am a big fan of the Web.Config Transformations that got introduced with a while back. Prior to them being inherently supported one could accomplish the same thing with part of the Enterprise Library, and prior to that one could leverage a custom MSBuild Task or the XMLPoke Task to get your web.config updated based on the environment it was targeting.

Having your configuration elements managed with a transform file makes it a bit easier to manage and keep track of your settings that could change based on environment or settings. Without this each developer on your team might need to create host entries and keep their folder structure the same to ensure the settings work for each of their machines. Another option is each team member just has their own configuration files with their specific settings that they need but when source control is introduced this can get tricky because one developer might be overwriting another’s settings.

Unfortunately, VS.Net doesn’t do any transforming when you are developing and just debugging your local environment. But there are some steps you can do to make this happen if you want.

  • First, create the configurations you want in VS.Net, assuming the default debug and release are not enough for what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Right click on you web.config and select Add Config Transforms – this will create a dependant transformation config for each of your configurations defined.
  • Now you can rename your web.config to web.base.config.
  • Add a web.config to your project. It doesn’t matter what is in it because it will get overwritten every time we do a build but we want it part of the project so VS.Net doesn’t give us the “Your Project isn’t configured for Debugging” pop-up.
  • Edit your .csproj Project File and add the following TransformXml task to the AfterBuild target. Here you can see I will be transforming the web.base.config file using the web.[configuration].config and it will save it as web.config.

For aesthetics, I renamed my transformation files to just web.[configuration].config instead of web.base.[configuration].config and updated the project file like below:


So the transformation files are nested under the web.base.config and the web.config doesn’t have any transformation files because it is the output not the input. Below you can see the setup I have so far for the Ergo project where my web.config would look quite different depending on if I am using Ektron or NHibernate as my data repository.


Unit Testing with an InMemory Database and NBuilder

I am throwing a lot of cycles to my Ergo project lately. I will go into more detail of the Ergo project later when it starts to take more shape and get some legs but one thing it is allowing me to do is get back to a true TDD project. A couple of cool things I have introduced to my unit tests are NBuilder and leveraging Fluent NHibernate and SQLite InMemory to make testing the NHibernate layer a bit easier.

When using NHibernate you generally only need to test 3 things:

  • The Properties are being persisted
  • Cascading works as expected
  • Queries return the correct results

By using an in memory SQLite database we can do this testing while keeping our unit tests nice and speedy. Below is my InMemoryDatabaseTest class that my unit tests can inherit from to test our NHibernate layer.

unit testing1

Now that we have our InMemoryDatabaseTest class setup, we can structure our unit tests like below. One nifty class I found today that you will see in the screenshot is the Builder class. This is from and So instead of having to create a new Page instance and populate it with a bunch of dummy data I can just use 1 line of code to new up a Page which I can then persist to the InMemory database and then use it to Assert against when I query.

unit testing2

Dev Magic Fake Framework Released

I have been playing around with this framework this weekend and it is really cool. It allows you to work in a particular layer of your application without having to make sure all the plumbing and the other layers are in place. I will post a more detailed blog entry in a few days but I wanted to get this out there now to get the word out.