tips

Simon tip: automatic offline support

One "hidden" feature of Simon is how it handles the situation when your computer loses its internet connection.

People sometimes ask me what Simon does in this situation, concerned that it would count as a failure for tests. Simon is smarter than that, though. Every time it starts a check, it first checks if the computer has a current internet connection, and only then performs the check.

If it determines that your internet connection has been disrupted, it places the test in an "offline" state, where it shows a blinking "lightning bolt" for the status icon until the connection is restored. This offline state doesn't count as a failure (or success).

Simon works out if you have a connection by seeing if it can resolve one of two popular domain names; if either work, your connection is probably fine, but if both fail, it is likely disconnected. Using two domains avoids a temporary outage of either one.

From version 2.3 onwards, you can disable this internet connection check on a per-test basis via the new Can check when offline checkbox in the Edit Test Checking Options. This is useful if you want to create a test to notify you when your connection goes down, or for tests that don't require an internet connection (e.g. using the Application or Script service plug-ins).

Test Options

Caboodle tip: alias a file instead of copy it

A quick tip for Caboodle, from the FAQ:

Normally when you drag a file into a Caboodle entry it copies it, allowing you to delete the original. But often you want to keep the original in place too, and want to avoid bloating Caboodle's data with large files (or folders).

The solution is to hold down the Control () key when dragging the file or folder to the Caboodle entry: the mouse pointer will change to include an alias symbol instead of the green plus. It will then make an alias (link) to the original. Then when you double-click on the file (or view it inline for images and PDFs), the original will open. Of course, in this case you shouldn't move or delete the original file.

Simon tip: shortcut for entering test URLs

The Web (HTTP) service is the most popular one for tests. So I thought I'd share a helpful tip with adding them.

When entering the URL, you can use very minimal text, and Simon will fill in the remainder when you click OK. It automatically adds the default protocol ("http://") and the "www." and ".com" if necessary.

For example, if you type "apple" (without the quotes), it will be saved as "http://www.apple.com/". Similarly, entering "dejal/simon" will end up as "http://www.dejal.com/simon/".

Web (HTTP) test

Simon tip: notify via email

I recently received a question from a potential customer, asking whether Simon has the ability to send a notification via email.

Although I do mention it in a number of places, this wasn't an unreasonable question, particularly if you just download Simon and start playing with it, as no email options appear in the list of available notifiers in the Edit Test window by default.

Why is this? Because unlike the Speech and Sound notifier plug-ins, the Email one requires some configuration before it can be used, so it can't be offered by default.

The way notifiers work is (I hope) pretty intuitive, but a little indirect. Simon provides a number of notifier plug-ins that do the work of notifications, and you configure notifiers to use those plug-ins, then choose notifiers for each test.

These levels of abstraction allow easy re-use of notifiers: a single plug-in can be used by multiple notifiers, and a single notifier can be used by multiple tests, without having to set up the same things over and over again.

For example, you can add an email notifier to yourself for some failures, another email notifier to your clients for other failures, another one for recoveries, and so on, and use whichever ones of those are desired in tens or hundreds of tests, as required, as simply as choosing them from a pop-up menu.

Test Notifiers

So, as I said, there is no email notifier set up by default, since it needs configuration, but you can easily add one. If you're editing a test and realize that you want to receive an email or SMS when this test changes, fails, and/or recovers, you can click the New Notifier... button in the Notifiers section of the Edit Test window, which will open the New Notifier window. You can then choose E-mail from the Notifier Kind pop-up menu, and the controls below will change to those for the email plug-in:

Email Notifier plug-in

You can then configure the email, and save the notifier, which will be available for that test and any others you want to use it in. Easy!

Simon tip: detect unacceptable changes

Simon's Smart Change Detection feature looks for the text in the Start text box, then the End text, then compares the text between those two against what it had the last time it checked.

This is useful to detect changes in a portion of the page, but can also be used to detect unacceptable changes.

The usual way to do that is to just provide a Start text block, and not an End one. Then if the Start text isn't found, that is a failure.

So for example, if you do a telnet Script-based check, you'd want it to be considered a success only if this is output:

Escape character is '^]'

So you'd put that in the Start text block, and leave the End block empty.

Then if that text isn't found (as would occur if telnet couldn't connect to the server), Simon will log a failure.

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