A Node.js library for testing web applications using WebDriver and ARIA
WAI-ARIA and WebDriver are two distinct web standards with highly similar goals: they both aim to enable machine-mediated interaction with web pages. In the case of ARIA, the machine is some Assistive Technology (e.g. a screen reader or a braille display), and it enables a person with a disability to effectively browse the web. In the case of WebDriver, the machine is a script written by a web developer, and it enables the developer to verify the correctness of their work.
.--------------. | Application | +----------. | Developer --> page objects ---> WebDriver -->| HTML | | +------. | | User ---------> Asssive Technology --------->| ARIA | | | '------+---+---'
The differences in the paths used by developers and users to access web applications cause a number of problems. Web developers have little insight into the correctness of their application from the perspective of a visitor using Assistive Technology. Instead, they typically build a separate layer to facilitate testing, comprised of so-called "page objects". This layer commonly circumvents the patterns used by Assistive Technology. Maintaining it is a drain on their time and attention, and it only indirectly benefits the people who use the application (i.e. by enabling a limited form of testing).
The goal of the AriaDriver project is to converge the paths that developers and users take to reach web applications. By giving developers a more wholistic view into their own applications, AriaDriver can help web authors create more accessible applications. By implementing accessible user interface patterns, AriaDriver can also reduce the need for custom testing logic and improve test stability.
.--------------. | Application | +----------. | Developer -------> AriaDriver -------. | HTML | | \ +------. | | User ---------> Asssive Technology --------->| ARIA | | | '------+---+---'
Although a Node.js library such as this may be useful for some developers, its benefits could be magnified through standardization. If the API offered by this library were instead defined as "commands" in the W3C WebDriver specification, then:
- future enhancements could be wholistically designed by the experts who contribute to the relevant standards, that is: the Browser Testing and Tools Working Group and the Web Accessibility Initiative
- the practice of accessibility-driven testing would be recognized by more developers and (thanks to the language-agnostic design of the WebDriver protocol) usable from more projects
- operations would be more efficient because fewer instructions would have to be sent "over the wire" of the WebDriver protocol
Copyright 2017 Mike Pennisi under the GNU General Public License v3.0