Diving Into the Web Platform Tests

An illustration of a line of dinosaurs marching forwardIllustration by Sue Lockwood

At Bocoup, we hold strong convictions about the social significance of the web platform. We want to see it expand, and we want to make sure that it remains open in all senses as it grows. Following the lead of Philippe Le Hegaret of the W3C (and in collaborations with the folks at WHATWG), we’re framing web standards as a combination of three equally important components: specifications, tests, and implementations. We began in 2015, tackling the JavaScript runtime by modernizing the Test262 test suite. Through that work, we experienced the impact that automated conformance testing can have on platform compatibility. This year, we’re starting a new effort for browsers and the web by contributing to the Web Platform Tests project (a.k.a “WPT”).

So what is this WPT project all about? It’s a community-led effort “to build a cross-browser test suite for the web-platform stack.” This might sound straightforward enough, but have you ever tried to take in the whole platform at once? It can feel a little like seeing the ocean for the first time. It’s massive, it moves constantly, and you just know it’s full ofbeautiful andhorriblethings. Any attempt to test that expanse shouldn’t be taken lightly.

We started back in January, and while the effort has been both stimulating and satisfying, it’s really just the beginning. We have plenty in the works for expanding these efforts, and we’re actively recruiting more organizations to work with. We can only be successful if every browser implementer engages with the project.

So far, thanks to funding from Google and Mozilla, we’ve made strides in the contributor workflow, test suite stability, browser correctness, and test coverage for features like WebDriver,Service Workers andnavigation. This has given us the opportunity to contribute to a number of open source projects beyond WPT itself, and (just like with Test262),we’re documenting that work with a public wiki page.

If the web platform really is like the sea, then you might argue that the challenge of WPT is tantamount to boiling the ocean. We’re in this for the long haul, though, and after just two months of work, we’re more optimistic than ever about what we can achieve.

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