Modularizing Descriptive Programming in QTP

In a previous post, I talked about how I prefer the choice of descriptive programming in terms of my QTP logic for recognizing objects. Descriptive Programming (DP) is a specific approach that QTP makes possible for constructing your recognition strings programmatically. Anyone who has had to modify SilkTest frame files or create XPath-based locators for Selenium will quickly realize that “descriptive programming” is really just a name that QTP has given to what many tools already make possible. In fact, it’s the Object Repository (OR) — the alternative approach in QTP — that tends to be a value-add of QTP beyond other tools, at least for some people.

In any event, my previous post was a little skimpy on specific details so here I’ll look at a specific example of modularizing some test logic using the descriptive approach in QTP.

First, here’s the basis of DP in terms of syntax:

ClassName("property:=value", "property:=value", "property:=value")

Basically you have a class name (indicating a kind of object) and a series of key value pairs, where the key is a property that is exposed by the application and that can be read by QTP for a given object. The above is essentially a description in QTP. You connect a series of such descriptions (corresponding to different objects) and form a hierarchical tree. You can then add an “event” to the tree. To QTP an event is an action you take on an object. The idea is that you perform actions on child objects by accessing their object hierarchies.

With that, here’s a slightly refined basis in terms of syntax:


Basic Example

So here’s a specific and very basic example of how this looks for some objects.

That’s a fairly easy way to get the information you need but you’ll note that it’s not very modularized at all.

Variation 1 – Description Objects

You can create object descriptions which allow you to essentially encapsulate all the property information in a “friendly name,” which you can think of as an identifier that hides the details of how that identifier manages to uniquely identify the object in question.

First you’d create some objects:

Now you can assign property information to these description objects:

You can then refer to your objects as such:

Variation 2 – Object Classes

You can also hide many of these details in a class. Then instantiate that class and run methods on it. Here’s an example:

Then make sure you create a new object of that class:

In that case, with the above structure being created, it means the above commands simply become this:

Comparison of Approaches

Here you can consider the different ways the descriptive programming can be used based on how encapsulated it is within other logic.

No Modularity Approach

“Friendly Name” Modularity Approach

Object Class Modularity Approach

I like that you can do this kind of thing in QTP with Descriptive Programming because you can start to build up a Test Specification Language (TSL), which is sort of like a Domain Specific Language (DSL) but focused on testing an application. This kind of approach can be done with the Object Repository but I’ve found it to be much more cumbersome and, in fact, it’s simply not what an OR-based approach is built for.

My goal here was to give you a practical example of why I like a descriptive programming approach. Please note, however, that this is an approach that you can take with most tools that allow you to programmatically define selectors and/or locators. The reason I call it out for QTP is simply because many testers are not aware of this since they tend to get indoctrinated into the Object Repository approach fairly quickly.


This article was written by Jeff Nyman

Anything I put here is an approximation of the truth. You're getting a particular view of myself ... and it's the view I'm choosing to present to you. If you've never met me before in person, please realize I'm not the same in person as I am in writing. That's because I can only put part of myself down into words. If you have met me before in person then I'd ask you to consider that the view you've formed that way and the view you come to by reading what I say here may, in fact, both be true. I'd advise that you not automatically discard either viewpoint when they conflict or accept either as truth when they agree.

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