In last week's session of Lifeblue University, LB's Tech Specialist, Chad Davis, schooled the team on a couple different methods of 'cloning yourself' for the sake of testing a website. These practices serve to present a single user as multiple or new users, and while they can be helpful in simplifying the testing process, they can serve non-testing related purposes as well, as Chad explains. 'Cloning your virtual self' allows you as a tester or user to'in a virtual sense'pretend that you are someone else for a second. This is achieved through methods that allow the user to be under different accounts simultaneously on the same website. And why would this be useful? For testers, it creates an environment in which they can test features, like shopping carts, under multiple users. In the example of online shopping carts, cloning yourself lets you to fill up your cart and check out multiple times, each time as a different user, without undertaking the laborious talk of emptying the cart and having to back out to restart the process each time. While systems operate to present each person on each computer as one user at one time'even in separate windows or new tabs'Chad provides two methods of overcoming this obstacle to simplify the testing process: private browsing and what he calls the 'Gmail+ trick.' Private BrowsingPrivate browsing is a feature that was developed to give a certain amount of privacy to users regarding their web searches and site history on their computers. The feature's ability to open new windows with no pre-existing cookies intact allows users to present themselves and new and different to a website, which makes it possible for a single user to be logged into separate accounts simultaneously. While most browsers have private browsing capabilities, Chad subscribes to the opinion that Google Chrome and Internet Explorer perform this task best. Browsers like Firefox and Safari tend to handle it a bit differently and can prove to be slightly more complex in their private browsing set-up.
The Gmail+ Trick The second cloning technique, the Gmail+ trick, simply involves logging in with a Google Gmail address that attaches a plus sign followed by any word or words to the end of the email address but proceeding the '@' symbol. So for example, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, you could login as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and be recognized as a different user without having to set up a separate email account. This feature, which is unique to Gmail only, cannot only be used for testing purposes but personal as well. It allows users to have multiple email accounts with which they can assign to different categories of online activity. So through this practice, you could create a email@example.com account through which you receive all bank or financially related emails or a firstname.lastname@example.org account that is used for all social media logins and correspondence. All accounts created by adding a plus sign and additional words will still be forwarded to the original email@example.com root account. This allows users to also have the ability to identify the origin of email spam by referring to Gmail+ address to which it was sent and to whom that address was given. Multiple email addresses also provides the opportunity to have multiple login accounts on most sites without having to set up each email separately.