Category Archives: Tips

Little tips, hints, comments, which could help others in one way or another.

Social media tags can enhance your posts and increase your reach

Social Media Tags … Part of working as an agile tester in a News environment is taking care, that the features, which impacts the spread and reach of the news articles are working, so as not to lose out on readers and followers.

So whenever we have a new article type or sharing feature, I check the visual appearance on other social media like Facebook or Twitter.

If the visuals are missing or look weird, I check the source code of the news article and check, if the needed meta tags are present.

Here is an example where the different tags are set.

Social Media Tags in page source
Social Media Tags in page source


What is the business problem?

Since a few years I am also part of an editor team (together with @dnlkntt, @Lalitbhamare,@dirkmeissner) for a testing related XING News page.

We posts testing news, interesting blog posts, conference CfP, etc.

As with other social media outlets, we use a preview of the news to show it upfront to the user. This teaser is an important trigger for users to click on an article.

This preview is generated by social media tags included in the page source of a website.

Quite often I come across blogs, which don’t include these, which results in a preview like this.

Here is an example of the visual difference:

Social media tags missing and present
Social media tags missing and present

And even in the image on the right side I could have done a better job and choose a better preview image. ๐Ÿ™‚

The less attractive and informative an information is (sic!), the less likely it is, that users will click on it and get to the valuable information.


What is the technical problem of social media tags?

Different social media outlets use different tags and formats, so to have a good reach, the writer needs to consider them.

Twitter is using their own tags (twitter cards), while Facebook and other media use the OpenGraph tags (there might be others, but so far these seems the most common ones).

Twitter: “With Twitter Cards, you can attach rich photos, videos and media experiences to Tweets, helping to drive traffic to your website.”
(Technical information)

Facebook: “We want all websites– and in particular news sites, magazines, blogs, and other media sites– to easily reach their existing fans and grow their fan base.”
(Technical information)

XING : (Technical information)


What is the (a) solution?

Use the social media tags which is used by the social media, where your audience is most likely to be found.

Depending on the tool you use to write, there might be different ways to include them.

For example, on WordPress there are plugins, from “Yeast SEO” and “Open Graph” to dedicated “Twitter”, which all provide the functionality.

What if you have a blog post, where there is no image?
You can set a default image, maybe from your start page or somewhere different.


Back to Testing
Now that you know some more background of these meta tags, you can also use that knowledge to test them in your products, when you are sharing to social media.

There are even tools outside, which can give you a quick insight, without the need to crawl through the page source.

OpenGraph: Just paste the URL of the article into OpenGraphCheck to see, which tags are present.

Twitter Card: Just paste the URL of the article into Card Validator to see, which tags are present.

Facbeook: Just paste the URL of the article into Dev Tool to see, which tags are present.


How to incorporate your ears to check log files

Today my irritation level was high enough to act. What happened?

While working on some Capybara tests, I was switching forth and back between the editor, the browser and the logfile terminal on the 2nd monitor to investigate if errors showed up in the log file.

If you ever tailed a file on a Linux system, you might have seen, that the log file is moving quite fast in your terminal window. Even on font size 6 its not easy to catch a certain ERROR label.

Opening a huge file and searching within is also not a pleasure and tedious, so that was also not an option for me.


I remembered theย Log-Watch tool from James Bach, which plays a sound file everytime a customizable word/phrase is found in a log file.

Alas, my work computer was not Windows based.

Would it not be nice, if there was such a tool for Macintosh?

A quick question into Slacks tool channel and Richard Bradshaw (@friendlyTester) had a solution at hand.

It basically combines the feature of the “tail” command to continously display the last entries of a given file on the screen with the “grep” command, which searches the input files for lines containing a match to a given pattern list and finally plays a sound file via afplay, if the pattern is found.


tail -f <path-to-log-file> | grep --line-buffered โ€˜<Pattern to listen to>' | while read line; do afplay <path-to-local-sound-file>/test.wav; done


Richard also has a blog post up, which contains also a link into his Github repository.

Next level

That command is working locally. But the log files I use daily are on a remote server, a sandbox in my case. There are no sound files, no audio player and even it there were, its of no use, if it beeps in the server room. Might scare some admins, if it randomly beeps though.

Plus I also don’t want to install stuff on the sandbox. We delete them on a regular base and make new ones. Installing stuff would be another preparation step, which costs time.

I was wondering, if it was possible to use my local Macintosh files and hardware and started to adjust the above solution.

Command for remote files

ssh <user@remoteserver> 'tail -f <path-to-log-file>' | grep --line-buffered โ€˜<Pattern to listen to>' | while read line; do afplay <path-to-local-sound-file>/test.wav; done

This combined the command with the feature to log into remote machines via ssh.


The Benny Hill theme

Thanks to @simonk the tool channel probably had an earworm for the rest of the day, cause he brought up the Benny Hill theme.

Anyone not familiar, click on play here.


Lessons Learned for me

First, we are a global, intensively knowledgable community. As so often in development, someone somewhere might had the same obstacle and can help you out. Or s/he has the right skills to solve your problem. This was an exercise in tester pairing btw.

So reach out and connect. It can only be a win win situation.


Second, if something troubles / irritates you enough, it might be worth to investigate and automate it.

Yes, it can be called automation. We created a small line of code to help us in our testing work.


Third, remember that we have more senses in our portfolio than “just” our eyes, to watch what the software is doing.

The blink heuristic relies on your visual sense as well.

While smell has become a little out of fashion, even that was used before (Smoke Test anyone?).

If you are in mobile testing, the tactile sense is useful, e.g. when your battery becomes warmer, than you expect.



I used this command the whole afternoon, while testing and listening to music.

Believe me, the sound file you choose will be heard, even with music on, cause it is also a kind of blink heuristic for your ears. It sticks out.

This will give you an additional layer of information in your testing, because you can now make use of two senses instead of one.

The whole “development” might have taken maybe like 30 minutes and I am quite sure, it already has paid off.