Every new potential project requires a lot of attention in order to win it. Our Solution Engineering team could tell. From time to time, my experience in software testing is called into play, and not infrequently we want to build a superb and robust solution while completely forgetting about solutions that are so close to us that we are just too blind to see them.
A few weeks ago, I was asked whether I knew any tool that could help reviewers to go through screenshots. The idea was simple: you have two sets of screenshots in two folders. The screenshot names are the same; one folder contains the original version and another contains the localized version.
The request was for a tool that could go through both folders and display both screenshots simultaneously, moving to the next screenshot with a single click.
That sounded simple, so I believed that there would be dozens of such tools, open source, free to use. I spent almost two hours on Google and found NOTHING. I tried everything – from tiny tools to some robust graphic-QA-freaking-whatever, yet no luck. The tools were usually able to perform very sophisticated analyses of the screenshots, display visual differences and other advanced features, but the main functionality – to browse two folders with one click – was simply not there.
Was it possible that I was the only person on Earth who ever needed to visually compare two screenshots?
I contacted senior engineers inside Moravia and they suggested an elegant way to partially address the problem. The approach was to semi-automatically rename files so that the localized screenshot could be viewed right after the original one in a regular image browser. The proposal has already been delivered to our client by then and an alternative solution was submitted. But for me, finding a screenshot comparison solution became a matter of honor.
Later, at home, I posted a question to a discussion forum asking for advice. Within ten minutes, I received an e-mail with a simple HTML file saying “It is too easy to build an application for this. Here, I made this HTML for you.”
It was true! The solution supports all common image formats, takes up only 3kB and simply works! All I had to do was to translate it into English and make up a cool name (which I understand is the most important part of the whole thing).
The main message from this experience is that you should always go back to basics when addressing challenges. We are so massaged by the IT pace that we tend to look for solutions with words like “server, framework, SharePoint…” and automatically ignore knowledge that has been with us for many years.