Deque FireEyes accessibility testing plugin

I’ve done a lot of accessibility testing and development work over my career. One of the many free tools that I use in that role is FireEyes. Deque also has some commercial packages for developer use.

FireEyes adds a new tab on the Firebug tab bar and adds the ability to analyze a web site for WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA and Section 508 accessibility violations. The Stand-Alone version of FireEyes is a browser plugin to the FireFox browser. It requires that the FireBug plugin already be installed


  • Firefox 31-41

    As of 2015aug21, the current version of the extension is NOT signed and will not execute on later versions. [See my later post on this topic]

  • FireBug 2.x – Do NOT install Firebug v3 alpha as the tab will not show.

NOTE: should be on Firebug tab labeled “Worldspace Fireyes”, but does not seem to be available in Firebug3.

NOTE: if you try to download in MSIE, you must rename the .zip to .xpi, and then open with Firefox.


Load Testing web application with Selenium and TestNG

I’ve used Selenium for while to do verification tests of web applications, recently I discovered a very simple way to use it with TestNG and Maven to do some performance testing. TestNG allows for the use of annotations to allow multi-threading and iterations.



And as for a simple test to get started with… scripting of steps is available online or could be in a future blog post.

package com.example.selenium;

import org.openqa.selenium.WebDriver;
import org.openqa.selenium.WebDriverException;
import org.openqa.selenium.firefox.FirefoxDriver;
import org.slf4j.Logger;
import org.slf4j.LoggerFactory;
import org.testng.Assert;
import org.testng.annotations.BeforeClass;
import org.testng.annotations.Test;
* Simple test example for Selenium
public class SeleniumTest {

private static final Logger LOGGER = LoggerFactory.getLogger(SeleniumTest.class);
* TODO Un-comment or change if needed to set your local path!
public void oneTimeSetUp() {
System.out.println("-------------------------------------- init ----------------------------------------");
* NOTE: uses TestNG - behaves differently than JUnit
@Test(invocationCount = 1, threadPoolSize = 5)
public void testLoadApp() {

final String fn = "testLoadApp";
final String baseUrl = "";
LOGGER.debug("[START] Thread Id: {} is started!", Thread.currentThread().getId());

WebDriver driver = null;
final long start = System.currentTimeMillis();
driver = (WebDriver)new FirefoxDriver();

final String actual = driver.getTitle();
LOGGER.debug("Page Title is {}", actual);
final String expected = "GIANTGEEK.COM";
//perform whatever actions, like login, submit form or navigation

}catch(final WebDriverException ex){
}catch(final Exception ex){
finally {
final long elapsed = System.currentTimeMillis() - start;
LOGGER.debug("[END] Thread Id: {}, elapsed={}", Thread.currentThread().getId(),elapsed);
if(driver != null){

WARNING: Selenium Tests MAY fail if the browser used for testing is updated in the Operating System. Updating the pom.xml to a newer release usually helps!


Yandex Search Engine

While “Google” may be ubiquitous with “search” for most users in the United States and much of the world, there are still several other strong contenders that many people know nothing about. One such example, from Russia, is Yandex.

Getting your website indexed by this search engine is easy.

  1. Visit the webmaster website at
  2. Register for an account, you can use single-sign-on from many social media websites such as Facebook, Google or Twitter.
  3. Click “Add Site” or “Add URL”
  4. Enter your domain name and submit
  5. There are several methods provided, easiest to implement is usually ‘txt’ file, as you can execute a Linux/Unix command line “touch” to create the empty file on the server as needed.
  6. Verify that your site is now linked to your account
  7. Site indexing can take a while, if it is not already indexed, in the meantime you can now modify some information about your domain(s).


Maven build script for replacement of text in web.xml (and others)

Automated replacement of BUILD_LABEL token in web.xml <description> with Maven. For JAR’s the replacement is commented out, but can be any file.

NOTE: This proves to be rather difficult to do because of the way that Maven copies resources as it’s building the WAR. The most reliable manner I’ve found (so far) is below, it works by making a .tmp copy of the web.xml in a different path and then later uses it in the WAR.


Most importantly, you will want to have this token in the web.xml file for replacement, the description line is best used for this as such:

<description>ExampleWAR [BUILD_LABEL]</description>

during the build, that value would be replaced to something like:

<description>ExampleWAR [Maven-20141015-1700]</description>


Ant build script for replacement of text in web.xml (and others)

Automated replacement of BUILD_LABEL in web.xml <description> with Ant. For JAR’s the replacement is commented out, but can be any file

<replace file="${webapp.dir}/WEB-INF/web.xml" token="BUILD_LABEL" value="Ant-${DSTAMP}-${TSTAMP}" />
<war destfile="${jar.dir}/${}.war" webxml="${webapp.dir}/WEB-INF/web.xml" compress="true">

Most importantly, you will want to have this token in the web.xml file for replacement, the description line is best used for this as such:

<description>ExampleWAR [BUILD_LABEL]</description>

during the build, that value would be replaced to something like:

<description>ExampleWAR [Ant-20141015-1700]</description>



If you support code for multiple java application servers, you might eventually encounter a file named:


JBoss uses this file to control the path of the web application, whereas Tomcat generally uses the filename of the WAR itself.

Usually, the contents are pretty sparse, you might consider adding one to your projects should you ever wish to deploy them on JBoss:


NOTE: There are several other attributes that can find their way into this file for JBoss, notably security configuration, like JAAS.

WARNING: Unfortunately, I’ve tried to add a simple DOCTYPE jboss-web and XML preamble to this, file to make it validate, but the server (JBoss 5.1.x) fails to recognize them.


Older versions of Apache Tomcat, as well as the older servlet specifications required that several configuration values need to be set. With servlet 3, you can now modify the name of the session cookie (as well as the ‘rewriting’ attribute name) in the web.xml file

In web.xml: (servlet 3.x)

<name>mysessionid</name><!-- default is jsessionid -->
<!-- secure>true</secure-->

Alternately for Tomcat7, modify TOMCAT_HOME\conf\context.xml:
<Context path="/exampleApp" sessionCookieName="myid">

If you are using spring security, then you should try setting disable-url-rewriting attribute of <http> element to true.


Problems uploading/deploying large WAR’s to Tomcat7?

I’ve run into this a few times as my web applications got larger. Often this has been seen when builds automated by Jenkins start failing as they increase in size. It has also occurred to me when doing manual deployments as the Jenkins WAR itself is larger than 50MB lately.

Let’s just go in and increase the maximum expected file size…

This change should work on any platform, but the following is from my experience with Ubuntu.

sudo vi /opt/tomcat7/webapps/manager/WEB-INF/web.xml

Default is:

<!-- 50MB -->

Change to something a bit larger (to your liking):

<!-- 50MB max 62428800, 100MB = 104857600 -->

Restart with either…
sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat7 restart
sudo service tomcat7 restart

Name based virtual hosting with Apache2 on Ubuntu

I often find it necessary to setup a temporary server for testing web applications. The easiest way to support this is often to create an integration (beta) test server that can be configured to support multiple hosts.

Initial Installation:

sudo apt-get install apache2
sudo a2enmod proxy
sudo a2enmod proxy_http
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo chmod 755 /var/www

To add a new site:

cd /etc/apache2/sites-available
sudo cp 000-default.conf
sudo vi
(change values as appropriate)
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/
sudo chmod 755 /var/www
sudo vi /var/www/
(add some fluff)
sudo chown -R YOURUSER:YOURGROUP /var/www/
sudo a2ensite
sudo service apache2 reload
sudo service apache2 restart

NOTE: replace YOURUSER and YOURGROUP with appropriate values for your server.

Free website uptime monitoring

Regardless if you host your own websites, or pay to have them hosted elsewhere, up-time, availability and network performance metrics are important to your visiting guests.

Here are two free services that I’ve found useful for monitoring, notification and reporting.

BTW, you can even use these to watch competitors or sites that you frequent.