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Improving accessibility with Betterer ☀️

· 4 min read

So, yesterday I announced the new release of ☀️ Betterer, thanks if you've checked it out already!

I wanted to write another post describing a different example, this time with a custom test instead of a built-in test! Let's take a look at how we can prevent accessibility regressions (and hopefully encourage improvements!) 👀

Betterer TL;DR#

Betterer is a test runner that helps make incremental improvements to your code! It is based upon Jest's snapshot testing, but with a twist...

Betterer works in two stages. The first time it runs a test, it will take a snapshot of the current state. From that point on, whenever it runs it will compare against that snapshot. It will either throw an error (if the test got worse ❌), or update the snapshot (if the test got better ✅). That's pretty much it!

Our first Betterer test#

Writing a test with Betterer involves implementing two functions! More formally, we need to implement the BettererTest type:

type BettererTest<ResultType> = {  test: () => ResultType | Promise<ResultType>;  constraint: (result: ResultType, expected: ResultType) => ResultType | Promise<ResultType>;};

So we need to write two functions:

  • test - the action that needs to happen to get a result,
  • constraint - the rule to apply to check if the result is better, worse or the same

We can implement these in their own file, or straight in the .betterer.ts file. To keep it simple, we'll do the latter:

// .betterer.tsexport default {  'improve accessibility': {    test: ...?,    constraint: ...?  }};

Writing the test#

To implement our test, we're going to use Puppeteer and Axe. Puppeteer is a tool that will run a browser and load a page. Axe is a set of accessibility audits that we can run over a web page. We're also going to use Axe Puppeteer which makes it a bit easier to use Axe with Puppeteer.

Lucky for us, we can take the example straight from the Axe Puppeteer documentation! 😍

We launch Puppeteer, get the page that it creates for us and navigate to a website. Then we execute Axe and get the results. Next, we close the page and the browser, before finally returning the number of violations! 🤓

import { AxePuppeteer } from 'axe-puppeteer';import * as puppeteer from 'puppeteer';
async function improveAccessibility() {  const browser = await puppeteer.launch();  const [page] = await browser.pages();
  await page.goto('');  const results = await new AxePuppeteer(page).analyze();
  await page.close();  await browser.close();
  return results.violations.length;}

That's our test sorted!

Writing the constraint#

Now what about the constraint? Since our test returns a number, we just need to compare the two results. We want our test to improve when the result is smaller, so the constraint should look something like this:

import { ConstraintResult } from '@betterer/constraint';
function constraint(result: number, expected: number): ConstraintResult {  if (current === previous) {    return ConstraintResult.same;  }  if (current < previous) {    return ConstraintResult.better;  }  return ConstraintResult.worse;}

Comparing numbers is fairly common, so we can use the pre-defined smaller or bigger constraints:

import { smaller } from '@betterer/constraint';

So I kind of lied, you can write a test with just one function! 😅

The whole thing#

Putting it all together, we have our test:

// .betterer.tsimport { smaller } from '@betterer/constraint';import { AxePuppeteer } from 'axe-puppeteer';import * as puppeteer from 'puppeteer';
export default {  'improve accessibility': {    async test() {      const browser = await puppeteer.launch();      const [page] = await browser.pages();
      await page.goto('');      const results = await new AxePuppeteer(page).analyze();
      await page.close();      await browser.close();
      return results.violations.length;    },    constraint: smaller  }};

How's that look? Not bad I reckon! Betterer will run the test for us and update the test snapshot whenever the results get better. That will help make sure that our audit score only goes in the right direction.

This test isn't perfect - you may noticed that it doesn't matter what the violations are, but how many there are! That's something that we could improve later! For now it will stop us introducing more audit violations, which is a good start ⭐️⭐️⭐️

We could improve this test by keeping track of the specific violations that occurred, so we can have a clearer definition of what better or worse really is, but let's leave that for another day!

That's it!#

That's all I got for now. Please let me know what you think on Twitter! 🦄