On my current project, an ecommerce application (read: online store), I have to create lots of fake user accounts, and send lots of fake emails, then check the emails, rinse, and repeat. I find that my creativity only lasts so long in this regard (how many iterations of “Joe Blow” can you come up with?). To that end, I’ve been using a few tools, especially the Fake Name Generator. It gives you all the information you need for a test identity, even things like a “mother’s maiden name” and a credit card number that fits the standard test configuration. This kind of realistic data is especially good to use in a system you may occasionally need to demo to customers or users – the various rude names that you can come up with on your own seem funny to you, but maybe not so much to them. 😉
The Fake Name Generator gets around the email issue by suggesting email addresses at temporary email services. I’ve started using these more and more for testing as well. As long as the contents of the emails I’m sending aren’t sensitive or proprietary, I generally use these “disposable” email services now without worry. You can basically make up an email address at their server on the spot, then log in and check it. The “account” gets automatically deleted after a short period of time. This is also a great way to avoid spammy email lists from registering at various sites, or when someone you don’t really want to hear from asks you for your email address.
Here’s a list of just a few of them:
Mailinator: one of the first that I became aware of. Works well, and will even suggest a random email address for you, if you can’t think of something on the spot.
Trashymail: just found this one today, a service from MyTrashMail.
Dodgit: One of the best, in my opinion. I love the streamlined interface. All that white space is so Web 2.0!
A fourth service that I looked at earlier today, Pookmail, doesn’t seem to work at all. I never was able to retrieve any of the emails that I sent to my made-up pookmail.com addresses. Too bad, as their site also looks nice and streamlined.