They Test Web Sites, Don’t They?

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They Test Web Sites, Don't They?
D. Geller - June 7, 2000

Event Summary

RSW Software, Inc., a business unit of test equipment giant Teradyne, Inc. (NYSE: TER), makes software that supports the testing of websites. Their lead product, the e-TEST suite, allows users to capture into a recorded "script file" the commands that they use to interact with a website. The script file can later be played back to perform regression testing. The same scripts can also be used for automatic monitoring and for load testing. The latest version of the software, e-TEST suite 4.2, can also test Web applications that use Java applets. It also offers Web-based reporting tools and supports double-byte character sets.

The company also introduced a new product, EJB-test. This product makes it possible to test middle tier applications based on Enterprise JavaBeans. The application can automatically inspect the functionality and performance of EJBs as individual components, as a group of components or as an entire EJB application to determine its calling interface, and from that develop a program that feeds data to the application and examines the results.

Since EJB-test is used primarily to test scalability, it has the capability of generating a range of values within the acceptable limits and of running many concurrent versions of the test. While EJB-test cannot determine which values will best exercise the application, an engineer can, if necessary, alter this test program to ensure that more appropriate inputs are generated?

Market Impact

There is a desperate need for tools that make testing Web applications easy. Unfortunately, when people talk about developing "in Internet time" this usually means that they don't have time to test. Too frequently, and not just with Internet applications, companies "release" software so that users can do the testing. Often "Web testing" is more than likely employed just for performance testing, tests for broken links often comes in second. Scriptable testing is important, but has been frequently viewed as too hard or too difficult.

e-TEST doesn't do everything, but it is easy to set up and can automate much of the regression testing that sites should do. That the same set of scripts can be used for functional/regression testing and for performance testing is an added benefit.

The EJB-test product is one of those good ideas that people were talking about twenty years ago but, because technology at that time didn't support exposing interfaces the way Enterprise JavaBeans and other object oriented systems do, was never commercially viable. Success on RSW's part will certainly be followed by imitators and, possibly more important in the long run, copycats for the Microsoft COM/COM+ technologies.

User Recommendations

Web sites are exceedingly fragile. Testing is even required for static sites, because problems can be introduced when content is changed. Once dynamic pages are added there is even more opportunity for problems to arise. No testing tools will detect the really interesting problems - the ones that keep the crack developers up all night - but they can eliminate the really embarrassing ones. At a starting cost of under $5,000 it's easy to justify the purchase of e-TEST - and with a free downloadable seven-day trial copy you can determine whether the product does the job before considering whether to purchase it.

EJB-test is a more narrowly targeted product, of interest only to companies that do substantial JavaBeans development. But the principle, of testing middleware components before applications are loaded on them is a good one, and as studies have shown repetitively, the earlier an error is caught during the construction of a large system the lower the overall cost of the system will be.

EJB-test also offers a free trial, and we don't see how anyone involved in developing or customizing middleware built with JaveBeans can avoid giving it a download. In fact, companies considering the use of EJB may consider it a better option now that EJB-test is available.

Looking forward, the likelihood that RSW Software (probability 90%) or someone else (probability 100%) will bring out similar tools for Microsoft-centric development should make a lot of project managers happy.

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