Web Testing Tools Put to the Test

 
 
By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2004-06-07 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Web application testing tools help IT managers gauge performance in increasingly complex environments. eWEEK Labs' evaluation of three testing suites reveals diverse features.

With the introduction of new applications and development platforms, enterprise Web infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex. Web testing tools will help IT managers assess server performance under anticipated loads and perform capacity planning tasks, but finding the right tool to fit an enterprises testing requirements can be a challenge.

eWEEK Labs evaluated three Web application testing suites that offer similar core testing capabilities: Empirix Inc.s e-Test Suite 6.8, Segue Software Inc.s SilkPerformer 6.5 Enterprise Edition and Compuware Corp.s QACenter Performance Edition 5.1. However, each suite provides a vastly different feature set.

Segue Softwares SilkPerformer is the most expensive product we tested, but it provides an impressive array of testing tools packaged with an intuitive user interface and built-in automation capabilities. It also supports a wide range of technologies and enterprise applications.

Empirixs e-Test Suite offers smooth script-creation capabilities using open standards and has a relatively low price.

Compuwares QACenter offers a flexible licensing structure, allowing companies with tighter budgets to set up shared-resource pools for a more cost-effective use of the virtual user license.

A good Web testing tool should ease script creation. IT buyers should look for a system with an intuitive UI and for workflow management capabilities that will guide nonprogrammers through scripting and debugging.

The built-in test-automation capabilities of the products we tested wont eliminate the need for a dedicated test staff or quality assurance engineers, but they will generate large test loads while automating data collection and reporting. This will increase productivity, save time and improve test repeatability.

To make it possible to perform end-to-end testing across every aspect of the enterprise application infrastructure, a tool must be able to support a large portfolio of application environments, Web services and development frameworks. Of the products we tested, SilkPerformer leads the pack in this area, while e-Test Suite is a close second.

Customizable workloads that emulate real-life client actions will ensure that Web applications can handle realistic load conditions. Most test suites, including the ones we evaluated, allow connection speeds to be tweaked, realistically limiting the upload and download speeds of multiple connections and different browser emulations.

Strong data analysis and reporting capabilities will shorten test cycles and allow IT administrators to manage data more efficiently. Root-cause analysis and data-correlation capabilities enable testers to pin down problems and fix bottlenecks quickly.

A test suite also must be able to scale according to the growth of the application under test. As larger test sites employ a distributed testing infrastructure, a capable management framework will also be needed. All the products we tested can be deployed in a distributed architecture, with SilkPerformer leading in the number of virtual users that can be supported.

Down the road, we expect to see more integration between testing suites and application life-cycle management products.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ziffdavis.com.

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