Testers Test a Web Test Package

Hands On

Evaluating test software is always an interesting subject for professional testers. We have the experience to know what a test product could and should do. For example, a testing product should emulate multiple-user loading on a server, process data as close as possible to what real users would and easily replicate and reproduce a test load every time the test is invoked.

Web testing is one area where the development pace has far outstripped the ability of developers to thoroughly test their sites, an opportunity that RSW Software’s e-Test Suite product is focused on. The e-Test Suite is geared up regression testing, scalability testing and long-term site monitoring.

Product suites such as this one can be time savers. Professional testers, for example, often spend hours -- if not days -- writing complex scripts and routines to exercise systems. For professional developers, including Web developers, stress testing on operational networks takes place late in the development cycle. It’s not uncommon for software designers and network architects to each work in a vacuum, delaying interaction issues until after deployment and actual user workloads are applied and resolving scalability problems after the fact rather than designing products with this in mind.

RSW Software’s e-Test Suite is a group of products that addresses these issues well, and in a more automated fashion than we’ve seen before. E-Test Suite includes three tools:

  • e-Tester does a regression form of testing for browser-based applications and tools running on any Web server.
  • e-Monitor can monitor any Web application 24x7.
  • e-Load performs load testing and scalability testing on any Web server.

The Test Platform

We used Microsoft Internet Information Server 3.0 with all of the current patches applied, running on two servers: a Pentium 166-MHz server with 128 MB of memory, and a higher-end dual-processor Pentium 233 MMX server with 256 MB of memory. Each server was on a separate, switched Fast Ethernet 100 Mbps network. We loaded Active Server Pages and Front Page 98 extensions onto the servers, and we used our Linux 2.2.35 server running Apache and HTML 3.2 formatted Web pages in the test environment.

The installation process was flawless and simple, although on our first attempt a crash of Internet Explorer 4.01 -- unrelated to the RSW Software suite -- inadvertently exposed one weakness of the product’s license enforcement. Upon installation, the RSW software dynamically assigns a serial number, for which RSW then provides an appropriate license key. Upon rebuilding the damaged machine and reinstalling the RSW e-Test Suite, the old license key was no longer valid. We had to call the company for a new key, a scenario that won’t be appreciated by users working over a weekend or after hours.

The enclosed CD-ROM disk had everything we needed, and the test suite was operational in less than 15 minutes. Setup options include installing the product to an NT Workstation or a Windows NT server, depending on where you want to run the test suite.

We found it easy to create a set of tests that would emulate virtual users generating hundreds of simulated browser sessions. To do this, we used a core component called e-Spider. E-Spider scans Web sites and maps the HTML pages installed.

From this map, we created a test scenario that ran through every HTML page at whatever speed can be supported by the server and network. Should the speed of the virtual users exceed the network or server’s capacity, you can introduce delays or reduce the virtual user load. These are significant aspects of testing products.

E-test Suite could create these testing scenarios, but we wanted more. Using e-Tester’s browsing and scripting functions, we went to work defining a script that would hit varying Web pages on different servers and sub-Webs of these servers.

We used the NT server’s performance monitoring tools to see if this actually worked as expected -- it did. We also used a sniffer to capture and examine the UDP packets, and found that the load and traffic matched our expectations. In using this method, we were able to correlate this with what we expected e-Test Suite to do.

The e-Test Suite did what it promised to do and what we expected it to do. We found that if anything, we needed a significantly larger test bed to stress the e-Test Suite. This product fits a well-needed niche in the market place, given the explosive growth in Internet usage.

e-Test Suite

RSW Software Inc.
Watertown, Mass.
(508) 435-8000
www.rswsoftware.com

Price:

e-Tester: $4,995/seat
e-Monitor: $6,995/seat
e-Load: $19,995 for 100 virtual user seats
additional virtual user seats available at additional cost
e-TEST Suite (all three purchased together): $27,195

+ Installed easily
+ Speeds process of testing Web sites

- Expensive to purchase
- License key valid only for a given installation