Performance testers everywhere must overcome daunting testing challenges and surmount looming time constraints. To make life easier, QA teams need powerful, intuitive tools that streamline testing processes and enable automation, because dealing with mediocre testing tools hinders progress and can make even the most patient tester shriek in dismay. To avoid this type of experience, performance testers will want to contemplate with gravitas about what to look for when looking for the right load testing tool.
Finding an Outstanding Load Testing Tool
This sounds like a deceptively easy task. It’s not. QA teams need to be able to articulate what capabilities the tool of their dreams should deliver. They also need to understand that best-fit criteria and features will vary from one organization to the next.
To start the search, every QA team will likely develop some basic expectations regarding their tool of choice. Each step involved in load testing process, including test execution and result analysis, should be intuitive. Other elements, such as scripting, should be automated, yet customizable. As a rule, most QA teams will want a tool that:
- Elevates performance test to a trusted partner: Performance testing has evolved into a competitive advantage. The tool selected should establish performance testing as a “right-hand” support system within the software delivery chain.
- Executes superior performance testing results while shortening the build/test cycle: Translates to ease of use, features and functions, and scalability.
- Supports Agile/Shift Left Testing: Testing earlier in the development cycle is now being baked into the corporate DNA. Tools supporting DevOps by enabling earlier, faster, and more automated performance and load testing saves time, money and staffing.
The bottom line is that performance testing is critical, in turn, so is the tool. The tool teams select should meet the requirements above. I’ve elaborated on more in-depth requirements below. To meet the needs of the Agile organization, testing tools should support:
Various Applications and Platforms
There are a plethora of testing tools available for QA consideration. Winnowing down the options will likely be time-consuming. You must ensure that the tool offers broad application and platform support. Because some automated testing tools can be application or compiler-specific, they may only support one type of application (E.g., .NET or Java) or compiler type. That would be sufficient if this is all that’s required. However, most development and testing ecosystems evolve, scale over time. It’s best to select a testing tool which supports your current development ecosystem and can grow with the organization.
With the ever-changing technological landscape and the advent of IoT, the chances are that performance testers are tasked with testing their applications on both desktop and mobile devices. Every load testing tool that QA teams consider should support mobile testing for native, hybrid, web, and secure applications. Better performance testing tools will support mobile testing requirements, such as simulating swipes and long touches, physical buttons, and multi-touch events (gestures). The more robust tools will be able to install applications on a device, access its sensor data, support superuser (root) permissions, and support both iOS and Android emulation.
It’s also important to consider the impact of Carrier Network speeds.
As teams evaluate testing tools, they should look for WAN Emulation support. These features allow testers to select and emulate
Mobile/Wireless carrier types and network speeds and support emulation for WAN variables, such as Broadband, LAN, Mobile, and Wireless. Latency and packet variable options should enable the increase or decrease of upload/download speeds. These features are necessary because the power of bandwidth emulation helps testers compare the user experience across 3G and 4G networks.
Automated Test Scripting
Although performance test script creation can become a software development project unto itself, it’s a pillar of test automation in the continuous delivery cycle. Scripts allow testers to create automated tests stressing different facets of the application. Look for a performance testing tool that provides automated scripting capabilities. The ability to generate scripts automatically as well as reuse them compresses the build/test cycle enabling comprehensive performance analysis across the software development lifecycle.
Consider that scripts need to be correlated; they need to procure dynamic variables from the server. They must also be parameterized; they need to use different data for different users. Potent testing tools support these requirements. Further, a load testing tool with a GUI allows correlations to be run automatically at the end of each recording and the parameterization and randomization of variables to be adjusted with just a few clicks – another time saver. Outstanding load testing tools will protect your investment and conserve resources by automating script creation.
Automated Test Recording
Functional testing simulates all user actions on the application under test. Having to implement such tests is a lengthy process. Choose a testing tool that automates as many of these tests as possible with automated record and playback. This capability makes it easier for testers to review the user action details related to each scenario and saves valuable time.
Keep in mind that although many performance testing tools, like JMeter, include a GUI with record/playback capabilities, they still require at least some coding to customize scripts every time there is a change to the application or to the test itself. Look for a testing tool that doesn’t require coding at all and that provides dedicated support for recording all the latest web technologies such as HTML5, Push, WebSocket, AngularJS, and Oracle Forms.
Easy Result Comparison for Automated Tests
To identify potential performance bottlenecks and observe load test trends, QA teams need to see granular statistics for different application pages. By comparing data, they can analyze results from different runs of the same, or different, scenarios.
A powerful load testing tool delivers the capabilities and functionality required to compare files, images, graphs, and object properties. Only by analyzing performance data can testers gain insight into the progress (or regression) of their performance testing and evaluate load impact on application components. Result comparison reveals performance regression trends more quickly and helps performance engineers pinpoint which changes introduced the regression. Careful analysis of comparative results can impart the key to remediate issues rapidly. Robust test result comparison capabilities help testers create the automated tests that can help them compare performance load on complex test objects.
In the age of the app economy, where continuous delivery rules, Agile development is rampant, and artifacts are lean, reporting comprises a critical role. Reporting informs the business about the quality and state of the software and is fundamental to the collaborative interactions that take place across the organization to ensure quality.
To expedite timely communication to all relevant stakeholders, testers need to export test results easily augmenting their reports with specific graphics. Look for report generation capabilities able to produce reports from every test and scenario run in a variety of formats (E.g., HTML, MS Word, PDF, and XML). It’s also helpful for testers to customize and tune graphs to their precise needs, so look for tuning features.
Continuous performance validation demands the use of automated and collaborative tools that test and monitor application performance at every step of the development and delivery journey. By choosing tools that are flexible and customizable, teams can ensure that developers, project managers, performance engineers and project stakeholders can consume, understand, discuss, and act on performance testing assets/insights quickly to make decisions critical to the business.
Collaboration accelerates the pace of software delivery by helping to decrease build/test cycles. Real-time access to performance test insights fuel interactive discussions, ignite acceleration and shape better business decisions.
Easy Integration with the Existing Testing Ecosystem
A great performance testing platform can support new technologies and protocols and integrate smoothly into the Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and APM platforms within the testing ecosystem already in place. This means eliminating the time and resources necessary to code workarounds that incorporate testing support for emerging IoT and Mobile related technologies. And as Neotys likes to say: The hallmark of a great load testing tool is not just its ability to incorporate a particular technology – it’s how well the tool can test it.
A strong testing tool will accurately capture and replay traffic from applications utilizing technologies such as HTTP/2, WebSocket, GWT, Oracle Forms, Flex, and adaptive bitrate streaming.
The quality of technical support provided by the provider plays an essential role in any tool selection. Testers will want prompt responses to their questions and know that they’re interacting with support professionals who possess in-depth product knowledge.
Also, look for a broad knowledge base that accepts feedback and insights from the user community. The more use cases reflected in the knowledge base, the more guidance testers can glean as they grapple with testing and tool specific challenges.
Finding the right testing tool is a journey. Many organizations lament that, although they invest heavily in performance testing tools, they never achieve their anticipated return on investment. Further, the variety of tools available on the market can be challenging to evaluate, offer poor usability, be expensive to maintain, and lack both flexibility and scalability when procured. It’s important that enterprises everywhere carefully assess their requirements against performance test tool capabilities. Software quality and application performance are critical to business success; they warrant the investment of time and money required to guarantee outstanding customer experiences.
The information outlined in this blog offers only a partial list of features and capabilities that QA teams should consider as they pursue their quest for appropriate performance testing tools and is meant to act as a catalyst for DevOps and QA team discussion regarding critical performance tool capabilities. As mentioned earlier, enterprise performance requirements vary; features considered to be mandatory for one organization may not be for another.
As you evaluate what’s right for you, keep NeoLoad in mind – we think you will find that it checks the critical boxes.
Let us know what’s important to you.