Automation Tool across Web, Mobile and Web Services!

26 03 2012

Earlier in the week, I was sent across a request from one of our Senior Management on what could be a best tool, used for the automation of tests across the spectrum of Web (HTML & Flash), Mobile (iPhone, Android, Windows, etc.) and Web Services. What I could come up on this is the following. People may disagree with these options and may have different opinions and views on it… please feel free to comment and put them through, to improve on the content 🙂

Looking into the problem from the requirements viewpoint, I believe Selenium would be the tool best suited for the above automation work. The issue which might go against it, is that their Mobile product is still in Beta, and they are not the best for Web Services Testing, Watir being the frontrunner in the Open Source (i.e., Free) tools in that category. There are other Commercial Tools also which are available with good support and good interface, making it easier for the Automation to be maintained; which is somewhat of a problem with the Open Source tools, if not properly designed initially. Commercial products also have a big following and hence are cost-effective in the long run, although they might be expensive to procure, but getting a resource who is great in an Open Source product can sometimes be a big recruitment headache.

That said, Flash/Flex is a group, which almost with all tools requires a debug/special build to be provided for testing. Each tool has their own quirks and libraries with which the Flash/Flex application needs to be compiled with. So, you might wish to go more into each tools individual ability and reviews of their Flash library functionality; especially for Web Based applications.

Coming to mobile applications, the market for these exists as a very fragmented field for testing successfully. With Android Browser, iPhone Safari, IE Mobile and Firefox being the major browser contenders for the Automation tools available, along with testing of the Apps within the iOS, Android, Windows Phone and the various other vendors out there. I have seen many people refer to the Experitest SeeTestMobile tool, which might be becoming a tool of choice for many, these days.

I plan to go over some of the tools which might help out in each group, and some which might have multiple categories covered below. These opinions are my own through what I have experienced with them, and all are free to criticize and cajole me into making changes as is reflected “great” for them…

Selenium

Advantages: Good for Web GUI Testing. Great tools available for Firefox browser and the new WebDriver combined with PageObjects concept make it a great cross-browser test tool for the HTML/JavaScript Web. It even has a Flex/Flash plug-in for compatibility with the [debug/developer] flash applications. Can be coded in multiple languages (Java [most popular], Perl, PHP, Python, C#, etc.). This is a Free Open Source Tool.

Disadvantages: Not very intuitive, depends on coding skills and good design. New WebDriver is good, but there are not many in the market who can create some really good frameworks and know how to use it properly. Requires knowledge of XPath and JUnit type of coding to do anything great with the tool. Mobile product is still in Beta. Not many people available and consultation fees with consultants and resources can be high.

HP Quick Test Pro

Advantages: Well supported and lots of resources available who have certifications, but mostly used in Financial Institutions. Integrated add-ons for Flex, Web Services, Silverlight, and Web HTML. Framework issues can be easily taken care of with Odin AXE framework, which uses XML and simple interface.

Disadvantages: Ability to recognize complex UI and dynamic content hinders the tool. Mostly used in Data-driven web testing, which makes use of Excel sheets; easy for the user to use, but may cause issues in maintainability. Windows System only focused. Not suitable for Unix-Clones and Mac OS. High deployment costs.

MicroFocus / Borland SilkTest

Advantages: Good tool for Web and Flash. (MicroFocus has recently bought it after Borland failed, not sure of its development path going into the future). Has support for other platforms and operating systems.

Disadvantages: Learning curve, due to its test coding language. Not many people available with the tool knowledge.

Watir

Advantages: Good Open Source Tool for Web Services and Web Testing. Used with Fitnesse, produces easy to create and support web tests and web services tests. Not too good with Flash and Mobile.

Disadvantages: Uses Ruby as the language of choice, which is a skill getting hard to find for Testing.

 

SAHI

Advantages: Great tool for Web testing. Has good variety of plug-ins for the various other technologies. Available as Free version and supported paid version. Support for the same is great, the Developer of the tool is quite helpful in working out the issues with the Test Team. Good for complex websites, where other tools may sometimes fail. Unlike Selenium, it does not make use of XPath to identify objects; and can be used across browsers for recording tests.

Disadvantages: Only used for Web Testing for now. [not sure if it has been updated with plug-ins for others]. Limited use, thus not many people know about it.

 

SmartBear SoapUI

Advantages: Great tool for Web Services Testing from Smart Bear.

Disadvantages: Only useful for Web Services Testing. (but this might be an advantage, as they plan to make this a separate activity)

TestComplete

Advantages: Good tool, very similar to HP QTP, with a good interface and price. Overall good for Flash/Flex, with the included Libraries. SmartBear has a full stable of tools, which if bought together may be helpful in pricing and overall deployment and support. Uses VBScript/VBA for coding. People with QTP Experience may find it easy.

Disadvantages: Flash/Flex testing is still not very stable, sometimes fails to recognize the separate objects.

Microsoft Visual Studio Test Professional

Advantages: Is natively attached to the Visual Studio product line. Great for Cloud and .NET application testing. Good is you have Windows Phone applications. “CodedUI” is an excellent tool for testing cross-browser and web HTML testing. MS does deals to get the testing community to start using their tools 🙂

Disadvantages: Only for MS Technologies mostly. Not good for Firefox and Android. Only uses C# or Python.

Odin AXE Framework

Advantages: Great tool for building a wrapper over the existing tools scripts; actually it converts the tools identified objects into a XML recognizable format and has a great and easily understandable format for Automation testers.

Disadvantages: None that I can think of for now, except the use of a tool is somewhat a compulsory need for the framework created in AXE to work. Odin has done a good job of making the tool robust for Web Testing tools and it is compatible with almost all other commercial tools available.

Tricentis TOSCA

Advantages: Combines the best of Requirements, Test Case Design and Test Case execution, all in one single application. Good when there are business testers who know what the application is doing and there is good documentation available for doing it.

Disadvantages: Not very flexible when it comes to handling of unexpected behaviour within the application. Likes to have a clean interface to run through test cases and offer a “happy” path.

I can provide some more research into the new tools (and some less known but good ones), but the above are some of the common ones in use.

I am not advocating the use of any one tool above and to each depends on what he has worked with and would be comfortable in using.

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I cannot Code!!

22 02 2009

The realization struck me, when I tried my hand at some automation that I was planning on doing for my recent project. It was supposed to be a simple Perl framework and it didn’t take me much time to complete the initial design and architecture of what would unfold into a testing suite for some of the new functionality added…

Then came the coding portion of it.. and here is where I got stuck!! How do I do a file open, what to implement – use or require (why?), what is the syntax for a for and a foreach and which variable goes where!!!

It really was an eye opener for me 😦





Journey’s and Life

15 12 2008

It is amazing how things turn out when you wish to go out an explore. Well! I am planning on doing a journey from Delhi to Bangalore along with a friend and get back my car. This is going to take about 3-4 days of travel and around 2100 kms will be covered in the same. The plan is currently very ambitious and I am not sure if we will ever conceptualize it in reality… but rhe thought is present.

We have made preparations by making sure of the route and also of the GPS system that we intend to use. It seems to be that Nokia phones have an excellent feature of OVI Maps, which can very well act like a GPS for Indian terrain! It now remains to be seen if we ever get this thing out of the drawing board and onto actual implementation 😀





Automating the Performance

7 12 2008

These days I have been quite occupied with a new development for checking the performance of applications and products. In this field, I came across a lot many applications (SLAMD, HTTPLoad, LoadRunner, etc.) and many new ways to check the performance based on API’s and white-box. It is interesting to know what a simple (single) line change and make to the performance of an application. Also, came to know about Mutex and Semaphores. These are also in some ways instrumental in making an impact on the performance of the tool based on how and where locking is made use of.

In the course of my investigations, I came across a great site for Q&A: http://www.stackoverflow.com. This has been started by Joel (of joelonsoftware fame) and Jeff Atwood, along with a few other of their colleagues.

Back to the performance tools, I think SLAMD does a good job of checking web based applications. While for command line based ones or API checkers, I think the best way is to go with customized applications, which you build on your own, or start asking for help in the form of questions or professional consultancy 🙂





UI Automation Tools on the OSS Platform

17 07 2008

People seem to be getting back to the UI testing tools these days. UI is gaining ground and the commercial products available for the same are again coming into focus. There is a lot of hype being created around tools like Selenium and these are actually living upto that hype. Thoughtworks is one company which does consultation for the Open Source tools in use today and they have an intensive Selenium knowledge base. People should be encouraged to use these tools, which are although OSS, they compensate in man hours spent if we take the training consultation from companies such as Thought Works.
Another one which has come up from the same stable of OpenQA.org is CubicTest. This uses the Selenium and Eclipse as a base and builds on top of that. A very useful tool, once the engineer knows how to use it. The learning curve for these tools may be high now due to the lesser penetration, but it is growing and soon might surpass the commercial ones soon enough.
The new Selenium and CubicTest versions are said to be major enhancements and robust stable ones.
So get onto this if you have a Java or Perl background or even with PHP now





Yahoo! As A Technology Company

28 10 2007

The perception of Y! as an Organization has for a long time been that of a Internet/Web-based Company. From a Business point of view on what Y! does, this seems like a perfectly correct view point and that is what it is famous for. Well! I agree to the same that it is a Internet/Web-based Company, but as an Organization, all that require a lot of technological thought and expertise to sustain and grow, along with an extreme sense of innovation within the Organization. It is the perception of the Web tag along with the unique name (made more so famous by the song & dance of ‘Shammi Kapoor’, in India’s film Industry of yore), which has given the Company, although an excellent work culture, a wrong perception/view in the people’s mind, of it not doing anything except to build and maintain Web Pages.
The above perception is something which needs to be taken care of whenever a new hire is made. Lots of people do not/can not visualize the technology which is going into making the Web and Y! a better place to be in, when the Internet is growing at this pace. From the outside they vie this as a place where people churn out Web pages and goof off as if still in their teens and College days. From the inside, it is more of an Academia. There are people who do churn away on Web pages, but those are pages made from a lot of technological thought and innovation. They have to be optimized for the maximum User Experience and minimal load times. Each page has a function to take care of, and a lot of thought process and sweat goes behind each. Along with the above, an optimized delivery platform is also there to be taken care of. Cable companies claim that their bandwidth is being used, but I think a better way to put it is, that it is being utilized (and not for free, as they wish the rest of the World to believe). An immense amount of innovation and technological thought process goes into each component of a Web page and this is where people don’t/can’t appreciate the value of the same. They see a great looking interface and will go and visit it, but not give a thought to the work and sweat which has given them the page.
All I say, Y! is more technologically oriented than any of the various other product Organizations I have gone through. Also, they have a truly great environment and work culture, which is to be appreciated and hopefully preserved for the future of the Organization. At the same time, trying to dispel the wrong notion developing in people’s mind that technologically, it might not be the best place to work ad grow from.





Why the World is Flat!!

21 06 2007

I have been reading the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman and it does bring some interesting topics to the fore. This gives a very good perception of the world around us as is thought by the average American and what he thinks of the way outsourcing and off-shoring work. He has in this book brought out some interesting concepts and observations about India and the outsourcing concept. He has brought out a very good point in this. Companies have an ulterior motive by coming to any country. They wish to increase the spending power of the people there so that more money is circulated and the company in turn earns more a people will spend more. This concept is gaining ground in the major Indian cities and thus, fulfilling the prophecies set down by the Organizations which moved in here; hence, making them profitable.