API Testing And Automation

API stands for Application Programming Interface. Typically API is used to facilitate the interaction between two different applications by using any means of communication. When APIs are used over web networks, we term them as ‘Web Services’. In recent times APIs have become the backbone of programming. As in an application, writing APIs to communicate with database, or with another module has become a common practice now and that is why as a tester we must test the APIs to for maximum test coverage.

As a part of integration testing, API automation can help to accelerate the testing and increase efficiency. As most of the companies are using RESTful microservices/APIs at business layer, API testing has become critical component of test plan for any release.

In simplest terms, API is a service which helps two different applications to communicate with each other. Mostly APIs are used to abstract the business logic and direct database access to any application.

Logically we can segregate the entire system into three layers-

  1. Presentation Layer – This is user interface(GUI) which is open to end users. QA performs functional testing at this layer.
  2. Business Layer- This is Application user interface where the logic is written. In technical terms this is where code/algorithm resides. APIs come into picture at this layer.
  3. DataBase Layer- Where application data is present.
 

In other words the API is the brain of our connected world. It is the set of tools, protocols, standards and code that glues our digital world together. Because of their dynamic nature and capabilities they provide, APIs allow companies to become more agile, things to go mobile, and everything to work together in a streamlined, integrated way.Therefore, API testing is testing APIs at service level and the at the integration level.

Testing Strategy for APIs-

While testing APIs, tester should concentrate on using software to make API calls in order to receive an output before observing and logging the system’s response. Most importantly, tests that the API returns a correct response or output under varying conditions. This output is typically one of these three:

  • A Pass or Fail status
  • Data or information
  • A call to another API

However there also could be no output at all or something completely unpredicted occurs. This makes the tester’s role crucial to the application development process.And because APIs are the central hub of data for many applications, data-driven testing for APIs can help increase test coverage and accuracy.

In testing the API directly, specifying pass/fail scenarios is slightly more challenging. However in comparing the API data in the response or in comparing the behavior after the API call in another API would help you setup definitive validation scenarios.

API testing is one of the most challenging parts of the whole chain of software testing and QA testing because it works to assure that our digital lives run in an increasingly seamless and efficient manner. While developers tend to test only the functionalities they are working on, testers are in charge of testing both individual functionalities and a series or chain of functionalities, discovering how they work together from end to end.

Types of API Testing-

First identify what type of tests you need to perform on API. Like testers do different type of testing for features of their product, same goes with APIs. Commonly testing of APIs include-

Unit Testing– To test the functionality of individual operation. For eg- Google provides geocoding API,  to get the longitude and latitude of any location. This usually takes address as input and returns lat longs. Now for unit testing of this API, tester may pass different location and verify result.

Functional Testing- This type of testing mainly focuses on functionality of API. This would include test cases to verify HTTP response codes, validation of response, error codes in case API return any error etc.

Load Testing- This type of test is necessary in cases where API is dealing with huge data and chances of application to be used by no.of users at the same time. This increases the API hits at the same time and it may crash and not able to take that load.

Security Testing- Security testing is particularly critical as API are used to create a link between two different applications. The core purpose of using an API is to abstract or hide the application’s database from other. This may include the testcases like authorization checks, session management etc.

Interoperability Testing- This is to test that API is accessible to the applications where it should be. This applies to SOAP APIs.

WS compliance Testing- API is tested to ensure standards such as WS-Addressing, WS-Discovery, WS-Federation, WS-Policy, WS-Security, and WS-Trust are properly implemented and utilized

Penetration Testing- This is to find the vulnerability of API from external sources.

Web services/ API Protocols-

If we talk about web services there are mainly two type of services or we can say  protocols-

REST –  REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer which is new on the block as compared to SOAP which means it must overcome all the problems with SOAP. REST is a lightweight protocol which uses URL for all the needed information. It uses four HTTP methods to perform task-

  1. Get- To get the information. For example getting longitude and latitude in case of location mapping API.
  2. Post- To insert some data in resource.
  3. Put- To update the resource.
  4. Delete- To delete from resource.

REST is more used now a days due to its simple and light-weight architecture.

SOAP API- Stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. It uses XML for message exchanging. All the information which is required to perform this task is given in its WSDL which is Web Service Description Language. SOAP is heavy weight due to its extensive used standards and XML. The main advantages of SOAP over Rest is that it has built in error handling and it can be used with other protocols like SMTP.

Tools for API testing and Automation

There are several tools to test the APIs. When a tester get to test API, they must ask for its document, whether it is a REST or SOAP API or its not-web based API there should always be a document where the details should be written. To approach API testing-

  1. Ask for Doc
  2. Write functional or service level cases first
  3. Write integration tests
  4. When API is stable enough and passes most of the above tests, perform security, performance and load testing.
  • A typical API doc has all the information related to the API like its request format, response, error codes, resource, mandatory parameters, optional parameters, headers etc. The doc can be maintained in various tools like swagger which is open source, Dapperdox, ReDoc etc.
  • After that try to write service level cases for API. For example if an API takes n parameters to get the response in which m are mandatory params and others are optional, then one test case should be to try different combinations of parameters and verify the response. Another testcase might verify the headers and try to run API without passing authentication and verify the error code.
  • Next comes the step of integration test, where you need to test the API and all its dependent APIs or functions. This also includes testing API response, the data it should return to another API or method and what happens if this API fails.
  • Once the API is stable and functional testing is almost done, tester can perform load, security and performance testing.

API Automation

We often need to automate the testcases which are repeatedly executed. For eg- Regression cases. Similarly in case of API testing, there might be some cases which we need to execute before every release and those cases can be automated.

There are many tools for API automation which are quite popular-

  1. SOUP UI
  2. Katalon studio
  3. Postman
  4. Jmeter
  5. RestAssured
  6. CloudQA TruAPI

SOUP UI- It’s very popular tool for API testing.You can do functional, load, security and compliance tests on your API using SoapUI.

Katalon Studio- Built on the top of Selenium and Appium, Katalon Studio is a free and powerful automated testing tool for Web testing, API testing, and Mobile testing.

Postman- Postman is free and helps you be more efficient while working with APIs. It has all the capabilities to develop and test APIs.

Jmeter- Though Jmeter is mostly used for performance and load testing, it can also be used for API functional testing to a good extent.

RestAssured-  Rest-Assured is a Java based library that is used to test RESTful Web Services.The library can be included in the existing framework and call its methods directly for fetching response in json format and then perform required actions.

I am taking an example to explain the steps followed for basic API functional testing, here I am using TruAPI tool provided by CloudQA which is new and gaining popularity-

Step1-To run API request you need to first select the Method Type and paste URL of the API. Press Send button to send the request to API or press Add API Test button to save the request-


 

Try this sample Method Type and API URL

  • Method Type: GET
  • APIURL: https://um5fdww2pj.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/dev/todos 


Step2-Information for API request:

  • Most of the API require additional inputs to perform the request such as parameters, Headers, Body(JSON), and so on.
  • To add parameters of the request you can select the respective Parameters tab and press the Add Parameter buttons to add the required information.
Local Image

Step3-Sending an API request with authentication:

  • In case your hosted API needs an authentication, you can go to the Authorization tab and select the BasicAuth from the dropdown list (Default it is set as Noauth) and then input the Username and Password. You are now ready to send authenticated requests.
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  • Every API response consists of different values like status code, body, headers, and the time to complete the API request. Below image shows how API response received is portrayed.

Adding Assertions:

  • In automation process, it is important that you verify your output using an assertion. To add an assertion in the API Runner, go to the Assertions tab. You can add one or more assertions here.
  • Follow these steps to add assertions:
    • Choose the response type
    • Choose the assertion’s condition
    • Input the value to be checked
  • You are done adding the assertion
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Variables:

  • Variables tab is useful to store the values that are received as a response from an API request sent. To save responses go to the Variables tab and follow these steps:
    • Add Variable
    • Give a name to the variable for better understanding of the team
    • Input the JSON Path of the value to be stored from the response body
    • To use the stored value in the variable as expected assertion you can use __name of the variable__ in any other API request. 
Local Image

View or execute a saved API request:

  • When you are in API Runner page use View Saved Tests button to view the saved tests
  • Select one or more API saved tests and run the selected tests by default the tests shows the last executed run status information
  • Results will show up the API execution history
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This is a single API execution and automation. For real world scenarios, we often need to create API suit consisting all the regression test cases and run this as a part of regression testing. In agile, it’s crucial to have a suit ready so that it can be integrated with CI and CD.

CloudQA comes with a  very rich documentation about the tool, all the tools provided by CloudQA are aligned with the idea of “Codeless automation” and very easy to use for manual testers.

Link for documentation- https://doc.cloudqa.io/TruAPI.html

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Progressive Web App

PWAs or Progressive Web Applications is quite a buzz in tech media. The increased number of mobile users and the App-like experience which it provides contributed a lot to its popularity.But what is PWA and how is it different from native mobile apps? How PWA’s are developed and what are key points which a tester should keep in mind while testing it?Let’s take a look-

Before jumping directly on how to test a Progressive Web App, we should first understand what exactly is it and what are key points which a tester has to keep in mind while testing it.

PWA or Progressive Web Application is a web app which uses modern web(or website) capabilities to give an app-like experience to users. In simple terms, it is a hybrid of a website and mobile app. A website which behaves more like an app downloaded from  Appstore/PlayStore.

It starts as a normal webpage in a browser, and as a user explores the web page, they get the prompt if they would like to “Add to Home Screen”. Once the user gives the thumbs up to this prompt, PWA gets added to their home screen. Once open from the home screen, it can even hide the browser UI controls and appear as an app.

Some of the popular PWAs are-

  1. Twitter lite
  2. Flipkart lite
  3. Trivago hotel booking PWA
  4. Forbes
  5. Starbucks coffee PWA etc

Testing Strategy for PWA-

To device testing strategy for PWA, let’s first understand how is it different from mobile apps or responsive apps.

The basic difference between a PWA and a responsive app is that it does not require any installation like an app but it supports all features of APP.

Features of Progressive Web Apps-

1) Responsiveness and browser compatibility- These apps are based on Progressive enhancement principles. The progressive web design strategy is to provide basic functionality and content to everyone regardless of browsers and connection quality while delivering the most sophisticated page version to users whose newer browser can support them.

So PWA is compatible with all browsers, screen size, and other device specifications.

2) Offline Support- PWA support offline and low-quality network both.

3) Push Notifications- Push notifications play important role in customer engagement if used wisely.

4) Regular Updates- Like any other app, PWA can also self-update.

5) An APP like interface- These apps mimic interactions and navigation’s of native apps.

6)Discoverability- These apps are shared through URLs so which can be easily found. A user has to visit on the site and add that to the home screen.

Technical Components of PWAs-

The Web App Manifest- Essentially a web app manifest is a JSON file through which developer can control how the way the app is displayed to the user i.e.full screen visibility with no address bar.

Service Worker-It is a javascript file which handles user’s interaction with the app.It runs independently from webpage or app. It supports the main features of PWAs like push notifications, offline work mode, and background synchronization.

Key Points to keep in mind while testing PWA

There are some key points which a tester should keep in mind while testing a progressive web application-

  1. Validate PWA Manifest- A manifest file is a must for PWA. A tester should look for following in the file-
    1. It has a name or short_name property.
    2. has start_url property.
    3. Web App Manifest has an icon property must include a 192px and a 512px sized icons.
    4. Display property should be set to standalone, fullscreen and minimal-UI.

  2. Validate Service worker- Service Worker registered with a fetch event handler.

  3. The website should be served fully via HTTPS- Safety is the major concern in the world of PWA and tester should always make sure that site is served via HTTPS. To test this, You can use Lighthouse by Google Developers, Jitbit, SeoSiteCheckup, DigiCert, SSL shopper, SSL labs, etc to test if your website is served over HTTPS or not.

  4. Web pages are responsive: Make sure that your web application shows responsive behavior across all mobile and desktop devices.
    You can use these tools to test for your web app’s responsiveness.

  5. Offline Loading: All of the web pages or at least some critical pages should work offline. As a tester, you need to make sure that your web app responds with a 200 when it is offline.

  6. Lighthouse or WireMock tool can be used for testing this.

  7. Metadata for ‘Add to Homescreen’: You need to test if the web app provides a metadata for ‘Add to Homescreen’.

  8. You can use Lighthouse to test for metadata for ‘Add to Homescreen’.

  9. Page transitions- Transitions should be smooth and should not be snappy even on slow networks.

  10. This should be done manually on a slow network. A tester should check the responses. When a user clicks on any button, the page should render immediately.

  11. Each page must have a URL: Every page on your web app must have a URL and all the URLs must be unique.
    Test it by checking that every page is linkable by a URL and it is unique to be shared on social media or other platforms. The URLs can also be opened directly in new browsers.

  12. Schema.org- Tester should also check for Schema.org is available whenever required. Google’s structured Data can be used to ensure that image, data etc are available or not.

  13. Push Notifications- A tester should test push notification keeping in mind that they are not overly aggressive. Also, they should be asking for permissions to the user.

  14. Functionality- This is the most essential part of any testing. Functional testing covers the aspects of the app with respect to the functionality defined in the requirement document. A tester can do it both manually or through automation.

There are various tools to perform automation testing which are quick to set up and easy to use-

Automation tools to test PWAs- PWA’s are like any other mobile app. CloudQA comes with a tool through which a user can record the functional test cases and save them. It also comes with the capabilities to add assertions, manage test case execution and reporting.

It is a powerful tool for codeless automation, so a tester without having any coding knowledge can easily use it and automate the test cases. Let’s get into the details of the tool and how can it be used for testing PWA.

TruBot by CloudQA- TruBot is a record and save tool provided by cloudQA. Its trial version is quite rich in features and should suffice for basic functional testing. You can always buy the full version to harvest the more extensive features. To start with, download the CloudQA tool from the following link- https://cloudqa.io/

Click on the Free Trial button on top right and you will be taken to the registration form. Fill in the details and submit. After the registration is done, this will add an extension to chrome which will look like-

CloudQA Extension Icon

1) Open a new tab in chrome and enter URL of the website. Click on F12 to open the responsive mode of browser and select the device to emulate. For eg- Type cloudqa.io in URL and press F12. Select the device you want to test.

2) Click on CloudQA extension in your browser and you will get this screen-

Add New Application

3) This automatically detects the URL of the current screen and asks you for confirmation. Click on Add New Application and this will take you to the recording screen.

Record

4) Click on Records and start executing the functional test manually as you normally do. The tool will record the steps.

Recorded Steps

5) You can see that all the steps are recorded with actions and data. As you are done, click on the icon again and give a name to the test case and click on save.

Save Test

6) After saving, a user can either execute the test case immediately or save for later. To execute immediately, a user gets an action after saving.

Execute Test

7) To execute later, go to the dashboard and you will get various option to manage test case and select the test case you want to execute and click on execute.

Execute from App

8) A user can save the set of functional test cases and later execute them at the time of regression.

9) There are options to get the test execution report, create and manage test suites and execute test suite and get the report.

This Tool also comes with a capability to add assertions to the test cases, manage and get execution summary as well.  An assertion is must when you write automation test. Trubot has a very smooth way of putting assertions in the test cases.

This is good enough to start with for manual testers because it does not require much of the coding knowledge and quite interactive and easy to use. Also, it does not compromise with capabilities one can add with automation.

You can go through the documentation which is quite understandable, for further detail – https://doc.cloudqa.io/

There are various other tools available to test PWA. Most of them require coding knowledge and at least hands-on on one programming language to start with. You can use them as complementary to Trubot.  Some of the popular ones are-

  1. Appium- Appium is a mobile test automation framework that works for all kind of apps-Native, hybrid and m-web. Appium derives its root from selenium and uses JSON wire protocol to interact internally to ios and android apps using selenium web driver.

    In its architecture, Appium is an HTTP server written in Node.js that creates and handles multiple WebDriver sessions. Appium starts tests on the device and listens for commands from the main Appium server. It is basically the same as the Selenium server that gets HTTP requests from Selenium client libraries.

    You can use it if you have an automation framework in-place and running. Add the Appium libraries to it which are open source, do the necessary code changes and write the test-script as we normally do for any other web-app and execute.
Appium
  1. Lighthouse- Lighthouse is a tool provided by Google that tests app for PWA features. This is open source tool and it tests app against the PWA guidelines such as-
    1. Tests the application offline or flaky network.
    2. Is served from a secure origin i.e. https.
    3. Is relatively fast.
    4. Uses certain accessibility best practices.

    Lighthouse is available as a chrome extension and a command line tool.

    Running Lighthouse as chrome extension- Lighthouse can be downloaded from Chrome Web Store. Once installed it will add a shortcut to the taskbar.

    Then, run lighthouse on your application by the select icon and choose Generate Report with the app open in the browser page.

LightHouse

Lighthouse generated an HTML page with the result.

LightHouse Result

Running Lighthouse from command Line-

Lighthouse is available as a Node module, which can be installed and run from command line.

To install run this command

npm install -g lighthouse

You can check Lighthouse flags and options with the following command:

lighthouse –help

It helps the tester to quickly check PWA against the specified standards provided by Google. For more information, you can refer to the google checklist given for progressive web application- https://developers.google.com/web/progressive-web-apps/checklist

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Regression-Testing

Automated Regression Testing ascertains code changes and functionality issues. In other words, it is a quality measurement check to discover if new code complies with the old code so that the remaining unmodified code stays unaffected. Automation regression testing also allows for finding any bugs that may have occurred due to changes in the code and if the testing is not done, the product could have a critical issue occur during a live event which can lead to negative marketing impact.

There are various types of automated regression tests and they include:

  1. Unit Regression – done during the unit testing phase when a code is tested in isolation.
  2. Partial Regression – done to verify the code works fine even when the code is changed performed while the unit is integrated with the unchanged or already existing code.
  3. Complete Regression – done when a change in code is in numerous modules and/or if the change impact in any module is uncertain.

It is understood that automated regression testing is hard because for every action performed there is a reaction. A few result in successful tests but there may be another two-hundred that will lead to failure. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all test strategy for automated regression and shortcuts that are used, have not had consistent positive results. The good news is there are some comprehensive specs, rules and examples that countless software engineers have diligently put together for our knowledge base and application protocol. (Baril, Gounares, & Krajec, 2014)

Regression-Testing

The Reason We Have Automated Regression Testing

Automated regression testing’s intent is to speed things up, so we can increase quality and velocity simultaneously which results in obtaining the prize of all promotional tools – being the first to market. It doesn’t matter if you are releasing a new software suite, software feature or even if you wish to make sure a particular software feature is current and working properly, there are steps to take, rules to follow and regression automation tests to conduct. Common practice is to utilize a suite of four regression automation tests which perform in an exemplary manner. They are:

  1. Retest all and repeat frequently – the entire test case in the suite are re-executed to ensure there are no bugs from a change in the code. This regression test is expensive due to its expansive nature and requires more time and resources than any of the other types of automated regression testing methods.
  2. Selection testing is worth using for maintenance – test cases are selected from suites to be re-executed. The test cases are selected from code changes in the modules and have two categories – reusable and obsolete. The reusable test cases can be used in future regression cycles whereas the obsolete ones are not use in future regression cycles.
  3. Prioritization to create stability – priorities are created, and the test cases depend on the listed and needed priorities to be for product impact and functionality.
  4. Simple – a combination of regression test selection and test case prioritization. Rather than selecting the entire test suite, only test cases which are re-executed and are listed as a priority are designated.

It should be noted automated regression testing not only enables checks into various changes but can also release and prompt testers to conduct manual assessments in the more uncommon cases respective to their unique production environment.

Stakeholders are usually willing to accept automation regression testing as being a part of the final analysis of ‘completion’ for user stories being worked on and evaluated. User stories are only closed when the corresponding automated tests were run effectively and efficiently and had successful outcomes. When the feature is successfully released into production, the regression suite becomes part of the tests. In layman’s terms that means there is a stable version of tests which now exist as part of the regression suite-built layer by layer and are available whenever development of a new feature is added. (Briand, Labiche, & Soccar, 2002)

However, there is a more difficult automated regression test to perform which occurs when a feature was released into production without having any automated tests performed. The challenge then becomes finding a regression suite to put into place since you can only do that incrementally, layer by layer so prioritization is mandatory to ascertain what must be tested.

Automated Regression Testing Tools and Time Savers

There are various tools that can be used in automated regression testing which combine testing with functionality in a single platform and a couple of popular ones include Selenium and vTest. However, there is a sidebar that needs to be considered and understood when using automated regression testing tools. The implementation of the tests are faster than manual tests but be cognizant that everything else will take significant time, so preparation is the key. What does that mean? It means that writing the tests and setting up the suite needs must be prioritized, listed and understood. To help save some inefficient use of your time, we have listed some automated regression testing time savers. (Raulamo-Jurvanen, 2017)

  • Try to write individual and independent tests because you will ultimately regret it if you don’t. By not writing individual and independents tests, if an issue arises, you will find because you did not write an independent test, your solutions are problematic and must work around test orders and the storing of state and data between test runs.
  • Separate acceptance and end-to-end tests because they do entirely two different things and need to run separately to get proportions correct. Acceptance tests target and test one thing efficiently and effectively. An end to end test is implemented to cover the user’s journey through an app and then test the app the same way a user access it. The end to end tests do take more time and are considered fragile because they contain so many incremental steps.
  • If you want your test to perform brilliantly, decipher why you are doing automated testing and once you ascertain need, determine what measurements will be needed. Your end goal should be to have as few automated tests as possible and only use them for valid and objective business reasons because automated tests are time-intensive and costly.
  • Never forget that intention and implementation are two different things. When writing scenarios, it is logical to input how best to implement the set-up, but that thinking is faulty and will not help longevity within your specifications or enhance business readability. Intentional features and scenarios provide outcomes that are clear and easy to understand and if you really want to provide exemplary solutions you can even build in the ability to change your test, if needed without changing your specifications.
  • Automated regression testing is not a one shot and you’re done deal because if you don’t run them on a consistent basis, they will become almost useless when someone changes code. The test should be in the same source control repository as the app, so they will not be forgotten about or ignored.
  • Automated tests should never be run on several browsers because almost every browser performs differently with slight variations which invalidates true results. In essence you are probably wasting your time. Try to find the browser most of your customers will be using. Google Chrome is usually a good place to start.
  • There are nuanced differences in manual and automated testing. This sounds like a no-brainer but it’s not. Automated testing is the testing of choice for functionality, but it does not do well in testing stories or exploring your system. Automated, artificial regression testing no matter how brilliant, logical or error-free, rarely understands weird quirks or cultural definition variances. But humans can find those unique perspectives and manually test them which is more cost efficient and allows for fine-tuning for human users’ needs.
  • Try to run your automated tests as they incrementally grow and develop to speed up your run times. It takes almost no time to create an agent to run tests and collate the results on a consistent loop integrated with the testing server.
  • Use, use and use your application development team because each member should be accountable for quality. The most effective and efficient automated tests are developed with the application development team because they integrate what is needed with what can be tested with the results being successfully magnified.
  • Try to find any opportunity to extract the most value for the least amount of time and energy. If you have to keep running automated end to end testing after deployment of product, is it a good use of a company’s outlay? Always seek value in every level of testing. Always.

Automation regression testing is one of the most important aspects in helping deliver a quality product because it makes sure that any change in the code whether it’s small or large does not affect the existing or old functionality. You can even use automaton to create master data and setup configurations for manual testers which ultimately allows you to facilitate the needs of the various operations within your company or organization. There will be new tests in automation with techniques discovered and challenges to solve. The journey to achieving optimum levels of automation in regression testing must start by taking the first step.

Discover more on Regression Testing

Bibliography

Baril, B. B., Gounares, A. G., & Krajec, R. S. (2014). Automated Regression Testing for Software Applications. Retrieved 10 12, 2018, from http://freepatentsonline.com/9355016.html

Briand, L. C., Labiche, Y., & Soccar, G. (2002). Automating impact analysis and regression test selection based on UML designs. Retrieved 10 14, 2018, from http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1167775

Raulamo-Jurvanen, P. (2017). Decision Support for Selecting Tools for Software Test Automation. ACM Sigsoft Software Engineering Notes, 41(6), 1-5. Retrieved 10 12, 2018, from http://dblp.uni-trier.de/db/journals/sigsoft/sigsoft41.html

Tan, S. H., & Roychoudhury, A. (2015). relifix : automated repair of software regressions. Retrieved 10 16, 2018, from http://dblp.uni-trier.de/db/conf/icse/icse2015-1.html

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Monitor 24*7

When it comes time to select the right Application Performance Management (or APM) tools for your business, you need to make sure that you consider all the different aspects of each available package before you employ one.

It’s important to keep in mind that the applications and tools solutions you choose should be complete and also equipped with features that can scale with your business. At the same time, you need to be mindful that evaluating and comparing performance management tool solutions and all the different vendors will not be an easy task.

Monitor 24*7

Understanding your needs

Unless you are clear about your needs do not start the search for an APM tool. What are the typical needs for an APM?

  1. Code level diagnostics
  2. Types of technologies to be monitored
  3. End-user experience monitoring
  4. Out of the box/custom dashboards for your IT Operations
  5. Agent/agentless monitoring
  6. Cloud based/on premise tool
  7. Synthetic monitoring tool

Six points mentioned above are some of important high level requirements. Also come up detailed requirements. For example, list of critical metrics you need to monitor.

This is the first step to narrow down your search for a right APM tool for your needs.

What to Look for in an APM Tool

Once you are clear about your needs you then try to match your needs with available tools in the market. An APM tool that informs you that a specific transaction is slow, but is not able to tell you where, why, and who should be in charge of correcting this issue, is virtually useless. Therefore, a proper APM tool should offer an extensive library of integration gateways to analyze and aggregate data from almost all the major service providers.

There are open source options that might be worth considering which you can bend to your own needs, such as Nagios.

Many APM tools can offer useful analysis capabilities, just be mindful that these capabilities should be aiding your understanding of all your generated data. Also, to make all your tasks more manageable, a few criteria may be prioritized more than others with regards to your overall assessment of APM.

Two starring lights: New Relic APM Systems and Sensu

The criteria by which you should decide on an APM system should be as follows: reporting, monitoring, and analysis.

New Relic APM systems can map the history and status of an application in real time. You can also make use of pre-programmed behavior which will enable you to be able to identify changes with regards to your overall monitoring data.

Certain providers like Sensu choose only to target server-side monitoring and these providers will not offer you any client-side RUM functionality. It’s important to be wary of that.

Remember, an APM tool may be used to ensure the success of your business. APM tools ideally improve the availability and performance of the business applications that you presently use. Let that be your guiding light in selecting a system that works for you.

The Pros and Cons of Using the Datadog APM Platform

Another APM tool that may meet some of your needs: Datadog has a fully qualified and sophisticated user interface, which makes it ideal for collaborative environments.

On the other hand, you should also note that this very robust APM platform can become very expensive if you decide to increase the size of your development projects.

You can significantly reduce the chances of misunderstandings if all development teams are involved in the overall search for a single APM tool to solve all your problems, with the same vision of things and the same tools. It’s important to analyze and assert patterns by always looking at different levels of load on your global infrastructure.

Those patterns will determine your ideal APM tool choice.

Discover more on Monitoring Tools

The Benefits of Using the Right APM Tools

Performing these kinds of tests with your APM tools, you can contribute significantly to sustainability and the overall planning of your systems.

You might also wish to give some thought to the idea that these tools are handy if you want to be able to identify potential problems before actual end users ever encounter them. Remember, your business’ public image will be damaged if you only identify issues after users begin confronting them in real-world scenarios.

It’s really in your best interests to invest in a high-quality APM solution to make sure that all your testing is fully complete before you release your application to the wild. While all applications frequently require a server to run, not all software packages will require users.

It’s crucial to use the right APM tools to test your apps depending on what real-world uses you plan for your software. When looking at the APM tools, you need to make sure that the one you select is appropriate for your use case. Every detail needs to be considered: from the efficiency of requests made on the underlying databases to the speed of the demands on the network.

For example, not all applications need to be scalable. In such a case, a tool like Stackify specializes heavily in dealing specifically with web application analysis.

On the other hand, New Relic, as we mentioned, monitors mobile and web users. It’s ideal if you need a tool that provides comprehensive end-to-end visibility. In other words, you should use a tool that offers a high level of detail with regards to each transaction that your APM tool monitors.

Lastly, tests and alerts will be necessary for specific types of applications. By its nature, you’ll find that these forms of monitoring among APM providers that specialize in monitoring user-centric applications – usually web-based and mobile-based.

Why You Should Use APM Tools Alongside RUM Platforms

It’s really important to carefully choose a solution that the stakeholders in each life cycle of the application will adopt. As a basic rule, APM providers who analyze RUM from the web also tend to be the ones who offer web performance monitoring. The selection of the right APM tool for your business will depend heavily on the use cases that you have planned for your software.

Take some time today to carefully analyze the full life cycle of your software package before you make a final decision on which APM tool you wish to use. It’ll be much better down the road when you have a clear rationale for your product and the reasons for the APM tool you chose.

An APM tool should primarily be used to monitor the availability and performance of your website or platform in continuity. On the other hand, you need to understand that web performance monitoring is at the same time frequently used in conjunction with a RUM tool.

Real User Monitoring (RUM) is an advanced passive approach which is used to analyze the performance of a website.

You should also note that in the scenario of a web application, the RUM aggregates and tracks each page visited by a specific user and each button that they click on.

RUM tools have a global vision of the environment and can even identify a specific transaction that is particularly slow. Also, you need to be mindful that whether it is a question of studying production data or replaying a problem, everything will depend explicitly on the details of each transaction.

APM tools that work with your test automation tools is essential

It’s important to be aware that functional or performance error details are essential whether a transaction is executed several times or just once.

At the same time, you should also understand that although regression or load testing is a crucial factor with regards to your applications, the real value arises from the data that an APM platform can aggregate. Remember, even if it is not you, someone else may make mistakes that will affect you in one way or another with regards to the functioning of your application.

Like the problems that may impact your application, the solutions to solve these problems may follow the entire development lifecycle, which means it’s important that APM tools also integrate with your test automation tools.

APM tool or set of tools together that suits your needs can literally revive your IT Operations. IT infrastructure has grown so complex because of so many options cloud, service virtualization etc. that the single approach doesn’t work any longer. Some organizations even have up to 30 different monitoring products deployed. In most cases, right tool choice can bring it down to 4 or 5. Review your APM toolset now. And pick one if you don’t have any setup with some tools providing no obligation pilot.

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Price-Performance-Leader-Automated-Testing

Do you or your team currently test manually and trying to break into test automation? In this article, we outline how can small QA teams make transition from manual to codeless testing to full fledged automated testing. The transition will not happen overnight but can be successfully achieved much easier than anticipated.

Price-Performance-Leader-Automated-Testing

1 – Say no to mundane repetitive manual testing

Your willingness to say no to mundane and boring repetitive manual testing is the first real step towards automated testing! As a team you need to acknowledge that manual testing is haunted by repetitiveness and is error prone. Any team will eventually get bogged down by doing the same thing over and over again impacting team motivation. Some teams will overcome this challenge by automating small bits and pieces of repetitive work. For example, a script to import test data into a database, a utility to generate random test data, etc.

2 – Know impediments to switch to automated testing

Once you acknowledge as a team that you need to move to automated testing, the next step is to know what is stopping your team from making this move. In most cases, it is the fear of complexities involved in automation ie., learning programming. “Can we learn a new programming language and implement a successful test automation project?” are the kind of questions that come to mind. To allay such fears, teams should start small and pick the right tools that suit their testing needs. For example, think before picking a tool that does not work well with iFrames if your application is using iFrames heavily, or start to build out a test automation framework if your team doesn’t have any automation experience, etc.

3 – Start simple and small but make it successful

A good beginning is half the job done. It is very important to pick the simple and small test cases when your team is new to automated testing. Pick the test cases that you manually test very often but are easy to test. Simple and small test cases are easy to automate, debug, maintain and reuse. Don’t go crazy with automation and start with most time taking or complex ones first or you will make your beginning harder and reduce your chances of success. For example, start with a simple login test case, creating a user, etc.

4 – Pick the right tools and frameworks

Making the process easier for your team to adopt is the key to success. It will be easier when you choose combination of tools and frameworks. Yes, you heard it right! It has to be combination of tools. You can no longer rely on one single tool to get success on your test automation. Selenium execution will probably be the foundation as it is the most popular and convenient tool to use with different programming languages. Start with codeless testing tools built on top of Selenium. Codeless testing tools could cover most of your simple to medium complex manual tests.

Discover why is codeless test automation better than conventional test automation?

5 – Learn and practice programming

Pick up the programming language that your team is most comfortable with. Codeless testing might be able to cover most of your manual testing but for complex steps or tests, you would need to write scripts. Learning is not enough, you should put your learning to practice to understand and write good code. But do not go deep where you cannot stand. Remember as a team, your goal is to ensure quality of the software by automating repetitive manual tests.

6 – Be very clear on what to automate

Your team has to prioritize which tests to automate. Just because you have this new-found knowledge of automated testing, does not mean it should be applied to everything — in fact, it is impossible to automate all tests, and many things are better off being done manually. Trying to automate complex and less often used tests is a formula for failure and is not worth your team’s effort. Here is where your manual and exploratory testing skills should be put to use whenever a new feature is released.  Run risk analysis to determine parts of your application that should be automated. In addition you will have to pay attention to details like if your application is web based, you will want to create a list of the browsers and devices that are going to be essential to your particular test suite.

7 – Zero tolerance to unreliable automated tests

Just like, as manual testers, you refuse to be content with failing tests, you should not tolerate automated tests that pass at times and fail at other times. Unreliable tests will lose your team’s confidence and is a stepping stone for failure. As an example, if there is a failure in the initial steps of a lengthy test case, you can not be sure if there’s no bug beyond that step. Such uncertainties will be bad for team morale and make the whole automation effort less fruitful.

8 – Do not neglect team collaboration

Successful outcomes for any project are guaranteed by a collaborative team. It is no different for test automation. All your team’s automated tests have to be in a single repository accessible anytime & anywhere. A change log indicating who made change to which test case for traceability and accountability should always exist. The tool you pick should allow for collaboration and also make it easier to categorize, tag, sort and filter the 100’s of tests that you would have created over time.

9 – Get the fundamentals right

Do not forget the testing fundamentals. Whether it is manual or automated testing, testing concepts and fundamentals always apply. Refer these articles to understand the fundamentals of test automation

Automated testing might seem daunting when you start, but all it really takes is a consistent effort to make it a success. Continuous learning and practice using your resources will help. Take comfort in knowing that even the experts don’t know it all. No matter how good an automation engineer you become, there’s always more to learn.

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An agile development process seems too dynamic to have a test plan. Most organisations with agile, specially startups, don’t take the documented approach for testing. So, are they losing on something?

A test plan is useful to put discipline into the testing process. Otherwise, it’s often a mess when team members draw different conclusions about the scope, risk and prioritization of product features. The outcomes are better when entire team is on the same page. If your team isn’t planning tests, the problem could be how you perceive the test plan.

A test plan might appear like an elaborate document by the QA, but in agile it is more like a process than a plan. It can be dynamic in spirit and capable of keeping up the sprint velocity. Let’s look the challenges in agile testing and how to overcome them with planning.

The perils of no test planning

It’s a common pitfall when team is focused on a quick burn-down of everything in the bucket of requirements. This way, you can lose time on testing low risk and low priority requirements. And a feature that is more critical for the business may not get the attention it deserved.  

The lack of capacity to prioritize comes from limited understanding of the product user and usage. If testers are not able to prioritize what features are top priority to test first, testing becomes a disadvantage for the agile speed.

Absence of test planning can translate to inadequate team communication on the goals of testing. This can dilute the purpose building a product. If test planning is so important how can you incorporate it for your product?

Why agile test planning

For agile, test planning should map risks and rewards of testing any feature. In order to achieve this, tester should communicate the business importance and priority of features they would be testing in the sprint. Testers should evaluate the acceptance criteria rather than copy-pasting it. This allows testers to examine the significant features carefully.

QA can use critical thinking in deciding what to test. This can only be possible if testers know the product users. Most of the product usage is concentrated in a few features. Data of product usage allows testers to take better decisions. And might invest more time in exploratory testing.

A discussion between the manual testers, automation testers and developers aids in planning. Say, the team can discuss how they can avoid duplication of tests. Or say, prepare a stub in parallel while the development of a feature is underway.

Test planning can layout the process of how quality is built in even before the coding begins. It is because the purpose of QA should be to stop injecting a defect in first place. For this purpose, importance of different tests like unit testing can be outlined so that the team can organize their output according to the available time.

Due to the nature of competition and demand the requirements can be dynamic and pop up unexpectedly. So, a plan to prepare for the unplanned can save the team from disorder and confusion.

To start embracing test plan in agile you can use the following mantras:

  • Test planning should be a dynamic process
  • Team communication is key to achieve goals
  • All team members must know the business importance and priority of product features
  • Plan should be inclusive of critical thinking to understand risk and rewards of testing
  • Purpose of plan should be to avoid the defects in the first place

The way forward

There is no static document that dictates the course of testing in agile. The direction comes from dialogues between all the stakeholders of the product. Whole team must be involved in quality assurance from the beginning of the sprint. The goal of interactions is that everyone on the team understands what to be tested and by what method. The test planning in agile needs a cultural change in the organisation. This is a continuous process and requires a constant promotion on collaboration.

Discover how Selenium helps in performance monitoring to take proactive measures against bad user experience

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Coming-Soon-Selenium-41

Selenium 4 version is all set to release this Christmas. Simon Stewart (founding member of Selenium) has officially announced at the recently held selenium conference at Bangalore. Some major changes in the upcoming Selenium 4 have been revealed. So, it’s time to get ahead of the curve and figure out what is going to be changed, added and deprecated. In this article, we will take a look a few important features and give an insight on updates you can expect for your automation framework.

W3C WebDriver Standardization

The Selenium 4 WebDriver will be completely W3C Standardized. The WebDriver API has grown to be relevant outside of Selenium. It is used in multiple tools for automation. For example, it’s used heavily in mobile testing through tools such as Appium and iOS Driver. The W3C standard will encourage compatibility across different software implementations of the WebDriver API.

Let’s take an example of how Selenium Grid communicates with Driver executables as of now –

Adopting New Protocol

Adopting-New-Protocol

A test in Selenium 3.x, at local end (through json wire protocol) communicates with browser at End node.This requires encoding and decoding of API. In Selenium 4, test will directly communicate without any encoding and decoding of API requests (through W3C Protocol) though java bindings will be backward compatible but focusing more on W3C Protocol.

The Json wire protocol will no longer be used.

There are multiple contributors in webdriver  W3C specs. All of the work done is on github which can be found on- https://github.com/w3c/webdriver

Selenium 4 IDE TNG

Selenium-4-IDE-TNG

The Selenium IDE support for Chrome is in bucket. As we all know that Selenium IDE is a record and playback tool. It will now be available with much more rich and advance features such as:

  • New plugin system– Any browser vendor will now be able to easily plug-in to the new selenium IDE. You can have your own locator strategy and can plug in selenium IDE.
  • New CLI runner – It will be completely based on nodejs and not old html based runner. It will have following capabilities-
    • WebDriver Playback – The new Selenium IDE runner will be completely based on WebDriver.
    • Parallel execution- The new CLI runner will also support parallel test case execution and will provide useful information like time taken, number of test cases passed and failed.

Improved Selenium Grid

The one who have worked on Selenium Grid must know how difficult it is to setup and configure.Selenium Grid supports test case execution on different browsers, operating systems and machines. Thus it provides parallel execution capability.

There are two main elements in Selenium Grid-  Hub and  Node.

Hub- Acts as a server,a central point to control all the test machines in a network. In selenium grid there is only one hub which allocates the test execution to a particular node based on capability matches.

Node- In simple words node is a test machine where test cases actually run.

Selenium-Node-Container

For more details on selenium grid,follow the tutorial here- https://www.seleniumhq.org/docs/07_selenium_grid.jsp

The typical process to setup selenium grid till now caused testers sometimes to face difficulty in connecting node to hub.

In Selenium 4 the grid experience is going to be easy and smooth. As there will not be any need to setup and start hub and node separately. Once we start selenium server, the grid will act as both hub and node.

Selenium 4 will come up with more stable selenium grid in terms of removing all thread-safety bugs, and a better support for docker.

Discover how Selenium helps in performance monitoring to take proactive measures against bad user experience

Better Selenium Grid UI

The Selenium 4 would come up with more user friendly UI of grid having relevant informations about sessions running, capacity etc.

Better Observability

“Passive observability is the ability to do descriptive tracing.”  
– Simon Stewart

Observability, logging and debugging is no more confined to DevOps in recent times. As part of this release request tracing and logging with hooks will be improved so as to provide automation engineers a hold on debugging.

Refreshed Documentation

Documentation plays a key role in any project’s success. Selenium docs were not updated since selenium 2.0 release. In the latest upgrade selenium documentation is also going to be refreshed and detailed [WIP].You can access it on – https://seleniumhq.github.io/docs/

Here’s the video from Selenium Conference 2018 held at Bangalore recently

Selenium 4 In a nutshell

Upgrading to the latest version of selenium should not require any code changes.  Setting up node and hub will become smooth and the entire grid experience is going to be streamlined. For automation engineers, the latest version should not be challenging and existing automation framework should work with minimal changes.

More to come

These are few important changes. Stay tuned as there is plenty more to come.

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Progressive Web App

Testing your PWA: Progressive Web Application

PWAs or Progressive Web Applications is quite a buzz in tech media. The increased number of mobile users and the App-like experience which it provides contributed a lot to its popularity.

But what is PWA and how is it different from native mobile apps? How PWA’s are developed and what are key points which a tester should keep in mind while testing it?

Why you can’t ignore test planning in agile?

An agile development process seems too dynamic to have a test plan. Most organisations with agile, specially startups, don’t take the documented approach for testing. So, are they losing on something?

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Glitch

Users demand Google-like response time that pushes companies to monitor the performance and availability of their applications continually. Accomplishing a comprehensive view of your applications requires the integration of multiple approaches and instrumentation after a release. One of the approach adopted by various sector like ecommerce, health,and banking is synthetic testing.

Synthetic testing that uses distributed test engines to dedicatedly test performance and availability of your web applications and sites remotely – even when there is no traffic. Simply deploy the scripts onto a web browser to simulate the path a real customer takes through a website. The transaction scripts or workflow test are created in advance and then uploaded to the cloud  to run it after a the new code has been released into production.

Glitch

Top 5 reasons to use synthetic testing

When and why should you use Synthetic Testing, here are the top five reasons to use Synthetic Testing for your web application –

Measure SLA’s

SLA could be critical when an application has a number of third parties to host. Synthetic testing helps in making informed decisions backed up by numbers be it about performance, or stability, thereby maintaining transparency. It also helps in validating performance to ensure consistent delivery of third party services before committing an SLA thereby providing best of services to your customers.

Monitoring Web application during Peak and off traffic periods

The application these days are not standalone there are number of components interface, web services, protocols, etc., as a service provider, how could you be assured all of these components work perfectly fine when integrated? That’s when Synthetic Testing comes in handy, as it helps in measuring application performance 24*7 from every node/point and alerts the IT team about the issues found, that may affect the customer. Synthetic testing helps in exploring the production environment of your app/infrastructure Interestingly, the testing could be simulated and scheduled for different regions and period like low traffic zone or during a high traffic period.  

Benchmark Trends across Geographies

Once you have the data and trends you captured in one region, you could extend the same test to different areas, by monitoring the key transactions, geographies and extend validation to multiple devices and browsers.

The data collected would also help you streamlining your SLA, as you would know the[nearly] accurate time and measures are taken to rectify a particular problem.

Test business-to-business web services

Synthetic Testing helps businesses to test web services that use SOAP, REST or other web technologies. While these webservices help in building a communication with upstream and downstream, it also helps in reusing the existing web services for multiple workflows. So when one business service uses customer name to retrieve customer id, the same could also be used to get its details.

How does it complement real user monitoring to deliver better performance

While Synthetic monitoring helps in getting answers to queries like –

  1.       Is my web application up and running?
  2.       Is the transaction working smoothly?
  3.       How fast is my application?
  4.       Is there a failure or connectivity issue?
  5.       Are my upstream and downstream system well connected?
  6.       What is the performance of my website?

It might not be able to answer questions like –

  1.       The experience/issues end-user is facing
  2.       Geographical problems or browser issue not included in the synthetic test plan
  3.       End-user actions while browsing or exploring the website
  4.       The actual workflow took by the end user

This is where Real User Monitoring or RUM comes into the picture. RUM approach provides you an insight into how an end user interacts with your web application. Synthetic testing, on the other hand, offers the insight to “expected” user experience, so combining the power of two one could get a complete view of the user experience. Utilizing both approaches could help you in getting rid of blind spots and enhancing the user experience by providing –

  1.       Transparency
  2.       Reducing MTTR
  3.       Understanding business workflow from an end-user perspective

Some tips on how to select the best synthetic testing tool

  1. A synthetic monitoring tool should be easy in use, so if you do not want to spend time in scripting look for record and playback tool or if you are comfortable with scripting you can explore tools that allow you to code.
  2. The monitoring tool should support working with complex web functionalities.
  3. The tool should allow users to expand their testing scripts, i.e., adding more steps or an easy way to create complex workflows.
  4. The tool should have reusability feature where testing scripts could be recalled whenever a new business workflow needs them like login, logout, etc.
  5. Ability to test all data-driven test cases
  6. Capable of reducing false positives as issues arise from server maintenance, glitches, sparse coding, etc
  7. Able to minimize overheads like retesting for any false alerts.
  8. The tool should perform evenly across locations thereby measuring latency and load issues
  9. A synthetic monitoring tool should be capable of alerting using services like SMS or email.
  10. With users now accessing web application via multiple devices, a tool that allows you to expand testing across devices and browsers comes in handy.

Summary

The web is filled with complications and you need to watch it round the clock, make sure the users have a glitch-free and delightful digital experience. A well-defined test strategy combined with the well-designed synthetic tool could help you in achieving expected performance and removing bottlenecks.

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Dynatrace-vs-CloudQA
Most website description of the tools only add to confusion and you can lose a ton of time if you pick a tool that doesn’t match your expectations. So, before you put all your faith the in the most popular synthetic monitoring tools it is better to question whether they are really worth your time.
In this article we’ll compare Dynatrace synthetic monitoring which one of the popular options and CloudQA TruMonitor which brings promising features that pack a punch. Staring with a short  introduction for both synthetic monitoring tools and then a juxtaposition of most relevant features for an in-depth tool comparison.

HubSpot claims, if the site brings in $100,000 / day in revenues, 1 sec page improvement will bring in extra $7,000. That’s how much a second is worth; it can mean a 7% increase or decrease in your revenues.

Dynatrace-vs-CloudQA

Dynatrace – Synthetic Monitoring:

Short synopsis: Dynatrace is an Application Performance Management (APM) software that runs for on-premise and cloud applications. Dynatrace – Synthetic Monitoring is one of its performance analysis tools.

How does it work: Record and playback tool for creation of monitoring scenarios.

Standout features: Monitoring for multiple locations in a single execution.

Challenges: Basic record and playback tool to build monitoring scenarios.

Pros: Global coverage, rich dashboard and detailed reporting.

Cons:  Doesn’t work on complex web applications like Single Page Application, no provision to edit a scenario after being created and high costs.

Bottomline: Dynatrace – Synthetic Monitoring tool is useful ONLY for very basic monitoring and can be very costly to operate.

CloudQA TruMonitor:

Short synopsis: CloudQA is a cloud based web testing and performance analysis platform. TruMonitor is a synthetic monitoring tool by CloudQA.

How does it work: Record and playback tool for creation of monitoring scenarios.

Standout features: Powerful recorder and agility in management.

Challenges: There is no out of the box APM but CloudQA works well with 3rd party APM tools from Google (name of the tool) & NewRelic.

Pros: Very easy to setup and use. Works with even the most complex web applications and is cost effective.

Cons: Geographical monitoring from XX locations compared to YY offered by Dynatrace

Bottomline: TruMonitor is the easiest and the most effective synthetic monitoring solution available in the market.  

Side by side feature comparison:

CategoryFeatureDynatrace – Synthetic MonitoringCloudQA – TruMonitor
CreationRecording ScenariosBasic recording of user actionsAdvanced recording of user actions with support for assertions and hovers
MonitoringBrowsersReal browser supportReal browser support
Location Based MonitoringMonitor multiple locations around the world Simultaneous monitoring of same scenarios across multiple regionsMonitor multiple locations around the world
ComplexitiesSupports basic web applicationsMonitor complex web applications like Single Page Application
MaintenanceEditing ScenariosOnly addition of validation and editing CSSPerform complex actions- Adding scripts, store variables, random variables, alerts, waits etc
3rd Party IntegrationsOut-of-the-box integrations with popular toolsOut-of-the-box integrations with popular tools
Scheduling FrequencyChoice of 5, 10, and 15, 30 and 60 minute frequenciesChoice of 5, 10, and 15, 30 and 60 minute frequencies
ReliabilityFalse Positive ResistanceBased on deviation from historical baseline metricRetrial of monitoring, automatic waits and robust CSS selectors
ReportingDashboardCan create and share custom dashboardBasic dashboard
Performance MetricsAvailability, uptime, full loaded time, network time, client time, server time, and resource timings.Availability, uptime, full loaded time, network time, client time, server time, and resource timings.
Performance Analysis– Line graphs, pie charts and histograms based date and time series analysis of Load times for URLs, and User actions
– Interactive graphs with user action and URL filters
– Run trends for status on application glitches while monitoring a scenario
– Drill-down for glitches with screenshots
– Other graphs
– Line graphs and histograms based date and time series analysis of Load times for URLs, and User actions
– Interactive graphs with user action and URL filters
– Run trends for status on application glitches while monitoring a scenario
– Drill-down for glitches with screenshots
Alerts and NotificationEmail, Dynatrace mobile app and custom integrations like Slack, PagerDuty and JIRASMS, email, and custom integrations like Slack, PagerDuty and JIRA
Competitive BenchmarkingUsing Apdex ratingsOn request
OtherSupport (Basic Subscription)– Product onboarding
– Live chat
– 8 Hours / 5 Working Days available
– Product onboarding
– Dedicated Support Assistant
– Live chat
– 8 Hours / 5 Working Days available
InfrastructureOn premise and CloudOn premise and Cloud
Price$ 0.35 per 25 runs$ 0.14 per 25 runs

Summary

With growing performance expectations and web complexities, synthetic monitoring is indispensable for companies who want to stay ahead of the competition. Unlike other monitoring tools, TruMonitor offers a comprehensive solution for analysis of user journey; even on complex web applications. Contact us to learn more on how you can leverage synthetic monitoring to become proactive in delivering quality digital experience.

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Synthetic Monitoring tools

Introduction

A bad digital experience can be very costly. On an average, the cost to acquire an online visitor is around $5 and while only a 3% of them actually convert, any performance issues can burn a big hole in your pocket. But how can you set a benchmark for a quality digital experience?

According to industry experts, your website / application should be glitch free to begin with and all web pages should load within 3 seconds.

HubSpot claims, if the site brings in $100,000 / day in revenues, a 1 second page improvement will bring in extra $7,000. That’s how much a second is worth; it can mean a 7% increase or decrease in your revenues.

Though upholding performance at a benchmark is difficult, monitoring them to take proactive actions can be easy. But performance monitoring yields results only if you choose the right tool. This is because most monitoring tools offer some basic features like pinging URLs to check availability and load time. Moreover, it is different from how a real user would behave on your website. So, why would you use a monitoring tool that doesn’t tell you anything about the user journey?

The only way you can analyze whether a user journey meets the customer expectations is by using a Synthetic Monitoring tool. It is used to monitor critical user journeys on a website and warn developers in case something doesn’t work or perform as expected. If you’re not familiar with Synthetic Monitoring, this article will help you learn about it in-depth.

Synthetic Monitoring tools

What is Synthetic Monitoring

Synthetic monitoring (also known as active monitoring or proactive monitoring) is web application monitoring that is done using a Web browser emulation or scripted recordings of web transactions regardless of whether or not users are currently visiting your site. Synthetic monitoring tools are used to identify and resolve web application performance and availability issues from different geographical locations worldwide.

When and why is Synthetic Monitoring needed

  • Synthetic monitoring is useful to check your site’s availability and end-to-end performance 24/7  from the end-user perspective. Synthetic monitoring predicts, to a fair degree of accuracy, how your application will perform in which geographies and isolate the root cause of any detected bottlenecks. Synthetic monitoring prevented or pre-empted  95 to 99 percent of previous performance issues for most of our customers.
 
  • To provide rich customer experiences, websites and applications increasingly depend on 3rd parties such as shopping carts, ads, customer reviews, web analytics, social networking, SEO, video, and more. In fact, retailers around the globe increased the number of 3rd parties by 21% in 2015, from an average of 25 to 30 3rd parties.These third parties help increase traffic, conversions, and improve customer satisfaction, but any one of them could weaken your site’s overall performance or even take it down. While SLAs may let you point the finger, from the end-user point of view, you’re the one who’s accountable. Using synthetic monitoring, you can evaluate components via pre-production testing for proof of concept and load testing based upon what you expect during high-traffic periods.
 
  • To objectively measure your own service level agreements (SLAs) and also your third party service provider’s. When your site is not functional, loading so slow and timing out that customers go elsewhere, then your site becomes unreliable. Imagine if this happens at a business-critical moment such as cyber Monday or during a major news event, this will impact your entire year negatively. Continuous testing and synthetic monitoring are the best possible ways to ensure your web applications are reliable. No application is immune from performance issues. Complex infrastructure and integrations that support web application delivery in today’s world makes it even more vulnerable. You can get ahead of any problems and preserve your customer experience by taking a top down approach and having visibility into how your application is performing and all of the factors that affect that performance.
 
  • To measure, baseline and analyze performance trends of your application across different geographies, browsers and resolutions. If you don’t track and baseline your performance during normal operations, you won’t know how your applications are performing for your end-users during peak periods. Synthetic monitoring enables a consistent, reliable approach to measure performance throughout the days, weeks or months. With synthetic monitoring, baseline tests can mirror the way your end users access your applications. These simulated user tests can monitor key transactions across geographies, browsers, and devices. Armed with this data, you can assess whether you are meeting user requirements, identify areas to improve, and use the data for capacity planning. Established baseline metrics from synthetic monitoring will give you concrete data to support negotiations and to monitor going forward before entering an SLA.
 
  • To track and benchmark your application performance versus the competitors. Benchmarking using synthetic monitoring provides valuable insight into how market leaders and the competition are performing. It also provides a context for shared goal-setting between IT and business stakeholders to improve business results, and as a tool for measuring performance over time.

What Synthetic Monitoring will not do

  • Resolve end user complaints. Synthetic Monitoring would tell nothing about what the end user was actually doing or experiencing when a real user raises a support ticket.
 
  • Troubleshoot servers and network problems. Operation team may need visibility into servers and network related problems. Synthetic monitoring does not provide this visibility.
 
  • Determine how server or network performance affect application performance. Under resourced network or servers impact application performance. Synthetic monitoring is not a good solution to identify root cause is such cases.
 
  • Analyze the performance of every page in an application. Creating and maintaining scripts for synthetic testing is time-consuming, even for one application. It should be judiciously used for monitoring only critical flows of an application
 
  • Validate the impact of change because of change in application or infrastructure. When IT team makes changes to applications or infrastructure, they must validate the impact of those changes on actual end user experience to determine the impact. Comparing metrics from synthetic testing won’t provide the full picture.
evaluate synthetic monitoring tools

How to evaluate Synthetic Monitoring tools

  • Creating monitoring scenarios:
    • It should be as easy as navigating the website like real users. The best way to do that is to use a record & playback tool which captures user-like actions and starts monitoring them. Not all monitoring tools offer record & playback. A few website monitoring tools like CloudQA and Dynatrace have this capability while some of the popular tools like Pingdom requires you to code for synthetic monitoring.  
    • Due to ever increasing complexities of modern web applications, synthetic monitoring tools should be able work on websites with technologies like single page applications. If the monitoring tool does not support working with complex web functionalities, the scope for catching performance issues is severely narrowed.
    • Once a scenarios is created for monitoring, a Synthetic Monitoring tools should provide an easy way to extend it. If such feature is not available then any incomplete scenarios can frustrate the tester working with the monitoring tool.
 
  • Management of monitoring scenarios
    • Agile methods bring frequent updates to the application. Hence, any synthetic monitoring tool should allow modification of scenarios that are as agile as as the application development process.
    • Websites usually have many workflows; however, there are some common scenarios like Login, Logout and Payment. Synthetic monitoring tools should allow joining separate scenarios to create a new one; thereby, reducing a lot of effort in creating new scenarios. Hence, a monitoring tool should contain a library of scenarios which can be tested collectively and interchangeably.
 
  • Data driven monitoring
    • No monitoring is complete without verifying all possible combinations of data inputs. For example, a website may have calendar settings/filter. In such case synthetic monitoring tools should be able to verify performance with alternating ‘Date’ inputs. The same can be said about other variations like a ‘Filter and Sort’ option on the website.
 
  • Minimize false positives
    • False positives are one of the most annoying thing about website monitoring. They however cannot be escaped. Issues arise from server maintenance, glitches, poor coding and  problems with the CDN. Synthetic monitoring tools should be capable of reducing false positives.
    • A well designed synthetic monitoring tool reduces overheads like retesting for any false alerts.
    • Only a handful of  synthetic monitoring tools are resistant to unexpected behavior of an application. For example, web elements of apps developed using AngularJS are dynamic and load  unpredictably. In such cases, an element loading slower than the speed of detection by a monitoring tool can misfire an alert.
 
  • Location based monitoring
    • Latency could be higher from certain location/s from where your customers access the website. Monitoring from different geographic locations is a way to see how the application performs with latency and load issues.
 
  • Alerts & Notification
    • Synthetic monitoring tools should offer an alerting mechanism  for situations where the desired performance goes below an established threshold . You should check whether the alerting tool of your choice integrates easily with your technology stack. Bare minimum requirements for monitoring alerts are SMS, and email. Integrations with popular tools like Slack and Pagerduty are also sought-after.
 
  • Reports
    • Baselining is an important feature for comparing current performance to a historical metric, or a baseline. The performance figures can be used as a comparative baseline for configuration changes.
    • Reports from a synthetic monitoring tool must include performance metrics for availability, uptime, full loaded time, network time, client time, server time, and resource timings.
    • Data retention is variable for monitoring tools. The retention offered is generally 6 months or 1 year.
 
  • Other criteria
    • Synthetic monitoring is not readily available with most APM tools. An integration with APM tools is desirable in such cases.  
    • AI / ML can be an important feature to reduce false alerts, prioritise problems and for prediction of issues.
    • Few synthetic monitoring tools offer mobile browser support. This is important for businesses having sizeable web traffic through smartphones and tablets.
    • To see how the application behaves with different bandwidths, a bandwidth throttling support is essential.  

Where does TruMonitor excel

If you are an ONLINE INSURANCE company
When someone is trying to buy an insurance online, the personal data like date of birth, gender,  location, etc are deciding factors for premium calculation. To get a true sense of how your application behaves for a true user, you should have the ability to monitor & measure your application performance with multiple data sets. TruMonitor is the only tool that makes multi-dataset monitoring possible and extremely easy to setup. With other tools, you are forced to a use single data set to monitor an insurance purchase journey and you will never be close to truly measuring your end user’s experience. Having different monitors for each data set is not a very good option from maintenance perspective. Imagine if you have a synthetic monitoring solution that could solve both these problems by using data as a variable executing one single script. That actually will give a very good idea of how your application is perceived by different types of end users.

If you are an E-COMMERCE company
When someone is buying a phone from an eCommerce site, they would look for product description, price, color and other important attributes of a product. Most synthetic monitoring solutions will not allow you to verify different types of elements like images, links, buttons etc on a page which your end user would need. With TruMonitor you can verify all types of elements on page and also add custom scripts for complex logical verifications.

If you are an ONLINE BOOKING company
Usually flights and hotels are booked by providing a date of travel or date of check-in. You record a script in June 2018 picking July 2018 travel and check-in dates. If you use the same recorded script for synthetic monitoring continuously it will start breaking after the chosen dates. The reason being calendar will start showing up differently from August 2018. Unlike other monitoring solutions which either do not offer this capability or have a flaky approach for addressing dynamic dates, CloudQA provides you an option to work with  dynamic dates f which would never break.

If you have an AGILE APPLICATION ENVIRONMENT
Online e-commerce can be very competitive and companies constantly have tweak their application to improve user experience. For example,  in an eCommerce purchase, let’s say you had a dropdown to display cities based on a state for a user to select. To improve this process you change the dropdown to an auto suggest text box. With other monitoring tools all your synthetic monitoring critical workflows would have to be discarded and created from scratch. With CloudQA, you have the flexibility of deleting the dropdown stop and add step to type into an auto suggest text box by just click of a button.

If your web application has EXTERNAL DEPENDENCIES (API’s)
While purchasing a product on eCommerce website, one would have to go through a delivery process by providing zip code and in most cases delivery is done by a third party service provider. Generally, third party providers use APIs for verifying if they can deliver to the specified zip code. With CloudQA, you can combine web application flows with API invocation into one single script and monitor them together make it a smooth process.

Support for MODERN WEB APPLICATIONS
Modern web applications are complex and beyond the capability of a basic synthetic monitoring tools. For example, web application based on AngularJS are difficult to monitor because their of dynamic web element loading capabilities. TruMonitor has robust engine which can handle such complex interactions.

Support for NEWS / MEDIA APPLICATIONS
News and Media web pages are content heavy. Having a 5Mb web page is common among the leading media sites. And having third party scripts like ad for marketing can drag the performance further. TruMonitor helps you gather performance intelligence to help you optimize web page for any user behaviour.

TruMonitor Features:

 
CategoryFeatureCloudQA – TruMonitor
CreationRecording ScenariosAdvanced recording of user actions with support for assertions and hovers
MonitoringBrowsersReal browser support
Location Based MonitoringMonitor multiple locations around the world
ComplexitiesMonitor complex web applications like Single Page Application
MaintenanceEditing ScenariosPerform complex actions- Adding scripts, store variables, random variables, alerts, waits etc
3rd Party IntegrationsOut-of-the-box integrations with popular tools
Scheduling FrequencyChoice of 5, 10, and 15, 30 and 60 minute frequencies
ReliabilityFalse Positive ResistanceRetrial of monitoring, automatic waits and robust CSS selectors
ReportingDashboardBasic dashboard
Performance MetricsAvailability, uptime, full loaded time, network time, client time, server time, and resource timings.
Performance Analysis– Line graphs and histograms based date and time series analysis of Load times for URLs, and User actions
– Interactive graphs with user action and URL filters
– Run trends for status on application glitches while monitoring a scenario
– Drill-down for glitches with screenshots
Alerts and NotificationSMS, email, and custom integrations like Slack, PagerDuty and JIRA
Competitive BenchmarkingOn request
OtherSupport (Basic Subscription)– Product onboarding
– Dedicated Support Assistant
– Live chat
– 8 Hours / 5 Working Days available
InfrastructureOn premise and Cloud

Summary

With growing performance expectations and web complexities, synthetic monitoring is indispensable for companies who want to stay ahead of the competition. Unlike other synthetic monitoring tools, TruMonitor offers a comprehensive solution for analysis of user journey even on complex web applications. Contact us to learn more on how you can leverage synthetic monitoring to become proactive in delivering quality digital experience.

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Ecommerce Monitoring

Performance of your web application can make or break your growth efforts. It’s critical for good shopping experience which in turn affects your revenue, loyalty, and reputation. Organizing a performance management strategy helps to balance risks and deliver a user experience that exceeds customer expectations. Ecommerce Monitoring is a useful tool to help your digital performance deliver that great user experience. Let’s dive deep into why you need ecommerce monitoring.

Ecommerce Monitoring

Errors occur unexpectedly

Demand for shopping is 24*7. But how would you know if something went wrong while users are shopping? For example – during late hours, there is an increase in the traffic, at such point if users experience a delay in loading or encounter a 404 error, it will impact your sales and customers trust. Ecommerce monitoring can assist in such situation by continuously monitoring the performance and alerts the team for technical glitches. It constantly helps in preventing a bad shopping experience.

3rd party services can you slow you down

Thanks to innovative technologies like API integrations, you can hook up the website with a service of your choice. For example, you may use a plugin that helps in customer analytics or a promotional banner.

Such services can cause your website to slow down or malfunction. It may not be apparent on your device but real users with different browsers and geographical locations can get affected. Ecommerce monitoring tool help you in detecting any issues with 3rd party services.

Test Web services

Your e-commerce business need collaboration with a number of services like – application vendors, application development tool suppliers, and middleware vendors. With the continuous exchange of data, smooth communication with assured quality is of importance. While web services offer modular solutions, e-commerce monitoring assist in supervising these services, testing the workflows and reporting any issues. It could help your firm in delivering superior quality when compared to competitors, improving the website rating and enhanced brand equity

Analyse and Baseline Performance

E-commerce Monitoring helps in benchmarking the performance of your web application all time. Guarding your website and measuring its performance all throughout the day over a period say a month, quarter or annually may be tough. Monitoring takes assistance from the marked baseline, mirror the same test in the live environment and provide you with a comparison result. You can then quickly analyze the gap between the expected and actual result. With all data in hand, you could identify the areas of improvement and strategize your development accordingly and stay ahead amongst your competitors.

A Detailed Report to Debug Issues

Customer expectations are rising, and they don’t tolerate slow performances. Presence of alternatives makes it easy for them to abandon a web app with quality issues. Bad experience affects the user’s impression of a brand.

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Improve the shopping experience today

use synthetic monitoring for customers shopping online

No website is free from technical issues. In fact, chances are, your customers faced a glitch in the past 24 hours. This is due to the issues like poor coding, incompatible browser and delays in loading at a location. If such issues go unnoticed for a long time they can damage your sales and reputation. We’ll show how you can use Synthetic Monitoring to overcome these challenges.

Synthetic-Monitoring-what-users-dont-like

What is Synthetic Monitoring and how it can help your ecommerce website

Synthetic monitoring checks how a website performs with the use of virtual customers. It can simulate real user interactions. Monitoring can run with real browsers and geographical locations. Once set up, monitoring runs 24×7 to alert the managers in case of any glitches.

In general, you should focus more on critical paths of shopping on your website. The navigation flows such as Sign up, Login, Add To Cart, and Checkout are critical for any ecommerce website. You can then add any other navigation flows like applying a promo code.  

When there’s a glitch, synthetic monitoring tool will allow you to see where and why it has occurred. Your team can then take quick actions before any glitch affects your customers.

Synthetic website monitoring alerts

Customer expectations are rising, and they don’t tolerate slow performances. Presence of alternatives makes it easy for them to abandon a web app with quality issues. Bad experience affects the user’s impression of a brand.

For ecommerce sites, Akamai reports 75% of online shoppers who experience glitches, crashes, or long loading time, will not purchase anything. A prudent quality analysis can reduce the probability of large losses.

Synthetic monitoring allows you to get various metrics on website performance. It records the time taken by the website to respond to each user-like action. You can use these metrics to fix your website according to user expectations.

Synthetic Monitoring tool metrics

Status codes are website Server and Client errors such as ‘404 Page Not Found’. They indicate that something has temporarily or permanently malfunctioned. The code in the response indicates what type of problem has occurred. If you are interested to know more: Wikipedia has a great article on status codes.

These errors are common and may come unexpectedly. You can be proactive and monitor website homepage or links that are critical for sales. As mentioned before, it is monitored for real browsers and geographical locations.

synthetic monitoring unavalability check

You may put efforts into upgrading the design or collecting customer analytics. But when such services may end up affecting the performance of your website. Change in theme most commonly breaks navigation links and button. It may also load poorly on mobile websites. Other 3rd party services used for analytics, marketing or inventory can also slow down a web page or the whole website

Synthetic monitoring can be used to understand the impact of 3rd party services. You can experiment with various services (or their combination) to see which affects the least.

synthetic monitoring for affects of 3rd party services

Ecommerce is competitive and user expectations will continue to rise. Hence, monitoring solutions are desirable to have quality digital experience. You cannot depend on customer feedback to take corrective action on your ecommerce website. Using a synthetic monitoring tool is necessary to avoid losing customers who don’t tolerate any poor performance. By taking proactive actions ecommerce managers can ensure a flawless ecommerce website.

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synthetic-monitoring

Synthetic Monitoring is a simulation of user actions on a web application in order to record functional and performance metrics. The user actions can be simulated for various web browsers and geographical locations. Monitoring is then configured to run at regular intervals which enables continuous analysis.

In short, Synthetic Monitoring is a proactive analysis of web application to mitigate losing users due to a bad experience.

Why Synthetic Monitoring

Synthetic Monitoring

In the past 10 years, web applications have become more sophisticated. We see a greater push for interactive content, responsive design, third-party services, and technologies like Single Page Applications. These advances are considered essential for a successful web application today. However, complexity with limited time to deploy has increased challenges in maintaining a quality user experience.

Let’s look at a fictional case for a better understanding of how Synthetic Monitoring can really save a business from desperate situations:

Sally is the founder of a 4-year-old ecommerce startup. Their website users have grown multi-fold during the past year; increasing by hundred thousand users. The holiday season is around the corner and retailers have started gearing up for this opportunity. So is Sally, as she anticipates the seasonal sales to account for as high as 30% of their annual sales. Sally senses tough competition and plans to release a new feature to apply promo-codes for discounts. In order to meet tight deadlines their development team work day and night building this feature. In the end, they were successful in rolling it out before the Holidays.

It’s the Holiday season and her loyal customer rush in early to grab the deals. Filling up their shopping carts, when they applied the promo-code the site would just stop responding. Shoppers got frustrated and left the site to purchase products elsewhere. Jennifer who is one of the frustrated users tells all her friends about this.

The promo-code feature was a critical workflow which failed to perform at the user end. Had Sally used Synthetic Monitoring for this critical workflow she might have corrected the issue in time.

User expectations are rising, and they don’t tolerate any glitches or slow performances. Presence of alternatives makes it easy for them to abandon a web app with quality issues. Bad user experience affects the user’s impression of a brand. For ecommerce sites, Akamai reports 75% of online shoppers who experience glitches, crashes, or long loading time, will not purchase anything. A prudent quality analysis can reduce the probability of substantial losses.

Having performance metrics plays a key role in strengthening quality. Prompt metrics like availability, error rates, and load times help attain quality with higher velocity. But having such metrics is only possible with Synthetic Monitoring.

In an event of a functional failure, unavailability or slow performance, a Synthetic Monitoring tool alerts dev teams to take quick actions. Undoubtedly, Synthetic Monitoring is required in situations where the risk of loss is considerable due to the poor user experience.    

Here are a few insights available from Synthetic Monitoring:

  • 24×7 performance and availability analysis
  • Understand the impact of third-party services
  • Know the precise reason for an issue
  • Check web services that use APIs
  • Verify availability of critical workflows
  • Measure Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Analyze performance across geographical locations

Windup

Web complexity and user expectations will continue to rise. Synthetic Monitoring is more relevant today to help deliver quality user experience. The ROI is high for the companies who need their digital experience to be ideal at the user end.

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Twitter is over capacity
Twitter is over capacity

We need performance testing make sure that our websites load as fast as possible. There are a few reasons why you need to test your website speed and make sure that your site is loading fast: Visitor Retention or Conversion Rate Your website visitors (who are mostly potential clients) will not stay around waiting for a website to load.

There are plenty of other fast-loading websites out there the serve up the same information, products and services. To make sure that your competition doesn’t capture your customers, make sure you don’t give them a reason to leave your website.

Google Loves A Fast-Loading Websites

Search engine optimization isn’t just about optimize everything on a page such as meta tags and image alt tags. You should also pay attention to the off-site elements such as site load time. Google does. Google actually factors in site speed in the ranking equation and, all things equal, if your competitor’s site loads faster…they will probably rank higher than you in the search engines.

Page load speed important factor for User Experience

Generate More Revenue

If you are selling products online, the difference in a sale on your website could simply be seconds in load time. An additional delay of seconds to page-load time caused a 20% drop in traffic. Think about 20% fewer customers and 20% fewer sales. It makes a difference.

Web Load testing

Web Load testing is the process of concurrent users accessing the application and measuring its response. Load testing is performed to determine an applications functional behavior under both normal and anticipated peak load conditions. It helps to identify the maximum concurrent users’ support of an application as well as any bottlenecks and determine which feature is slow.

Web application load testing is usually a type of non-functional testing although it can be used as a functional test to validate application behavior.

For example, a word processor or graphics editor can be forced to read an extremely large document; or a financial package can be forced to generate a report based on several years’ worth of data. The most accurate load testing simulates actual use, as opposed to testing using theoretical or analytical modeling.

Load testing lets you measure your website’s Quality of Service (QoS) performance based on actual customer behavior. Nearly all the load testing tools and frameworks follow the classical load testing paradigm: when customers visit your website, a script recorder records the communication and then creates related interaction scripts. A load generator tries to replay the recorded scripts, which could possibly be modified with different test parameters before replay. In the replay procedure, both the hardware and software statistics will be monitored and collected by the tool.

And at last, all these statistics will be analyzed and a load testing report will be generated. Load and performance testing analyzes software intended for a multi-user audience by subjecting the software to different numbers of virtual and live users while monitoring performance measurements under these different loads. Load and performance testing is usually conducted in a test environment identical to the production environment before the software system is permitted to go live.

checkout-lines
People waiting in line with shopping baskets at grocery store

As an example, a website with shopping cart capability is required to support 100 concurrent users broken out into following activities:

  1. 25 Virtual Users log in, browse through items and then log off
  2. 25 Virtual Users log in, add items to their shopping cart, check out and then log off
  3. 25 Virtual Users log in, return items previously purchased and then log off
  4. 25 Virtual Users just log in without any subsequent activity

A test analyst can use various load testing tools to create these Virtual Users and their activities. Once the test has started and reached a steady state, the application is being tested at the 100 Virtual User load as described above. The application’s performance can then be monitored and captured. The specifics of a load test plan or script will generally vary across organizations.

For example, in the bulleted list above, the first item could represent 25 Virtual Users browsing unique items, random items, or a selected set of items depending upon the test plan or script developed. However, all load test plans attempt to simulate system performance across a range of anticipated peak workflows and volumes.

The criteria for passing or failing a load test are generally different across organizations as well. There are no standards specifying acceptable load testing performance metrics. A common misconception is that load testing software provides record and playback capabilities like regression testing tools. Load testing tools analyze the entire OSI protocol stack whereas most regression testing tools focus on GUI performance.

For example, a regression testing tool will record and playback a mouse click on a button on a web browser, but a load testing tool will send out hypertext the web browser sends after the user clicks the button.

In a multiple-user environment, load testing tools can send out hypertext for multiple users with each user having a unique login ID, password, etc. The load testing tools also provide insight into the causes for slow performance. There are numerous possible causes for slow system performance, including, but not limited to, the following: Application server(s) or software Database server(s) Network – latency, congestion, etc.

Client-side processing Load balancing between multiple servers Load testing is especially important if the application, system or service will be subject to a service level agreement or SLA. User Experience Under Load test In the example above, while the device under test is under production load – 100 Virtual Users, run the target application. The performance of the target application here would be the User Experience Under Load.

Best tools to test your website's performance

JMeter

Apache JMeter is a protocol level load testing tool. It can be used to test loading times for static and dynamic elements in a web application. A tester can simulate a heavy load on a server, group of servers, network or object to test their strengths.

It can be installed on any desktop with Windows, Mac or Linux.  It has a user-friendly interface or can be used in a command line interface. It has the ability to extract data from popular response formats like HTML, JSON, XML or any textual format.

CloudQA

is a tool that examines all parts of a web page using Real browsers and User-like actions. It does more than load testing at a protocol level.  You can perform an UX-driven load test to estimate response times and render times. View file sizes, load times, and other details about every single element of a web page (HTML, JavaScript and CSS files, images, etc.). You can sort and filter this list in different ways to identify performance bottlenecks.

It will automatically put together plenty of performance-related statistics for you based on the test result. You can trace your performance history. See how fast a website loads with various geographical locations. It saves each test for you so you can review it later and also see how things change over time.

Testers can use CloudQA’s Smart Recorder for generating JMX scripts for JMeter. We added this feature because JMeter is too difficult for beginners, and even with skills the updation of the script is not easy.

WebLOAD

It lets you to perform load and stress testing using Ajax, Adobe Flex, .NET, Oracle Forms, HTML5 etc. You can generate load from the cloud and on-premises machines. Its strengths are its ease of use with features like recording/playback, automatic correlation and JavaScript scripting language.

The tool supports large-scale performance testing with heavy user load and complex scenarios and provides a clear analysis of the functionality and performance of the web application. This tool is generally best for large enterprises.

Web Load testing

This is an HP product. This can be bought as an HP product from its HP software division.  It is useful in understanding and determining the performance and outcome of the system when there is an actual load.  The LoadRunner comprises of different tools like  Virtual User Generator, Controller, Load Generator and Analysis.

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Selenium-IDE-Alternative

The Selenium IDE is a record and playback testing tool. A Tester can use it to create test scripts without coding and export them (to Selenium WebDriver) for executing the test. It simplified generating test cases, but due to growing intricacies of web technologies and lack of resources for support, Selenium IDE’s development was shut down.

Being minimal, Selenium IDE is now a popular tool for learning Selenium rather than a solution for creating and maintaining complex test suites. For comprehensive testing, a tester would use Selenium WebDriver. But to learn the ropes of WebDriver is difficult. And even when mastered, it doesn’t make test maintenance any easier.

The IDE and WebDriver from Selenium address the polar sets of testing skills. The gap between these web testing tools is filled by CloudQA.

Why CloudQA in place of Selenium IDE?

CloudQA has the simplicity of Selenium IDE and the vigour of Selenium WebDriver. It can test today’s complex website or web applications. While testing such websites is possible with WebDriver, CloudQA offers the same in a codeless and integrated testing platform.

Test what can never be tested with Selenium IDE:

  • Custom controls like test input, drop down menus etc
  • Nested iFrames
  • Angular JS
  • Picking element CSS path
  • AJAX calls

Do away with the struggles of Selenium WebDriver in a few clicks:

  • Upload a file for data driven testing
  • Execute tests parallely
  • Test with multiple real browsers
  • Schedule tests
  • Integrate with 3rd party tools

Raise the Quality of your QA

We made CloudQA with the purpose of solving the testing difficulties of the less experienced testers and web-product companies who want higher returns on QA.

CloudQA has an intuitive application to manage the recorded test. It has a ton of built in features that aren’t available with any tool in the Selenium’s shed. Say, impact analysis is a feature in CloudQA to see what test cases might get affect in-case a CSS path is modified.

Our platform is built on top of Selenium except it’s in the clouds. It not only allows us to keep the maintenance costs low but also scale testing with speed; beyond the capabilities Selenium’s IDE or WebDriver.

What can you do with CloudQA in 30 days?

You really need to use it to see what we say is true. Sign Up for a 30-day free trial and test your web applications with fully loaded features. You can set it up in minutes and start maintaining your tests from day one.

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Pros & Cons Web Testing Tools

Often teams choose an automation tool in a hurry without going into details of its pros and cons. The tool may not be comprehensive enough to satisfy all the testing needs of the application. Even if the best tools are selected they may not integrate smoothly into the QA process. We have highlighted pros and cons of best open source testing tools that give more clarity on knowing their suitability.

JMeter

Apache JMeter is a protocol level load testing tool. It can be used to test loading times for static and dynamic elements in a web application. A tester can simulate a heavy load on a server, group of servers, network or object to test their strengths.

Pros of JMeter

  • Easy installation: It can be installed on any desktop with Windows, Mac or Linux.
  • It has a user-friendly interface or can be used in a command line interface.
  • Test IDE allows test recording from browsers or native applications.
  • Ability to extract data from popular response formats like HTML, JSON, XML or any textual format.
  • Readily available plugins, for example, visualization plugin for data analysis.

Cons of JMeter

  • Has a high learning curve thus it requires skilled testers.
  • It doesn’t support JavaScript and by extension doesn’t automatically support AJAX requests.
  • Complex applications that use dynamic content like CSRF tokens, or use JS to alter requests can be difficult to test using JMeter.
  • Memory consumption is high in GUI mode which causes it gives out errors for a large number of users.

Capybara

Capybara is popularly used for end-to-end, acceptance and integration testing the Rack applications like Rails, Sinatra and Merb. It runs tests on headless browsers.

Pros of Capybara

  • Powerful synchronizing feature – No need to add manual wait for asynchronous processes to complete.
  • It has an Intuitive API to simulates real user actions on an application. For example, hidden elements/links are not clicked by a user so they are avoided.
  • Agnostic for the driver running the tests – No need to change code when you switch from one driver to another
  • Built-in support for Selenium.

Cons of Capybara

  • High memory consumption when using multiple drivers for testing.
  • It can be slow because it loads entire app stack. Or due to calling many controllers, models or views. Also, it doesn’t run JS (including AJAX calls) by default.
  • Tests become fragile due to minor changes in model/controller, text or design.
  • Hard to debug. For example, in case of timeouts or JS driver bugs.

Selenium WebDriver

The Selenium WebDriver is the most popular testing tool in the Selenium suite. It has an object-oriented API for testing modern complex web applications. This was developed by Selenium in order to support dynamic web pages (where elements of a page may change without the page itself being reloaded).

Pros of Selenium WebDriver

  • Capable of testing across web browsers like Firefox, Chrome, IE etc.
  • These browsers can be on platforms like Windows, Mac or Linux.
  • Independence of using  C#, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, JS(Node) and Ruby as scripting languages.
  • Tests for user-like actions on the web application.
  • Parallel execution on multiple machines saves time.
  • Can be used for more complex testing such as production monitoring and load testing.
  • Plenty of documents and a large web community is available.

Cons of Selenium WebDriver

  • It requires experienced test automation engineer.
  • Test maintenance is difficult, say due to the element waits in applications using AJAX.
  • Users need to learn and use different frameworks to standardize the testing process.
  • Proper implementation methods, if not followed, will slow down the testing.

CloudQA complements Selenium to enable complete QA

Selenium can be a comprehensive tool that does almost everything you need. But the test maintenance is cumbersome, it requires an expensive infrastructure and highly skilled tester. Even when you overcome these difficulties the productivity can be low leading to low ROI.

CloudQA is built on top of Selenium and strengthens it to address the key pain points of QA automation. Having a single platform for Regression testing, Performance testing, and Load testing it is a complete QA automation solution. Read more on Why CloudQA.

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SaaS

SaaS or Software as a Service model is increasingly becoming popular. Thanks to its features like – quick deployment, reduced dependency on internal systems, an increase in availability, reliability of resource and most importantly low upfront costs, it serves as the best choice. However, looking at the flip side, the companies are under immense pressure to release new features at a fast pace. Adapting agile methodology for development and testing has helped the businesses, but has also come with the challenges – the need to deliver quality software. So, what could be done? How can you assure the quality of the software yet make a quick delivery?

SaaS

Codeless Automated testing for SaaS-based web apps

We all know how crucial is to test any software, but with a SaaS-based application there are numerous challenges that makes testing of utmost importance. So let’s take a glance to the challenges of SaaS Application and how codeless testing could help overcome them –

Serial # Requirements of a SaaS application Why is it important Solution By Codeless Test Automation
1 Frequent Updates and UI Validation
  •  Live Updates are smooth
  •  Integration and Interface connectivity are seamless
  •  User does not experience any discontinuity of the services
  •  The existing features work as expected
  • Setup could be achieved within minutes.
  • Execution of test cases is possible from any location, anytime.
  • Ability to test live site without interfering with users workflow.
  • In case a test case need amendment due to software update/ feature change, edits could be made in a very short time
2 Scalability and Performance
  •  Certifying the load at zero and peak hours in multiple environments
  •  Defining the downtime and availability of the application.
  •  Scaling the users depending upon the usage/market requirement.
  • Provides a clear data on response time, reliability, resource usage and scalability of the software under various condition.
3 Security
  •  By verifying the privileges assigned to a user
  •  Continuous monitoring of logs and database to detect unauthorized access.
  •  Compliance based testing
  •  Testing the accessibility of data.
    • Defines levels of data access.
  • Helps in detecting unauthorized access or fraud by continuous monitoring of logs
4 Integrations & APIs
  •  Ensuring compatibility, security, and performance of API’s when they handshake with other third-party application.
  • It possible to test the integration of the system with other interfaces or APIs
5 Cross Browser functionality
  • SaaS Application need to be browser compatible and certify the minimum number of version it can support that browser, that’s where SaaS testing comes handy
  •  Certifies the compatibility with different browsers and the minimum version it would run successfully.
  • It assists in certifying the browsers, the SaaS product is compatible and the required version is supported.

As an entrepreneur, if you are looking to reduce the testing efforts, test automation could be beneficial. It not only reduces the time-to-market but could also help you with providing accurate results. For building the test automation framework, test automation strategy in-house, here is the quick approach and best practices that could help you –

Test Automation Approach for SaaS Products

An efficient automation is one reduces manual effort, improves test coverage, reliability and provides a positive ROI. Hence while formalizing a test automation framework, fundamentally for a SaaS product, you should keep in mind the features of SaaS –

Record and Play Approach

The most basic test automation approach offers convenience, low implementation cost and easy to be deployed. However, it does not provide flexibility and maintaining a record and play tool when manual intervention is required could be a costly affair in the long run.

Data-Driven Approach

The approach is best suited when a significant amount of data is to be tested under different combinations. It involves some scripting, and hence team should be skilled enough to check data output under various conditions.

Keyword-Driven Approach

A testing approach that could be expanded to various platforms, applications and environments. It suits for large/small data sets and projects of long/short duration. However initial implementation cost is one of the major pitfalls of this approach.

Hybrid Keyword Approach

The most sophisticated test approach that is long-lasting, flexible, provides you with ample checkpoints, sustainable and comes with an ability to integrate with external objects. But again, the initial implementation cost is enormous, and during initial months you may not witness a positive ROI. Hybrid keyword approach is a long-term test automation strategy and may not be the right choice for short-lived and straightforward projects.

Best Practices for Testing SaaS Products

  • Make sure to set aside resources and time to measure the performance of the SaaS application.
  • Get a clear understanding of the requirement and “How it needs to be tested.” Just for example does SaaS product needs integration with any other application? Or Would it work under different environments?
  • With frequent release, set aside some time for exploratory testing in every release that helps in getting new test cases and bugs
  • Make sure to perform upgrade testing, data migration testing with frequent upgrades and changes of SaaS application
  • Ensure the security, stability and quality of the SaaS application when connected to third party APIs
  • Set an estimate to your test automation efforts. Just for example once you guys have decided on the approach, how much time do you think it would need to write one test script? How much time does it need to execute it? It would help in comparing the estimated and actual efforts, thereby re-aligning your test strategy and leading to a higher ROI.
  • The user base is quite crucial for a SaaS application, hence make sure to have room to scale up in case it is needed.
  • Set up a plan for disaster recovery to ensure your users are not in a hung state in case of discontinuance of service.
  • Ensure Reliability testing in your release cycle for smooth deployment of code onto live site.

While founders know, the prime motive of building a SaaS application is that it is customer focussed. Have you thought they are also getting the quality? SaaS testing is a comprehensive test solution that includes Functional, Security, Load, Performance, Cross-Browser, and compliance testing. Codeless Test Automation of SaaS test scripts shortens the test cycle helping in frequent upgrades and release of SaaS application.

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CI/CD Best Practices

Agile methodologies teach breaking down of software development into smaller tasks known as “User Stories”. This has enabled early feedbacks which are useful for aligning the features with market needs. With the widespread adoption of agile practices, teams are able to deliver functional software in smaller iterations.

Continuous Integration (CI) is the practice of checking-in the code regularly. Each feature is integrated and tested several times a day from a shared code base. Though it gave a push for many smaller and frequent releases, test deployment and releases got strained, which ultimately affected the end goal.

CI/CD Best Practices

Jez Humble’s breakthrough book, Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation, talks about treating the entire software lifecycle as a single process—and one that could be automated. While agile addresses the needs of the developers, an investment in DevOps initiatives and Continuous Delivery offers businessesmuch higher returns.

How to do it right?

For selecting the right processes to automate, always ask yourself “Does this need to be automated now?” Following checklist will give you the answer:

  1. How frequently is the process or scenario repeated?
  2. How long is the process?
  3. What people and resource dependencies are involved in the process? Are they causing delays in CI/CD?
  4. Is the process error-prone if it isn’t automated?

CI/CD is not just about the tools

If you’re looking at the tools without thinking about the users, processes and the company structure, your CI/CD is never going to succeed. Implement a process using the tools, not the other way around. It’s crucial to understand the process and combined requirements of the organization before choosing  the right set of tools to fulfill technical requirements.

Seamless coordination between CI and CD

CI feeds CD. Toughest aspect of CI/CD is the human factor involving collaboration between various teams – development team, quality assurance team, operations team, scrum masters etc. Collaboration and communication cannot be automated. To measure the level of coordination, benchmark your CI/CD processes against best in the business.

Keep the goal in sight

Design a meaningful dashboard by assessing what data everyone wants and establish a standard narrative for what that data means. Don’t obsess over substance at the expense of appearance. Progressive assessment is important before metrics and dashboards. CI/CD is ultimately essential because it meets business goals. Failed releases leads to customer dissatisfaction, decrease in revenues and increase churn.

CI/CD is not possible without continuous testing. In order to build quality software, we need to adopt different types of tests—both manual and automated—continually throughout the delivery process. CloudQA automates your regression testing, cross browser testing, load testing, continuous monitoring and seamlessly fits into your CI/CD pipeline by providing out of the box integration with CI/CD tools like Jenkins, CircleCI, TravisCI, JIRA etc.

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why automate functional testing of web application
why automate functional testing of web application
When you have a commercial web application, you are always challenged to remain competitive.  You are constantly under pressure to roll out new features for your clients. While software developers have adopted agile methodologies to speed up software release cycles, this process can leave your web application vulnerable to bugs. In such a case, to what extent can you validate the reliability of all functionalities?I’ll share some of my experiences and examples to show you how automated tests are crucial to staying ahead of the competition.

Quick time-to-market earns customer loyalty

In my previous firm when we were looking for a team collaboration web app, we approached one of the solution providers. We liked their product but it needed some customization to suit our needs. They promised us a quick delivery.

On the delivery day, we had big smile on our faces. But as we ran the product all of us were left disappointed. The web app failed as it returned erroneous data when fetching information from other productivity apps. It was too buggy to be useful. The whole promise of delivering it first, delivering it best, vanished.

With competitors at every corner, deploying first could reap benefit only when you can assure quality. By automating your functional test suite you are assuring quality in the agreed time. Your ability to deliver will earn you customer loyalty.

Amplified reusability of test scripts

A booking web app can have input parameters with many variations. Say, a date input which varies across the users. The date needs to be tested with various combinations of logins, locations, time, and other user inputs.

With manual testing, any such web app can take hours if not days of work. The same tests can be put on automation. The scripts once made will be repeatedly used for various combinations of inputs. This amplification reduces the effort significantly while testing for a wide range of inputs.

Moreover, manual testing doesn’t reduce your efforts when minor changes are made to a feature. With automation you only need to edit the test case for the changed part. As this takes only a few minutes, the tests can start running immediately. Thus, the feature is deployed much faster.

It is important to note that not all automation frameworks support importing data sets. Some frameworks only allow changing data set from the script. Few other frameworks need variations in the scripts for a single data set. These are laborious and time consuming approaches.

Hence, you must use a framework that allows importing of data sets. By doing this you can test all possible combination of inputs with a single script. This approach gives higher ROI compared to other frameworks.

Improved quality leads to a strong brand

One of my acquaintance (a crazy shopper) has abandoned a shopping site for a small reason. She found that few items in her cart disappeared when she wanted to checkout. The website had a fault – It couldn’t notify the items that cannot be delivered to her location. All her efforts in selecting the items was wasted. She left the website angry.

Although this website offered great discounts, she has not changed her mind. She (like many other users) speaks about this experience in her social circle. The bad review gets compounded and the brand will lose customers for not meeting the quality.

Brand building comes from years of effort. The web app also grows more complex and has chances to ruin the reputation even with small errors. Thus, precision in testing a complex web app is important. Even a diligent tester will make mistakes during manual testing. Automated tests perform the same steps with more precision and never forgets to give detailed results.

Ensuring quality in large number of new releases

Ensuring quality in large number of new releases is difficult even with a QA team. One of our FinTech clients frequently releases features and updates. They have a team of eight QA engineers testing the code developed by thirty developers. The QA team leader is constantly under pressure to sign off on the quality of these releases to production.

For example, last week, they introduced 2 big and 3 smaller features, such as a change in user interface (UI), a new report, as well as stability issues and bug fixes. And these needed to be live in two days.

This is a tall order to manage. To avoid having to spend nights and weekends at work, their team adopted CloudQA to automate their entire regression test suite. The team made their workload manageable while ensuring that the releases maintained quality.

Enhanced test coverage boosts team morale

Imagine this – you have a team of manual testers, working on functional testing to be released into production in few days. The usual constraints and glitches (like environment not up or the build failed or smoke test failed) shorten the duration to one day, they try their level best and make the release. The next day your client reports a priority one bug. You could take out the frustration on your team thereby making the team frustrated.

Automating would help the team to perform exploratory testing in parallel or perform integration testing before the release. The unimpeded performance of the product will help boost the morale of your team.

We can help in improving the functional quality

CloudQA can help you in deploying high quality web applications faster. TruRT, our functional test tool will help you in building a comprehensive test suites. You can amplify reusability of test scripts, get precision in testing of complex web apps, and boost capabilities of your QA team.

You can write us at info@cloudqa.io

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RPA Test Automation

Is RPA a testing tool? Is Test Automation similar to RPA? Could Selenium be used for RPA? Does a Robot do RPA execution? How could RPA be utilized in testing? With RPA evolving could testers lose their job? Is RPA based on Agile?

To answer all such questions, we’ve come up with a post to debunk all myths and highlight the facts of RPA and test automation. Let’s get started with an introduction to RPA.

RPA Test Automation

What is RPA? What are its advantages and types?

RPA is a concept that can –

  • Automate the daily tedious manual testing that are repetitive, time-consuming and rules-based
  • Use software robots or Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Be applied across different industries

Leading to –

  • Quick improvements in the products’ efficiency
  • Enhanced accuracy
  • Cost reduction
  • Maintaining compliance

RPA could be categorized further as –

Simple RPACognitive RPA
Automation of any routine tasks where there is no need of intelligence is termed as Simple RPA. For example, Data Entry jobs Cognitive RPA involves human action/command for an RPA processing. For example, using Google assistant to find the shortest route while driving is a case of Cognitive RPA.

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Myths of Robotic Process Automation

Myth One – RPA is similar to Test Automation

Conceptually, the two processes are similar as they both involve “automation,” and offer same advantages of reducing manual intervention and delivering quality. However, the System Under Automation [SUA] may differ concerning concept adopted. Let’s pick an example.

Say, a firm ABC has a product, Test Automation is applied only to the product and its features. However, RPA could be applied to other business processes like:

  • a data entry done in a bank  
  • for an HR department automating the onboarding process.

Other differences that are seen are that test automation works across different environments, i.e., QA, UAT, Prod, etc. whereas RPA runs only in the production environment. While Test Automation is limited to QA, RPA systems could be used by all individuals across the firm in terms of creation and usage.

Test Automation Robotic Process Automation
Applied to product Applied to products and other business processes
Need to be implemented across different environments viz QA, Prod, UAT Need to have only one production environment
Limited to a particular set of users Could be used by all individuals across the team

Myth Two – Testing with RPA is just like Test Automation

As we know RPA is a concept built on the foundation of “automation” but has reached to the next level where no/few coding skills are required. The RPA tool could automate anything with no dependency on the target system. So, at the roots RPA is same as a testing tool, but it comes with more flexibility and stability.

Myth Three – Testing Tools like Selenium Could be used for RPA

The market is flooded with test automation tools like Selenium, QTP, QFTest, etc. so could they be used as RPA tools? The short answer is NO, and long answer is – The test automation tools come with a constraint that they need a software product to work on. However, RPA could be applied to anything except a product. Hence, none of the testing tools available in the market could serve as RPA tools.

Myth Four – RPA may result in job losses

report published by the McKinsey Global Institute says, “The right level of detail at which to analyze the potential impact of automation is that of individual activities rather than entire occupations…… Given currently demonstrated technologies, very few occupations—less than 5 percent—are candidates for full automation. However, almost every occupation has partial automation potential.”

This type of analysis builds hopes that the work done would be in collaboration of a human and a machine, so as of now we do not see RPA eating up jobs.

Five Facts of Robotic Process Automation[RPA]

Experts predict that Workforce automation is one of the technology disruptors, as per a report from CGI and other sources, few of the facts and figures on software robotics or RPA are –

  1. One could automate 47 % of tasks using RPA
  2. With RPA tools the processing time could be reduced by 40%
  3. RPA may boost the growth of IoT and Big data technology products and integration.
  4. RPA Tools would provide enhanced Analytics and Visualization models that are customer focused and beneficial for business.
  5. RPA is a strategic decision that needs to be implemented after assessing the ROI.

Robotic Process Automation @CloudQA

CloudQA in its journey to deliver quality and reduce cost is in the process of launching its RPA solutions soon. Our miniature robots could work across various industry like Banking, Insurance, Health or telecom. Our solution would help you in educating, implementing, supporting and maintaining the automation of business processes. CloudQA RPA tool would come with features like – Easy in setting up the environment, nonintrusive, scalable and above all automate simple and cognitive business processes.

Talk to us for more information on our RPA tools.

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Automation Testing
Where do we fit the Automation into our SDLC was one of the questions raised by a prospective client? Do you have the same impression?

Many of us believe automation to be simply a part of QA phase of the SDLC, but to achieve the desired results automation must follow the complete cycle of its own known as Automation Lifecycle or ATLC i.e. a loop inside a loop. Let’s dig it further to know How, what, when why of ATLC –

Automation Testing

Four reasons how ATLC could be beneficial to your firm/enterprise

Unless we know how a process could be beneficial. It would be ironic to apply it, so here goes the quick advantages of ATLC

  • Faster Time to Market with an increase in efficiency in testing efforts, shorter release cycles, and reusable components and process
  • Quality assured product deliveries with early detection of defects.
  • Robust and stable Automation framework are stressing on productive regression test cycles.
  • Test data optimization is assuring better test coverage and quality.

Four reasons why you need an ATLC for your firm/enterprises

We provided you enough reasons to use ATLC, but do why at first point it should be utilized? So here are the reasons for your WHY –

  • An automated tool need a process/strategy to work, ATLC helps you in building and structuring
  • An ATLC would assist you in identifying reusable components making it efficient and time-savingin the long run.
  • An ATLC helps you define your ROI through automation.
  • AN ATLC also helps in evaluating the competencies of software’s, hardware and man efforts required for automation, making it easy if the tools are competent enough or need to be replaced.

Six steps of ATLC your firm/enterprise needs to adopt

Now we know the How and Why of ATLC, let’s proceed to know how to utilize the ATLC in your QA/SDLC cycle. ATLC consists of six steps majorly –

  • Automation Feasibility Analysis–The first and crucial step of ATLC is to perform a feasibility test. Whether –
    • The Automation tool is compatible with your product?
    • The skills needed for thetool are present within your team/trainer?
    • What modules could be automated and tested?
    • Are there any dependencies with the tool or environment?
    • The software/hardware/ manual effort is in line with project cost?
  • Test Strategy – Once the feasibility study is done, users need to pick the strategy that is ideal for the project. The testing framework chosen would be a long-term investment, so choose wisely. The primary framework available are –
    • Keyword driven framework
    • Hybrid Framework
    • Record and Playback framework
    • Data driven framework
    • BDD Framework

You would also need to

  • Estimate the number of hardware/software licenses you would need for automation.
  • What kind of SLA your team could provide
  • The SOW [scope of work] for a release
  • Constraints and limitations
  • Work on the schedule of test automation
  • Environment Building – While your environment needs to be mirroring the real environment, at an initial stage it is important to build the automation environment for your regression test suite. It could also include integration with the development environment, Build process like JENKINS,
  • Test Script Development –This is the most technical part of the lifecycle with a need to hard-core coding based on the test automation framework chosen. Time spent at this stage is directly proportional to the time of a release. Just for example – if your coding does not create reusable functions it means every time the tester needs to code that many lines of code, hence make sure to have strict rules of coding with comments and proper structure.
  • Test Script Execution –Once everything is in place, a user with a single click start up the execution and go home to analyze the results next morning. However, during initial phases, you may see many failures due to technical issues and not because of defects.
  • Test Reporting – The final stage of an ATLC is analyzing the test reports generated and correct your test scripts/ environment variables or worst case in test automation framework. Your test report is the face of your ATLC, so ensure that the stakeholders know all the features of it.

If your firm/enterprise is looking for a stable and well-defined automation planner/strategist, CloudQAcould help you. We are the experts in Codeless automation and adhere to processes and timely deliveries. For more information or if you have any queries regarding ATLC, please contact us here.

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Test Automation

Automation is now a phenomenon! One click booking, Auto-filters, interconnected and automated appliances,etc. are now anessential part of our living. While consumers enjoy automation to ease their stressful life, test automation could offer peace of mind to many founders and CXO’s of the firms.  While many believe test automation is to make a QA person life simpler, it also extends its advantages to other stakeholders. Need to know how? Let’s explore –

Test Automation

Business Problem 1: Need Quick Releases

We are living in an Agile Age, where “Agile, agile development, agile delivery and agile process” are the terms to sustain. Many firms pick Automation for one simple reason that it could blend with Agile process seamlessly. So if you are looking for quick –

  1. New Features rollout
  2. Bug fixes
  3. Testing cycle
  4. Deployment to all environments
  5. Stable build with dependency list

Then Automation could help you. Here are some facts –

  • Test Automation contributes to cut out the regression test execution time
  • Test Automation, when used with build & deployment tools, could provide you with daily builds [inclusive of dependency list] and deploy it in all environment like QA, UAT, etc

Business Problem 2: Save Cost

In a test automation survey report done by Test Magazine in partnership with SoftwareTestingNews, firms witnessed a  return on their test automation investment

  • Immediately (24%)
  • Within the first six months (24%).
  • The remainder saw a result within 6‑12 months (28%) or after one year (15%).
  • Only 9% reported never getting an ROI

And if you are keen to know how ROI on your test automation suite, please refer to our blogpost here.

Business Problem 3: Security

With test scenarios like Disaster recovery, contingency plan, Security testing and recognizing data patterns for possible threats, test automation is helping many firms in delivering secured and safe solutions.  While test automation could be helpful in running test scenarios for authentication, confidentiality, authorization, integrity, resilience, and availability of website/product. It also ensures that a continuous scanning of logs happens to recognize any vulnerabilities like unauthorized access or repetitive login from suspicious IP address.

Business Problem 4: Integration and Simulation

Technologies like cloud computing, containerization, virtualization, and microservices have made easy for QA to setup and managed an application under test [AUT]. These technologies provide flexibility and instant setup of a complex test environment at every stage of a lifecycle. The test environment is much similar to the real environment and could be accessed from any location making it easier for tech enthusiast to test from anywhere anytime.

Business Problem 5: Quick Turnaround with structured and automated Reporting

With multiple scenarios and test runs, it gets messy to get a clear picture of where is the bottleneck? Test Automation with formal reporting helps you see these gray areas and get it rectified quickly.

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Test Automation

Test Automation is a strategic decision influenced by myths and facts. However, firms need to understand any test automation is an investment, which has its assumptions and a strategy, stressing the need to measure the ROI. But what are the factors that influence ROI? Are there any assumptions? Is there a formula to devise? Are there any tools like Test Automation ROI Calculator? Is there a range that dictates my test automation suite is healthy once ROI is calculated? To these questions and more @CloudQA is here to help you.

What is ROI of Test Automation?

Most of the ROI calculator available online uses a simple formula = hours saved via automation multiplied by an hourly rate.

But we haven’t included the expense to purchase automation tools, learn scripting language, or hire new resources, software, environments, etc.? Hence the above formula does not provide you with accurate results. So, let’s list down all the factors that could affect an ROI of test automation suite.

Factors Affecting ROI of Test Automation

Some of the factors that influence the ROI of test automation are –

  • Test Automation Tool License cost
  • Number of test cases that could be automated
  • Time and Cost involved in initial designing of automation framework, feasibility and reskilling of team
  • Per hour cost of Automation Engineer
  • Number of builds/releases per year
  • Average number of test cases in each build
  • The configurations and regression cycle of each build.
  • Hardware, Software and other miscellaneous cost
  • Product Stability

Once we have these vital stats, ROI calculation would be easy. Let’s pick an example, based on a testing project here are some numbers –

Number of builds every week1
Number of test cases per build250
Cost of Automation tool [1-50 users] [One year validity]$10,000
Manual Tester hourly service rate80$
Automation tester hourly service rate100$
Manual Effort per week8 hrs
Other hardware Cost [Machine/Mouse/etc]$500
Time to automate one test case1.5 hrs
Miscellaneous Activity [Starting the script, maintenance, etc.]/per week10 hrs
Test Case documentation [single test case]45 minutes
Time to manually execute one test case15 minutes
Costing in training$15,000

Considering a release every three months i.e. four test cycles.

1st Year[3 months /1st cycle]
Automation Manual
Tool Cost 26,000 0
Cost of designing 450000 180000
Cost of test execution 0 60000
Maintenance Cost 12000 0
Total 4,88,000 240000
ROI -3.33 %
1st Year[9 months /2nd/3rd/4thst cycle]
Automation Manual
Tool Cost 0 0
Cost of designing 0 0
Cost of test execution 0 180000
Maintenance Cost 36000 0
Total 36000 180000
ROI 180%

Please note that the figures above are just for illustration and may vary with each product, geography, and tool.

Advantages of ROI Calculation

  1. A firm knows if the effort and money used by the Automation team are paying off or not
  2. Efficient test coverage.
  3. Enhanced product quality
  4. Feasibility of Quick execution in multiple environments
  5. Focus on results and process improvements

ROI is not only about a long term investment reaping benefits, but it also assures quality and that should be the primary goal of any firm with ROI or without it.

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Predictive Analysis in Quality Assurance

What kind of QA person are you? Reactive or Proactive? Let’s take a quiz to find out; please answer YES/NO to each of the questions below –

  1. Do you start QA cycle only when the code is available in QA?
  2. Do you review your code after every stage of the SDLC?
  3. Do you log bugs in every stage before moving the code to the next stage?
  4. Do you create the QA environment as conveyed by the Developers/ Product management?
  5. Do you only update your regression suite when a high priority bug is caught is production?
Predictive Analysis in Quality Assurance

If you have answered at least three YES to the above questions, you follow REACTIVE strategy model i.e. working after a stage is complete to identify issues/defects. However, if you answered NO to most of the questions above, you follow a PROACTIVE QA strategy where you act before/in parallel to a stage of SDLC.

Nevertheless, to meet the current challenges of the software development, achieve the quality standards you need to take a step further and prep your model to be predictive enough. How to do that? CloudQA will help you with that –

What is Predictive Analysis in QA?

Just take a real-life scenario, if on every Friday you visit a website for movie reviews and then accordingly book a ticket which has a good review. If such data is read and the algorithms identify a pattern, next time as soon as you land on the movie review website, you could have an option to compare and book the ticket in one single go.

Based on user’s behavior a prediction is made, and an action is suggested. This is predictive analysis.

How often have you heard QA/Dev team saying – the issue is not reproducible in our environment? Predictive Analytics would help in bridging the gap of user’s environment and QA environment.

Applying the concept into QA world is simple. The traditional model to go through the high-level requirement prepared by Business Analysts, churn out test cases and develop automated test cases and release is hashed out. The Predictive QA model follows the reverse pattern; they work on the test cases that are designed from the customer’s perspective. QA tests these cases on customer-focused QA environment; the real-life scenarios are mimicked to gain more visibility. In fact, QA is now plugged into the real-time environment analyzing and scrutinizing data, structuring it, identifying patterns and real-time logging defects.

Just for example a banking website, if the data is collected and an algorithm is reading and trying to identify some pattern it could help them in detecting Fraud or theft or unauthorized access that was not detected by firewalls/anti-virus. For in that matter a health software that is based on patient’s symptoms, history, and current condition provides the diagnosis needed for the patient.

How is Predictive Analytics Advantageous to QA?

Predictive analytics help firms in following ways

Formulate strategy in which customer is the king

When predictive analytics provides facts with the support of data, that could be used to offer services/products that are more customer focussed. Just for example if a QA person can find a pattern on why the Mobile App if getting uninstalled within five minutes of its installation, it would help the firm in redesigning their product strategy which would be more customer focussed.  

Understands Customers and their emotions

A QA person could help in identifying the high rated functionalities and low rated functionalities with the help of predictive analytics. The same could be conveyed to development and support team, and it could contribute to expanding the high rated functionality with more exclusive features.

Prioritize Your Testing

Gathering, structuring the data could help QA team in the scheduling of testing in prod environment. While the usual norm is to schedule it off-hours, the data could point to an exact time when testing could start, with prioritizing the high priority test cases and stopping it when users land in.

Enhance Test efficiency

When comparing test efficiency based on product management inputs and real-time user inputs, the former would surely win. As QA team is assuring what customer needs is what is served to them. Just for example analyzing build system data could reveal the size of the build, the time and dependent variables, that could help in reducing the dependency and making the build more stable. Or the QA team could also review the old test execution logs and analyze the reasons for over-runs.

Delightful customer experience

How often have you raised a request to Google to resolve an issue or LinkedIn for a faulty error message? Were you happy when they responded the issue is resolved? Well, I was and to know someone is listening to your issues is a delightful experience for the customer. And with Predictive Analytics it is indeed a possibility.

Saves Time and Money

QA is all about saving money and time! With increased efficiency, quick defect detection, knowing your customer we at one place our enhancing our Time-to-market and saving money by reducing cost. Just for example of analyzing the past production defects, one could build a relationship with how and what kind of bugs get introduced? Are they because of new technology or new functionality? Analytics could also help in providing an insight to project release schedule, were they on time or was there a lag? And what were the probable reasons for the delay? And then building a strategy to avoid them.

What do you think about Predictive Analytics? Have you used it? Do let us know in our comments section.

References
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Benefits of Managed Testing with CloudQA

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Artificial Intelligence

WannaCry, Petya/NOPetya cyberattacks, cybercrime, ransomware cyberthreats, virus are some of the buzzwords that were at its peak till last week as shown on Google trends. While some experts are predicting this a role play for something “BIG” to come, the firms, government, institutions, organizations, hospitals are looking for measures to protect themselves against the next attack. Could they?

The famous quote by Callimachus is worth remembering here –

Set a thief to catch a thief!

Artificial Intelligence

There are ideally two ways to help your firm against these attacks. One was to gear up your resources and train them to be ethical hackers if you missed our last post on How Testers need to be ethical hackers do read it here. The next innovative way is to use technology against these attacks by using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as surveillance tools and guard systems against any immoral activities. If you are keen to know how? Let’s dive in to find out–

How Could Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Stop Cyberthreats?

According to Gartner Research, the total market for all security will surpass $100B in 2019. As the world welcomes AI and ML with open hands, the technologies are sure to make an impact on cyber security. AI and ML are capable of predicting, preventing breaches at all level of software architecture making it just the perfect choice to detect anomalies.As per Cylance report – With efficacy rates at 99%, artificial intelligence and machine learning applied at the endpoint protects at levels never before seen.

AI- ML as a Surveillance Tool

It’s a tedious and mundane job for a human to scrutinize the logs and look for any suspicious activity, however with an AI-powered tool checking of logs and pointing to something random or susceptible would be an easy job. Just, for example, multiple logins across various devices from the same IP or someone with brute force is attempting to get into the system. These kinds of anomalies could be pointed out by an AI-powered system which then could be taken by a human to decide if it’s legitimate or illegitimate attempt.

As per Wired News – A system called AI2, developed at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, reviews data from tens of millions of log lines each day and pinpoints anything suspicious. A human takes it from there, checking for signs of a breach. The one-two punch identifies 86 percent of attacks while sparing analysts the tedium of chasing bogus leads.

Another Finnish Firm F-secure is combining the power of humans and machines in providing the best cyber security solutions to its clients. The most important factor in cyber security is time, as once the systems are breached the response needs to be immediate. For most the firms, it takes months to discover the breach itself, leave the response. Hence F-secure are offering solutions that could perform behavioral analytics using Machine learning and highlights the breach and anomalies in a real-time basis.

AI-ML - Predict, Analyse, and Act

An innovative way to predict cyber threats in modern times is via cyber security analytics. The analytics helps in getting insights about a “probable planned attack” before it happens. Once that data is gathered it’s time to act and prevent systems from Data Theft, Fraud or Data Deletion.

A firm LogRhythm with its solution offers Threat Lifecycle Management, Behaviour Analytics, Network, Endpoint, and Cybercrime detection, which is based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. In fact, Bill Taylor-Mountford, Vice President of LogRhythm, describes cybersecurity analytics as an “a smart machine that is always watching the data in your company. A machine that can filter out the white noise and look for the ones with unusual blips on the screen, the one browsing outside of their baseline.” Once the white noise is filtered out, it would be easy for Analysts to act and take preventive actions against cyber threats.

The combination of maths and science has the power to predict and stop threats like WannaCry, Petya, but does the firms trust their capabilities? Only time will tell, but cyber security solutions powered by AI and ML are indeed simple, scalable silent and efficient enough! It’s worth trying… Would you?

References:
#1    #2    #3    #4

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Benefits of Automation Testing with CloudQA

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API Testing, API Testing Automation

The $13.7 billion acquisition of the Whole Foods Market by Amazon is shaping a dynamic platform that channels diverse services and processes. By leveraging Cloud and APIs, Amazon is offering technologies and process innovations beyond the confines of the organizations. Digital connectivity and new age technology trends is amplifying the significance of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) – intensifying the need for API Testing. A well-programmed API helps build a program smoothly by developing the building blocks for the programmer to weave together.

APIs comprise a set of routines, protocols, and tools for developing software applications. APIs are also used for GUI; some of the popular API examples are Google Maps API, YouTube APIs, Twitter APIs, and Amazon Product Advertising API. These APIs mainly help developers to integrate various functionalities within the websites or applications. For instance, Google Maps API facilitates developers to embed Google Maps on webpages.

API Testing, API Testing Automation

Implications of API spill for businesses

Practically, if you intend to extend any kind of innovative services or facilities to your customers, APIs are indispensable.Whether it is extending an ecommerce platform to your merchants, or offering a range of activities across a single integrated platform; APIs make it feasible. They facilitate easier interface with the target audience by enabling connectivity and supporting developers to work on new products and enhance customer experience.

The financial services industry holds massive amount of customer data. APIs support them to extend new tools to their business partners and employees to streamline operations and data. At an enterprises level, APIs are used within enterprise applications to obtain details about customers/partners.

However, very less thought is given to the security around the API. This could incur risks.

The surface for API attacks is pretty large, where the applications are segmented into micro-services with a large number of interfaces. This can expose the applications to external attacks, leading to leak of sensitive data.The risk is valid for any and every application – financial services, banking, or ecommerce. Exposure of business-critical or customer-sensitive data is a major concern for enterprises and business today.

In this way, Hackers, internal threats, and bad bots can pose a threat to your API security on every single day. In 2013, Snapchat’s API was hacked by an Australian hacker group and published. This exposed the user’s phone numbers, display names, usernames, and private accounts. The API exposure and publication could even get handy for someone to create the Snapchat clone and gather information of millions of users.

Why is API Security Testing so critical?

APIs can drastically reduce the time required for developing new applications and the developed applications will perform in a consistent manner. Hence, testing APIs helps skip maintaining the API code, which reduces costs.

In an application, when compared with other components, API is the weakest link for a hacker to dig in for data breach. API Security Testing ensures that the API is safe from vulnerabilities. In case of an individual application it might just affect the application, however, if an API is hacked, it can affect every application dependent on that API. API hack of an application can create havoc at an organizational level and lead to major losses for your organization.

Thus, ensuring the security of these applications is critical and functional tests would not suffice. Various scenarios need to be simulated to weigh the attacks across diverse scenarios. This will help diminish the impact of external forces on the API. It is a tricky situation and the tester needs to think out-of-the-box situations and simulate them to test the APIs. It is equally important to understand the kind of security problems to address while testing the security aspect.

Moreover, the key advantage of API testing is ability to access the application without a user interface. It helps expose the minute errors that can lead to issues during GUI Testing. When the core is accessed, it helps testing alongside development, encouraging communication, and ensuring better collaboration.

What are the Best Practices for API Security Testing?

With the dominance of Digital Technologies and the threats associated with it, there is no chance that you can ignore your APIs. However, most of the times while building an application security takes a back-seat. API Security Testing should take a much stronger and strategic approach.

So, how should organizations go about testing API vulnerabilities?

Following are some best practices that can be considered while testing vulnerabilities.

  • Firstly, it is essential to check the expected output. The input to the API should be checked and anything outside the range should be declined. This will keep a check on the directions received by the API, which is the fundamental premise for testing and building a robust API.
  • While freezing the API requirements, along with performance and functionalities, even Security Testing should be considered equally important and at par.
  • The API can be tested within the team with probable scenarios and the behavior across situations must be gauged for any possible security breaches.
  • The most effective way to prevent issues are to test them at inception. So, the testing has to start with the project’s beginning and not to be left till the end just before it goes into production.
  • Solutions or testing platforms within the team can be used to test the applications for vulnerabilities, performance, and usability. This can save the costs as well. Additionally, freely available tools can also be used to test the API.

In Conclusion

API Testing cannot take a single or a defined route. With the growing cyber-attacks and spread of unknown bugs almost every day, applications have to be tested for any possible threats. New age approaches such as Agile and DevOps are implemented to test continuously and keep a constant check on the bugs.

The most critical aspect to safeguard today is Data. API security testing is critical in the application development process. It will help keep the application safe from online attacks in any possible form. Enterprises should take up Security Testing for API to check the feeds coming in and analyzing the resulting behavior.

Safe and secure applications will sustain in the challenging marketplace. Functionalities can be enhanced, but security cannot be risked.

This blog post is in collaboration with Cigniti Technologies, an Independent Software Testing company.

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Cloud Based Testing

The application developments are very dynamic. Companies are launching new applications; roll out the versions in very short times. This is the constant challenge that most companies face. As the new versions of applications, create capabilities to expand your application, it’s imperative to test your app quickly over an ever expanding variety of devices so your newer versions are as spotless as ever. By Implementing this innovative Cloud based testing you can achieve and ensure optimal performance and user experience regardless of the type of device, browser, operating system, geographical location and network service provider.

Cloud Based Testing

Cloud based Testing

A Cloud based Testing for applications can be a potential solution that can offer companies a feasible & viable solution. Cloud based Testing for applications offers Web-based access to a large pool of real devices connected to live networks spread globally, providing enterprises with end-to-end control for manual and automated testing practices.

By now, most enterprises have used or at least have heard about cloud computing. However, with the advent of technology and the rapid increase in the number of users, the need for Cloud computing is increasing fast. Before adopting this new technology for your own business needs, it is important to understand the benefits of Cloud based Testing for your applications.

Accessibility

Distributed teams are more and more common nowadays. For the teams spread across different locations the Cloud based test management platform make it possible to easily collaborate with each other. You can log in from anywhere in the world, at any time, on any device, and get access to the project. The team can access the test environment from different locations anywhere in the world. A central repository for all of your testing efforts that’s updated in real-time makes it infinitely easier to share important data, communicate with each other, and track all of your testing efforts.

Collaboration and Continuous Testing

 You can test 24 hours a day. A central server connects to a series of machines located anywhere you want. A tester in any company office can connect to the cloud and select the machine he wants to test his application on. Say the day starts with European testers, moving on to North American team & ends at India QA team. This establishes a 24 hour round the clock testing process that won’t stop until your app is on the market.

This gives numerous companies, especially startups, a competitive edge. For example, if companies have a globally spread teams located on the opposite ends of the world, they can still collaborate on the most complex projects using cloud-based technologies to test their applications. All in all, this speeds up decision-making, and hence helps in speedy delivery of the project.

Benefits of Virtualization

Virtualization of testing on Cloud enables companies to get the best out of their resources with the flexibility and efficient results.  As applications become increasingly complex, virtualization brings in the benefit of resource sharing with reduced capital costs.

Budget Pricing

When you compare regular web automation tools to the cloud based, you can find the cloud based ones at a very reasonable price.  In case of regular web automation tools this is obvious from the fact that you need not spend a huge amount of money to upgrade the hardware or infrastructure. Moreover in Cloud based tools, the option of ‘pay as you use’ lets you use the tools only when it is necessary, and therefore, saves on the costs later when you are not using them. This works for most companies, especially the ones who are looking to cut down on their expenses.

Ease of Access

Cloud-based test automation tools are plug and play the moment you buy them. Easy access through the Internet allows team members to work from anywhere, anytime. No more installation woes, setup requirements, hunting for servers, or prepping of hardware to start using them. You can ignore the IT management as it is already covered in services and keep focused on the core functionalities of an enterprise.

Favors Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration – Every time you add a piece of code, test it & then redeploy it. Cloud based Testing for application is ideal for continuous integration. The various tests executed over the test pass, the app immediately moves to production and release. Cloud testing ensures that you can test under larger scenarios right away. New builds can become new versions faster than ever before, benefiting not only the testing team but also the entire development team as well.

Increase the Test Coverage better quality

Nonstop & parallel Cloud based testing of applications gives you the luxury of expanding the amount of scenarios you can cover in the same time period. Cloud testing environments offer highly synchronized and pre-configured architectures. These pre-built environments radically reduce the defects associated with unstable test configurations. With Cloud-based solutions, test your App across different environments. This improves the quality of tests to a great extent as wells as maximum test coverage in the minimum time.

Testing on different environment, more test coverage at lower cost

In most cases, cloud applications have minimal or no upfront cost. It is very much a pay-for-use service which has helped to grow adoption of the model, especially for SMBs. Without hefty fees for licensing and upgrades, the cost of adoption is less of a barrier when cash flow is an issue.

Economical testing solution

No need to buy duplicate devices even if you have more than one testing team located in different offices. Cloud based automation tools requires less hardware, doesn’t have per seat licensing costs and are very cheaper. This implies minimal capital expenditure and depreciation costs. No capital expenditure and much faster deployment times mean you can have minimal project start-up cost and infrastructure cost.

It’s Time Efficient

Like every automation tools cloud base tools too offer high productivity In less time and some additional benefits. Like quick setup, readymade environment setup, scale able and reliable. With Cloud based testing tools, there are no additional needs to advanced testing tools, server configurations, licensing, and testing resources. All of these features allow you complete the testing process within the stipulated time frame, or possibly even before that. Unlike traditional tools, they do not involve a lengthy set up and installation process. Testing can begin almost immediately from anywhere in the world. Faster testing reduces the time to market which gives companies a big competitive advantage.

Parallel execution

Coupled with the right web test automation tool like selenium, parallel execution enables you to run the same tests on multiple environments and configurations all at the same time. Instead of being limited to your computer infrastructure, you can run a test on different environments all of their own combination of sizes, versions, operating systems, even under different simulated network conditions.

Performance Testing

Using Cloud based Testing for applications enables scalable simulation of virtual users is possible at significantly lower cost. Using a cloud based approach to performance testing, the hardware is all in the cloud, using existing infrastructure. With this approach, servers can be spun up to simulate thousands of virtual users in minutes, with the charges based on a pay for what you use model. Businesses can simply schedule time for a test and resources are automatically provisioned. Licenses are now much more flexible for performance testing tools, with the rise of open source tools allowing even greater savings for comparable quality, when combined with a cloud based load provider.

Real-time Report Generation

Real time report generation of the cloud based tools provide reports thought the testing is in progress. This allows all members of the project team to collaborate in real time on a test, often including software suppliers – so that problems can be identified and rapidly resolved.

Effortless and Reliable IT Management

Cloud based tools are up and running all the time as there is a dedicated team working on the platform. You can expect 24-hour support and you should seek a contract where you’re compensated for any downtime. Reliability should be much higher than with a locally maintained solution that’s serviced by a stretched internal IT department with a lot of other things to attend to.

Cloud based tools cut down a lot of the IT management tasks inherent to traditional tools like installation, licensing, adding/replacing users and simultaneous implementation of upgrades in systems across geographies etc. With less IT management to do, employees can focus on core activities that can make a difference to a company’s business.

Easily Scalable

It’s a simple fact that projects demand different levels of testing at different points in their life cycle. Whether you automate or bring in more testers to shoulder the increasing burden, you want a management tool that’s easy to scale up and down. Cloud-based versions of the tools can be used for functional testing, performance testing, and many other testing types. In short, they can be used as a complete test management tools. With a cloud-base service you can forget about installation, configuration, and maintenance woes. You have a simple browser log-in that’s accessible on any device, and you can add or remove licenses whenever you need to.

Agile Friendly development

Agile development is the concept that cross-functional teams are involved through-out the development process, unlike the vintage development lifecycles. Cloud based Testing empowers every member with all of the tools at his fingertips regardless of where he is or what he is working on at the current moment. Hence we can say Cloud-based test management tools are agile friendly and flexible.

Traditional Model vs. Cloud-based

An increasing number of applications are migrating from the in-house to cloud-based development environments in order to build their apps more cost efficiently, with lower maintenance and operational costs. There are potential benefits of most of the developers, but not all companies can rely on cloud-based environments due to security, privacy risks, etc,. In fact, all developers & testers must carefully evaluate their needs before committing to either approach to avoid compliance issues and unforeseen expenses.

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User Experience

As a product based firm CloudQA often in its demo sessions is hit by a query – How do you assure quality to the digital audience each time? Our answer is simple – We value user experience more than the code.  Our testing approach is user-centric, and if research shows users are deviating from the traditional approach, we improvise and align our testing strategy with them.  Our Review and Fixtures models make sure to explore the product development Lifecycle, fix the testing approach and rearrange the components. How?

Read on to know How We do it…

Recognize the Transformation

UX Transformation

Users

The users are “SUPERPOWERFUL” they can push a product to its High and could even let it shatter on the ground. Many of the Founders put in their efforts to research if the idea is worth to be converted into business, but most of them forget the packaging of the idea. Does that serve the purpose? Many firms try to get users to try their beta version before rolling out it to the users, but is it not too late to put your product under stress? What if it fails?

Technology

Would you like to go for a desktop version or a mobile app as well? Would that be available only for Android or even iOS? Would open source tools be the right choice? Could these be integrated seamlessly with other third-party tools? These all questions may have a different answer when approached via the budget and timeline the firm has. But think about it from user perspective – Are the technology used safe and secured for the users? Would users be more inclined to a web version or an app would be good-to-go? Could constant monitoring be more helpful in predicting disaster before it happens?

Timeline

The timeline is another crucial aspect of recognizing the change. Users need things at a super-fast speed. They are not willing to wait for your monthly release; they need to be updated software version on a daily basis [at least].

Data

Users no longer wish to provide Name, Age, email address type data set again and again. The software should be smart and intelligent enough to pick it up and allow users to log in and showcase personalized dashboard/preferences.

With these known transformations, the traditional product development Lifecycle needs to straighten out. Currently, the three categories of Product Development Cycle that are floating are –

  1. Traditional monolithic desktop application – Products like MS Office or Chrome browser that could run independently on a desktop.
  2. Core Services – These are the software pieces that are in the form of an API and mostly need an integration. Just for example –  payment, storage, ad networks, analytics
  3. Standalone yet Integrated Applications – These are the products that are mostly user facing and could be integrated with any other third-party products or core services. They could work independently but may also be integrated with others. Just for example an online food ordering joint may work independently but could also be combined with Google Maps to know your location and provide you with personalized choices.

Now we know “the transformation” and the “product development category” so now putting up a test plan be an easy job? Not Really! Albert Einstein said

You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.

Hence each application needs to move at a different level to be tested.

User Experience

Reviews and Applying Fixtures

If you already have a Test Automation suite we run a “Quick Review” to know why is it breaking. Based on our experience and research here are some of the common reasons for why test automation is breaking –

  1. Low User Engagement – Based on Quettra’s data shows that 77 percent of users never use an app again 72 hours after installing. After a month, 90 percent of users eventually stop using the app, and by the 90-day mark, only 5 percent of users continue using a given app. All this data highlights an interesting fact that your app is not engaging enough. Some of the reasons highlighted by users are – App Crashing, Poor performance and usability and excessive use of memory.
  2. Halted continuous delivery and DevOps – Another research shows that only 8% teams could achieve nearly 50% of test automation and 41 % of the teams had less than 1% test automation achieved. This data highlights the fact that even though the efforts were made but were not continuous and did not involve DevOps.
  3. The Huge cost of testing – Testing needs tools and resources that come with a price tag. Hence many firms cut the budget to save pennies and roll out bad quality product.
  4. Gaps between business owners and QA – There exists a huge gap between the product owner specifications and testers viewpoint that reflects the quality of the product.

Once we have identified the “problems areas” we apply Fixtures –

Ways to fix to test broken approach

@CloudQA we try to provide a remedial solution to patch up the Test Automation Suite to enable  in offering a quality product. Here they are –

Be the User

Have you ever thought how a knee replacement device could be tested? As a tester, would you cut your leg and then test it? Well, not really but the feel of the user is of utmost important for a tester designing the test cases. And these scenarios cannot be achieved by just following a High-level requirement document; you need to think and act like him.

Scope of Testing

Testing is not restricted to functional document, based on usability, performance and even security are the key aspects that need to be covered in the scope of work. In fact, our recent article on why testers need to be ethical hackers gives you top reasons to cover security aspects for sure.

Automate All Processes

While a single sign in is a user preferred choice, make sure to apply it to automation process as well. Single click should result in test case execution, review test results and analyzing the root cause. So go beyond test execution…..go for automation of all processes.

Reporting test status in terms of user experience

As a user, how/what would you rate a functionality of an app? Would the user have enough information to know about the fields? Does the UI looks scatter? Try to challenge yourself as a user, and you could surely give the best experience they ever had.

I remember my 8th-grade economics lesson – democracy is

For the people

By the people

Of the people.

And trust me that’s the same about your product. Believe in the power of users!

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Quality Assurance

Cyber threats and data security are one of the first concern of any firm. As an organization, what do you do to save yourselves from cyber threat? Firewalls? Anti-virus? Or Setting up processes and educating employees? Hiring a security firm to audit your processes and conduct penetration testing?  What else could be done to prevent Black Hat Hackers?

Have you ever thought of asking your QA team to explore the vulnerabilities of your system in an ethical manner?

We @CloudQA give you top five reasons to do so –

Quality Assurance

Economical

When an in-house team is available to extend their roles, which would be more cost-effective than hiring a security agency to perform the same function.

Continuous Testing

Once the internal QA team is equipped with the checklist, the checks or penetration testing could be scheduled at regular intervals making it a continuous process, thereby enhancing the quality of the product.

Access Provided to in-house teams only

The data, servers, infrastructure would only be accessed by the in-house team making it leak-proof. In the case of any data theft or damage, the person could be tracked easily as who caused it.

In-house Testers/Hackers Means Long Commitments

Being in the same environment like yours, one would understand the criticality of a product. Hence he/she may devote much time and energy to discover the loopholes.

In-House Team means better Stability and Back-up

An organization backed up with a skilled team set is a solid foundation for stakeholders. Just imagine a technical breach, and with the in-house team, you could get it resolved faster then, looking for outside help.

Testers could explore new skills

While manual testers are going through the tough time saving their job, it’s time for them to add some new skill set to their profile. Test Automation is on top of the list amongst the skillset, how about adding ethical hacking? With Ethical hacking added onto your resume, who knows if you could trace down one of the biggest loopholes in a system.

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, IoTs are knocking the doors of every firm, making it more complicated for a layman but much easier for a Black or Grey Hat hacker to get in. You can keep guards and surveillance to watch for, but do you know the big hole inside your house that could let thieves in? So, get your QA team ready and let them explore the house as Ethical Hackers performing penetration testing and stop the threats like WannaCryRedOctoberWiper,Shamoon.

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Website Monitoring Tools - CloudQA

Our last article on Load Testing mentioned about website crash happening due to high traffic. So how does the website owner know if the website has crashed? Thanks to different techniques of Application Performance Monitoring[APM] such issues could either be reported in Real-time or may not even surface because of Synthetic/Active monitoring. Our current post would talk about Why customers need Synthetic Monitoring and how our solution Site Monitoring @CloudQA could help our customers to measure and optimize website performance. Let’s get started-

Website Monitoring Tools - CloudQA

What is Synthetic Monitoring

Synthetic monitoring is a technique that uses Web browser emulation to simulate real time environment and performs tests at a particular interval for response time, availability and functionality of the website.

Here are Top Six Reasons for using Synthetic Monitoring for your website-

  1. Testing of application from end user’s perspective
  2. Monitors application 24*7
  3. Know the Impact of third party components on your website performance
  4. It provides a comprehensive set of diagnostic data you need to debug problems anywhere
  5. Helps in providing accurate SLA thereby strengthening relations with the customer
  6. It provides a stable and consistent environment to measure performance at all hours of the day, over a period of weeks or months helping in benchmarking or baselining the metrics.

Concerned about the user experience? Start Monitoring today!

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How Synthetic Monitoring @CloudQA is Helping its Customers

CloudQA offers Site Monitoring solution that helps in testing the availability, response time and performance of your website in a safe and efficient manner. Our solution is easy-to-use and maintain and could be setup with just some clicks.

Here are top five reasons to use CloudQA Site Monitoring Solution for your websites –

  1. Re-Use your automated functional test cases for synthetic monitoring without altering a single line of code
  2. No monitoring over simulated browsers but real time browsers as the end users [Chrome, Firefox, IE]
  3. Monitoring equipped with the latest standard WebDriver protocols, that generate requests from real-browsers.
  4. Selenium-based scripting of measurement workflows with form data submission and user actions to test business logic and performance
  5. Quantify and analyze real user experience, not some proxy metric with page performance load times from the browser timing and navigation APIs

This is not all!

To our global customers, we are gearing up to reduce the monitoring schedule from 15 minutes to 5 minutes, and very sure that we may soon see a requirement to reduce it further to every minute ping. And we promise to deliver with a smile 🙂

A happy customer is one who does not hit a blocker on your website. Our Synthetic monitoring tool will help you resolve issues before the real users encounter them. So, indeed it’s a win-win situation for you and your customer. Make your customer happy, won’t you?

References:
#1     #2

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Load Testing

Quite recently when “Move to Canada” was a trending term, Canada’s immigration website crashed. Not long ago, in India, during peak hours the rail booking site used to crash every day. In 2015, retailers had a tough time on Black Friday and Cyber Mondays when most of the retail websites crashed.

The above instances reflect a hard-core reality – Load Testing is part and parcel of SDLC or any product lifecycle. That’s why we @CloudQA offer a simple yet efficient Load testing strategy to test an application under Zero-load or high-load scenarios.

Load Testing

What is Load Testing?

Have you used an elevator? All the elevators come with a message of “Maximum Limit” beyond that the machine could malfunction resulting in accidents and injuries. Similarly, for a software that could be a desktop application, a mobile app, or a website it comes with a “Load limit” that means the number of users that could browse through a website or use an app at a given time. If the users exceed beyond that limit, it may result in software crash thereby making services unavailable.

Load Limit

Why Organizations Skip Load Testing?

Although, Load Testing is crucial yet many organizations tend to skip it because of varied reasons stated below –

  1. The New launch of software may not attract “many users” hence it could be tackled later.
  2. The lack of skills, budget, and analysis
  3. We are executing Performance testing, hence do not need Load Testing
  4. It’s hard to simulate the test environment for load testing
  5. We do not have the performance measures/ KPI to measure load testing
  6. The tools available for load testing in the market are too confusing, which one to choose?

Load Testing @CloudQA

Re-use CloudQA Functional tests to drive load traffic from real browsers, using the same interactions as your users. Use one or more thorough scenario that exercises the backend and frontend of your application in a targeted and scalable fashion.

Scale up virtual user traffic from 5 to 200 concurrent users for duration of 5minutes to maximum of 60minutes. CloudQA will setup the entire infrastructure required on demand to perform the load test, gather and format the results in rich reports and graphs.

You can drive load from 7 regions around the world, through public clouds from regions in Asia Pacific, Europe, and North and South America. And take advantage of the CloudQA’s Load testing to drive load from behind your firewall for pre-production apps in staging or development environments, or internal apps that aren’t exposed to the public internet.

Who can run the load test?

Any technical or non-technical user can run the test case. User should know the basic record and playback of a test case using CloudQA. Use the already created one or more functional test cases of CloudQA to run the load.

Doesn’t this sound exciting? See how to run the Load test using CloudQA

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Codeless Automation

Recently when we were hit by a query from a start-up firm looking for TAAS, we gratefully acknowledge them. But when they replied asking us – We do not follow Agile, would codeless automation fit our strategy? At that very moment, we thought of coming up with this post –

Codeless Automation

The Myth or Reality – Is Codeless Automation Dependent on Agile?

Not Really! Codeless Testing or Codeless Automation may be the buzzword in modern times, but it existed even a decade back. I remember working for one of the service firms almost 12 years back, where I used to work on a much simpler programming language of C++ [developed in-house], the same concepts of OOP were repackaged to create functions and libraries, which were easy in coding [more like plain English] and debugging.

Codeless Automation is on similar lines with plain English now being replaced by intuitive user interface[UI]. Input your test data, play and record the test steps and compare the actual and expected result in a visual form.

Talking about Agile, people need quick results, speedy solutions and shorter Time-to-market, hence Agile is the need of the hour. And when things like codeless, virtualization or microservices surface, individuals tend to believe they are tightly coupled with Agile. However, most of these frameworks are independent of the strategy used.

Let’s try to explore if the dependency exists between the two concepts?

Use Case – To Prove Codeless Automation is Independent of Agile Methodology

We would be using the Probability Theory in which the two events are independent if the occurrence of one does not affect the likelihood of the occurrence of the other.

Scenario – A bunch of new features are added to the existing product and need to be QA tested.
Pre-requisites For Codeless Automation, we at CloudQA follow these pre-requisites.
  1. HTML5 compliant web application with
    1. Finalized UI design or less frequently changing UI design
    2. Some features ready for functional testing
If Codeless Automation is dependent on a methodology, a change will not help us in achieving the desired results so, let’s assume that we changed the methodology to
Waterfall Model On following this approach, we can –
  1. Satisfy the prerequisites – YES
  2. Get test cases automated via codeless automation – YES
V-Model On following this approach, we can –
  1. Satisfy the prerequisites – YES
  2. Get test cases automated via codeless automation – YES
Agile Methodology On following this approach, we can –
  1. Satisfy the prerequisites – YES
  2. Get test cases automated via codeless automation – YES

Methodology or framework are mere concept to build the software, while some languages may be built for specific ideas, it does not give them a dependency factor. On similar lines, Codeless Automation and Agile are two concepts that could be adopted for better results and better quality, with the fact that they could still be executed independently.

References
#1 #2

Jump start automation of your web application