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.

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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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