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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Testing of World Wide Web sites ..

There are an increasing number of transactions happening on the internet. Whether this be shopping sites, news sites, social networking sites, email sites, media sites, etc., people have come to depend on them to an increasing degree. To ensure that sites are dependable, testing needs to happen. However, testing of internet sites cannot follow the exact same process as that of client-server or other such systems. So the important question is - How can World Wide Web sites be tested?

For those familiar with client-server applications, testing of web sites is somewhat of an advantage, since in a simplistic way, web sites are essentially client/server applications - with web servers and 'browser' clients. However, this has a number of complications built in, such as having to consider various factors such as the interactions between html pages, complexity of TCP/IP communications and a wide variety of Internet connections, having to deal with client-side firewalls, applications that run in web pages (such as applets, javascript, plug-in applications), and applications that run on the server side (such as cgi scripts, database interfaces, logging applications, dynamic page generators, asp, etc.). To increase the fun and complexity, given the number of years that the internet has been in existence, there are now a wide variety of servers and browsers (with differenet users having their own preferences for the browser), and with browsers having many versions in co-existence (and as a result, small but sometimes significant differences between them), variations in connection speeds, rapidly changing technologies, and multiple standards and protocols. Starting from a simple client-server architecture, the end result is that testing for web sites can become a major ongoing effort. And these are not all, with other considerations including:
• Estimating the the expected loads on the server (e.g., number of hits per unit time?), and what kind of performance is required under such loads (such as web server response time, database query response times). For this purpose, there is a need to determine what are the kinds of tools will be needed for performance testing (such as web load testing tools, other tools already in house that can be adapted, web robot downloading tools, etc.)?
• Determining the target audience, and also trying to determine the kind of browsers they will be using. What kind of connection speeds will they by using? Are they intra- organization (thus with likely high connection speeds and similar browsers) or Internet-wide (thus with a wide variety of connection speeds and browser types)?
• Performance on the client side is becoming much more important, and some of the ways in which this performance is perceived was: how fast should pages appear, how fast should animations, applets, etc. load and run. How well does the site compare with other sites in terms of performance ?
• Will down time for server and content maintenance/upgrades be allowed? how much? Downtime on the internet world is supposed to be minimal to non-existent.
• What kinds of security (firewalls, encryptions, passwords, etc.) will be required and what is it expected to do? How can it be tested? Testing of security for internet sites is a major effort and needs to be handled professionally and systematically.
• How reliable are the site's Internet connections required to be? And how does that affect backup system or redundant connection requirements and testing?
• What processes will be required to manage updates to the web site's content, and what are the requirements for maintaining, tracking, and controlling page content, graphics, links, etc.? Content management for a site needs to work correctly and properly, and transparently to the user.
• Which HTML specification will be adhered to? How strictly? What variations will be allowed for targeted browsers?
• Will there be any standards or requirements for page appearance and/or graphics throughout a site or parts of a site??
• How will internal and external links be validated and updated? how often?
• Can testing be done on the production system, or will a separate test system be required? How are browser caching, variations in browser option settings, dial-up connection variabilities, and real-world internet 'traffic congestion' problems to be accounted for in testing?
• How extensive or customized are the server logging and reporting requirements; are they considered an integral part of the system and do they require testing? Server logging and analysing the logs need to be designed properly, otherwise a mistake in data can lead to severe problems.
• How are cgi programs, applets, javascripts, ActiveX components, etc. to be maintained, tracked, controlled, and tested?

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