Suite Solutions for Bug-free Applications
By Anand Narayanaswamy
Testing is one of the crucial phases in software development. Several vendors have rolled out products for the purpose of testing various kinds of applications. Many of them are standard products that only provide the final result (and other related debugging options). But testers are always looking for products that are simple to use and provide interesting features not typically found in other competing products. One such product is TestPartner 6.0, which not only performs testing but also captures each application screen encountered during the testing phase.
Developed by US-based Compuware Corp. (http://www.compuware.com/), TestPartner is available in both downloadable and boxed versions, and in the form of several suite solutions such as Standalone, Test Management, Quality Management, and Compuware Application Reliability Solution (CARS). While the Standalone suite includes only TestPartner 6.0 with maintenance subscription, the other suites ship with advanced software meant for Quality Assurance teams. Compuware doesn t provide a facility to download the product directly from their Web site, although they did create separate FTP-based download locations for each customer.
The whole setup package is roughly 250 MB; the time required for downloading depends on the speed of your Internet connection. I installed the product within 10 minutes on a machine loaded with Windows XP Professional and 512 MB RAM. During the installation, you ll be required to supply the location of your license key file, which will be e-mailed to you by the License Management Team. The vendor also provides time-limited trial license keys to allow customers to test drive the product before investing in the full version.
I d like to emphasize that TestPartner is an advanced automated tool used for testing Windows and Web-based applications developed with Microsoft and other technologies, such as Java. In fact, it can be used to test any application that stimulates user action and enables you to record user sessions, add validation and logging functions, and play back tests to ensure that the applications work as expected.
You ll see a Start Screen when you launch TestPartner from the Start menu. This screen provides options to create a new project, links to relevant help files, and much more. By clicking the Record New option, I found that TestPartner records each and every user action to produce powerful functional visual tests. After completing the test, it displays the complete result in a series of concise steps, along with relevant screen captures.
Test results are shown in an extended result interface, which is one of the new features of this latest version. A key feature of TestPartner is that testers can play back the entire recorded session at any time, as well as be able to observe what they ve done during the testing process by selecting the appropriate test step. Moreover, tests can be edited at any time during or after recording to fulfill the most difficult demands of any project. This allows developers to work together to more rapidly create automated test cases.
The product mainly simulates the typical actions of a user, such as selecting links, typing data into fields, and, through a variety of mechanisms, verifying that the application is performing as expected. It allows you to test scenarios where state is important, which is somewhat difficult to do with Unit Testing. For instance, TestPartner inspects the entered text to confirm that it matches the expected value. It also tests for the presence of a particular control. However, I found that the product doesn t test the non-graphical-user-interface-based aspects, such as Web services but it will check them while interacting with the Web browser and performing activities that ultimately call on those services. I hope these features will be useful for advanced users. TestPartner helps you test various scenarios at the unit level because it behaves as a user, and the state of the transaction(s) progresses as it would when a user interacts through the Web browser.
TestPartner ships with built-in logic designers and wizards, which I feel will simplify the tasks involved behind a testing process. The product includes more than 20 test assets, which are stored in a shared repository and can be easily accessed by all team members (those with appropriate user permissions). The ActiveData functionality enables you to create a single script to input valid or non-valid data into the system and verify the results. A complete list of all the TestPartner features is available at http://www.compuware.com/solutions/6667_ENG_HTML.htm.
TestPartner enables a developer to test applications by running the same test any number of times with different data. This will help the product team test multiple scenarios and reduce the risk of possible run-time errors. An important feature of TestPartner is that it has the capabilities to test for the presence and absence of Windows, controls, images, and other parameters. This helps users verify the accuracy of the application more deeply through more than simply making sure that the test ran to completion. The product includes support for VBA scripting, which enables a range of custom capabilities to be added to any test.
TestPartner ships with a new set of features, such as Visual Navigator, Improved Test and Result Documentation, Task-based Start Screen, Extended Results Interface, and TPOSI Objects, which I hope will enhance the productivity of the tester. TestPartner extends technology platform support to include Internet Explorer 7.0, VMWare, and Uniface 9.1. Moreover, TestPartner integrates tightly with Visual Studio Team Suite, so developers can conduct tests directly from within Visual Studio 2005. I hope Compuware will provide support for Visual Studio 2008, as well.
TestPartner ships with a detailed installation manual and comprehensive documentation (in PDF format). The lucid language will surely help users better understand all the functionality of the product. The documentation can also be accessed directly from the Start Screen, but I d prefer a printed version of the manual be provided with the boxed shipment. Compuware conducts special Webcasts for those who wish to explore the features in a live environment, and provides rapid support via e-mail. It would be helpful if the vendor would provide video tutorials to enable customers to quickly learn the functionality of the product.
I feel that TestPartner will be more useful for Quality Assurance Engineers as they aim to build complete, reusable smoke and regression testing suites than individual developers who mainly build standalone tests and stateful unit tests. The product s significant price tag may also be prohibitively expensive for independent developers. However, companies and corporations can surely benefit by investing in the product, as they could develop bug-free applications if the product is put to use by all the team members. The full potential of TestPartner can be effectively leveraged in a minimum span of time, which ultimately will result in the timely delivery of the product being developed.
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), works as an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (http://www.netans.com), which provides Web hosting services based in Trivandrum, India. Anand also works as a technical editor lead for http://ASPAlliance.com. He runs http://www.Learnxpress.com, http://Dotnetalbum.com, and http://Csharpfaq.com. Anand is the author of Community Server Quickly (Packt Publishing). You can explore more information about the book at http://www.communityserverbook.com. Find out more about him at http://www.visualanand.net or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected].
Web Site: http://www.compuware.com
Price: Starts at US$6,100 per concurrent user