Parasoft .TEST v3.1.1
Automated Unit Testing and Coding Standard Analysis
By Anand Narayanaswamy
Testing is a crucial phase in a software development life cycle. It has to be performed at each stage of development for every application so that the developers can deliver error-free products to end users. Manual testing is sufficient for small applications with few project files. But a robust third-party tool is required for testing complex applications where the code spans several files and projects. Parasoft s .TEST is one such product with which developers can automatically test their applications during the development phase with a single click. As opposed to the Visual Studio debugger, .TEST is a tool that enforces coding standards rules and helps in generating and executing unit tests.
To download .TEST, you must register at http://www.parasoft.com. You ll be granted access to the secured area from where you can download the product immediately upon registration. You must download the correct installation file (there are two separate files for Visual Studio .NET 2003 and Visual Studio 2005). The product works with either Windows XP Professional or Windows 2003 Server and requires a minimum of 512MB RAM to work properly.
I downloaded the installation file for Visual Studio 2005; the entire process took around 15-30 minutes. A license will be provided to you by the vendor after you supply the Machine ID, which can be located from the License page inside the .TEST Preferences dialog box. You must enter the required information, such as license expiration date and password, to activate the product. Once you successfully install the license, you can take advantage of all the features of the product, including .TEST Coding Standards, .TEST Command Line Mode, .TEST Rule Wizard, and .TEST Security.
.TEST is an automated unit testing and coding standard analysis product that tests classes for the applications developed using Microsoft s .NET Framework. The product works with programming languages such as Visual Basic 2005, C#, and Managed C++. It integrates with Visual Studio 2005; the required functions can be accessed either from the Toolbar or using the Menu options after installing the product. The product works only for those projects that generate assemblies and, hence, it cannot handle pure Web site applications developed using Visual Studio 2005. You ll need to convert ASP.NET applications into Web application projects before you can run the product on them.
Figure 1: Accessing .TEST Toolbar.
An interesting point to note is that there is no need for developers to write a single test case or stub. To invoke .TEST, you should first load the solution into Visual Studio 2005. After selecting the files, click the arrow pointing toward the right side on the Toolbar. The product then performs a series of test operations and the results are displayed in a separate dialog box.
Figure 2: Viewing the final test results.
As you can see from Figure 2, the product displays in four separate tabs the total number of errors, the execution time, and other details. If there are any build errors the product displays them, as well in another small window. Click the Report button and the reports generated by the product are displayed inside Visual Studio 2005. Because the product doesn t catch all the errors that are caught by the Visual Studio 2005 debugger, I advocate using .TEST to supplement the built-in debugger included with Visual Studio 2005. This way, you can be assured of developing error-free products for your end users. The test results generated by the product are stored inside the Visual Studio 2005 project directory, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Viewing the project files generated by .TEST.
The product checks for accuracy and compliance with nearly 300 built-in .NET development rules and any number of custom rules that you can create using the product. It initially checks those errors that fall under the ambit of the rules configured. However, you can configure your own rules using the product. .TEST makes use of user-defined test cases based on the NUnit framework to check functional errors, which will help developers keep track of run-time exceptions. Moreover, the product performs automated regression testing to capture any problems introduced by code modifications.
I noticed that the product performs extensive testing with minimal user intervention and in a short span of time. The product significantly reduces the amount of time spent debugging; hence, developers can concentrate on other tasks required for the successful deployment of their applications. I suggest you use .TEST when you are deploying high-performance applications, because it contains many hidden functionalities that, because of space constraints, cannot be covered in this review. The product ships with comprehensive documentation, which explains step-by-step each and every feature included with the product. The vendor also supplies several sample applications, in addition to a getting started guide and a detailed user manual in PDF format. You can also download the manuals from the secured area of the vendor s Web site.
One of the more interesting features of the product is that you can perform regularly-scheduled tests for your projects using the .TEST command line interface command. Moreover, you can share the test results and configurations across the team using Parasoft s Group Reporting System (GRS) and Parasoft s Team Configuration Manager (TCM). This will help the developer and other team members identify any critical problems before the release and deployment of a product. Moreover, every developer can visualize the progress of the tests.
The disappointing feature of the product is that it doesn t load assemblies built using 64-bit platforms. Developers using this platform should migrate to 32-bit to work with the product. I hope the vendor will provide support for 64-bit in the next version of the product. Moreover, the product only works with those projects built with Visual Studio 2005. Hence, developers cannot take advantage of the .TEST features if they are using some other development environment, such as Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition.
Parasoft provides excellent support via e-mail. I didn t experience any difficulty working with the product because I directly contacted the staff in charge of technical support to seek any required clarifications. Parasoft also provides live online support through their Web site during business hours; the license includes free maintenance, as well.
I would like to emphasize that .TEST is an excellent testing tool for the development of .NET applications. It contains numerous features that you can t find in any other product. The next time you deploy mission-critical .NET applications, be sure to check out .TEST you ll feel the difference.
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 ASPAlliance.com. He runs Learnxpress.com (http://www.learnxpress.com), Dotnetalbum.com (http://www.dotnetalbum.com), and Csharpfaq.com (http://www.csharpfaq.com). Find out more about him at http://www.visualanand.net or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected].
Web Site: http://www.parasoft.com
Price: Professional Single License: US$1,795