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SmartBear Software's TestComplete 9

RELATED: "HTML5 Is in Style: Working with CSS3 and HTML5" and "HTML5 for the ASP.NET Developer"

Pros: Impeccably easy-to-use testing system featuring a rich, intuitive UI scheme
Cons: The number of flexible options might be initially overwhelming to new users; expensive
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price: $1,999 node-locked, $4,499 floating user license
Recommendation: Windows-centric application and web developers will be hard-pressed to find a better test automation suite than TestComplete 9.
Contact: SmartBear Software

Application testing is one of those check box tasks that all developers know they need to do, but some do better than others. It helps when you have a testing toolbox filled with the best tools for the job, and that's what SmartBear Software promotes with the latest release of its flagship software testing suite, TestComplete 9.

I have been following the evolution of TestComplete since its inception. Originally developed by AutomatedQA, TestComplete has been an outstanding testing suite from the start. When SmartBear and AutomatedQA merged (along with Pragmatic Software) several years ago, my fear was that the product's innovation and vision would drift into a standard maintenance and support scenario. Fortunately, SmartBear has continued to keep TestComplete relevant and pushed it further with key additions that align with Microsoft software development trends.

Many Enhancements

In comparison with TestComplete 8.5, which I reviewed for Dev Pro last year , versions 8.6 and 8.7 along with 9.0 have expanded TestComplete's support of new browsers (such as Google Chrome) and versions, add support for Java 7, and provide better Visual Studio integration. Version 9 also supports Silverlight 5, extends support for testing Windows Communication Foundation-based web services and more rich Internet application (RIA) libraries (CodeJock, Google Web Toolkit, jQuery, MooTools, and Yahoo! UI), and supports Adobe Flex 4.6. TestComplete 9 also now officially supports Embarcadero's latest RAD Studio XE2 with its 64-bit compiled Delphi applications.

TestComplete 9 also includes seemingly small but important changes to its test automation features that bolster tester productivity. These changes include things like providing a list of frequently used operations in the keyword test lookup, checkpoint updating directly within the log panel view, and even a built-in script debugger so that a separate, external installation of Microsoft Script Debugger is no longer necessary. Incremental improvements have also been made with TestComplete 9's network-enabled distributed testing suite.

Cross-Browser and HTML5 Support

But the two most important new additions to TestComplete 9 are its cross-browser support and full support of HTML5. Instead of having to rely on generating tests using Internet Explorer (IE), testers can now also choose to create their test automation scripts using Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Using SmartBear TestComplete 9's cross-browser testing feature

For someone like me who has been living in Firefox as my primary browser for years, knowing that I can generate cross-browser-compliant tests in my preferred browser is a nice bonus, especially since I can also leverage that browser's rich plug-in offerings, such as the excellent Firebug add-on, during my test script's construction and execution.

HTML5 is another huge improvement, especially in the area of multimedia support. As Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight give way to HTML5, the fact that TestComplete recognizes and interacts with HTML5's tag sets and Document Object Model (DOM) elements is an especially relevant improvement. To learn more about TestComplete's new HTML5 and cross-browser testing, check out the video demos of these new features.

Another long-overdue new feature in this release is support for Subversion. Unfortunately, Git support is still nowhere to be found, though I'm hopeful that SmartBear will add support for the Git distributed version control system in a future point release.

Worth Your Consideration

My recommendation for existing TestComplete customers to upgrade to this latest version should come as no surprise. Web-based applications are continually evolving, and development tools you rely on must change to meet these new market conditions. SmartBear Software has stayed toe-to-toe with these new browser platforms and services, and the company's dedication to keeping its product as polished as possible continues to show in the TestComplete 9 release.

As for potentially new customers considering a testing platform like TestComplete, either because they have been abandoned by their existing provider or are looking for a more manageable, predictable, and dependable Microsoft-centric web test suite, TestComplete is worth a look. SmartBear also offers a completely functional free trial version to test drive.

In summary, SmartBear has made sure that TestComplete 9 is not only relevant and up to date with the latest web standards and browser versions but is also as extensive and easy to use as its predecessors. New users will be productive within the first half hour of using the product, and existing customers will be able to confidently accept the latest release into their workflows with virtually no disruption while gaining all the benefits version 9 has to offer.

Mike Riley is an advanced computing professional specializing in emerging technologies and new development trends. He is also a contributing editor for Dev Pro.

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