Jay Harris is Cpt. LoadTest

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Filed under: Business | Testing

Fictional scenario: Trek–Lance Armstrong’s bicycle sponsor–is behind schedule and over-budget on creating a new cycle. They need to find a way to get their product out the door, find it now, and find it cheap. Now, imagine that they threw my grandmother on their bike, had her drive it around the block, and declared it fully tested and ready for mass-production. Would you be satisfied? If it found 300 grandmothers and had them drive around the block twice, would that satisfy you? How about if they used 300 average Joes? Would that satisfy Lance Armstrong? Would he have full confidence in his ride for twenty-one days and over 3,500 km in the tour? I doubt it. That bike wouldn’t even make it out of the warehouse, let alone to the starting line. That bike would not earn respect until it was rigorously tested in a scenario that at least simulates its intended use. So why do so many fail to put their web applications through the same trials?

Money? It will cost more money to fix it after launch than it will to test it during development, identify the issues early, and get them fixed before the product goes out the door.

Time? Well, time is money, so see above.

Experience? There are a lot of good, quality testers out there. If my mechanic doesn’t properly fix my car, I’ll take my car to a different mechanic.

I’m curious about the thoughts of everyone out there.

Friday, June 24, 2005 1:32:42 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback

Filed under: Testing

We’ve all been there. You’re cruising down I-5, minding your own business, when the big SUV next to you decides that it is time to change lanes, and that it wants to occupy the space you are currently claiming for yourself. Or there’s the motor home doing 61 in the left lane passing the tractor-trailer in the right lane that’s doing 60. There’s the guy that passes everyone at the construction zone, repeatedly ignoring “Lane Ends. Merge Left,” and expects that someone will let him in when pylons encroach, and he will force the issue if they don’t.

All of this traffic congestion, incompetence, and utter disregard for fellow citizens pollutes your driving experience. You work day is stressful enough. Why must you go through it on the way home?

Your web applications have to go through the same thing: A poorly-coded neighbor with the memory leak, that just keeps taking and taking from the available RAM, until there is nothing left for your app, just like that SUV; An application that didn’t get properly optimized, and hogs all of your available bandwidth, slowing down your application like that 40-foot RV; An evil report that thinks it is superior, and locks the entire database from outside access until it is finished generating that 400-page PDF.

When you are testing the performance of your application, make sure that the environment you are about to stuff it in to is up to par. No matter how pristine your application looks in Staging, it is only going to be as good as the environment that you launch it to. If you ignore the big picture, and your application succumbs to the web environment pollution, your application will be to blame. No matter how mediocre the environment is without your application, your superiors or clients will still say “the environment works just fine without your app.”

Build a testing environment that mimics production, and that includes any other applications or components that you will be sharing resources with. Create some generic scripts that will generate traffic against these neighbors and execute tests against your application. This will help identify any integration issues between you and your environment, and help eliminate any surprises when you launch.

The environment is supposed to work just fine with your app, too.

Monday, June 13, 2005 2:49:19 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback