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EveryStep Web Recorder

Point & Click Scripting for Web Applications & Websites

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        Web Application Testing Tools

        Web application testing, also referred to as just web testing, is the term used for validating web-based applications functionality and performance, prior to being put into a production environment. Web application testing tools provide vital insight and data for developers, server and infrastructure administrators, and DevOps teams to address issues or bugs before applications are made available to customers or users. Web application testing includes techniques, such as:

        • Functionality testing
          Used to validate how a software conforms, or varies, with all business requirements
        • Usability testing
          Measures the experience, or ease of use of a product, by allowing real users to test the product
        • Compatibility testing
          Ensures that your application performs consistently across different environments, such as browsers or operating systems
        • Interface testing
          Covers testing three main areas—application servers, database servers, and web servers—and verifies communication between them
        • Performance testing
          Categorized into two parts—load and stress testing. A load test ensures web applications can perform under an expected load and to measure. Stress test are intended to overload a system to find the "breaking" point.
        • Security testing
          Verifies if the application is secure by simulating various attacks on the system.

        As software development practices and technologies have advanced over time, so have the tools to measure the effectiveness of these applications. Formally defined as web application performance tools (WAPT), these tools assist in load, stress, and performance testing of sites, web applications, APIs, servers, and other various web interfaces, as well as to find bottlenecks and performance issues. They are fundamental elements of the application development lifecycle, but most importantly—they are vital to enhancing the customer experience and increasing customer satisfaction.

        A tool like the EveryStep™ Web Recorder is used to set up monitoring and load testing within the Dotcom-Monitor platform, covering most of the application testing techniques discussed above. The EveryStep Scripting Toolis a web-based tool that automates the recording of a browser's interactions with a website or web application, allowing you to emulate real-world behavior within desktop or mobile browsers—and one of the few application monitoring tools that allows you to interact with complex application technologies, including Flash, AJAX, Silverlight, HTML5, PHP, Ruby, etc.

        Automated Web Application Testing

        Get an even better picture of your website speed and web performance trends with Website Performance Monitoring. Sign up to automatically test your website 24/7 and receive alerts with detailed reports when pages are slow to load.

        There are many open-source and commercial tools available on the market today used for automated web application testing. Tools such as Selenium and Apache JMeter are two popular open-source tools on the market used for performance and functionality testing. When it comes to selecting the right one, developers and engineers must carefully consider their needs before deciding on which tool—or tools—best suits their project, skills, or technologies.

        Open-source tools can be great for saving money on the front-end as there isn't a licensing cost associated with it, however, it may not offer the robust features that a commercial version has available out of the box. Additionally, open-source tools are great if you're looking to integrate with other tools to create your own extensions or plug-ins, for example.

        Selenium, for example, is a testing framework that can automate browser actions. It supports multiple operating systems, browsers, and programming languages, allowing developers the ability to write complex and advanced test scripts. The drawback to offering a lot flexibility also means requiring advanced programming skills and expertise that a lot of developers, or companies, may not have on-hand. Additionally, Selenium has a few other main disadvantages:

        • Made up of multiple, separate components—WebDriver, IDE, RC, and Grid—that require additional knowledge and resources to run.
        • Does not support Windows-based applications, only web-based applications supported.
        • No image verification. Not possible to confirm if images load or display correctly.

        JMeter, on the other hand, is a Java-based application designed to simulate and analyze performance under heavy loads on networks, servers, or objects. However, one way JMeter differs from Selenium, is that JMeter is a protocol-based (HTTP) solution, meaning it can only assess responses from the server level, which is great if you're looking at how well your servers perform under specific load conditions, but not great if you're trying to measure user experience or applications that have rich Internet applications (RIA), such as AJAX, QuickTime, Silverlight, Flash, etc.

        The EveryStep Web Recorder, compared to Selenium or JMeter, offers the best of both worlds. it's a free, proprietary web-based tool that automates the recording of a browser's interactions with a website or web application. Tools like Selenium or JMeter requires deep, technical knowledge and scripting experience. One of the main features of the EveryStep Web Recorder is that coding experience isn't needed.

        The EveryStep tool automatically creates scripts as you navigate through your site or application—and offers image verification with just a couple of clicks. The scripts that are created can be used to set up monitoring and load testing using the Dotcom-Monitor platform, allowing you to easily simulate real user activity from multiple desktop and mobile browsers, devices, and resolutions.

        Lastly, and probably one of the most overlooked aspects of using open-source tools, is support. As with many open-source tools, you are dependent on groups for troubleshooting issues, and there is typically no direct line to a technical support team. Dotcom-Monitor has a technical support team available should you encounter issues or just simply have a question, along with an in-depth support forum, knowledge base articles, and videos.

        Web Server vs. Application Server: Automation and Testing

        Today, the terms web server and application server are often used interchangeably, but in the past, there were significant differences. Web servers were just the programs that served the files (HTML, CSS, JSON, etc.) that make up web pages. Web servers handle the web content structure over HTTP. Examples of web servers include Apache Tomcat, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), Nginix, and Google Web Server (GWS).

        Application servers were the containers where the business logic and processes to client applications were built and managed, working in conjunction with a web server through multiple different protocols, but not limited to HTTP, like web servers are. The business logic was driven by component APIs, such as Enterprise JavaBean (EJB). Moreover, the application server managed its own resources, such as security, transaction processing, resource pooling, database queries and messaging.

        As technology has evolved, the clear delineation between web servers and application servers has become blurred. Most application servers today are bundled with web servers, making a web server a subset of an application server, and deployed in a manner that minimizes the impact to the application server's performance.

        Web servers are now able to handle more dynamic, server-side logic, frameworks, and languages like Perl, PHP, ASP, and JSP. Additionally, browsers can handle more complex content, highlighting the need for testing tools for Java web applications. Today's websites typically contain various types of elements—everything from simple text and images—to more complex elements like web applications other interactive media.

        Application Server Automation & Testing with the EveryStep Web Recorder

        For websites with significant JavaScript, AJAX, or Java applets, for example, developers need a way to ensure that these applications are running optimally. Using the EveryStep Web Recorder, anyone can create testing and monitoring scripts that can perform complex actions, such as filling out forms and interacting with multimedia content—even for complex elements such as Silverlight or Java Applets with the use of the RIA (Rich Internet Application) feature of the EveryStep tool. These scripts can then be imported into the UserView platform for monitoring, ensuring that these applications are loading properly, and customers are receiving the optimal experience.

        Web Application Security & Penetration Testing

        Web application security is a category within information security (InfoSec) that handles the security aspects of websites, applications, and web services. The challenging goal of information security is a balance among confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data without hindering productivity.

        One of the most common types of attacks on web applications is cross-site scripting, also known as XSS, where an attacker injects malicious code into a site by disguising itself as a trusted source or by hijacking cookies and unknowingly redirecting users to a different.

        Another common type of attack is SQL (Structured Query Language) injections. SQL injections differ from XSS attacks in that their purpose is to steal data from databases behind websites, rather than from the website itself. SQL code is injected into a form field to manipulate the execution of SQL queries, thereby retrieving data such as usernames and passwords. Because attackers gain access to the database, a possible scenario is that data is completely deleted, or worse, the data is sold or distributed for nefarious intent.

        In both cases, the type of data that is targeted is typically sensitive and personally identifiable. Data such as social security numbers, credit card information, or medical records can be used by attackers to duplicate credit cards, steal identities, or used as means of blackmail. The penalties and fines can be severe. In extreme cases, these types of breaches can even bankrupt an organization.

        One of the methods to used to prevent XSS attacks and SQL injections is penetration testing. Penetration testing is a process of evaluating and exploiting the weaknesses in a system that could potentially leave it vulnerable to attacks. Vendors that provide penetration testing typically have the same tools and resources hackers would have access to.

        A penetration test begins by accessing and scanning a company's entire network, externally and internally, to identify vulnerabilities in the system. If any are identified, these vulnerabilities are exploited to identify the consequences and impact they have on the organization. Once the penetration test is complete, a report is produced that identifies and ranks the seriousness of the vulnerabilities, along with a plan of action to mitigate them.

        Using the EveryStep Web Recorder for Web Application Security Testing

        As part of the web application development process, not only should organizations implement security audits throughout the development process, but special attention should be made during the implementation and testing phases. This is where the EveryStep Web Recorder is an essential tool for the entire team.

        The recorded scripts created with the EveryStep Web Recorder can be used to validate code and application changes, detect bugs, and expose bottlenecks, giving developers insight to any possible security gaps. Additionally, the EveryStep Web Recorder can carry out complex actions, such as filling out forms and interacting with various types of rich media, ensuring that your scripts and applications are secure, available, and perform the actions you intended when the application is deployed into production.

        Load Testing Tools for Web Applications

        As discussed earlier, load tests, along with stress tests, are part of the performance testing techniques within web application testing. Once an application has gone through most of the development process, typically one of the last items for developers to complete is to load test the application. Simply put, load testing ensures web applications can perform under an expected load or beyond. It also gives developers an insight to any performance issues that may need to be resolved before putting that application into production.

        PHP Applications
        PHP, which stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, is an open-source server-side scripting language designed for web development. Because PHP is a server-side language, its code runs entirely on the web server. It was designed for use with HTML and can be embedded into HTML or used to generate HTML structure, allowing developers to create dynamic content. Related to PHP, the LAMP architecture, which uses Linux as the operating system, Apache as the web server, MySQL as the relational database management system, and PHP as the object-oriented scripting language, is a common way to create and deploy web applications.

        .NET Applications
        .NET is a software framework that was designed for developing web-based and Windows-based applications within the Microsoft environment. It began as propriety software, but eventually evolved into multi-platform support for mobile computing, embedded devices, alternative operating systems, and plug-ins, such as Silverlight and Mono. It's important to note that the .NET Framework is language neutral, and not a scripting language like PHP, JavaScript, or Perl. However, like PHP, it typically resides on the server-side of the application development stack.

        Load Testing for PHP and .NET Applications

        Regardless if your web application is .NET-based, PHP-based, or resides elsewhere within the LAMP stack, the EveryStep Web Recorder can simulate real user actions on your site, such as browsing, searching, adding products to a shopping cart, or interacting with multimedia. Such powerful and flexible scripting not only allows you to verify that the proper content is being served, but also confirms that users are able to interact effectively with your web pages or applications

        The recorded scripts can be used to create load testing scenarios within the Stress/Load Testing platform, simulating heavy loads from locations around the world. For example, if you know what percentage of your users come from the North America, and the rest come from Europe, you can easily configure zones to match what your current user traffic looks like. Other important features of the Dotcom-Monitor Load/Stress Testing platform include:

        • Scripting in over 40 desktop and mobile browsers
        • Establishing response time baselines
        • Identifying performance bottlenecks
        • Capacity planning

        Knowing exactly how much your site or application can tolerate is critical for preparing for real-world user traffic, planning future updates, and improving the overall user experience.

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