How to Simulate Real-life Scenarios for Load Testing
Accurate load testing requires knowing about the end user and how they use the system.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Creating software that does what the end user needs and wants takes a lot more than infusing it with the coolest, most state-of-the-art features. Novelty is important, and it can differentiate a solution, but it's not a substitute for integrity. The product must do what customers need it to do, and it needs to perform consistently, hence the existence of performance testing.
There are several types of performance testing that are leveraged to gauge the overall efficacy of an application, and one of the most important of these is load testing. The purpose of load tests is to run a deliverable at maximum sustainable capacity to ensure that functionality doesn't suffer as a result of some strain. This is not to be confused with stress testing, which is essentially when testers exceed the known limits of what an application can handle to get a better sense of its tipping point. Both are important, but the priority is ensuring that a product works smoothly right up until it reaches its threshold.
The question is, how exactly do developers go about simulating real-world situations in which this might occur?
Know Your End User
Before diving into the technical aspects of load-testing personas, it's important to really get a sense of not only what end users will be using the solution for, but how they will be using it. According to TechTarget contributor Gopal Kapur, too many project managers have a very poor sense of who their end users are, which makes it difficult to anticipate their needs. Often, this leads to user interface issues. However, it can also lead to more critical problems, such as an oversight regarding how one corporation might use the solution versus the other.
For example, one company might perform certain tasks in large batches, while another might have more consistent volumes. In either situation the ideal solution should be able to function well. This is precisely why QA must create test cases for both scenarios. Of course, the only way to anticipate these use cases is to engage with customers and potential customers. Part of the beauty of agile software development is faster feedback loops, and when it comes to creating relevant, real-world load tests, knowing is half the battle.
Leverage a Flexible Test Management Tool
Once developers have a more complete view of their end users, they can begin to get more granular with how they create load testing scenarios, and this is very hard to do without some sort of test management system. According to TechTarget, vetting a solution is much more difficult without a test management tool. Furthermore, developers who claim to forgo the use of these tools for budgetary reasons have plenty of affordable options, and even free test management tools, available to them. More importantly, developers who are knowingly creating an application that is not well-tested may have bigger money concerns ahead, like whether or not their product will flop due to inadequate functionality.
Using a test management strategy, QA teams can be as hands on and in-detail as they need to in order to ensure a solution can actually handle full-capacity loads. For example, if the application is a food ordering service, testers will want to ensure that bugs aren't introduced in high-volume times such as dinner or lunch. To do this, they need to establish real-world criteria for test cases. This criteria must be circumspect. It should take factors such as bandwidth into consideration. Do orders fail to process when there's too many users? Does the service perform better if users are added in incrementally? Can it handle a very sudden increase in traffic?
It's also important that these scenarios are generated with specific frameworks in mind. For instance, certain applications might be a one-and-done type scenario. In the example of an e-commerce application, you place your order for shipping, and that's that. However, a food delivery service may have a tracking feature, which means the average user might run that application for however long it takes for his or her order to arrive.
Once project managers really get to know the end user, they will need the ability to create such specific, dynamic test cases that really put the right test metrics front and center. This requires a flexible, comprehensive test management tool. The ability to track and save some of these test cases and subsequently automate them so they can run between iterations is a huge boost to agile methodologies, and ultimately helps ensure functionality under pressure.
Ernest Hemingway is believed to have said that "courage is grace under pressure." If this is true, your goal should be to create courageous applications, and the best way to do this is with proper load testing.
Published at DZone with permission of Francis Adanza. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.