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Web Testing

Web Applications Testing


The instant worldwide audience of any Web Browser Enabled Application -- a Website -- makes its quality and reliability crucial factors in its success. Correspondingly, the nature of Websites and Web Applications pose unique software testing challenges. Webmasters, Web applications developers, and Website quality assurance managers need tools and methods that meet their specific needs. Mechanized testing via special purpose Web testing software offers the potential to meet these challenges. Our technical approach, based on existing Web browsers, offers a clear solution to most of the technical needs for assuring Website quality.

Websites impose some entirely new challenges in the world of software quality! Within minutes of going live, a Web application can have many thousands more users than a conventional, non-Web application. The immediacy of the Web creates immediate expectations of quality and rapid application delivery, but the technical complexities of a Website and variances in the browser make testing and quality control that much more difficult, and in some ways, more subtle, than "conventional" client/server or application testing. Automated testing of Websites is an opportunity and a challenge.

Dimensions of Quality

There are many dimensions of quality; each measure will pertain to a particular Website in varying degrees. Here are some common measures:
  • Timeliness: Websites change often and rapidly. How much has a WebSite changed since the last upgrade? How do you highlight the parts that have changed?
  • Structural Quality: How well do all of the parts of the WebSite hold together? Are all links inside and outside the WebSite working? Do all of the images work? Are there parts of the WebSite that are not connected?
  • Content: Does the content of critical pages match what is supposed to be there? Do key phrases exist continually in highly-changeable pages? Do critical pages maintain quality content from version to version? What about dynamically generated HTML (DHTML) pages?
  • Accuracy and Consistency: Are today's copies of the pages downloaded the same as yesterday's? Close enough? Is the data presented to the user accurate enough? How do you know?
  • Response Time and Latency: Does the WebSite server respond to a browser request within certain performance parameters? In an e-commerce context, how is the end-to-end response time after a SUBMIT? Are there parts of a site that are so slow the user discontinues working?
  • Performance: Is the Browser --> Web --> ebSite --> Web --> Browser connection quick enough? How does the performance vary by time of day, by load and usage? Is performance adequate for e-commerce applications? Taking 10 minutes -- or maybe even only 1 minute -- to respond to an e-commerce purchase may be unacceptable!

Impact of Quality

Quality remains is in the mind of the WebSite user. A poor quality WebSite, one with many broken pages and faulty images, with Cgi-Bin error messages, etc., may cost a lot in poor customer relations, lost corporate image, and even in lost sales revenue. Very complex, disorganized WebSites can sometimes overload the user.

The combination of WebSite complexity and low quality is potentially lethal to Company goals. Unhappy users will quickly depart for a different site; and, they probably won't leave with a good impression.


The browser is the viewer of a WebSite and there are so many different browsers and browser options that a well-done WebSite is probably designed to look good on as many browsers as possible. This imposes a kind of de facto standard: the WebSite must use only those constructs that work with the majority of browsers. But this still leaves room for a lot of creativity, and a range of technical difficulties. And, multiple browsers' renderings and responses to a WebSite have to be checked.

Display Technologies:

What you see in your browser is actually composed from many sources:
  • HTML. There are various versions of HTML supported, and the WebSite ought to be built in a version of HTML that is compatible. This should be checkable.
  • Java, JavaScript, ActiveX. Obviously JavaScript and Java applets will be part of any serious WebSite, so the quality process must be able to support these. On the Windows side, ActiveX controls have to be handled well.
  • Cgi-Bin Scripts. This is link from a user action of some kind (typically, from a FORM passage or otherwise directly from the HTML, and possibly also from within a Java applet). All of the different types of Cgi-Bin Scripts (perl, awk, shell-scripts, etc.) need to be handled, and tests need to check "end to end" operation. This kind of a "loop" check is crucial for e-commerce situations.
  • Database Access. In e-commerce applications you are either building data up or retrieving data from a database. How does that interaction perform in real world use? If you give in "correct" or "specified" input does the result produce what you expect? Some access to information from the database may be appropriate, depending on the application, but this is typically found by other means.
    Navigation: Users move to and from pages, click on links, click on images (thumbnails), etc. Navigation in a WebSite is often complex and has to be quick and error free.
    Object Mode: The display you see changes dynamically; the only constants are the "objects" that make up the display. These aren't real objects in the OO sense; but they have to be treated that way. So, the quality test tools have to be able to handle URL links, forms, tables, anchors, buttons of all types in an "object like" manner so that validations are independent of representation.
    Server Response: How fast the WebSite host responds influences whether a user (i.e. someone on the browser) moves on or gives up. Obviously, InterNet loading affects this too, but this factor is often outside the Webmaster's control at least in terms of how the WebSite is written. Instead, it seems to be more an issue of server hardware capacity and throughput. Yet, if a WebSite becomes very popular -- this can happen overnight! -- loading and tuning are real issues that often are imposed -- perhaps not fairly -- on the WebMaster.
    Interaction & Feedback: For passive, content-only sites the only real quality issue is availability. For a WebSite that interacts with the user, the big factor is how fast and how reliable that interaction is.
    Concurrent Users: Do multiple users interact on a WebSite? Can they get in each others' way? While WebSites often resemble client/server structures, with multiple users at multiple locations a WebSite can be much different, and much more complex, than complex applications.

Functionality Testing:

Test for - all the links in web pages, database connection, forms used in the web pages for submitting or getting information from user, Cookie testing.

Check all the links:

  • Test the outgoing links from all the pages from specific domain under test.
  • Test all internal links.
  • Test links jumping on the same pages.
  • Test links used to send the email to admin or other users from web pages.
  • Test to check if there are any orphan pages.
  • Lastly in link checking, check for broken links in all above-mentioned links.

Test forms in all pages:

Forms are the integral part of any web site. Forms are used to get information from users and to keep interaction with them. So what should be checked on these forms?
  • First check all the validations on each field.
  • Check for the default values of fields.
  • Wrong inputs to the fields in the forms.
  • Options to create forms if any, form delete, view or modify the forms.

Cookies testing:

Cookies are small files stored on user machine. These are basically used to maintain the session mainly login sessions. Test the application by enabling or disabling the cookies in your browser options. Test if the cookies are encrypted before writing to user machine. If you are testing the session cookies (i.e. cookies expire after the sessions ends) check for login sessions and user stats after session end. Check effect on application security by deleting the cookies.

Validate your HTML/CSS:

If you are optimizing your site for Search engines then HTML/CSS validation is very important. Mainly validate the site for HTML syntax errors. Check if site is crawl able to different search engines.

Database testing:

Data consistency is very important in web application. Check for data integrity and errors while you edit, delete, modify the forms or do any DB related functionality. Check if all the database queries are executing correctly, data is retrieved correctly and also updated correctly. More on database testing could be load on DB, we will address this in web load or performance testing below.

Usability Testing:

Test for navigation:

Navigation means how the user surfs the web pages, different controls like buttons, boxes or how user using the links on the pages to surf different pages.
Usability testing includes:
Web site should be easy to use. Instructions should be provided clearly. Check if the provided instructions are correct means whether they satisfy purpose. Main menu should be provided on each page. It should be consistent.

Content checking:

Content should be logical and easy to understand. Check for spelling errors. Use of dark colors annoys users and should not be used in site theme. You can follow some standards that are used for web page and content building. These are common accepted standards like as I mentioned above about annoying colors, fonts, frames etc.
Content should be meaningful. All the anchor text links should be working properly. Images should be placed properly with proper sizes.
These are some basic standards that should be followed in web development. Your task is to validate all for UI testing

Other user information for user help:

Like search option, sitemap, help files etc. Sitemap should be present with all the links in web sites with proper tree view of navigation. Check for all links on the sitemap.
"Search in the site" option will help users to find content pages they are looking for easily and quickly. These are all optional items and if present should be validated.

Interface Testing:

The main interfaces are:
Web server and application server interface
Application server and Database server interface.
Check if all the interactions between these servers are executed properly. Errors are handled properly. If database or web server returns any error message for any query by application server then application server should catch and display these error messages appropriately to users. Check what happens if user interrupts any transaction in-between? Check what happens if connection to web server is reset in between?

Compatibility Testing:

Compatibility of your web site is very important testing aspect. See which compatibility test to be executed:
  • Browser compatibility
  • Operating system compatibility
  • Mobile browsing
  • Printing options

Browser compatibility:

In my web-testing career I have experienced this as most influencing part on web site testing.
Some applications are very dependent on browsers. Different browsers have different configurations and settings that your web page should be compatible with. Your web site coding should be cross browser platform compatible. If you are using java scripts or AJAX calls for UI functionality, performing security checks or validations then give more stress on browser compatibility testing of your web application.
Test web application on different browsers like Internet explorer, Firefox, Netscape navigator, AOL, Safari, Opera browsers with different versions.

OS compatibility:

Some functionality in your web application is may not be compatible with all operating systems. All new technologies used in web development like graphics designs, interface calls like different API's may not be available in all Operating Systems.
Test your web application on different operating systems like Windows, Unix, MAC, Linux, Solaris with different OS flavors.

Mobile browsing:

This is new technology age. So in future Mobile browsing will rock. Test your web pages on mobile browsers. Compatibility issues may be there on mobile.

Printing options:

If you are giving page-printing options then make sure fonts, page alignment, page graphics getting printed properly. Pages should be fit to paper size or as per the size mentioned in printing option.

Performance testing:

Web application should sustain to heavy load. Web performance testing should include:
Web Load Testing
Web Stress Testing
Test application performance on different internet connection speed.
In web load testing test if many users are accessing or requesting the same page. Can system sustain in peak load times? Site should handle many simultaneous user requests, large input data from users, Simultaneous connection to DB, heavy load on specific pages etc.

Stress testing: Generally stress means stretching the system beyond its specification limits. Web stress testing is performed to break the site by giving stress and checked how system reacts to stress and how system recovers from crashes. Stress is generally given on input fields, login and sign up areas.
In web performance testing web site functionality on different operating systems, different hardware platforms is checked for software, hardware memory leakage errors,

 Security Testing:

Following are some tests for web security testing:
  • Test by pasting internal URL directly into browser address bar without login. Internal pages should not open.
  • If you are logged in using username and password and browsing internal pages then try changing URL options directly. I.e. If you are checking some publisher site statistics with publisher site ID= 123. Try directly changing the URL site ID parameter to different site ID which is not related to log in user. Access should deny for this user to view others stats.
  • Try some invalid inputs in input fields like login username, password and input text boxes. Check the system reaction on all invalid inputs.
  • Web directories or files should not be accessible directly unless given download option.
  • Test the CAPTCHA for automates scripts logins.
  • Test if SSL is used for security measures. If used proper message should get displayed when user switch from non-secure http:// pages to secure https:// pages and vice versa.
  • All transactions, error messages, security breach attempts should get logged in log files somewhere on web server.

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