Don't forget to test those Internet aplications

Testing emerged as an important component of the application development life cycle with the move to client/server computing a decade ago.

Client/server applications were far more complex than the mainframe or minicomputer host-terminal software of the previous generation. The new model convinced many -- though certainly not all -- IT development groups to utilize testing tools from suppliers like Mercury Interactive, Rational, Segue Software and others.

Today, client/server technologies have given way to the Internet revolution. The complexity of application development has risen dramatically, far more than the previous generational change. Electronic business applications must be secure, yet available to thousands of businesses and consumers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And if the applications don't work quickly enough, the result is lost customers. Developers must also make sure that multiple, diverse applications and technologies work together. Broken Internet applications can translate into a loss of millions of dollars, and a reputation damaged or ruined in the wink of an eye.

Witness the outages over the past few months at the eBay auction site, which has faced intense competition during the last year. Last month, the site failed several times -- failures that may have been caused by new applications added to upgrade the site. That outage caused eBay's market value to drop $4 billion in a single day, kept the company out of business for hours at a time, and forced its founders to offer free listings. Clearly, these outages cost eBay millions in revenue as well, not to mention the loss of some customers.

The eBay debacle is but one example of how developers of Internet applications must get it right the first time. Businesses can no longer afford to work through the kinks of Version 1.x of applications. The software must be ready, and ensuring that requires well-planned testing. This month's Special Report on Internet testing ("Testing e-commerce") can help developers wade through the issues and get a feel for a new class of tools for testing Internet applications. Writer Phil Courtney looks at some steps Internet developers can take to test individual components and fully integrated Internet apps. The report also includes a list of established and new tools for testing Internet applications.

Our advice to IT developers is as follows: Ignore or downplay the testing phase of the life cycle at your peril. The eBay calamity is but one example of what can happen in the age of the Internet. Today's success can quickly turn into failure. And a comprehensive testing plan is one key step for avoiding a failure.

Best Regards,
Michael W. Bucken

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.