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Search is on for Web services testing tools

Some observers still refer to testing as the stepchild of application development. On the other hand, Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with Boston-based ZapThink, calls testing the ''ugly duckling.''

''If you remember the story of the Ugly Duckling, in the end it grew up to be a swan,'' Bloomberg noted in discussing a research paper he has written on Web services testing. Based on his conclusions, Web services testing has a long way to go to achieve swan status.

In surveying testing tool manufacturers, Bloomberg said he found only a few have come up with anything even approaching a suite for Web services quality assurance.

He gives Parasoft Corp. an edge for having the best tools for Web services testing. Rational Software and Mercury Interactive come the closest in his view to having ''a vision of agile'' testing.

As he explains the agile testing concept in his report, it is the extreme version of the test-early-and-test-often model that often seems more of a developer slogan than a reality.

''In the agile approach, testing begins by automating the collection and representation of new user requirements,'' Bloomberg writes. ''The tests themselves, as well as the resulting code, develop iteratively, so that when the code is complete, the test is as well -- and the code always passes the test at each iteration. If each individual Web service has its own automated test, then orchestrating Web services also includes orchestrating the tests.''

However, Bloomberg's research did not find the required comprehensive set of Web services testing tools. And he said he was surprised not to find new start-up companies in this critical area, so it appears developers will need to rely on existing vendors.

As Web services development grows geometrically, the lack of comprehensive testing tools may prove a bottleneck in implementation, he argued. Absent those tools, the responsibility for comprehensive testing will fall on developers who will have to make the best use of the tools available and probably do some critical testing on an old-fashioned manual basis.

For further information on Bloomberg's report, click on http://www.zapthink.com

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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