The Recommended Steps to a Running Load Test
XLT is a powerful tool and as such might seem complex at first. But the way to running your first load test does not need to be hard, and we are here to help you. As a software developer or developer in test you will find a thousand ways to reach your testing goal with XLT, as you can just use all your previous experience with Java and Junit, but this is what we recommend you to do:
Have a Test Suite
You will want a test suite for your tests to live in (which is basically a Java Project containing your test cases (that don’t have to be written in Java) and everything else that is needed to run your tests later. Of course you can start one from scratch, but we provide you with a bunch of sample test suites for common use cases. You can just browse their Github projects, clone them to your local machine, set them up as a project in your favorite IDE, understand the underlying concepts and adjust them to your needs.
Make a Plan
Plan what you are going to do. This means:
- Expected load: Have some numbers ready that estimate what load your application should be able to handle. You are testing to cushion the blow of app-demanding periods, so look at your statistics from the last holiday season or other times you expect to experience peak load. There is no “default load” that will be applied to your application - XLT allows and demands you to configure the load that will be applied for all test scenarios (even seperately, if needed).
- Test scenarios: Know which user interactions are typical for your application. You will model these as test scenarios. Our sample test suites contain some typical scenarios for ecommerce platforms, so maybe you will find some inspiration there.
- Environment: Think about the environment of the application your are going to test. You might not want to apply all the load to your live system, but the hardware underlying the tested application should be as close as possible to that of the live system. Also think of third-party systems such as order management or payment providers - you will need a way to circumvent these for your tests, as they might have an influence on response times that is completely out of your control (and also you don’t want to deal with tons of test orders in your system).
- Mise en place: What French chefs call the strategy of have everything in place before starting your work. This can also be applied to your testing! Have your system-under-test ready before scripting your tests. Tests should model real-world user interactions with your application as closely as possible. So if your application still changes every day while you are writing complex test scenarios, you will be doing the same work over and over again, modelling the ever changing interactions, and you may easily become frustrated.
Develop your Tests
Test development happens locally, in your IDE of choice. You will have to add test cases for all applicable scenarios, or adjust those from a sample test suite to your needs. If you need to do some functional testing, test data may be added.
You can run those as a JUnit test from your IDE. This should be done repeatedly while you consolidate your tests so that you can judge if the results are stable or predictable. This reliability is essential to your load test.
For load testing, you usually want some randomness in your scenarios - with XLT, you can easily add that as well as re-run single test cases with the exact same “random” input as before. This especially helps during debugging when it’s best to reproduce test runs that returned an error as exactly as possible.
Define your Test Setup
Once you have a reliable set of tests in your test suite, you’re ready to start setting up the load test. XLT is highly configurable. You will have to define:
- the test scenarios that should be run, and
- the limits within which these tests are supposed to work (in terms of thinktimes, timeouts, proxies, error rate limits).
You can then configure the environment used for testing (master controller and agent controllers). If you need different setups for several test runs - you can prepare them all upfront, then reference the needed properties for the current test run. And since everything can be varied and overwritten and you can also use includes for your properties; you don’t need to write any more than is necessary here.
Run a Load Test
Finally, run your load test! This can happen on your local machine as long as you only want a low load. For any significantly high loads you will want to use a cluster of test machines as your distributed load generation environment. In any case you will need the master controller to reference your test suite, distribute the load across the agent controllers, control the test run and let you get the results when it is finished.
Evaluate the Results
XLT will generate a final report once the load test has finished. But since XLT writes result data the entire time it is running, we are also able to check intermediate test results while the test is still in progress. The final report contains detailed data about the test run that is human readable and easily shared in HTML format, as well as a machine readable XML version. Additionally, the format for result data is plain text (csv), which is perfect for searching for anything thing out of the ordinary. If you want to compare two or more test runs, you will also find report options for that.