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Testing Web Applications

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A website is an online identity of an enterprise where information about its financial statements, new products, change of policies or any other information pertaining to its activities is posted.  It is important to test a company’s website since it gives the impression of the company to the outside consumers (Olsson, 2011). Website testing is important since it helps in ensuring that a website is compatible with all web browsers. It also helps in ensuring that a website works in all web platforms and that it is secure. A company must, therefore, test web applications to ensure their functionality and efficiency.

It is important to carry out compatibility testing to see if a web application is compatible with different browsers to ensure its functionality and efficiency. Some web applications depend on the browser installed in the system for optimum performance. Different browsers have different settings and configurations that should be compatible with the web page the user is accessing (Splaine & Jaskiel, 2001). A compatibility test of a web application with different browsers can be carried out by using cross-browser testing. Adobe Browserlab allows the user to test such browser versions as Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari. Its advantage is that it gives the user a number ways to view the web pages, such as viewing a full web page by using a particular browser, or side-by-side comparison of different browsers. In addition to this, it can access dynamic pages throughout the web. Web users can also use SuperPreview to test the compatibility of web applications with different browsers. This tool allows the user to define his/her default browser, and it only works with integrated browsers, thus making it faster. If a user tries an online version of this tool, then it will support Chrome, and Firefox 3+4. It also has an interactive mode for logging into sites before displaying the page for testing (Splaine & Jaskiel, 2011). It has debugging tools and onion skinning for Adobe Browserlabs. The disadvantage of SuperPreview for testing compatibility is that it does not have the capability of testing Opera compatibility.

Testing the compatibility

A web developer could also use Lunascape 6 for testing the compatibility of a web application with different browsers. It contains a triple-engine browser for Windows operating system. The triple engine browsers are Trident that supports Internet Explorer, Gecko that supports Firefox and Webkit that supports Chrome and Safari. An advantage of this tool is that it allows the user to see how the webpage that he is accessing looks in all the three engines side-by–side (Rich, 2009). This tool is particularly popular with web developers and designers. Furthermore, it supports Firefox extensions and plug-ins allowing the user to diagnose compatibility problems using Firebug. A web user could also use Browsera to test the compatibility of a web application with different browsers. This tool has a feature that allows automated compatibility testing. It highlights how different browsers design web pages, thus simplifying the compatibility testing process (Olsson, 2011). In addition to this, it has the ability of detecting JavaScript errors and even testing pages that are behind log-in walls. Mogotest carries out a complete browser compatibility testing, including private pages. Furthermore, it has a website health report that provides the user with information on broken links and pages, as well as redirect loops. It also has screenshot comparison that tests screenshots of different browsers. Moreover, it tests the page consistency between different browsers.

Why is it important to carry out compatibility tests of web applications with different browsers?

Consumers use different browsers to surf the Internet. This proves the importance of why the company should know how its business website looks when viewed in different web browsers. If the web page produces inconsistent results with different web browsers, then the company is likely to lose many customers, for they will only view broken pages (Olsson, 2011). If the company adopts a successful web compatibility test, then it will be able to have a higher quality website. This is because its website will be consistent across all the browsers rendering its functionality on all website pages. Furthermore, the company will incur less costs in website maintenance and updating. The consumers will also view the website easily and obtain information about the company. This will result in an increase in the customer conversion ratio. The brand loyalty of the consumers of a company that conducts a successful compatibility tests for its web applications across all browsers will also improve since the customers will see that the company values quality.

Compatibility tests with operating systems

It is important for a web user to carry out compatibility tests of web applications with different operating systems. This is because some of the functionalities of the users’ web application may not be compatible with all available operating systems. New technologies, such as developments of new graphics designs and different interfaces, may not be applicable to all operating systems. By carrying out cross-platform testing, a developer will be able to know if his/her web application works across different operating system (Splaine & Jaskiel, 2011). There are many operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, Ubuntu and Mac OS. He/she carries out compatibility testing by creating dual boot setups where multiple operating systems are installed on a single machine. The user makes a choice during start-up on which operating system to load. The operating systems are stored on separate hard drive partitions. The invention of x86-based Macs allowed many computers to dual boot Windows and Mac OS. If a web user intends to serve users with different operating systems, then he will need to test the performance of machines by visualizing their performance. One of the tools used for this form of compatibility testing includes Virtual PC on a Power Mac which is capable of viewing the website architecture on two operating system simultaneously. VMWare and Virtual PC make it possible to run Windows and x86-compatible operating systems on any generic PC (Rich, 2009). Using this tool, one operating system acts as the host while the other runs within the virtualization application. This makes it possible to test web compatibility in Windows Vista, Windows XP and Ubuntu in adjacent widows without the need of rebooting the computer.

Compatibility with mobiles

A developer can carry out compatibility testing in web application to see if they are compatible with mobiles. He/she can carry out this test using the Selenium WebDriver. It provides a lightweight and elegant way of testing web applications. It also allows users to access websites in their phones even if those sites are not optimized for mobile browsers. It makes it easier for the user who is conducting compatibility tests to write automated tests that will ensure the website works correctly when viewed from Android-based browsers. These tests are end-to-end tests that enable the user to interact with the web by using finger flicks, long presses and finger scrolls (Rich, 2009). The model rotates the display and interacts with local storage. The tests run as Android tests projects and are based on Junit. The user launches the tests from eclipse or through using a command line. Furthermore, he/she can wire the tests using a continuous integration system, a phone or tablet emulators. Since smartphones are using modified operating system, such a Safari for iPhones and Opera Mobile, the user can do mobile compatibility testing using personal computers.

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Interface testing

Interface testing is important so that the user determines whether the interactions between application server interface, web server interface and database server interface are executed properly. These tests also seek to determine whether the user handles errors properly. If the database or web server returns any error message for query, the application server should be able to display the error messages to the users, a proof that the interface works properly (Adzic, 2008). If the interface is a multi-step application, then probably it will have a lot of server-side logic and client-side JavaScript validation. A user can carry out interface tests in two ways. The first option is to execute the tests within the browser in the context of the tested web application. The user can conduct these tests using Selenium tools. The framework of the test uses Javascript executed within the browser to test web applications (Adzic, 2008). The second option is to control the browser through public API. Most web browsers have a browser component that application developers can embed into their application. The component defines API that the developer could control with. This makes it possible for the developer to query and manipulate the document from outside. This approach is called webappaunit. When the user uses .Net programs, it becomes easier for the developer to integrate Internet Explorer into the application and control it through the COM API by using Visual Basic (Adzic, 2008). This can also be achieved if the user uses Mozilla Firefox or Safari. If the user uses Java World, the interface tests become complicated, since the browsers are written using C/C++ language. However, JRex and JExplorer allow the conversion of Mozilla and Internet Explorer documents to normal Java applications (Adzic, 2008). Webapppunit uses JRex to provide unit test to a real web browser from where they can control and gain access to manipulate the currently loaded web page. By applying this technique, the developer can access the web application through the web browser and control it by using unit test. It is easier for the developer to test server interface by using servlet containers, since it can be easily embedded by a Java application. He/she can, therefore, intercept data about running a web application.

Perfomance testing

A web developer can carry out performance testing of a web application by using web load testing. A user performs this test to determine performance of a web application under normal and peak loading conditions. It also measures if the site can handle many requests from users simultaneously. A business may opt to use Gomez Web Load testing as a tool for carrying out load testing. It finds problems affecting web performance and tries to fix them. Furthermore, it finds and fixes scalability problems from the First Mile to Last Mile, hence boosting performance. A web loader also rapidly finds out the root cause that hinders web performance down to the specific component causing this hindrance and the SQL statements that programmed it (Subraya, 2006). It also validates the architecture of a web application for maximum scalability. A good web loader should have the ability of showing the user the performance of a web application by using different browsers, geographical locations and ISP. This would allow the developer conducting the testing to detect real problems that a user would experience while using the web applications, such as CDNs and shopping carts (Subraya, 2006). A developer can, therefore, see performance of a web application throughout geographical areas by identifying if issues during web performance occur in a specific area or through broader application delivery issue. The web loads also have the capability of capturing end-to-end transactions details to enable 100 percent transaction run during the load test. Most web loaders trace and capture this information automatically and document it to the developer after carrying out an analysis for hot spots in a language that the developer can easily understand (Vervaet, 2008).  A company carries out web load testing to avoid the website experiencing problems during traffic. It costs a lot of money to repair a site that does not handle traffic. It carries out these tests when it launches a new website, thus making changes to the old website, such as moving data centers, during peak demands and when diagnosing a problem with a web application.

Stress testing

A developer can carry out performance test on web application by using stress testing. It is performed to break the site by subjecting it to stress in order to find out how the system reacts to the stress and how it recovers from crashes. It is administered on input fields, signup areas and login areas (Vervaet, 2008).  The Grinder is a tool that carries out stress testing. It is Java-based and uses Jython for the scripts, thus making it easy to use. By using this tool, the web developer mimics dialing a number through the web application, and then uses an auto answer tool, such as tutorial application from Microsoft, to connect to their RTC LCS serve (Subraya, 2006). By using this tool, the developer will be able to know how their application works under high stress. It has tools which report how long requests take and store all the responses for custom logging. A developer could also use Pylot to carry out stress testing. This tool runs HTTP load tests that are useful for benchmarking, analysis and system tuning. It generates HTTP-requests, verifies server responses and produces reports with metrics. The developer defines the test cases in an XML file. He/she verifies the server responses by matching their content to regular expressions and HTTP status codes (Subraya, 2006). The load settings can be adjusted in the workload controls or from command lines before the tests begin. During runtime, the developer loads the cases and passes them to a load-generating engine. He/she will then dispatch agents and run them concurrently in order to send HTTP requests to the web service.  Error reporting and real time statistics are displayed on the monitor, and thus the developer can determine the level of stress in the web application and consequently test its performance.

Security testing

It is important to carry out security testing on the web because of the wide use and openness of the web. Companies store vital data on the web, hence it is necessary to carry out security testing to ensure that unauthorized users do not access confidential data. A developer can carry out security testing by manipulating the URL through the HTTP GET methods. This tool finds out whether the web application relays essential information in a querystring. By using the HTTP GET method, the developer passes information between the client and the server in parameters (Hope & Walter, 2009). The tester then modifies the parameter value present in the querystring to find out whether the server will accept it. Through the HTTP GET request, information has to be passed to the server for authentication before a user fetches data. It helps in preventing a hacker from manipulating input variable passed to the server in an attempt to corrupt the data (Splaine, 2002). A web developer can carry out security testing by using password cracking. The developer uses a password cracker tool to log into private areas of a web application by cracking the username and the password of the web application that he/she is testing for security. The password cracker has a list of common names and passwords. If the website does not require passwords, such as using a certain number of words containing letters and numbers, then it would be easy for the web developer to crack the website. It is important for web users to encrypt information stored in cookies, since web attackers can steal the information stored in the cookies and obtain the username and password.

SQL injection

A developer can use SQL injection to test the security of a web application. If the developer enters a single quote in any textbox, the application should reject the quote if it is secure. However, if the tester faces a database error when the user inserts a query to be executed by the application, the application will be vulnerable to SQL injection (Splaine, 2002). Attackers use SQL injections to extract important information from the server database. For web developers to avoid these attacks, they should check SQL injection entry points in their web applications to find out the codes from code base where direct MySQL queries are executed on database by accepting user inputs (Hope & Walter, 2009). The application should be able to escape special characters from user inputs. This is because an attacker can design SQL queries as part of a user input, and therefore retrieve essential information from the database.

Modifying configuration of the application

It is important for a web developer to refrain from modifying configuration of the application or server during security testing. In addition to this, he/she should not modify the existing user or customer hosted by the application. Web application security testing is important to a company. This is because it helps in boosting customer confidence since they will know that all their confidential information is secure (Splaine, 2002). It also improves the brand of the company, since consumers will know that the company web applications are secure. It also prevents any disturbance of the online capacity of the company to obtain revenue. Furthermore, it helps the company to avoid costs related to repairing the websites when hackers attack it. Website application tests help in preventing website downtime, as well as time loss in repairing the damaged website by reinstalling and restoring the site from backups.


It is important to carry out web application tests to ensure their functionality and efficiency. A developer can carry out compatibility tests of the application with different web browsers to ensure that the application functions efficiently across all browsers. He/she may use Browserlab to compare the performance of a web application between Chrome, Firefox and Safari. It is also important for a developer to carry out compatibility tests of a web browser to see if it can work with different operating systems, such as Linux, Mac OS x and Ubuntu. This is because web users have different operating systems, and thus it would be necessary for the web application to work across all operating systems. He/she should carry out compatibility tests to see if the web application works in different mobiles by using Selenium WebDriver. The developer should also carry out interface testing to see whether the user handles errors properly. It is also aimed at finding out whether the application server is in a position of displaying error messages to the users when the database returns error messages for any query. The developer should carry performance tests by using web loading and stress testing. This will help the developer determine the performance of the web application under normal, peak loading and when subjected to stress. Lastly, it is important for a developer to security testing to prevent web attackers from accessing confidential information about the company. He could carry out these tests by using password cracking and SQL injections.

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