Avoiding Epic Website Failure

A public technology failure doesn’t have to happen. Automation to the rescue!

avoiding epic website failures cio

Remember the $6.99 tickets to Hawaii? Hear about the website shut down for one of North America’s largest retailers – on the busiest shopping day of the year! Did you try registering on-line at the launch of that new government website 2 years ago?

Staying Out of the Business Section. The news is rife with disastrous, customer-impacting website failures. They cross industries and hit enterprises of all sizes – and the largest ones make the front page of the business section.

As portal applications and browser-based technologies have become a larger part of business operations they have garnered a reputation for being difficult when it comes to maintaining quality. And with good reason: they are complex, dynamic in nature, and often customer-facing. The last point is key, because if there is a glitch or defect in your web apps, you can be sure someone will find it and talk about it!

Like every other mission critical enterprise application, there is only one way to ensure that the business process and all of its underlying technologies work as needed. The business process needs to be validated and every step needs to be tested. Monthly is good, weekly testing is better, and the best organizations validate their website functionality every day.

Quality Assurance Challenges of Web Apps. Legacy methods of testing, even older test automation solutions, aren’t up to this challenge with their reliance on record-and-playback and script-based technology. And worse - if you’re still testing your websites manually, your risk exposure is high.

To understand why in detail, we have to get technical for a moment (and if you’re not interested in the details, just skip past the bullets.) Here are a few reasons why web applications pose unique challenges for manual testing and older VB-based automation solutions:

  • Browsers are not uniform: Objects may have similar yet different properties under different browsers like Internet Explorer (IE), Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Defaults and features are different between browsers (e.g., case sensitivity).  
  • Structure of web apps is different across browsers: Web applications contain formatting elements that are often invisible. The same control may use different tags in different browsers (e.g., “Select” in one browser is the same as “Input” and button in a different browser). There is no visual difference making it hard to diagnose and fix problems and address changes.
  • HTML provides building blocks, not complex controls: Users see familiar controls like trees, calendars, accordions, or data grids, but these are really collections of formatting and interactive elements. There are no standards for how complex controls are built, so each company, developer or third party provider does it differently. This lack of standards translates into complexity for effectively testing HTML-based apps. You need a functional testing platform that handles it.
  • Modern controls are hard to identify: Name and ID properties are not required for web controls, or they may be dynamically generated. It is difficult to find consistent properties that uniquely identify controls across time and executions.
  • Session identifiers: Once a web session expires, any test that includes a URL’s unique session identifier automatically breaks.
  • Muddled object names: Legacy automated testing apps assign objects names based on underlying code, resulting in names which are difficult to understand. As a result, scripts are difficult to maintain and are abandoned, or need to be recorded from scratch when things change. That’s a lot of work.

Eliminate Risk with Automation. If those are the technical challenges, the good news is that today there’s a platform for automated business process validation which manages to overcome all of them and more!

Worksoft Certify has been designed to fully handle the validation of web applications, and is architected from the ground up to be business process-aware. This awareness lets complex components be viewed in an end-to-end context, because your website and its business processes are likely connected to a host of back-end systems like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and others. You can’t ensure end-to-end business process quality if you can’t handle every enterprise app.

Worksoft Certify’s advanced architecture supports the unique requirements of functional testing for websites by separating the “action logic” from structure. Action logic works on generic definitions, so the underlying structure, property, and behavior differences are effectively hidden from business users and quality assurance teams who manage the validation and testing work.   Worksoft Certify also provides a unique field-extensible infrastructure to handle change and deal with emerging web technologies in a very efficient and clever way.

Achieve Confidence in Business Execution on the Web. Automated business process validation makes it cost-effective to ensure quality when your website is deployed the first time, and on an on-going basis. One Worksoft customer said it well – “When we put out those websites, they all work!”

This kind of confidence is needed in today’s business environment when it comes to customer facing websites. Few businesses can afford the hit of becoming another name in yet another news story about an epic web-based failure. An automation platform for business process validation of browser-based applications can help ensure your site stays up and running -- and out of the front page for all the right reasons.

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