Product Reviews

Automation Design Canvas Boasts Advanced Web Testing

Run repeatable, automated tests of Web applications as you develop them with this high-end tool.

Automation Design Canvas (ADC) 1.1 from ArtOfTest Inc. is a high-end test tool for developing repeatable, automated tests of Web applications. The generated tests execute on ArtOfTest’s included WebAii -- pronounced "Web-eye" -- framework. The designer portion integrates seamlessly with Visual Studio 2008 (though not the Express versions) to record, execute and analyze tests of browser-based content.

Getting Started
ADC installed flawlessly on a 64-bit beta of Windows 7 running in a Hyper-V virtual machine. The setup adds a template called WebAii to the VS 2008 Test collection.

The proper configuration of your test machine is essential. For the tooling to work properly, you must disable Internet Explorer’s Protection Mode, ease Firefox browser security settings and shut off User Access Control in Windows. The online video and the FAQ document cover these issues adequately.

The Quick Start guide offers a fine overview of the tool’s basic features and environment, but it could use some polishing and expert review of what looked like syntax errors in the code examples.

Recording navigation, text input and mouse clicks are standard fare for any test tool, but ADC’s strength becomes apparent both during and after recording operations.

Using Test Explorer you can reorder, edit and disable any step to fine-tune the test sequence. I loved the Quick Test button for checking an individual step without slogging through the whole test sequence. The powerful Convert to Code function turns a step into a highly readable C# or VB function. This is not a scripting language. You’re coding against strongly typed objects with full IntelliSense and tooltip support. WebAii’s property and method names are intuitive, resulting in recognizable statements such as:

Rather than cluttering Web forms with junky “asdfdadfdf”-type input, testers can store realistic values once in the software’s convenient data table option. When you point an HTML control’s Text property to the built-in Data[] object, WebAii loops through its data rows and inserts whatever is in the table. You can also use external sources, such as a SQL Server database, to feed data-driven tests.
Automation Design Canvas integrates with Visual Studio 2008 to design and run flexible tests of Web applications
[click image for larger view]
Automation Design Canvas integrates with Visual Studio 2008 to design and run flexible tests of Web applications. Each test step remains a separate item that you can tweak, re-order or turn into a .NET function. You might need to add a slight pause for AJAX-enabled controls.

Smooth Design
The purpose of most tests is to check for appropriate responses. To configure screen reading in ADC, you use an overlay function that suspends record mode while you highlight a screen object such as a label or image. The overlay’s context menu lets you set the expected result; for example, a string of text or a visible image. This point, click and configure feature is very valuable and well-designed.

Recording and playback is usually smooth and automatic, but the CascadingDropDown sample on the AJAX Control Toolkit site was an exception. It required adding delays by hand. I suspected WebAii was trying to select an option before its XMLHttpRequest-fed value was available inside the browser DOM.

ADC logs extensive results and a summary report for each test run. The tool can even log a screenshot at any point in the process to help developers assess the results at the post-mortem review stage.

ADC 1.1 and WebAii are chock-full of impressive and useful features for test developers. However, prepare for an enterprise-level price: $2,499 for a designer workstation license and $199 for an execute-only machine license.

Automation Design Canvas 1.1
ArtOfTest Inc.
Price: $2,499 per developer machine; $199 per execute-only machine license
Quick Facts: A sophisticated Visual Studio 2008 plug-in for recording, coding and executing tests of a Web application using Internet Explorer or Firefox
Pros: Easy to learn and use; powerful recording and playback features; flexible editing of test steps; exposes rich, strongly typed C# or VB objects
Cons: Pricey; AJAX controls may require special attention

About the Author

Ken Cox is a Canadian .NET programming writer and the author of "ASP.NET 3.5 for Dummies" (Wiley).

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