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Borland Debuts Silk 2008 Test Suite

Borland Silk 2008 test suite boosts RIA testing and adds extensibility framework.

Borland Software Corp., a key supplier of multiplatform application lifecycle management (ALM) tools, has revamped its QA testing suite with significant new functions.

The new Borland Silk 2008 product line, released last month, offers updated versions of Borland SilkTest, SilkPerformer and SilkCentral Test Manager. The refreshed offerings target software test and QA operations and mark a significant evolution in the Silk product family, which was acquired in 2006 when Borland purchased Segue Software.

'Hybrid Architecture'
The SilkTest 2008 functional testing app lets developers create and run a wide range of manual and automated tests on application code throughout the development lifecycle. Core to the new version of SilkTest is the "Open Agent" technology, which provides a framework for Borland and others to add platform support, expand functionality and enable custom extensions.

Borland says it has released updates to SilkTest on an average of every six months since its $100 million acquisition of Segue.

"But in the background we've been working on what I call a hybrid architecture," says Borland Senior Director of Product Marketing Brad Johnson, who adds that Open Agent enables customers to "create their own testing interface between their app and the test tool."

Johnson says Open Agent was used to add support for Adobe Flex-based projects to SilkTest 2008. Later this quarter, the company plans to release support for Java language scripting and an Eclipse interface.

"This opens a ton of new opportunity for quality engineers who have no desire to learn a proprietary language," Johnson says. Developers to date have had to code their SilkTest scripts in the proprietary 4Test language.

Borland's Open Agent approach can appeal to a broad range of testers, says IDC analyst Melinda-Carol Ballou, who specializes in software ALM issues.

"Because Open Agent is built on top of the Eclipse OSGI framework, and given the SDKs that are already available for Java, C++ and pending .NET releases, I believe that Open Agent is poised to give testers some of the flexibility advertised to users by Borland," Ballou says.

While Borland has yet to announce plans to extend support for Microsoft .NET languages and platforms, Ballou says Borland's commitment to the Microsoft platform is clear. She says there are "distinct benefits to augmenting the testing capabilities currently available from Microsoft with the functional breadth and depth of the Silk product line for Web and Web 2.0 development."

Indeed, pivotal to Borland's strategy is maintaining balance between the .NET and Java programming languages, Johnson says. "We get a lot of requests for Windows Presentation Foundation and things like that from the Microsoft side," he says. "That's not a commitment, but we can't ignore what our enterprise customers ask us to do."

Working the Web 2.0
Rich Internet applications (RIAs) and Web 2.0 functionality are a clear area of emphasis in Borland Silk 2008. Ballou points out that SilkTest 2008 supports versions 2.0 and 3.0 of the Adobe Flex RIA development framework. Borland has also updated the SilkPerformer 2008 load- and performance-testing product to support AJAX and Flash-based application testing, adding support for Adobe's AMF3 remoting and messaging protocol, says Johnson.

"It's kind of a black box doing a bunch of stuff in the middle of a Web app," Johnson says of Flash apps running on Flex. "A lot of asynchronous messages are going back and forth that need to be tested and measured and stressed."

Ballou welcomes the Web-centric enhancements, in part because of what she calls a "cultural disconnect" in Web 2.0 development.

"As Web 2.0 applications become more business-critical, the quality of those applications and optimizing performance in that context also becomes key," Ballou says. "I find that the user community has been slow to focus on quality issues for Web 2.0 applications, which will increasingly become an issue as these apps become more visible and as the business costs of failure for customer-facing, engaging Web 2.0 [apps] become visceral."

The Borland Silk product line is part of Borland's larger Open ALM application lifecycle management strategy. Other Borland ALM products include the Temp IT portfolio-management software, Caliber requirements-management software and Together modeling tools.

Borland Silk 2008 products are available immediately. Pricing for Borland SilkTest 2008 starts at $4,500 per end user, while SilkCentral Test Manager starts at $1,700 per end user. SilkPerformer 2008 pricing is determined by the number of virtual -- or simulated -- users being supported in testing. A 500-user simulated load costs about $80 per virtual user.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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