Testing Web Applications – Best Practices

Web app testing should be thorough, in order to avoid troubleshooting at a later stage. You need to choose the right methodology and practices during the testing of your web apps depending upon the developmental parameters and application characteristics. For instance – for a banking web app, security takes precedence over usability while with commercial web apps, reliability and availability are the key requirements. The following are the best practices for testing or debugging web apps –

Interface Testing – Interface testing is a must for web apps that are going to work on a variety of platforms. The data flow between modules should be smooth and interfaces should be backward compatible while accommodating to frequent component changes at the same time.

• Functional Testing – This testing targets the reliability of individual functions. For invalid inputs, the error messages should be appropriate and prompt, and boundary conditions must be tested in the test cases. Functional testing for web apps includes flow testing, compatibility testing, configuration testing and database testing. It can be as simple as testing whether all the links are functional to something as complicated as reflection of user made webpage changes on the database.

• Security Testing – For web apps where modifications and data leaks are the main areas to counter, security testing is the most important part of testing. Authorization and authentication mechanisms for these web apps need to be extremely efficient and effective. This testing can be dynamic – running the app and checking its response – or static – simple code analysis.

• Performance Testing – Various scenarios need to be considered for performance testing of a web app. This would include stress testing to gauge the maximum performance limits, scalability testing to determine application adaptability to software or hardware changes, and load testing to check performance under heavy load.

• Usability Testing – The user interface is tested in this phase, making sure that the accessibility standards are being followed. Web navigation, site map, color combinations, over-crowded content issues, user friendliness, et al are tested in this phase.

• User Acceptance Testing – Is your web app ready to go live and be used effectively by a user? This is what this phase of testing focusses on. It checks proper data feeding controls, field widths and time outs, mandatory fields, and browser compatibility. It would involve alpha and beta testing as well.

Various testing tools are used in the process of web app testing like RFT, JSpec RhinoUnit, Dojo Testing, Adobe Flex, et al.

Preventing Problems with Web Applications


Web apps are so ubiquitous in the current time that normal users of the internet don’t even know they exist. However, when they are shopping on a website and their cart fails to load or the video player on their favorite music site stops playing, their experience is hampered. These are web apps that are an inherent part of most websites and if preventive measures are not taken, the results could be fall in traffic of buggy web apps. These points list out some preventive tips for ensuring the web apps are not buggy –

• Minimize Fancy Effects and Complicated Styling That Does Not Enhance User Experience – It is true that users are dazzled by bells and whistles on websites but they would be even more dazzled when the app actually works instead of being buggy and erratic. Always remember that the more complicated and useless styling-effects are used, the greater are the chances of bugs. Don’t do anything that increases the frequency of bugs in your web app.

• Choose a List of Supported Browsers and Redirect Unsupported Browser Users with Scripting – You cannot cater to everyone on the internet. There are bound to be some lesser known browsers that you will miss. Another advantage of following this tip is limiting styling and scripting needs for a huge number of browsers – common and uncommon (according to the information provided by webhostingprof.com). By only catering to the popular browsers, you would also be able to test your web app on these browsers more thoroughly.

• Use JQuery, EXT JS, and Other Cross Browser Compatible Libraries – These libraries have one huge advantage – many communities support and develop them – which automatically means that their activity is working and robust across a huge variety of web browsers. You will not have to exert excessive effort in the management of various supported browsers. Also, by leveraging the effort of these communities for certain tasks, you will not have to start from scratch.

• Beta Testing and Regular Monitoring – The first step of testing is ensuring that the web apps are performing as expected on supported browsers and unsupported browsers are properly handled as well. The second step, however, is constant monitoring of apps and the servers that ensure the website and apps stay online all the time. In fact, app performance monitoring is a service that many companies offer. There are a number of outside tools that you can use for application performance management, and there are also a number of free tools too. What’s the best fit is up to you, and it’s something that you have to decide based on your needs.

If you take these tips seriously, you will be able to minimize the requirement of troubleshooting in the future.

Avoiding Bugs in Web Applications


Mistakes are often made in the web-development process. Many of these mistakes, however, can be avoided with a few simple considerations. Most mistakes spawn from a lack of proper testing, browser incompatibility, and static resolutions.

Whether due to time constraints or negligence, many web apps are released without undergoing efficient pre-release testing. While it may not seem imperative to have an application that runs flawlessly, in reality the majority of users won’t have much patience for bugs. Whether it’s a shopping-cart app failing to process an order or video player failing to load, users will be quick to abandon the application in search of a different, and more efficient substitute. With a myriad of similar web-apps scattered across the internet, proper testing of an application can be the deciding factor in a company or website’s overall success.

However, not all testing can be done in the pre-release phase. While it’s important to try and perfect an application before its release, development teams tend to lack the numbers to test frequently enough. Once the app is live, however, it’s important to keep track of all bugs and stress the importance of reporting them. With increased traffic more bugs will surface, and taking care of them as soon as possible is important to minimizing any damage caused by negative experiences.

Constant testing whether in the pre-release or post-release phase will do little for an application’s stability if the developer fails to take varying browsers into consideration. Not all users will access the app on the same web browser, and if it hasn’t been tested for a specific browser there’s no guarantee the app will run well, if at all. But there’s countless available web browsers, and it would be very time-consuming to try and test for them all. It would be much wiser to focus on the five or even ten most popular browsers. The more popular the browser, the more potential users an application might receive.

Another issue often overlooked is the varying monitor resolutions of users. If an application is designed with a high resolution in mind or uses static widths and heights, then the entire design may appear mangled to a user with a smaller resolution size.

Even if all potential issues are taken into consideration, it’s not possible to completely remove the presence of bugs and errors. But with efficient pre- and post-release testing, development for varying browsers, and flexible dimensions an application can minimize he occurrence of bugs and provide a positive experience to its users.