Besides being one of the least glamorous jobs in software development, load testing is frequently skipped because of the amount of time involved and the cost of the tools and hardware. Novosoft’s Web Application Testing (WAPT) hopes to change all that by providing an affordable way to track down inefficiencies in your code when it’s under stress.

First impressions
I was amazed by the small size of the download—under 1.5 MB, which goes pretty quickly, even at dial-up speeds. Installation and product activation are a breeze. Once WAPT was installed, my first impression was that it has a clean and well-designed user interface (Figure A). The hints displayed upon startup are a minor annoyance, but these can easily be disabled. The user interface is intuitive, so you should be able to hit the ground running.

Figure A
WAPT’s interface

Not your father’s testing tool
When using WAPT, I had a flashback to my first experience with a load testing tool, which consisted of homegrown, bug-prone scripts that simulated users. Although that approach worked, writing scripts required a lot of time for both writing and debugging. More recently, the ability to record and play back a series of actions was added to the ability to modify these “prerecorded” scripts.

Thankfully, WAPT records actions by providing a browser window, as shown in Figure B. Any action made in the browser window can be played back to simulate one user or one hundred users. As a matter of fact, WAPT takes user simulation to a higher level by letting you adjust the delay between user requests to mimic real-world behavior, like pausing to think or take a sip of coffee.

Figure B
You record actions via the browser window.

Recorded scripts make it easier
Once the test scenario is complete, WAPT lets you save the test script so that you can run it for various options and even better test performance.

Access essential log files
WAPT also maintains a complete log of both server and virtual user activities for each test. This is where to go to pinpoint problems when things have taken a turn for the worse. But it isn’t the only place to look for information on how an application performs. WAPT produces detailed graphs (Figure C) on average request processing time, overall performance, percent of errors, average output speed, average input speed, minimum request processing time, average request processing time, and maximum request processing time.

Figure C
Results reporting tool

No need to blow the bank
Load testing doesn’t have to be restricted to the realm of large corporate development efforts because of cost and people power resources. WAPT is available for $250 per license, and you can check out volume pricing here. WAPT is available only for Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP or 9x, so Linux users are out of luck. Overall, WAPT is a an affordable, easy-to-use tool that can help you poke holes in your code. To check it out for yourself, download a free 30-day trial version.