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Doc 22 Effective E-Commerce Testing

Doc 22 Effective E-Commerce Testing



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Published by: Kapildev on Nov 29, 2008
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Syntel CQA Forum Effective Testing for E-Commerce CQA Doc No 22
Effective Testing for E-commerceIntroduction
What is e-commerce? E-Commerce is definedas the software and business processesrequired to allow businesses to operate solelyor primarily using digital data flows.Why is testing important in the e-commerceenvironment?
 The first and primary reason is because e-commerce is, by its very nature, businesscritical.
 The second reason is that e-commerce isa massive and growing market place butone which requires large up-frontinvestment to enter successfully. Thereare already 5.8 million web sitesworldwide.
 The third reason is because the history of e-commerce development has beenlittered with expensive failures, at leastsome of which could have been avoidedby better testing before the site wasopened to the general public.
The Testing Challenges
A successful e-commerce application is:
Usable. Problems with user interfaces loseclients.
Secure. Privacy, access control,authentication, integrity and non-repudiation are big issues.
Scaleable. Success will bring increasingdemand.
Reliable. Failure is unthinkable for abusiness critical system.
Maintainable. High rates of change arefundamental to e-commerce.
Highly available. Downtime is tooexpensive to tolerate.
Technical Issues
 The development process for e-commercehas unique characteristics and someassociated risks. It is generally recognizedthat a ‘web year’ is about 2 months long. Forthis reason, Rapid Application Development(RAD) techniques predominate in the e-commerce environment, and in some casesdevelopment is even done directly in aproduction environment rather than in aseparate development environment. Thesechanges increase risk and create newchallenges for testers, because timepressures militate against spending a longertime testing sites before they are released.At the same time, the technical environmentof front-end systems is changing very rapidly,so change is imposed on e-commerce siteseven when the site itself is not changing. Thisrequires more regression testing than wouldbe expected in a conventional application toensure that the site continues to functionacceptably after changes to browsers, searchengines and portals. New issues have alsocome to the fore for testers, notably securityof transactions and the performance of websites under heavy load conditions.
Front End Systems
Static Testing.
 The front end of an e-commerce site is usually a web site thatneeds testing in its own right, it must alsooffer an acceptable level of service on one ormore platforms, and have portability betweenchosen platforms. It should be tested againsta variety of browsers, to ensure that imagesseen across browsers are of the same quality.Usability is a key issue and testing mustadopt a user perspective. It is also importantto gain confidence in the security of the site.Many of these tests can be automated bycreating and running a file of typical userinteractions useful for regression testingand to save time in checking basicfunctionality.
Dynamic Testing
. The services offered tocustomers must be systematically explored,including the turnaround time for eachservice and the overall server response. This,too, must be exercised across alternativeplatforms, browsers and networkconnections. E-commerce applications areessentially transaction-oriented, based onkey business processes, and will requireeffective interfacing between intranet-basedand extranet-based applications. 
Back End Systems
 The back end of e-commerce systems willtypically include ERP and databaseapplications. Back end testing, therefore, isabout business application testing and doesnot pose any new or poorly understoodproblems from a business perspective, butthere are potential new technical problems,such as server load balancing. What isessential, however, is to apply the key frontend testing scenarios to the back endsystems. In other words, the back endsystems should be driven by the same realtransactions and data that will be used infront end testing. The back end may wellprove to be a bottleneck for user services, soperformance under load and scalability arekey issues to be addressed. Security is an
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Syntel CQA Forum Effective Testing for E-Commerce CQA Doc No 22
issue in its own right, but also has potentialto impact on performance.
Middleware and Integration
Integration is the key to e-commerce. Inorder to build an e-commerce application,one or more of the following components areusually integrated:
Database Server
Server-side application scripts/programs
Application server
HTML forms for user interface
Application scripts on the client
Payment server
Scripts/programs to integrate withlegacy back-end systems The process of developing an e-commercesite is significantly different from developinga web site – commerce adds extra levels of complexity. One highly complex feature isthat of integration.If an application is being built that uses adatabase server, web server and paymentserver from different vendors, there isconsiderable effort involved in networkingthese components, understandingconnectivity-related issues and integratingthem into a single development (executable)environment. If legacy code is involved, thisadds a new dimension to the problem, sincetime will need to be invested inunderstanding the interfaces to the legacycode, and the likely impact of any changes.It is also crucial to keep in mind the steeplearning curve associated with cutting-edgetechnologies. Keeping pace with the latestversions of the development tools andproducts to be integrated, their compatibilitywith the previous versions, and investigatingall the new features for building optimalsolutions for performance can be a dauntingtask. Also, since e-commerce applications onthe web are a relatively new phenomenon,there are unlikely to be any metrics onsimilar projects to help with project planningand development. The maintenance tasks of installing andupgrading applications can also become veryinvolved, since they demand expertise in:
Database administration.
Web server administration.
Payment server administration.
Administration of any other special toolsthat have been integrated into the site. Technical support should also be borne inmind.Correctly functioning back-end and front-endsystems offer no guarantees of reliableoverall functionality or performance. End-to-end testing of complete integratedarchitectures, using realistic transactions, isan essential component.
Ten Key Principles of Effective E-Commerce TestingPrinciple 1. Testing is a rismanagement process
Effective testing adopts a strategy that istailored to the type of application or servicebeing tested, the business value of theapplication or service, and the risks thatwould accompany its failure Plans shouldinclude measures of risk and value andincorporate testing and other quality-relatedactivities that ensure development isproperly focused on achieving maximumvalue with minimum risk.
Principle 2. Know the value of theapplications being tested.
 To manage risk effectively, we must know thebusiness value of success as well as the costof failure. The business community must beinvolved in setting values on which the riskassessment can be based and committed todelivering an agreed level of quality.
Principle 3. Set clear testing objectivesand criteria for successful completion
(including test coverage measures). The test programme must be properlyplanned, with test scripts giving preciseinstructions and expected results. There willalso need to be some cross-referencing backto the requirements and objectives, so thatsome assessment can be made of how manyof the requirements have been tested at anygiven time
Principle 4. Create an effective testenvironment.
Cross-platform testing is, naturally, animportant part of testing any multi-platformsoftware application. In the case of e-commerce, the term ‘cross-platformmustalso extend to include ‘cross-browser’.In order to ensure that a site loads andfunctions properly from all supportedplatforms, as much stress and load testing aspossible should be performed.
Principle 5. Test as early as possible inthe development cycle.
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