Borland Adapts Silk Test Suite For Agile Development

Test suite seeks to overcome limitations of testing in Agile development process, and ease creation of tests for software quality.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

July 22, 2009

4 Min Read

Borland has adapted its Silk line of software testing tools to better accommodate modern development methods, particularly Agile-style development.

"There's been significant change. There's reduced time and cost to implement changes in applications. Agile development does unit and function testing, but not regression testing," which checks whether new code will work with the other systems on which it will depend in its prospective environment, noted David Wilby, senior VP of products, in an interview.

Agile is a widely adopted programming method with varied approaches, but in general, it relies on small teams, concentrated development efforts called sprints, frequent user feedback, and frequent testing -- by the developers, long before a separate quality assurance team gets its hands on the code.

In its own experience implementing Agile methods, Borland found "Agile developers are being asked to go beyond unit and function tests, but they don't own all the paths to the application," Wilby said. In complex Web and enterprise infrastructures, applications may encounter conditions that the Agile developers did not anticipate or test for.

Borland's suite of testing tools, Silk 2009, includes SilkTest 2009. SilkTest had a formerly separate Silk4J language embedded in it. Last year Borland introduced Silk4J as a proprietary scripting language with which to create tests quickly. The language has been incorporated into SilkTest and can be used to create both function and regression tests.

Tests created with Silk4J script will be produced in Java when generated in the open source Eclipse integrated development environment. These Java tests can then be run in the target software environment in the SilkTest engine to determine whether the new and existing infrastructure code will work together.

SilkTest 2009 has a "record and play" function, allowing it to capture a user session of an application's graphical user interface, then test it as often as necessary. Elements of the test can become more flexible, since they are now produced as Java objects. In the past, if a button in a user interface was moved, "the script-based test would break" because the script expected it to be in an assigned position, Wilby said. With this release of SilkTest, user interface elements can be moved around to try new combinations and tests still work. SilkTest tests also apply to most browsers. If tests run successfully in one browser, they will run in many browsers. If a route to accessing an application over the Internet changes, then SilkTest can alter the test to include the new route. In the previous version, a whole new test would have had to be created, Wilby said.

A second piece of the suite is SilkPerformer, which speeds creation of load tests and helps produce performance testing on new application code. SilkPerformer uses virtual machines to produce load tests, and when the test is completed, "releases those virtual resources.

In the past, the tester tended to hang onto those resources, until all the tests had executed, because they were so hard to get." SilkPerformer thus allows the test environment to recyle test resources more frequently, Wilby said. Function tests and unit tests can be repurposed for use in performance testing.

SilkPerformer can plug into either Eclipse or Microsoft's Visual Studio development environments. Agile teams can get fast feedback on their performance tests, which helps with ongoing development project at an early stage, through SilkPerformer's integration with a third product, SilkCentral Test Manager.

SilkCentral Test Manager produces performance trend reports with each tests to give programmers a chance to identify performance issues. It is a central testing framework for managing testing activities and reporting on them. Results can be loaded into dashboards for various participants in the development process, including the business users.

Wilby said the SilkTest suite was more useful to Agile programmers than previous versions but it is also still relevant to all the traditional means of software development.

SilkPerformer and SilkCentral Test Manager are available immediately, at prices of $10,000 and $1.700 respectively, with SilkTest 2009 becoming available by the end of August at a price of $4,000. SilkPerformer pricing includes 25 virtual user packs.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on application delivery. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights