How to Load Test Web Applications

Updated: March 22, 2010

Load Testing Tools
For enterprise level testing, there are packages such as Load Runner and WebKing that are available to support large systems. Parasoft's WebKing is an automated testing solution for creating, executing and managing functional and regression test suites. WebKing can also perform load testing, leveraging the existing functional tests to perform the load tests. Load Runner is a performance and load testing product by Hewlett-Packard used for examining system behavior and performance, while generating actual load.

There are open source options with similar capabilities, such as JMeter and TestMaker. JMeter is an Apache Jakarta project that can be used as a load testing tool for analyzing and measuring the performance of a variety of services, with a focus on web applications. PushToTest's TestMaker is a platform for test automation, service governance, and business service management. For Java developers, TestMaker is a framework for turning unit tests into functional tests, creating load and scalability tests, and creating service monitors automatically.

The tools mentioned above all require the tester to have dedicated servers. BrowserMob is another option available to testers who do not have access to a dedicated server. BrowserMob allows the user to define and schedule load tests over the Internet using 3rd party servers and virtual users to send a stream of data to the tester's site. Actual browsers are spawned, which makes this close to a real user experience.

LBi Software Experiences with Load Testing
For its Load Testing, LBi Software has had success with TestMaker, BrowserMob and JMeter.

TestMaker

  • LBi tested its standard web applications with this tool.
  • LBi created Selenium scripts for Functional Testing. TestMaker was able to use many of these same scripts for its Load Testing, making extra scripts unnecessary.
  • LBi took two approaches:
    • An environment within LBi's network, with multiple testing nodes and one server. This was sufficient for small load tests
    • For load tests that numbered into the thousands and tens of thousands, LBi utilized Cloud Computing, specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS). The various nodes were in the cloud, as well as the main server. The number of nodes and servers could easily be increased, as well as the computing power of the Cloud servers. (Please note: Mixing the cloud solution with a local network solution is possible, but be aware that your internet pipe may become a bottleneck due to bandwidth limitations.)

BrowserMob

  • Selenium scripts and the target URL were sent to the BrowserMob service. BrowserMob utilized the Selenium scripts to spawn multiple instances of browsers, running the load tests from each browser against the submitted URL.
  • If any errors were encountered, they were sent via email.
  • This was utilized as a load testing source, as well as a means to verify that results from other load testing tools were accurate.

JMeter

  • LBi used JMeter for AJAX-heavy web applications
  • Performed very well against these complex applications, giving accurate and consistent results on every run.
  • Uses a simple GUI to record Load Testing scripts. While it does not use Selenium scripts, the GUI is simple enough to easily record tests.
  • Can include both in-network and Cloud Computing options. LBi achieved similar results with both.

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