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Three Tips to Successfully Load Test Adobe Flex Applications
It has become increasingly important to performance test these web applications under different loads
Feb. 7, 2012 02:31 PM
The world has changed dramatically for organizations that use web-enabled business applications in enterprise environments. The complexities of modern applications, which include multi-tiered, globally distributed architectures, SOA and a host of other new technologies, have forced major change in the way enterprises develop, test and manage web-enabled applications. Specifically, Rich Internet Application (RIA) technologies such as Adobe Flex allow a faster, more engaging, interactive experience with browser- enabled applications and services. While an attractive option for developing expanded application capabilities these RIA technologies bring new challenges to organizations that need to deploy application features and functions in a compressed time frame and at a lower cost.
Preparing for the shift as part of this new technology trend, companies must adapt their testing approach as well. Given the way new technologies work when deployed on Onternet/intranet applications, it's important to be careful in approaching the testing of Flex applications. When rolling out next-generation applications on a mission-critical enterprise application platform, you need to be confident that your systems will perform. As load testing is one of the last crucial tasks before launching a web application, it's usually done under pressure and with tight time constraints. Before we discuss tips to make you successful when load testing Adobe Flex applications, first let's look at how Adobe Flex applications are unique.
Adobe Flex applications may be different from applications you've worked with before. For classic HTML web applications, the server does all of the processing. In addition, the rendering of HTML requires full page refreshes. Flex applications are different because content is delivered without having to reload the page. These applications download the Flash client application and run in the browser, or for Adobe AIR applications, on the desktop. The Flash is constantly being updated by the server, asynchronously. For this reason, Adobe Flex server loads reveal a very different profile.
We all know it is important to measure transaction response times when performance testing web applications. But Flex technology can cause significant increases in the number of browser-to-server HTTP calls made in the background and this increase in traffic can have a profound effect on performance. While users might not be aware of the round-trips between the browser and a distant server, they will definitely notice performance a problem if the application is slow or doesn't work because of the increased load. Knowing the scalability limitations of your deployments is crucial.
Innovative RIA technologies like Flex present new challenges with respect to emulating a realistic load. If you're developing or deploying applications in this newer technology, successfully addressing these challenges requires thinking about load testing in new ways. Let's look at the new challenges in load testing Flex applications and three tips to improve application performance and enrich the user experience.
Tip 1: Make sure you can decode AMF and process internal identifiers
In addition, AMF message protocol uses internal identifiers (clientId, DSId, etc.) to maintain the AMF session. Parameters in an AMF session are dynamically generated and are numerous. To avoid painful manual configuration of these parameters, make sure that your load testing tool automatically processes serialized objects and identifiers.
Tip 2: Make sure you can support customized external messages
When selecting a load testing tool, make sure it allows you to integrate custom code into it. For optimum testing, the customized code should be loaded and run by the testing tool to correctly replay custom messages.
Tip 3: Make sure you can support polling and streaming
In both cases, typical HTTP response times are not useful. For regular HTTP requests, load testing tools measure the time between when the request is sent and when the response is received. It's important that your load testing tool can measure what's really interesting: the time between when the server updates the client and when the client receives the update. Not only should the tool measure this information but this function should be automated so that testing can be done frequently and earlier in the lifecycle.
As more and more companies deploy mission-critical applications on the Internet, it has become increasingly important to performance test these web applications under different loads before they go live. While Adobe Flex provides expanded capabilities to develop new powerful applications in support of organizational needs, the technology is different from other applications. As a result a new approach to load testing is required. To understand how your applications will work in the Adobe Flex production environment, and to optimize them for higher performance, you need be able to simulate not just the actions of one user, but the actions of many users. By implementing the tips in this article, companies can quickly adapt their testing methodology to handle Flex applications, get to market faster and easier than ever before, while improving productivity and saving money.
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