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User Experience, not Metrics Series

This is Scott's first series of articles where he starts by asking How many times have you surfed to a web site to accomplish a task only to give up and go to a different web site because the home page took too long to download? "46% of consumers will leave a preferred site if they experience technical or performance problems." (Juniper Communications) In other words, "If your web site is slow, your customers will go!" This is a simple concept that all Internet users are familiar with. When this happens, isn't your first thought always, "Gee, I wonder what the throughput of the web server is?" Well no, that is certainly not the thought that comes to mind. Instead, you think "Man, this is SLOW! I don't have time for this. I'll just find it somewhere else." Now consider this, what if it was YOUR web site that people were leaving because of performance?

Face it, users don't care what your throughput, bandwidth or hits per second metrics prove or don't prove, they want a positive user experience. There are a variety of books on the market, which discuss how to engineer maximum performance. There are even more books that focus on making a web site intuitive, graphically pleasing and easy to navigate. The benefits of speed are discussed, but how does one truly predict and tune an application for optimized user experience? One must test, first hand, the user experience! There are two ways to accomplish this. One could release a web site straight into production, where data could be collected and the system could be tuned, with the great hope that the site doesn't crash or isn't painfully slow. The wise choice, however, would be to simulate actual multi-user activity, tune the application and repeat (until the system is tuned) before placing your site into production. Sounds like a simple choice, but how does one simulate actual multi-user activity accurately? That is the question this series of articles attempts to answer.

Beyond Performance Testing Series

This is a companion series to the User Experience, not Metrics series and will address topics related to what happens after those initial results are collected, the part it takes a human brain to accomplish. We will explore what the results mean and what can be done to improve them. We will take the next step beyond simply testing and explore how to identifying specific, fixable, issues. What are these issues? Poor end user experience, scalability and confidence in our software applications.

Performance Testing and Analysis is the discipline dedicated to optimizing the most important application performance trait, user experience. In this series of articles, we will explore those performance engineering activities that lie beyond performance testing. We will examine the process by which software is iteratively tested, using Rational Suite TestStudio, and tuned with the intent of achieving desired performance by following an industry-leading performance engineering methodology that compliments the Rational Unified Process. This first article is intended to introduce you to the high-level concepts used throughout the series and to give you an overview of the articles that follow.

Technical Articles Written for IBM-Rational

Automated Testing for Embedded Devices: As the number of new applications being developed for wireless/embedded devices such as PDAs, pagers, and cell phones increases, so does the demand for tools to automate the testing process on these new platforms. Through several recent consulting engagements, we have had the opportunity to pioneer the use of Rational TestStudio to automate functional (or GUI) and performance testing of new applications developed to run on a variety of embedded devices. This automation is made possible by the use of emulators - the same emulators used by developers of applications for embedded devices. In this article, we're going to show you how to use Rational TestStudio to record and play back test scripts against emulators.

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