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How to use tools for system integration testing

Are there any tools available for system integration testing?

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Well, the answer to that question has to be "yes, but…" Look, there's no magic bullet; software testing is work, and building quality software is hard work.

To use a tool to perform system testing you need to start pulling together the tools you used for functional testing.
There are a ton of tools out there for automated testing, and just about any tool can be used for just about any testing methodology. For instance, you can use TestNG and Watij to build a test case against a Web application. You can use those same technologies and that same automated test as part of a system test case.

The answer to your question rests not so much on the technology you use, but on the difference between functional testing and system testing AND on how you use tools in functional testing. Functional or feature testing is the process of testing newly written code to ensure it functions as designed. System or integration testing is the process of ensuring individual functional areas integrate (play nicely together). So the testing is different -- it moves from the atomic level to the molecular level -- from an individual unit to a combined whole. My expert response "How to do integration testing" touches on this difference a bit.

Software testing help:
Functional testing: Unit testing, integration testing, and beyond

An approach to integration testing

Free load and performance testing tools

So basically, to use a tool to perform system testing you need to start pulling together the tools you used for functional testing. The key to success here is to write your test tools and your tests to be atomic so you can pull them together later. Try this on for size: A typical Web site might have four functional areas -- account creation, login/logout, inventory browse, and shopping cart. For each of these functional areas, you need to write a number of tests which probe the functional area, validating functionality as well as setting the quality bar. For system testing, you would want to string together tests from each area -- create an account, log in with that new account, browse the inventory, and purchase something. Then create an account, log in with the account, log out from that account, and try to buy something. Lather, rinse, repeat… Keep pulling together tests from each area, generating more complex scenarios.

This was first published in October 2008

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