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Expert resolves issues plaguing OpenSTA users

Expert John Overbaugh explains resolution techniques for OpenSTA users struggling with script issues in their application.

I am using OpenSTA to test a web application. Today, I recorded one scenario that creates a web link in my application and I parameterized that for different web links. Tomorrow the same script is not creating the web links but it is giving script ran successfully. Can you help, why it is happening?

No, I cannot tell you why this is happening, but I'm glad you asked! This is a great opportunity to talk a little bit about getting help with technical issues. The Internet is an incredible source of tools, especially open source tools like OpenSTA. It's also a great place to look for assistance from others. OpenSTA is not a commercial application, so obviously there's no support line to call. How can you get through an issue like this? It's actually pretty simple… Most of these open source tools have a wiki, a public forum or even an e-mail group. You can contact these groups and ask your question; they are usually quite responsive and the answer is generally accurate (because the people reading the group are familiar with the tool).

Next piece of advice: investigate everything you can by yourself, before asking for help. Troubleshooting begins with the application itself: does it show any errors in the user interface? What results does it show – are you getting 404 (server not found) errors? Are you getting 500 errors (application error)? Have you manually browsed to the site to make sure it's responsive? If none of these steps solve your problem, go to the next level – look for the test application's log and see if any errors are posting there. Since the tool performs web requests, run an HTTP traffic tool like NetMon or Charles, to see if any traffic is going out. Because you are testing a web application, I assume you have access to the server on which it resides. Check the server logs, check the application logs and see if errors are being thrown.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to record your troubleshooting. Have a pad of paper nearby, and write down what you did to investigate (in as much detail as you would need to follow the steps again).

If your own personal troubleshooting doesn't help you resolve the issue, your next step would be to turn to the groups I mentioned above. When you do this, don't ask vague questions. Be very specific—state the issue, explain what your configuration is like and give a general overview of the application under test. List in detail each step you have taken to troubleshoot (including any wiki or support articles you have read). You will gain the respect of group members and you are much more likely to get an answer.

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