This content is part of the Essential Guide: Guide to app portability and interoperability

Four tools for better data exchange testing

Learn which tools are recommended for testing data exchange and interoperability issues.

Testing data exchanges involves using several types of tools, and possibly a mix of custom-developed tools as well. Intuitive, relatively easy-to-use tools are essential to avoid having to spend significant time on the tool rather than testing. Regardless of the software methodology used, testing teams usually have more to do than they have qualified resources. It's not an uncommon scenario as more businesses need to maximize profit with minimal resources. Tools used for testing must provide value and fit into the testing routine without excessive need for duplicate work or additional system setup.

I have found that the following tools provide exceptional value, are relatively simple to learn and are easy to use to uncover information.

Ensemble. InterSystems Ensemble is a platform for integration and for developing connected applications. According to InterSystems, Ensemble is used for advanced integrated systems, replacing time-consuming point-to-point methods. The platform enables software developers to create easily connectable applications that share data.

For testers, Ensemble provides the unusual ability to easily track and view messages of multiple types and formats. Rather than digging through and attempting to view messages in Unix or Linux using outdated editors, Ensemble provides an easy-to-read method of accessing and viewing all types of messages at any point in the process. Testers can view a UI and access a message at any point in the path -- both inbound and outbound.

Additionally, Ensemble offers optional viewing methods, and users can copy and paste message text easily into other applications. Ensemble is an exceptional tool for testing and viewing messages in transit.

SoapUI and SoapUI Pro. Using SoapUI or SoapUI Pro is useful for creating repeatable tests against multiple endpoints. Using the tools, testers can simulate inbound messages against varying endpoints. Tests can be saved and reused, or used to develop an automated test suite. Testers can use the tool to create repeatable and editable requests and view responses in multiple display forms. Granted, multiple tools are available to test requests and responses on a server, but it makes more sense to reduce the number of tools used where possible.

The Pro version includes several security tests that can be added to the test suite with moderate effort. Some of the tests may be easier to run directly, but testers may find value in picking particular security tests and adding another layer of testing to their endpoint tests. The tool takes some getting used to, but once a tester gets the hang of creating and editing projects, it's a relatively quick and effective testing tool.

Database viewers. A database viewer is an essential tool if testers are unable to access an end user's application or something that simulates it effectively. Typically, the software development system includes a database viewer that the testing team can use. A large number of free and open source tools are available to use, depending on the database type. But in my experience, the most valuable database viewing tools are SQL Developer, SQL Server and Toad. SQL Server is available within Microsoft Visual Studio; SQL Developer and Toad are available in free or paid versions.

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