Here is a list of steps which would lay the foundation to develop your ACTing skills.
1. First step is to create a new project. This can be done by opening the ACT IDE and clicking on New Project from the File Menu. A dialog box will appear asking for the name of the project and the location to store it. Let's say the name is Trial.
2. On the left pane you will see a treeview control with name of your project, in this case- Trial as the root and three icons called Tests, Results and Users. Right click on Trial and select properties. In the properties section, under General tab specify the proxy server if you want to stress test it else leave it blank. Under Debugging tab, specify the location where you want to store the log file for the test runs.
3. If you want to configure your own user group, right click on Users icon and select Add. A new user group will appear and you can rename it to match your user group. Click on the new user group and select Generate Users from the Action menu. It will ask you for the number of users to generate. If you are creating multiple users, the same password would be given to all the users initially which can be modified later and the prefix for the username is optional.
But if you think that authentication is not important for your website and you donít require control over username and password then you can skip this step as ACT will take care of generating the users for you but in this case the user and cookie information won't be stored.
4. Now all the initial settings are ready, we can create a new test. For this, we right click on Test icon and select New Test or you can use the icon on the toolbar. A wizard will appear. Click on next button.
5. It will give you two options. If you are planning to write your own custom test then click on the option Create an empty test else click on the option Record a new Test. After that proceed by clicking on next button. My advice for dynamic test programmers is to use Record a new Test option and modify the resultant code to your needs.
6. If you had clicked on the first option. It will ask you to select the language in which the test script should be written (currently support is provided only for VBScript and Jscript).On clicking the next button, it will ask for the name of the test, specify it and then proceed by clicking on Finish button. The following code will be generated for the test Test.SendRequest(" http://localhost ") and you can add your own custom code to it.
7. If you had clicked on recording option. It will ask you to select the language in which the test script will be generated and on clicking next button, you will be presented with 2 buttons "Start Recording" and "Stop Recording".
8. Clicking on Start Recording, a new IE window will open up. In the IE window, type in the URL of the web application. Visit the pages which you want to stress test, when you are finished with it, click on Stop Recording button. Proceed by clicking on the next button, it will ask for the name of the test; specify it and click on Finish button. ACT will automatically generate code for the recorded browser session.
9. After you have completed the wizard, you can right click the created test and select properties. Here is where the strength of ACT lies
Under the General tab, we can specify the number of simultaneous connections to simulate (for a normal web application it can be upto 100).Then we can also specify the duration of the test or the number of iterations it has to run. We can also select the reporting level of the test results by selecting the Advanced button.
Under the User tab, we can select the user group to be used or allow ACT to generate the users.
Under the Counters tab, we can specify the performance counters to be monitored and interval at which the data should be collected for it. The list of the important counters which should generally be monitored will be provided in the later part of the article.
10. Right click the test and select start test, a new window showing the test status would appear. Clicking on show details button will display a real time test status chart showing a summary of the requests per second, total requests, socket errors, and HTTP errors. ACT doesnít support real time visualization of performance counters and processor use during test runs, to view it you got to use Windows Performance tool listed under administrative tools.
11. Once the test has been completed, the results can be obtained by clicking on the Results icon. Your test name will appear on right hand side pane called Test Runs with the test results and you can analyze the test result by ticking the checkbox and selecting any one of the options available in the combo box called Reports. The options available are
Overview- we get the summary of the test result
Graph- we can view the graph for various combinations of X and Y graph like Request/sec(Y axis) Vs Test runs(X axis) for the test result collected.
Request- summary of various requests made to the server.
It's also possible to superimpose the results from multiple reports belonging to a single test, and even reports belonging to more than one test, on to a single graph, making it possible to view changes in performance as the Web application is modified and tuned over a period of time.