LISA iTKO 4 brings high quality to Web service testing QA

Virtualization feature simulates interaction with Web services that don't yet exist

If you believe the documentation, the white papers, and the news releases, iTKO's recently released LISA 4 is an SOA testing tool. That descriptor, however, is modesty riding on the back of the still trendy acronym "SOA" because LISA goes well beyond testing what are typically understood to be SOA components: Under one roof, it houses the abilities to test Web and Java applications, the ESB (enterprise service bus), JMS (Java Message Service) systems, EJBs, databases, combinations of the above, and -- oh yes -- Web services.

The LISA engineers have peered through the acronym-laced fog of "SOA" and have seen that there is no typical SOA application. Any Web service can be a front door to a galaxy of technologies. LISA subscribes to the notion that adequately testing an SOA application requires examining the application from end to end. One cannot choose where bugs hatch.

The best addition to this version of LISA is its Web service virtualization feature, which allows QA engineers to quickly create simulated Web services for testing the Web service clients. From a technical perspective, LISA sits at the top of its class as a Web-services testing tool. Its only real drawbacks are its sometimes confusing user interface and its weak documentation.

The basics

LISA is emphatically a Java tool. Its tests can reach from the shallows of stand-alone Swing applications to the depths of multitier J2EE systems. Although you could use LISA to test, say, an ASP.Net application, LISA lacks the ability to dig into .Net components with the same efficiency as it burrows into Java. LISA's home is the JVM and application servers such as JBoss, WebSphere, and Tomcat, not IIS.

LISA is also emphatically a tool for QA engineers. Test cases are constructed in LISA's graphical UI. Only in complex test circumstances must you resort to actually writing code. The encyclopedic knowledge needed to communicate with a SOAP-based Web service, execute direct JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) calls against a database, crawl a Web application's DOM tree, ferret out an EJB's methods, and so on are baked into LISA's UI.

Reading LISA's repertoire of testable Java technologies, one sees that the tool is not limited to white-box testing. Although you can use LISA to build tests that simply exchange HTML requests and responses with a Web site, if that Web site carries active content -- a Java applet, say -- LISA can also dig into that applet and expose its individual controls and methods to your test steps. So you can create tests that call directly into the applet's methods, even as that applet executes within the Web page. This is an aspect of LISA's ability to operate at the DOM level when dealing with Web pages. And this ability allows LISA tests to interact directly not only with applets, but also JavaScript (including AJAX), Flash Flex, and even ActiveX controls.

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