How to do Test Automation of Flex Applications With Custom Components?
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Most Flex applications tend to contain custom components. Since business requirements have become more and more complex, one cannot build an application without incorporating a few custom components. For instance, many business intelligence reports, such as the ones from MicroStrategy, contain complex business data, charts, diagrams, etc., and they come with custom components.
When it comes to automating the testing of Flex applications, most of the tools available in the market today fail in one way or other. Although test automation of Flex applications has become a lot more advanced today, the reason why many test suites fail is because they are unable to properly identify custom components.
ROI of Flex Automation Tools
Talking about the Return on Investment (ROI) of a Flex test automation tool, a number of factors have to be considered, such as the learning curve involved, the automation coverage, and the time to market the application. These factors apply to any testing tool in the market.
Companies are looking for testing tools with high automation coverage. When a Flex application has a number of custom components that the automation tool is unable to identify, this factor goes down drastically.
In order for a company to opt for automated testing tools, the time involved in testing and marketing the app should be significantly less. In agile software development, where the new versions are developed and marketed regularly, testing has to be fast enough. An ordinary test automation solution will encounter difficulties with custom components and will thus delay the entire process.
Custom Components: The Challenges
In the automation of custom components, object identification itself is hard, let alone automation. A testing tool normally requires the source code of the component. In order to identify and test a custom component, something known as a ‘delegate class’ has to be written for it. Without the source code of the custom component, it is difficult, if not impossible, to create its delegate class. Due to security reasons, the source code is generally not divulged to anyone.
Another challenge is extracting data from a component by reading its properties. However, providing flexibility and diversity in this area is sought after, especially in the case of graphic content, including bar charts, pie charts, column charts, etc. Also, providing some specific information off a custom component as per customer requirements is a challenge for many automation tools.
Moreover, it seems that much research has not been done in custom component automation for Flex. Hence, creating an automation tool or modifying an existing tool to incorporate custom components is very challenging. This is one of the reasons why many test automation tools still are incapable of handling this challenge.
MicroStrategy business reports made using Flex tend to contain a lot of custom components. Traditional automation tools have failed with such applications.
The Solution: MTAS
Hence, there is a dire and continuous need in the market for a tool that can solve this issue without compromising the source code, the intellectual property of the developers. Such a testing tool hasn’t probably existed in the market for such a long time. However, MSys MTAS has been able to provide automation support for custom components without needing their source code. For instance, MTAS has successfully automated the Flex business reports generated by MicroStrategy.