Quality Web Systems: Performance, Security, and Usability

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Overview

Today's web software professionals must deliver new web applications to market quickly, while incorporating proper functionality, ease-of-use, security, and performance. This pressure underscores the need for effective engineering that facilitates both quality and rapid web system development.

Quality Web Systems provides web developers and software test professionals with practical, experience-based guidance on web system engineering. Concise and straightforward, this book provides a framework for ensuring that key web system success criteria is addressed during the development of the web system. Detailed, technical guidance is provided for each success criteria, including testing strategies that allow for verification of a quality implementation.

This book addresses the key success factors of quality web systems including: proper specification of system functionality, ease-of-use, compatibility with a variety of browsers, security, and system performance and scalability. Engineering these qualities into the system throughout the development life cycle, while performing relevant testing, prevents flaws that can later prove to be disastrous, and produces a product that is well-received by its customers.

A case study is used throughout the book to illustrate practical applications of issues, approaches, strategies, and techniques.

Specific topics covered include:

  • Web system success criteria
  • Engineering functionality through use case analysis
  • Test cases from RSI use cases
  • Security of web system components and databases
  • Compatibility with multiple web browsers
  • Performance and scalability behavior
  • Load analysis and capacity planning
  • Usability concerns and test strategies
  • Test tool evaluation guide

With the information and guidance in Quality Web Systems , you will be better able to ensure the development of a quality, timely, and successful web application.

0201719363B08102001

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201719369
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elfriede Dustin is the lead author of Automated Software Testing (Addison-Wesley, 1999), and Quality Web Systems (Addison-Wesley, 2002). An acknowledged expert in software engineering and testing practices, she has assisted numerous companies in the definition and implementation of QA and testing processes. For more information, please see her Web site at www.effectivesoftwaretesting.com.

Jeff Rashka is coauthor of Automated Software Testing. He has significant industry experience as a test/quality assurance manager, software development program manager, and software division director. In addition, he has served as a SEI CMM /ISO 9000 Process Improvement Director.

Douglas McDiarmid is a consultant specializing in the architecture and development of distributed web systems from use case modeling through definition and verification of system requirements. His experience in Internet-based enterprise systems includes sales force automation, medical bill auditing, and financial management.

0201719363AB12052002

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Read an Excerpt

Quality Web Systems addresses the challenge for today's Web software professionals engaged in the development of Web sites and Web-based applications—products that support the business of an organization. These professionals working to develop and to deploy Web systems are under pressure to complete development efforts and to incorporate upgrades to systems ahead of the competition. Deployment delays often translate into the loss of revenue and reputation for the organization and can result in the loss of market share, which may be vital to the future of the organization. Similarly, the deployment of troublesome or error-prone Web systems can result in disgruntled customers, loss of revenue, and loss of market share. Web customers are seeking Web systems that serve them in a reliable fashion, that are secure and usable, and that provide quick and easy service.

Often overlooked during the effort to quickly deploy a Web system are the many necessary aspects that make up a successful system. Among these key success factors are proper functionality, ease of use, compatibility with a variety of browsers, security of the site's components and content, and system performance and scalability.

The Web has brought many changes to the way that systems are built and deployed. Software engineers attempting to build these sites face a multitude of new concerns, most of which have arisen over just a few years. Many systems are deployed with flaws that pose serious problems for the site, such as security holes and the inability to cope with user load. These issues have the effect of placing one or more of the key success factors at risk. This book provides a technical examination of these issues, outlines appropriate implementation techniques, and describes the problem areas in technical detail.

Delivering a quality Web system, however, does not rely merely on the merits of having a grasp of the potential problems and the knowledge of how to fix them. A critical component of any Web development project is the proper use of testing techniques, which are necessary for verifying that the site addresses these concerns and delivers the required functionality to the end users. Therefore, in addition to the technical discussion of each problem area, we also provide detailed testing strategies.

The starting point for exploring these issues and the first step toward ensuring that key Web system success criteria have been addressed during the development of the Web system is the capture and analysis of the site's intended functionality. One of the most effective and popular techniques for requirements capture is known as use case analysis, a technique for specifying system functionality precisely. Use cases are the basis for further analysis and design of the system. The study of use case analysis is a large topic, and it can be undertaken in several ways, depending on the size of the project and the people involved. The use case approach presented here, known as RSI (requirement-service-interface), is a specific way of engineering the functionality of a system and includes definition of system requirements, modeling of the high-level system services, and specification of the user interface.

RSI use cases are also an excellent starting point for test case definition, providing an appropriate level of detail for black-box and gray-box testing activities. This book does not attempt to cover all the possible implementation techniques and functional issues that may be encountered but rather concentrates on the engineering of system functionality, a critical factor in Web system quality and success. This effective approach to engineering system functionality supports the development of thorough tests that help to ensure proper operation of the system. The specification of system functionality occurs throughout the project life cycle, with the majority of the work being performed in the earlier phases. The specification of system functionality is an activity that warrants special attention by software professionals and project managers, and it should be regarded as one of the keys to delivering a quality Web system.

Another critical activity pertains to the early phases of architecture definition, system design, and implementation. These activities are also performed iteratively throughout the life of the project. Some decisions that are made early in these processes will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse at a later time should a major flaw be discovered in the system's ability to perform in accordance with defined nonfunctional requirements—security, performance and scalability, and so on. Unfortunately, much of the guidance necessary to avoid these issues and to be able to deliver a system that properly addresses the key Web system success criteria has not been readily available and, in particular, has not been provided in one source.

Quality Web Systems addresses in detail the key success factors—security, performance and scalability, compatibility, usability, and the specification of functionality—that have a profound effect on the acceptance and use of the Web system by the end user. Engineering these factors into the system during the architecture, design, and implementation phases enables the Web site to be constructed with proper consideration for these concerns. In addition to the engineering of the key success factors into the Web system, software professionals need to apply the testing samples and guidance provided in the book in order to verify the successful implementation of the key success factors.

As an aid in helping to more completely outline the concepts addressed within the book, a single case study system, the Technology Bookstore, is portrayed throughout. In each chapter, relevant examples from the case study system are examined to provide concrete examples for the implementation concerns and test procedures.

Audience

This book focuses on the pragmatic concerns for Web system architecture and development: the Web enabling of applications, the establishment of Internet and intranet Web sites, and the development of Web applications supporting enterprise information portals. Thus, this book is valuable for Web architects and Web developers, who require detailed technical information on Web architectures and the proper implementation of site components to provide a site that is secure, scalable, compatible, and usable. The book also supports software test engineers seeking a more comprehensive technical understanding of Web systems. In addition, each success criterion is accompanied by step-by-step testing strategies for the test engineer. The book supports project managers by providing them with greater technical insight into the key Web system success factors.

Conventions

This book uses the following conventions to help the reader.


  • Code samples, log entries, commands, and other captures are represented in a special type font: // this is a code sample.
  • Important terms and ideas are highlighted with italicized text.

Organization

Chapter 1 provides an overview of Web systems and technologies. The chapter outlines the paradigm shift that has occurred, associated with the movement of modern business and commercial software applications to the Web, and discusses how this shift has introduced new system development issues. Architectural approaches and Web system components are addressed, as well as the languages and products that are used to create Web systems. Basic terms used throughout the book are introduced.

Chapter 2—explains how to capture system behavior, or functionality, at the appropriate levels of detail through use case analysis using the RSI approach. The application of RSI use cases as an excellent starting point for test case definition is addressed.

Chapter 3—covers a multitude of security and privacy concerns for any Web system. The chapter focuses on security issues pertaining to the Web server, the database server and browser, and content security of custom components of a Web system.

Chapter 4—provides an in-depth discussion about the ability of the system to perform and scale. The chapter also explains how to identify and correct performance and scalability problems. The need for capacity planning is addressed as it pertains to the process of determining the resource requirements necessary for the Web system to be able to handle future load within an acceptable response time.

Chapter 5—details the challenges of providing service in an acceptable way to users with various operating systems and Web browsers. Guidance is provided on the implementation of standards and the development of a compatibility test matrix to aid in defining the proper scope of compatibility tests, given the extremely large possible number of test combinations.

Chapter 6—examines the suitability of the site's interface and end user experience relative to the intended user base. The Web system must be logical and intuitive and must provide a unique and pleasant shopping experience. Tests need to be applied to the system to provide assurance that an adequate level of usability has been implemented.

Chapter 7—outlines the various kinds of tools that are available to assist with the issues described in the previous chapters. Finally, Appendixes A-C provide supplementary information: Web testing checklists, a test tool evaluation matrix, and the Technology Bookstore case study.

Note that Chapters 3-6 provide not only an in-depth technical discussion of the material applicable to Web architecture and Web development audiences but also step-by-step guidance for the performance of tests applicable to both Web development and software testing. In addition and where applicable, references to additional sources of information are provided.

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Table of Contents

Foreword.

Preface.

Acknowledgements.

1. Overview of Web Systems and Technologies.

Quality Web Systems.

Success Criteria.

Assigning Priorities Based on Risks.

Web System Engineering.

Web System Architecture.

2. Web Engineering Using the RSI Approach.

Use Cases Analysis.

Goal Oriented Use Cases Analysis.

RSI Approach.

RSI Model Development.

Non-Functional Requirements.

Technology Selection.

Test Procedures From RSI Use Cases.

Chapter Summary.

References.

3. Security.

Overview.

Web and Application Servers.

Database Server.

Client Computer.

Secure Communications.

Network Security.

Verifying Site Security.

TBS Case Study.

Chapter Summary.

References.

4. Performance.

Overview.

Performance and Scalability Requirements.

Verifying Site Performance and Scalability.

Verification Phases.

Interpreting the Test Results.

Improving Performance and Scalability.

Analyzing Scalability and Cost.

TBS Case Study.

Chapter Summary.

References.

5. Compatibility.

Client-Side Compatibility Issues.

Verifying Site Compatibility.

TBS Case Study.

Chapter Summary.

References.

6. Usability and Accessibility.

Usability Engineering.

Accessibility.

Usability Evaluation.

Automating Usability Evaluation.

TBS Case Study.

Chapter Summary.

References.

7. Tools.

Engineering.

Security.

Performance and Scalability.

Compatibility.

Usability.

Other Tools.

Chapter Summary.

Appendixes.

A. Evaluation Checklists.

B. Test Tool Evaluations.

C. Technology Book Store Case Study.

Contributing Author Biographies.

Index. 0201719363T04202001

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Preface

Quality Web Systems addresses the challenge for today's Web software professionals engaged in the development of Web sites and Web-based applications--products that support the business of an organization. These professionals working to develop and to deploy Web systems are under pressure to complete development efforts and to incorporate upgrades to systems ahead of the competition. Deployment delays often translate into the loss of revenue and reputation for the organization and can result in the loss of market share, which may be vital to the future of the organization. Similarly, the deployment of troublesome or error-prone Web systems can result in disgruntled customers, loss of revenue, and loss of market share. Web customers are seeking Web systems that serve them in a reliable fashion, that are secure and usable, and that provide quick and easy service.

Often overlooked during the effort to quickly deploy a Web system are the many necessary aspects that make up a successful system. Among these key success factors are proper functionality, ease of use, compatibility with a variety of browsers, security of the site's components and content, and system performance and scalability.

The Web has brought many changes to the way that systems are built and deployed. Software engineers attempting to build these sites face a multitude of new concerns, most of which have arisen over just a few years. Many systems are deployed with flaws that pose serious problems for the site, such as security holes and the inability to cope with user load. These issues have the effect of placing one or more of the key success factors at risk. This book provides a technical examination of these issues, outlines appropriate implementation techniques, and describes the problem areas in technical detail.

Delivering a quality Web system, however, does not rely merely on the merits of having a grasp of the potential problems and the knowledge of how to fix them. A critical component of any Web development project is the proper use of testing techniques, which are necessary for verifying that the site addresses these concerns and delivers the required functionality to the end users. Therefore, in addition to the technical discussion of each problem area, we also provide detailed testing strategies.

The starting point for exploring these issues and the first step toward ensuring that key Web system success criteria have been addressed during the development of the Web system is the capture and analysis of the site's intended functionality. One of the most effective and popular techniques for requirements capture is known as use case analysis, a technique for specifying system functionality precisely. Use cases are the basis for further analysis and design of the system. The study of use case analysis is a large topic, and it can be undertaken in several ways, depending on the size of the project and the people involved. The use case approach presented here, known as RSI (requirement-service-interface), is a specific way of engineering the functionality of a system and includes definition of system requirements, modeling of the high-level system services, and specification of the user interface.

RSI use cases are also an excellent starting point for test case definition, providing an appropriate level of detail for black-box and gray-box testing activities. This book does not attempt to cover all the possible implementation techniques and functional issues that may be encountered but rather concentrates on the engineering of system functionality, a critical factor in Web system quality and success. This effective approach to engineering system functionality supports the development of thorough tests that help to ensure proper operation of the system. The specification of system functionality occurs throughout the project life cycle, with the majority of the work being performed in the earlier phases. The specification of system functionality is an activity that warrants special attention by software professionals and project managers, and it should be regarded as one of the keys to delivering a quality Web system.

Another critical activity pertains to the early phases of architecture definition, system design, and implementation. These activities are also performed iteratively throughout the life of the project. Some decisions that are made early in these processes will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse at a later time should a major flaw be discovered in the system's ability to perform in accordance with defined nonfunctional requirements--security, performance and scalability, and so on. Unfortunately, much of the guidance necessary to avoid these issues and to be able to deliver a system that properly addresses the key Web system success criteria has not been readily available and, in particular, has not been provided in one source.

Quality Web Systems addresses in detail the key success factors--security, performance and scalability, compatibility, usability, and the specification of functionality--that have a profound effect on the acceptance and use of the Web system by the end user. Engineering these factors into the system during the architecture, design, and implementation phases enables the Web site to be constructed with proper consideration for these concerns. In addition to the engineering of the key success factors into the Web system, software professionals need to apply the testing samples and guidance provided in the book in order to verify the successful implementation of the key success factors.

As an aid in helping to more completely outline the concepts addressed within the book, a single case study system, the Technology Bookstore, is portrayed throughout. In each chapter, relevant examples from the case study system are examined to provide concrete examples for the implementation concerns and test procedures.

Audience

This book focuses on the pragmatic concerns for Web system architecture and development: the Web enabling of applications, the establishment of Internet and intranet Web sites, and the development of Web applications supporting enterprise information portals. Thus, this book is valuable for Web architects and Web developers, who require detailed technical information on Web architectures and the proper implementation of site components to provide a site that is secure, scalable, compatible, and usable. The book also supports software test engineers seeking a more comprehensive technical understanding of Web systems. In addition, each success criterion is accompanied by step-by-step testing strategies for the test engineer. The book supports project managers by providing them with greater technical insight into the key Web system success factors.

Conventions

This book uses the following conventions to help the reader.

  • Code samples, log entries, commands, and other captures are represented in a special type font: // this is a code sample.
  • Important terms and ideas are highlighted with italicized text.
Organization

Chapter 1 provides an overview of Web systems and technologies. The chapter outlines the paradigm shift that has occurred, associated with the movement of modern business and commercial software applications to the Web, and discusses how this shift has introduced new system development issues. Architectural approaches and Web system components are addressed, as well as the languages and products that are used to create Web systems. Basic terms used throughout the book are introduced.

Chapter 2--explains how to capture system behavior, or functionality, at the appropriate levels of detail through use case analysis using the RSI approach. The application of RSI use cases as an excellent starting point for test case definition is addressed.

Chapter 3--covers a multitude of security and privacy concerns for any Web system. The chapter focuses on security issues pertaining to the Web server, the database server and browser, and content security of custom components of a Web system.

Chapter 4--provides an in-depth discussion about the ability of the system to perform and scale. The chapter also explains how to identify and correct performance and scalability problems. The need for capacity planning is addressed as it pertains to the process of determining the resource requirements necessary for the Web system to be able to handle future load within an acceptable response time.

Chapter 5--details the challenges of providing service in an acceptable way to users with various operating systems and Web browsers. Guidance is provided on the implementation of standards and the development of a compatibility test matrix to aid in defining the proper scope of compatibility tests, given the extremely large possible number of test combinations.

Chapter 6--examines the suitability of the site's interface and end user experience relative to the intended user base. The Web system must be logical and intuitive and must provide a unique and pleasant shopping experience. Tests need to be applied to the system to provide assurance that an adequate level of usability has been implemented.

Chapter 7--outlines the various kinds of tools that are available to assist with the issues described in the previous chapters. Finally, Appendixes A-C provide supplementary information: Web testing checklists, a test tool evaluation matrix, and the Technology Bookstore case study.

Note that Chapters 3-6 provide not only an in-depth technical discussion of the material applicable to Web architecture and Web development audiences but also step-by-step guidance for the performance of tests applicable to both Web development and software testing. In addition and where applicable, references to additional sources of information are provided.

0201719363P08102001

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Foreword

This book addresses an important niche for the software industry, specifically the need for deploying quality web systems. At a time when the successful development and deployment of web-based systems is pivotal to the survival of both public and private organizations, Quality Web Systems steps up to fill the need for solid guidance on how to ensure that key web system success factors have been satisfactorily implemented. The book brings together in one place, important instructions on how to deliver a usable, accessible, compatible, secure and high performing web system.

The amount of business being conducted via the web has experienced phenomenal growth and organizations are struggling to deploy and update web system content ahead of competition. Many systems have been deployed prior to satisfactory assurances that system success factors, such as usability and security, have been adequately addressed. Quality Web Systems provides today's web professionals with the insights needed to understand all the things that can go wrong for a system when quality is not built-in as the system is developed, and when systems are not tested before being deployed. The book further outlines the system assurance activities necessary to help prevent potential catastrophe.

The book articulates technical issues that can create compatibility problems for system end users. Since users insist that a system be able to refresh a screen or return a query within a very limited amount of time, system performance and scalability are two of the predominant system success factors. The authors outline test strategies that provide assurance in these areas and also provide guidance on how to interpret performance measures. Similarly, their book addresses web system usability issues at a level that is complementary with the host of information that has been published to date on these subjects.

In the early days of e-commerce some companies rushed sites into production without sufficient attention to quality. Most of these sites are dead now. In any case, to the extent that it may ever have been possible to cut a few corners on quality in the early days, this is certainly not possible any more.

In recent years malicious attacks on flagship e-commerce systems brought these web sites down and cost the affected companies millions of dollars. The US federal government has also released studies that have highlighted the prevailing problem across the software industry with regard to the vulnerability of web-based systems to malicious attack. Quality Web Systems provides extensive technical guidance on sources of security problems and how to proceed to conduct tests to verify whether security issues exist for a web system.

With Quality Web Systems, Elfriede Dustin and her coauthors are providing timely and necessary material that allows responsible parties to implement a quality web system. Without quality, both individuals and organizations are at risk at deploying systems, which fail in any one of the key web system success factors. Once you have read this book, you will never view the web system development life cycle in the same way again.

Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D.
Author of Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

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