Earlier this week, IBM Rational released IBM Rational Performance Tester v8.1. Your basic highlight reel of “What’s New” is as follows:
These are actually all pretty interesting enhancements. The first is an architectural change to facilitate integration, the next three are all productivity enhancers with direct impact to the performance tester.
The encoded data support will make it easier for performance testers to co-relate or datapool data that was previously hidden in binary data streams. Most content sent from a web server to a browser is clear ASCII text. RPT can, and has always been able to, parse this text to extract any data that might be required later in a test (like a session ID) or data that might need to be variablized (like a user id / password) for each user. However, sometimes web servers don’t send ASCII text, instead they send their data as binary or as serialized java objects. To Rational Performance Tester, this data looked like scrambled characters. Users would not be able to use this data for correlation or data pooling. With the new Rational Performance t v8.1, the tool can now convert binary data to ASCII text, and Java Serialized Objects to XML. Users can now use this data for correlation and datapooling effortlessly.
Live browser rendering is a nice debugging feature. This enables the Rational Performance Tester user to examine the data being sent to any individual virtual tester. The user can get a browser view, rendering the server response for each user, enabling the tester to see exactly what data is going back and forth. It’s like a mall security camera – you can peer in on the activity of any user.
Finally though, the most interesting, and the one the Rational Tester has been waiting the longest for is the Service Level Agreement reporting. Quite simply, Rational Performance Tester v8.1 now allows you to set service level agreement levels, such as “page response should be no longer than 5 seconds”, as rules in your test. At the end of the test, any page that violates this rule is reported on. You are effectively linking business objectives to your performance results. Here are some of the new Performance Requirements reports in the new Rational Performance Tester v8.1.