A New Approach to Load Testing with Browser Level Users

The differences between protocol-based and browser-based load testing

Have you struggled with load testing in the past?  Ever wondered if there would be an easier way to get real load executed against your application quickly?  

Until recently, you weren’t alone as many companies struggled with how to test their applications using protocol level users (PLU’s).  The incumbent vendors didn’t seem to care much to improve this problem.  There appeared to be no end in sight.

Fear no more - we are proud to announce our forthcoming release of Flood Element.  We are bringing to market the first open source tool on the market to shift the paradigm of load testing from PLU’s to Browser Level Users (BLU’s).

The Current State  - Testing with Protocol Level Users

Since the inception of load testing, the approach has been mostly the same .  Users simulate the traffic of an application by creating load at the API or protocol level.  Although this approach made sense at the time, keep in mind we were constrained by a number of factors:

  • Hardware was scarce, and expensive to maintain on-premises.  Testing with PLU’s is extremely hardware efficient
  • Load testing was infrequent, and often handled by 3rd parties or a centralized performance center of excellence
  • Applications that needed load testing were mostly thick clients that could only be accessed via a thick client rather than a browser

So, it is not a surprise that PLU’s have been the de facto standard in the past.  However, changes in the industry have begun to change the perception of PLU’s in the market.

Headwinds Facing Protocol Level Users

Though users struggle with PLU's, they are still the most popular solution in the market due to a lack of available substitutes.  The customers we talk to are frequently struggling with protocol level testing for the following reasons:

  • Skillset is too specialized, and therefore not like other familiar tools and languages they are used to working with
  • Tests break too often, and teams are often caught in a constant maintenance cycle and greater test coverage is impossible to achieve
  • Simulation via API level does not provide an accurate depiction of true browser performance, and may not trigger all of the components of an application

Though most of the incumbent vendors have ignored the problem, at Flood we have offered a protocol level solution for years, and have heard these concerns over and over again.  We listened, and have introduced an additional option for load testing outside of the protocol level.

Browser Level Users - A New Solution to Today’s Problems

When thinking about how to solve the problem it was important that we think through what has changed in the market, in order to build a solution that would stay relevant into the future.  The biggest market shifts that we took advantage of are:

  • Cloud adoption, unlocking the ability to get almost unlimited infrastructure on demand at a low cost
  • Agile transformation, promoting the desire for fast feedback into the development cycle
  • Devops collaboration, shifting the roles of teams towards generalists and increasing the number of users with basic software coding skills

Out of the opportunity for change came the birth of Flood Element, which is the first open source solution built specifically to load test with BLU’s.  This new release brings a wide variety of benefits for companies looking for a more modern load testing solution:

  • Fully open source solution, based on popular Typescript (Javascript) language
  • Familiar browser based approach like Selenium and other popular functional testing tools
  • Leverage of cloud infrastructure and headless Chrome browsers to test with real load and measure true user performance

How to Harness the Power of Browser Level Users

We are currently in the final days of our beta testing period and quickly approaching our release into GA.  If you’d like to evaluate Flood Element, please feel free to read more on Flood Element at our documentation page here: https://element.flood.io/ and sign up for a trial at https://flood.io/sign-up where you can scale your Flood Element tests up to thousands of concurrent users.

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It only takes 30 seconds to create an account, and get access to our free-tier to begin load testing without any risk.

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