LoadRunner 9.5 was released today and, as mentioned by the LoadRunner Product Manager, the focus has been on refining current functionality rather than adding completely new features.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list (or a replication of the readme file), but it covers the features that I think are significant, and also my impressions after a day of using the tool.
For those who want the executive summary, LoadRunner now works on Vista, and has an agent for the RDP vuser type. The biggest new feature is the protocol detection feature in VuGen. For those who want a more detailed analysis, read on…
VuGen is not just important to load testers, it is also significant to people who do application monitoring with BAC, as it is used to create BPM scripts. Unfortunately, the current version of BPM (7.52) will not support VuGen 9.50, so BPM scripts should still be written using Loadrunner 9.10.
- Protocol Advisor – HP must have been getting lots of feedback that junior load testers were having trouble figuring out what virtual user type to record their application with. The Protocol Advisor records your application and then gives you some suggestions on which vuser type to use, based on the network traffic that it has recorded. This probably beats the previous technique of just trying all of them and seeing which ones work. Note that the protocol detection only seems to work for some of the supported vuser types/protocols.
- HP Service Test integration – If you do automated functional testing of web services, you may have used HP Service Test, and you may have noticed that it looked almost exactly like VuGen. As they were basically the same program, it was not possible to have both Service Test and VuGen instaled on the same computer. Now Service Test has been integrated with VuGen, so there are no sociability problems between the two. Activating some of the features of Service Test requires a license key.
- Improved Test Results report in VuGen – There have been some changes to the Test Results report (View > Test Results), which I guess is good now that Service Test is integrated. The report can be exported to HTML, and defects can be raised in Quality Center directly from the report page (if you have set up a connection to QC).
- Runs on Vista – Previously only the load generator software ran on Vista, now all LoadRunner components will happily run on Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system.
VuGen look and feel is identical to the previous version, except for the Start Page, which now looks a little more “Vista-like”.
The most exciting developments are in the VuGen protocols…
- Citrix Agent for 64-bit Windows – The Citrix vuser type can be kind of painful without the Citrix Agent, and over the last couple of years it has been more and more common to find Citrix servers running on 64-bit Windows. I am very happy that HP has now provided a Citrix Agent for 64-bit Windows.
- RDP Agent for Microsoft Terminal Server – Hopefully it will now be practical to use either the Citrix or RDP vuser type to create scripts for protocols that are otherwise unsupported by VuGen.
- Support for the RTMP protocol – Flash objects can use the Real-Time Messaging Protocol to transfer audio, video and data. HP must have made a special deal with Adobe to get access to the details of this protocol, because Adobe only just announced that they plan to open the spec sometime in the first half of 2009.
- Click and Script improvements – This vuser type now supports dojo. There aren’t any new functions though.
New functions in VuGen:
- Oracle NCA
LoadRunner Analysis has had a couple of tweaks, but it has one new feature that I’m excited about…
- Analysis API – An API is now available that can be used for extracting load test data from LoadRunner Analysis. Being able to extract measurements from multiple Analysis sessions should make it easier to create your own trend report. This feature would have saved me lots of cut and paste work with Excel when tracking performance of daily software builds on past projects. In fact, this process could be completely automated, as the LoadRunner Controller can now automatically launch a program (like an Analysis data extraction tool) at the end of a test.
- WAN Emulation – Integration with the Shunra WAN Emulator is back. It is possible to emulate the network bandwidth and latency that real users at remote network locations would encounter. This delay is introduced by Shunra’s VE Desktop software on the load generators. Note that VE Desktop must be licensed separately from Shunra. Related metrics from the Shunra software can now be shown in the LoadRunner Controller.
- Secure Load Generators – Did you ever think that anyone could connect to your load generators, upload arbitary code (inside a VuGen script), and run it? Well now they can’t because the connection between the Controller and the load generators can be (note, “can be” not “must be”) secured with a password and an encrypted connection. Previously this was only possible if you were also using the MI Listener, which is normally used to monitor servers and control load generators over a firewall.
- WAN Emulation – See description in the LoadRunner Controller section.
- More efficient Click & Script – The Click & Script vuser type is supposed to use less system resources now (I assume this mostly means a smaller memory footprint).
Performance Center is still squarely pitched at the Enterprise-level customers, but for the first time, HP has included a feature that is not available in the standard LoadRunner product – trend reports. This suggests that HP might be pitching Performance Center as a “premium” product, not just a product that helps you to run manage multiple performance testing projects at once.
- Trend Reports – This is the only new Performance Center feature that anyone will get excited about. Trend reports allow you to easily compare key metrics across multiple tests. Previously it was only possible to compare two tests by using the Cross with Results option in LoadRunner Analysis.
- User Interface Improvements – I haven’t used Performance Center for a long time, but the user interface seems cleaner, and there are now Ajax calls to update some parts of the page.
- Host License Breakdown – Performance Center admins will like the improvements to the licensing interface, which now provides details for each license that is installed, and gives overall license usage metrics (as pretty graphs).
- Scenario Creation – Creating a load test scenario has been made a little more straightforward when it comes to scheduling (ramp up rates, groups etc).
The LoadRunner 9.51 patch/feature pack has now been released.