I may be the least patient person. Performance issues BOTHER me. I take them personally! I enjoy reporting performance problems, but so far my tools have been pretty limited until just recently.

I’ve ended up setting up meetings with “Everyone log on NOW–getting a total count and assigning people to do work and email me with the results.” This is the manual version of load testing, but it doesn’t scale so well. I’ve set that up across locations, servers, and also in one lab. It can be useful, and pretty simple. The trouble is, if you find a bug, how do you easily retest?

I do my own multi-user scenarios sometimes, trying to overwrite and test permissions. I think most testers end up doing the reboot shuffle and trying to access locked files sometimes in order to test different user setups.

I’ve also written a document about the DOS switch to limit your own RAM to run in a limited memory state. There are a few ways to mimic manually low resources.

On top of that, I’m the queen of fake file land. I know how to make files of any size in order to test boundaries and stress copy systems.

I also wrote a script to kick off multiple processes at once in order to test for race conditions and to figure out the order in which requests in a queue are handled.

All of these techniques mean that I don’t have much performance testing experience at all compared with testers who specialize in it. I haven’t bothered to go further because my small clients haven’t had a need for it, and the one who did had a separate team using LoadRunner.

Until this week, it hasn’t been easy or practical to learn modern performance testing because the tools were limited and expensive!

I waited awhile to say anything, because I’m basically the LEAST experienced person in performance testing tools, but I think that makes me perfect to give you the real deal on how you can learn a tool totally risk and money free. I believe this is a game changer for consultants! Seriously! I’m working to learn more. I think in time this tool will allow testers to test up to 100 users (not sure if it is simultaneous, concurrent, or either/or so long as it is <=100) for free!

What you need without any drama or marketing:
1. A machine bought in the last 2-3 years. Pick a good machine that isn’t old & moldy.
2. Either a Virtual Machine (like VMWare Fusion, or VMWare), or you download the free VMplayer.
3. The ability to STOP THINKING and just learn and mess around for awhile. If you overthink this like I did you are going to get in your own way. Don’t think about what you need. Don’t think about how you are going to test YOUR software or what you need to test, just set aside a little time to mess around instead and think about learning a new skill, not exactly what you are going to do. You can’t figure it all out if you never try it, and if you need to understand it all before you try it, it isn’t likely to happen. Anyhow, stop asking questions and start doing stuff, and then you can learn.
4. Ignore anything “cloud” related. The cloud stuff doesn’t really matter to learn the tool, especially the free part. Just one performance tool to learn how to use in isolation first.
5. http://www.soasta.com/cloudtest/lite/ has the client and all links to get the VMPlayers.
6. Once the VMWare player and CloudTestLite VM are on your machine, you just double click that VM and let it run. Don’t overthink. You don’t need a remote desktop app or to start thinking about cloud stuff yet.
7. Log in to the CloudTest account you have and start the learning. www.soasta.com/info-center/press-releases/cloudtest-lite-edition-announcement/ has the overview links and so forth.

Let me know how it goes. I hope over time to update when I know enough to do some free testing for a client, and then later when I start to find & isolate some bugs.

I’m thankful for ANY company who allows testers to learn for free. Thank you.