Using performance testing tools, developers and IT teams can catch performance issues early and adjust the application and its compute and network resources to optimize performance and eliminate bottlenecks. Performance testing tools can determine an application’s speed and stability under various workloads to help devs and sysadmins make sure it meets requirements.
What Is Performance Testing?
Performance testing helps dev teams and system and network engineers evaluate how well an application works and what it can do. It can determine how much a program can handle before it crashes and identifies any instability in the program.
Often, developers will have a set of requirements they need to meet, and performance testing can help determine whether or not the dev team has been successful. For example, an e-commerce application may need to be able to handle hundreds or thousands of users at once. Performance testing tools could simulate a large number of browsers accessing the application at once and see how it performs, looking at load speed, stability, and resource utilization to see if any changes are needed. The technology is sometimes called application performance testing (APM).
Key Features of Software Performance Testing Tools
IT and dev teams looking for software performance testing tools should look for at least the following features.
Real or Emulated Browsers
If IT teams need to know how many users an application can handle before it crashes, they need a performance testing tool that offers real or emulated browsers. This allows developers and IT teams to simulate a number of users accessing the application at once to see how it holds up. Additionally, they can see how the software looks and acts on different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) without having to actually download all of the browsers on their device.
Without this feature, an engineer would have to use a variety of devices and browsers to run the same tests, which could significantly delay the entire project.
Automated testing features help reduce the workload on human system engineers, which are already hard to come by. The software engineer growth rate is only about 8 percent, meaning there will soon be more open roles than there are engineers to fill them. And the gap is only growing as tech workers become overworked and burn out. With automated testing, devs and sysadmins can avoid tedious testing tasks, only jumping in to fix issues that the system finds or to run specialized tests.
Need help keeping your software engineers? Learn more about Motivating and Retaining Your Development Team.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can also lessen the burden on dev and systems engineers by identifying dependencies in an application and prioritizing issues. This prevents engineers from adjusting one part of an application without addressing functions of the application that are dependent on that piece. AI can also predict system failures before they happen, allowing sysadmins to avoid problems and address the issues sooner.
Learn more about How AI is Shaping Software Development.
Best Performance Testing Tools
The following list contains some of the best performance testing tools, chosen for their high user reviews and helpful features.
Radview WebLOAD provides performance and load testing with the ability to simulate a large number of virtual users at once. It’s available on the cloud in a fully-managed version or on-premises for self-hosting. The dashboards and reports are flexible and customizable, allowing developers to get the insights they need. WebLOAD has three subscription tiers, but the actual pricing information is not available on the website.
- Intelligent test integrated development environment (IDE)
- Virtual user simulation
- Customizable dashboards and reports
- On-premises or cloud-based solutions
- Support for a variety of web protocols
- Easy to use and customize
- Helpful and responsive support team
- Efficient scripting language
- Documentation is limited
- Licenses are tied to specific devices
LoadNinja provides an easy-to-use interface for performance testing, complete with instant playback and real browsers to help ensure accuracy. The system makes it easy to create web and API load tests, and it provides real-time feedback on performance issues. Users can also automate user interface and API testing, so they can focus on more complex issues. There are four pricing tiers available starting at $99/month, with greater savings provided for purchasing a full year at once.
- Real browsers for load testing
- Script playback and recording
- Automated load testing
- Unlimited load tests
- Private proxies for internal application testing
- Accurate and detailed reporting
- Easy to create complex performance tests
- Integrations to third-party tools like Jira
- No 24/7 live support available
- Can be expensive upfront
LoadView is a cloud-based performance testing platform that provides real browsers for increased accuracy. It works for web pages, web applications, and APIs, and the system is fully-managed by LoadView, so sysadmins can focus on testing instead of maintenance. Users can design multiple test scenarios or have LoadView handle it through the professional services option. Companies can purchase the system monthly, yearly, or on an on-demand basis.
- Load curves
- Real browsers
- Point-and-click scripting
- Customizable reports
- Globally-distributed load testing
- Helpful for testers with limited technical knowledge
- Free trial with credits available
- Helpful and responsive customer support with 24/7 live chat
- There can be a learning curve with the system
- Can be expensive compared to similar tools
Micro Focus LoadRunner
Micro Focus LoadRunner allows globally distributed teams to easily collaborate on performance testing. It’s available for both cloud and on-premises environments, with the cloud-based tool offering the ability to simulate over 5 million virtual users. Users can run multiple tests at the same time, and it offers a large number of integrations, including Kubernetes, Docker Swarm, Selenium, and AppDynamics. Pricing information is not available on the website.
- No concurrency limits
- Cloud and on-premises options
- Integrations with any IDE or CI tool
- Sharable testing resources and scripts
- Shared and open architecture
- Works well with large workloads
- Supports a variety of protocols
- Easy to use with an intuitive user interface
- May be expensive compared to similar tools
- Configuration can be difficult in the beginning
NeoLoad from Tricentis is an enterprise performance testing tool that helps organizations simplify and scale their software development processes. It works well for APIs and web services as well as full applications. The cloud-based platform integrates easily with any cloud development platform and offers an automated approach to reduce some of the burden on sysadmins. Pricing information is not available on the website.
- No-code test creation
- Infrastructure monitoring
- Collaborative testing
- Virtual user emulations
- Version control
- Helpful reporting options
- Easily integrates with other software
- Intuitive user interface
- It’s a large application that can be resource-intensive
- Limited web support available
Rational Performance Tester
Rational Performance Tester from IBM allows systems and network administrators to test their products earlier and more frequently during the development process. It can identify the causes of slowdowns or bottlenecks in the software and integrates easily with other IBM products for full visibility into the development environment. Users can also create test scripts without programming, making testing easier. Interested organizations will have to contact IBM for pricing information.
- No-code test creation
- Virtual user emulation
- Root-cause analysis
- Real-time reports
- On-premises and cloud-based options
- Integrates well with any IDE
- Good reporting options with sharing capabilities
- Easy to set up distributed load testing
- The platform has a steep learning curve
- Can be resource-intensive and consume a lot of memory
SmartMeter.io is a performance testing tool that offers an embedded browser, making it easy for users to create and run test scenarios. Live test monitoring allows users to see how the program responds to changes in real-time, but there are also detailed reports available after the test has concluded. The system also automatically backs up test scripts and results of tests that users have already run. There are four subscription tiers available with prices starting at $39/month. However, yearly subscribers get the first two months free.
- Detailed test reports
- Scenario recording
- Distributed load testing
- A variety of third-party integrations
- Real-time test monitoring
- Easy to use without a large learning curve
- Comprehensive test reports
- Load testing is scalable
- Initial configuration can be difficult
- The customer support is not very responsive
Apache JMeter is an open-source performance testing tool that can simulate heavy user loads and provides its own testing IDE. It works with a large variety of protocol types, including FTP, web, TCP, and Java Objects. Users can analyze results even while offline and record tests from their browser or native applications. Because Apache JMeter is open-source, it is free to use and download, although users can sponsor or donate to the program to aid in development.
- Included IDE
- Virtual load simulation
- Unlimited testing
- Data analytics plug-ins
- Third-party integrations for Maven, Gradle, and Jenkins
- Supports a large variety of test types
- The user interface is easy to understand
- Open-source nature means it’s free to use and updated frequently
- Can be resource-intensive when testing large applications
- It sometimes runs slowly
Performance Testing Improves Customer Satisfaction & ROI
Performance testing tools help IT and dev teams catch issues early in the development process, meaning they won’t have as many customer complaints down the line. Additionally, because problems are easier to fix the earlier engineers catch them, they’ll improve the ROI on their product.
To find the right performance testing tool, organizations need to choose a platform that includes its own IDE or integrates with their dev team’s chosen IDE. Additionally, they’ll want to be able to run a variety of different tests and simulate large loads to see how the application holds up. Finally, businesses should consider performance testing tools with automated testing and artificial intelligence to reduce the workload on already overburdened employees.
Finished with the development process? Check out our Guide to Transitioning From Software Development to Maintenance.