Difference between Mobile vs. Desktop Web Application Testing
The main difference between a mobile and desktop client is that, in the mobile case, the Web content is interpreted by a Web browser that runs on a client computer. This type of browser has many restrictions that a typical desktop client does not have, mainly since it runs on a mobile device and often uses a wireless network with low bandwidth. Overcoming these restrictions requires creative designing and programming solutions. Some device limitations while testing mobile web applications are-
- Small screen size
- Restricted CPU power
- Limited RAM (Random Access Memory)
- Limited secondary storage
- Power management dependencies
- Limited battery life dependencies
- Cumbersome UI
Types of Mobile Web Application Tests
Thick-client mobile devices such as PDAs and smartphones offer secondary storage and the capability to install add-on software including the browser itself, other client-side components as well as templates (such as the Web Clipping Applications for Palm OS-based devices). You need to consider the implications of the installation of these elements and design test cases to cover various installation scenarios, including cross operating systems, cross devices, cross releases of browsers, and so on.
Data Synchronization-Related Tests
Due to the fact that wireless bandwidth is limited, one of the common design solutions is to download Web content for offline browsing. This synchronization process can be done in two ways:
- The method for downloading data onto the mobile device that does not have a connection to the Internet or network is to synchronize with the desktop application. In this case, the desktop already has a connection to the Internet. In turn, web content on the desktop can be transferred over to the device via a data synchronization process.
- Synchronization can also be done wirelessly. The user synchronizes the device with a proxy server via a wireless modem connection. Pre-formatted web pages stored on web servers connected to the proxy server will be transferred to the device during the synchronization process. The user can browse the transferred web pages, now stored on the device.
UI Implementation and Limited Usability Tests
Some of the factors that affect the usability judgments include the target audience to which you market and the limitation of the devices, such as screen size, bandwidth, device-specific and website-specific technologies. Therefore, in testing for UI implementation and usability errors, questions you should consider asking include-
- How do the data input methods on supported platforms affect usability?
- How does the Web site under test appear in the browser with default settings for attributes such as page size, images, text size, and so on?
- Does text-wrapping work properly?
- Is the navigation intuitive?
- Are the input interfaces consistent and friendly?
- Is there consistency among menu, button, and error-handling implementations?
- Are the graphics well fit and positioned in the display?
All issues surrounding Web application testing on a desktop PC client are applicable to mobile Web application testing. Some of the browser-specific issues that are worth reiterating here, and for which you should develop test cases to seek out problems, include-
– The side effects introduced by the application under test
– Incompatibility or lack of support for one or more markup languages, such as HDML, WML, cHTML, xHTML, HTML, or XML.
– Support for PQA or Web Clipping-based applications
– Legacy support issues
– Caching issues
When your company develops an application for a particular platform, such as Windows, UNIX, MacOS, Palm Computing, or Windows PocketPC, you need to execute these tests to seek out bugs that are platform-specific rather than functionality-specific. Although the scope and depth of platform-specific testing will be dictated by the test requirements or objectives, this type of test is often standardized and several vendor-driven standards for mobile applications are available today.
Configuration and Compatibility Tests
Using an emulator, you can cover the basic functional testing. Others might have to be conducted on the physical device. It means that on the client-side you will be dealing with:
- Cross devices
- Cross operating systems including standards and OEMs
- Cross browsers
- Cross versions
- Mobile Testing Support Tools
- Graphics formats etc
Connectivity tests involve seeking out errors related to how the device and the network can be connected to each other; and while being connected, how interference during data transmissions can cause functionality as well as data integrity, failures.
Mobile Web Application Testing tools: Things you should keep in mind
Due to the unique nature of mobile web application testing which depends greatly on the client hardware, it is useful to have emulators to help test the application prior to the actual deployment on the physical device. Two useful types of emulators are device emulators and browser emulators.
Most vendors that license their operating systems or development platforms offer a device emulator. Since the devices are OS-based, given the same operating system, you might be able to emulate different types of devices by changing the skin. The term skinis used to describe the capability to change the outside (the ‘skin’) of a device, while leaving the inside (the operating system) the same, to give you a different device.
Testing Considerations to be Kept in Mind
Some crucial testing considerations you should keep in mind are :
- How do the test devices manage their cache? Is it user-configurable?
- How do you determine the expected results for the way content is displayed across platforms and browsers?
- External links: How are they handled in offline browsing?
- Memory-full testing or stress testing: How do you execute memory-full and near-full test cases on the test platforms?
- How do you write reusable test cases for different devices?
- If your Web site supports multiple formats, including WML, i-Mode and HTML, which rules does a browser use to determine which content to load?
- Some sites recognize the browser version to determine compatibility. Are you checking for compatibility?
- Does the browser properly interpret tables, frames, lists, checkboxes, drop-downs, scripts, and so on?
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