of creating business processes to operate a business in a wholly new environment overshadow all of that novelty with some familiar and intractable problems. Paradoxically, it is in the more familiar areas of the technology that the most serious problems arise, because the emergence of e-commerce has placed new and challenging requirements on this relatively old technology that was designed for a quite different purpose.
Testing is crucial to e-commerce because e-commerce sites are both business critical and highly visible to their users; any failure can be immediately expensive in terms of lost revenue and even more expensive in the longer term if disaffected users seek alternative sites. Yet the time pressures in the e-commerce world militate against the thorough testing usually associated with business criticality, so a new approach is needed to enable testing to be integrated into the development process and to ensure that testing does not present a significant time burden.
The very familiarity of much of the technology means that tried and true mechanisms will either be suitable or can be modified to fit. Rapid Applications Development (RAD), in particular, suggests some promising approaches. Like most new ventures, though, e-commerce must find its own way and establish its own methods. In this paper we have suggested some testing principles that have stood the test of time and intermingled them with some lessons learned from similarly challenging development environments to give e-commerce testers a staring point for their journey of discovery.