the browser/operating system/languages/tools choices of your users), a new approach (you test "back to front," meaning starting with the server side and working out to the client side), and the focus is different (you must "think user," structure by whatever canned components you can use, and prioritize your testing according to where the risk of failure is largest). Two other speakers, addressing the issue of performance (and not specifically testing), said the same thing about "back to front" approaches. Brian Hambling and Angelina Samaroo, of ImagoQA, advised starting performance work at the back end, focusing especially on any legacy systems and their (baseline) performance. (Incidentally, regarding performance requirements, most speakers agreed that a maximum response time is about eight
seconds--anything more than that requires telling the user what is going on).
What about the state of the Web applications practice? Arthur Hicken of ParaSoft noted that "the average Web site has one bad link for every three and a half pages, and twelve errors for every page of HTML." "Ninety percent of browser incompatibilities," he went on to say, "are caused by using nonstandard HTML, and the other 10 percent are because the browser does nonstandard stuff." (He noted that many people blame Microsoft for deliberately doing nonstandard things so that their competitors could not get their code to work, but Hicken blamed the competitors themselves for their own nonstandard practices). And Mark Bonewell of Medtronic described his own lessons learned from a first-time experience testing a Web application. He noted that there were almost no requirements (by the time he said it, this had become a familiar theme at the conference) and that it was the first time that most programmers on the project had done Web development.
As I said, I usually hate going to conferences on the topic of testing and quality assurance. But Web testing conferences should offer new and changing information for some time to come. Each conference, like each Web development project, will have to address fluid and unstable "rules" as the field develops.