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Posted 1 Dec 2011

Load and Web Performance Testing using Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 - Part 2

, 1 Dec 2011
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The details of web performance and load tests as well as why it’s important to follow a goal based pattern while performance testing your application.
Welcome back, in part 1 of Load and Web Performance Testing using Visual Studio 2010 I talked about why Performance Testing the application is important, the test tools available in Visual Studio Ultimate 2010 and various test rig topologies. In this blog post I’ll get into the details of web performance & load tests as well as why it’s important to follow a goal based pattern while performance testing your application. 

Tools => Options => Test Tools

Have you visited the treasures of Visual Studio Menu bar tools => Options => Test Tools lately? The options to enable disable prompts on creating, editing, deleting or running manual/automated tests can be controller from here. The default test project language and default test types created on a new test project creation could be selected/unselected from here. Ever wondered how you can change the default limit of 25 test results, this can again be changed from here. If you record a lot of Web Tests and wish for the web test recorder to start with “that” URL populated, well this again can be specified from here. If you haven’t so far, I would urge you to spend 2 minutes in the test tools options.



Test Menu => Ready Steady Test Action!

The Test tools are under the Test Menu in Visual Studio, apart from being able to create a new Test and Test List you can also load an existing vsmdi file. You can also manage your test controllers from here. A solution can have one or more test setting files, but there can only be one active test settings file at any time. Again, this selection can be done from here. 


You can open the various test windows from under the windows option from the test menu. If you open the Test view window you will see that you have the option to group the tests by work items, project, test type, etc. You can set these properties by right clicking a test in the test list and choosing properties from the context menu.

image image image

So, what is a vsmdi file?

vsmdi stands for Visual Studio Test Metadata File. Placed under the Solution Items this file keeps track of the list of unit tests in your solution. If you open the vsmdi file as an xml file you will see a series of Test Links nested with in the list Test List tags along with the Run Configuration tag. When in visual studio you run tests, the IDE looks at the vsmdi file to see what tests need to be run. You also have the option of using the vsmdi file in your team builds to specify which tests need to run as part of the build. Refer here for a walkthrough from a fellow blogger on how to use the vsmdi file in the team builds.


Web Performance Test – The Truth!

In Visual Studio 2010 “Web Tests” have been renamed to “Web Performance Tests”. Apart from renaming this test type there have been several improvements to this test type in visual studio 2010.

I am very active on the MSDN Visual Studio And Load Testing forum and a frequent question from many users is “Do Web Tests support Pages that run JavaScript?”

I will start with a little bit of background before answering this question.

Web Performance Tests operate at the HTTP Layer, but why?

To enable you to generate high loads with a relatively low amount of hardware, Web performance tests are driven at the protocol layer rather than instantiating a browser.The most common source of confusion is that users do not realize Web Performance Tests work at the HTTP layer. The tool adds to that misconception. After all, you record in IE, and when running a Web test you can select which browser to use, and then the result viewer shows the results in a browser window. So that means the tests run through the browser, right? NO! The Web test engine works at the HTTP layer, and does not instantiate a browser. What does that mean?

In the diagram below, you can see there are no browsers running when the engine is sending and receiving requests.


Does that mean I can’t test pages that use Java script?

The best example for java script generating HTTP traffic is AJAX calls. The most common example of browser plugins are Silverlight or Flash. The Web test recorder will record HTTP traffic from AJAX calls and from most (but not all) browser plugins. This means you will still be able to web performance test pages that use java script or plugin and play back the results but the playback engine will not show the java script or plug in results in the ‘browser control’. If you want to test the page behaviour as a result of the java script or plug in consider using Coded UI Tests.


This page looks like it failed, when in fact it succeeded! Looking closely at the response, and subsequent requests, it is clear the operation succeeded. As stated above, the reason why the browser control is pasting this message is because java script has been disabled in this control.

So, to reiterate, the web performance test recorder:

- Sends and receives data at the HTTP layer.
- Does NOT run a browser.
- Does NOT run java script.
- Does NOT host ActiveX controls or plugins.

There is a great series of blog posts from Ed Glas, i would highly recommend his blog to any one performing Load/Performance testing through Visual Studio.

Demo – Web Performance Test

[Demo] - Visual Studio Ultimate 2010: Test Settings and Configuration


[Demo]–Visual Studio Ultimate 2010: Web Performance Test


In this short video I try and answer the following questions,
Why is performance Testing important?
How does Visual Studio Help you performance Test your applications?
How do i record a web performance test?
How do make a web performance test data driven, transaction driven, loop driven, convert to code, add validations?
Best practices for recording Web Performance Tests.

I have a web performance test, what next?

Creating the Web Performance Test was the first step towards load testing your application. Now that we have the base test we can test the page behaviour when N-users access the page.

Have you ever had the head of business call you and mention that the marketing team has done a fantastic job and are expecting increased traffic on the web site, can the website survive the weekend with that additional load?

This is the perfect opportunity to capacity test your application to see how your website holds up under various levels of load, you can work the results backwards to see how much hardware you may need to scale up your application to survive the weekend.

Apart from that it is always a good idea to have some benchmarks around how the application performs under light loads for short duration, under heavy load for long duration and soak test the application run a constant load for a very week or two to record the effects of constant load for really long durations, this is a great way of identifying how your application handles the default IIS application pool reset which by default is configured to once every 25 hours. These bench marks will act as the perfect yard stick to measure performance gains when you start making improvements.


BUT there are some best practices! => Goal Based Load Testing Approach

Since the subject is vast and there are a lot of things to measure and analyse, … it is very easy to get distracted from the real goal! 

You can optimize your application once you know where the pain points are. There is no point performing a load test of 5000 users if your intranet application will only have a 100 simultaneous users, it is important to keep focussed on the real goals of the project. So the idea is to have a user story around your load testing scenarios and test realistically.

So it is recommended that you follow the below outline,

It is an Iterative process, refine your objectives, identify the key scenarios, what is the expected workload, key metrics you want to report, record the web performance tests, simulate load and analyse results.


Is your application already deployed in Production?

This is great! You can analyse the IIS Logs to understand the user behaviour… But what are IIS LOGS?

The IIS logs allow you to record events for each application and Web site on the Web server. You can create separate logs for each of your applications and Web sites. Logging information in IIS goes beyond the scope of the event logging or performance monitoring features provided by Windows. The IIS logs can include information, such as who has visited your site, what the visitor viewed, and when the information was last viewed. You can use the IIS logs to identify any attempts to gain unauthorized access to your Web server. How to configure IIS LOGS?

For those Ninjas who already have IIS Logs configured (by the way its on by default) and need a way to analyse the IIS Logs, can use the Windows IIS Utility – Log Parser. Log Parser is a very powerful tool that provides a generic SQL-like language on top of many types of data like IIS Logs, Event Viewer entries, XML files, CSV files, File System and others; and it allows you to export the result of the queries to many output formats such as CSV, XML, SQL Server, Charts and others; and it works well with IIS 5, 6, 7 and 7.5. Frequently used Log Parser queries.

Demo – Load Test

[Demo]–Visual Studio Ultimate 2010: Load Testing


In this short video I try and answer the following questions,
- Types of Performance Testing?
- Perform Goal driven Load Testing, analyse Test Run Result and Generate a report?


A quick recap of what we have covered so far,




Thank you for taking the time out and reading this blog post, in part III of this blog series I’ll be getting into the details of Test Result Analysis, Test Result Drill through, Test Report Generation, Test Run Comparison, and the Profiler. If you enjoyed the post, remember to subscribe to Questions/Feedback/Suggestions, etc please leave a comment. See you on in Part III Smile


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Software Developer (Senior) Avanade
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Solution Developer - C# .NET, ALM

Tarun Arora is a Microsoft Certified professional developer for Enterprise Applications. He has over 5 years of experience developing 'Energy Trading & Risk Management' solutions using Microsoft Technologies. Tarun has great passion for technology and travel (not necessarily in the same order)!

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Comments and Discussions

Question"Scripts are disabled" error in the web page when trying performance test using VS 2012 Pin
Member 1131775617-Dec-14 4:04
memberMember 1131775617-Dec-14 4:04 
BugThe images in this article are dead. Pin
Patrick-Wayfarer17-Aug-14 17:09
professionalPatrick-Wayfarer17-Aug-14 17:09 
Questionguidance Pin
Member 1005309814-May-13 21:05
memberMember 1005309814-May-13 21:05 
QuestionEdit Coded Web Performance Tests Pin
Testing_Resh5-Nov-12 5:09
memberTesting_Resh5-Nov-12 5:09 

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