If we look back into history of performance testing; then it is evident that the importance of performance testing was realized as businesses started developing large scale applications; that were expected to serve hundreds and thousands of concurrent users. This created a whole new market for performance & load testing tools. Today, we have hundreds of performance testing tools available in market offering different type of features and can be used by software testing teams as per performance requirements.

In this blog, I will do a brief comparison of Top 4 performance & load testing tools, which are considered best by professional performance testers due to their extensive feature set, maturity level and reliable results.

 1. Apache JMeter:

Apache JMeter is an open source performance & load testing tool, which is developed and maintained by Apache. JMeter is mostly used for load testing of web services and web application servers. Testing teams are also known to use it for functional testing of web services. Following are some key points about JMeter.

a) Open-source: JMeter is open source and available free of cost; therefore many software teams prefer to use it for its cost effectiveness.

b) Components: JMeter has test elements like Thread Group, Samplers, Listeners, Pre & Post processors. Other than that, there are tons of third party free/commercial tools which can be integrated with JMeter to enhance its capabilities like JMeter Extras plugin, BlazeMeter, UBIK load pack and Loadosophia etc.

c) Platform compatibility: JMeter is compatible with Windows, Mac and all UNIX based systems.

d) Supported applications: JMeter primarily supports Java & Java server page applications. But it is also equally good to test server applications / web services / databases developed in other technologies. JMeter can also be used for load testing of mobile application server-side.

e) Reporting: In open source/free tools category, JMeter is one of most mature tools as its first was version was released in 1998 and since then there have been many upgrades to it. Thanks to continuous support it delivers reliable results. Reports generated though are very limited and teams tend to use external plugins/tools for more detailed reporting.

f) Available resources: JMeter has one of largest online community which shares helpful information with each other through different forums and software testing blogs. Because of this reason JMeter is considered a great option for beginners in performance and load testing.

2. HP LoadRunner:

LoadRunner is a commercial performance testing solution developed by HP. It has very advanced set of features which usually do not come built in with open-source or free tools. Some of the key points about LoadRunner are listed below.

a) Commercial tool: LoadRunner is a commercial product by HP, falling in category of most expensive performance testing tools. HP LoadRunner license cost varies depending on required virtual users, protocols and perpetual licenses etc. Despite its high cost, it is still a preferable choice of enterprise testing teams because of its advanced features and dedicated customer support.

b) Components: LoadRunner is not a single application but a complete suite of tools like VU Generator, Controller, Analyzer, Load generator, Load calculator and protocol advisor.

c) Platform compatibility: LoadRunner can operate from Windows operating system.

d) Supported applications: HP LoadRunner (performance center) provides support for widest range of applications. It can be used to test performance of databases, server side applications and native/browser based mobile applications.

e) Advanced reports: LoadRunner is best known for its very detailed reports which help a lot in analyzing the performance issues.

f) Available resources: HP provides dedicated support & knowledge base for LoadRunner to all registered customers. Other than that, one can also find plenty of articles & video tutorials online on HP LoadRunner.

3. SmartBear LoadUI:

LoadUI is a load testing tool which was introduced by SmartBear after success of famous web service functional testing tool called SoapUI. LoadUI works very well when used with SoapUI for performance testing of APIs and Web services. Following are some key points about LoadUI.

a) Free & Commercial version: LoadUI comes both in free and licensed version. Free version has all the load testing features but the reporting options are limited in it. Because of this option, LoadUI is a good choice for those who want to start free of cost and later want to switch to paid version.

b) Platform compatibility: LoadUI can run from Windows operating system.

c) Supported applications: LoadUI can collect data from servers developed on top of any mainstream technology.

d) User friendly/Interactive features: LoadUI stands out in rest of performance tools because of high usability. It requires comparatively lesser time to understand and operate. Moreover it has features which give a very interactive load testing experience. Test engineer can create, configure and modify tests during the execution. Reports can be examined and analyzed as the scripts/data is changed. This enables tester to understand and trace the real performance issues.

e) Visual reports: LoadUI Pro presents reports in a very easy to understand graphical format. LoadUI free version has very limited reporting features providing only the basic reports.

f) Available resources: LoadUI team has put in a special effort to create video tutorials, blogs, and articles that can be really helpful for learning LoadUI. Sample LoadUI projects are also available on SmartBear website; that can be explored by anyone for practical understanding.

4. IBM Rational Performance Tester:

Rational Performance Tester is a performance testing solution developed by IBM. Rational Performance Tester is a commercial product just like HP LoadRunner. It is often used to test enterprise level applications like SAP, Oracle etc. Following are some major points related to IBM Rational Performance tester.

a) Commercial tool: IBM Rational Performance tester is a commercial product with very high license cost. Because of its expensive price tag it is mostly acquired by enterprises having complex performance testing requirements which cannot be fulfilled by open source or low cost performance tools.

b) Platform compatibility: IBM Rational performance tester can run on Windows, Mac and Linux AIX.

c) Supported applications: IBM RPT supports majority of applications/protocols including Web HTTP, SAP, Oracle, SOA, Citrix, Siebel and TCP. Support for additional protocols can be added by using IBM Rational Performance Tester Extensibility Software Development Kit (SDK).

d) Infrastructure requirements: IBM Rational performance tester has complex infrastructure requirements. Highly skilled and specialized resources are required to setup the test environment.

e) Code-free scripts: Rational performance tester gives ability to create code-free scripts that can be generated by recording test flows. These test recordings can also be viewed in form of rendered HTML.  For advanced and customized actions, java code can be inserted anywhere in the script.

f) Available resources: IBM provides dedicated support to its licensed customers. But other than that availability of help material is quite little, if compared to other famous tools like JMeter & LoadRunner.

End Note:

When it comes to selection of best tool, then there is no straightforward best option that works for everyone. As different tools have different strengths and drawbacks, so it largely depends on factors like project requirements, availability of skilled resources and budget etc. Good amount of time should be spent on selection of right tool as this may prove to be decisive factor for getting the right results.