Of course to do this, you need a SOA test tool - I've been lucky to get the opportunity to test a couple of these out (soapUI and HP Service Test) , and I'm going to compare and contrast them here.
soapUI is a freeware tool to enable an application to be stimulated with XML messages, and capture the responses,
Typically for a freeware product, some of the supporting manuals for it seem to be lagged a couple of phases behind the current version.
However it has a vibrant and passionate community behind it, and also regularly has interactive Webcasts with the chief designers. Alas over here in New Zealand, it means setting your alarm clock for unfeasibly early!
The system is fairly basic, but allows early testing (and it’s free). Although need configuring to your application, and isn’t as user-friendly and easy to build up tests as with HP’s Service Test.
HP Service Test
As would be expected for a paid for HP tool, Service Test delivers a lot more than the functionality available for soapUI.
A trial version should be available to find your feet on this application.
The best method to learn how to use this is to work through the HP Service Test Tutorial rather than wading through the User Guide – which is quite dry and lacks the context of the Test Tutorial. When coming to the exercises on using the Sample Application – you might find you need to run this application as an Admin (esp on Vista machines) in order to run properly, otherwise Windows will block this from working properly.
Tests can be built up using the graphical flow, which can be built to mirror the portions of any flow chart. It’s also relatively easy to build up tests by dragging and dropping functional blocks into place on the test flow.
There is also (as with many HP tools) the ability to drive tests from data in Excel spreadsheets, which can increase the scope of the automated testing you can achieve. This is useful – using the tool to recreate the flow chart of design, you can basically data-drive your tests, meaning one well written test can cover all your bases, rather than designing potentially dozens of individual tests.
So the big question ...
Which one would I use? Well to me undoubtedly HP Service Test is the one I'd really like to use if I was to extensively test a SOA application. There's just so much you can do with it, you can extensively test instead of the snapshots you can manage with soapUI.
But ... the reality of HP Service Test is it's expensive, and getting a manager to sign off on something like that when there is a free tool available?
As I've said before, the advantage of free tools are "hey at least I've got something", but the disadvantages can be it's that much harder to convince managers to pay out for the right tool if there's a free tool. If you're going to buy in HP Service Test then you have to justify that you'll be doing a lot of SOA testing for your service. That means hand on heart you should be working on a program of work for at least a year, with a lot of regression testing.
If you're just testing early on one application before delivery - soapUI is the way. And if you're thinking of giving soapUI testing a go, then it's free! No excuses, just download, and get playing with it, get interacting on the forums, and see if you like the feel of it.
If you do - tell a friend!