In order to fill you in on what research is like, I have kept a journal that will hopefully give you an idea of what I have been doing...ENJOY!!!

Week 1

So, this concludes my first week as an undergraduate researcher. I met a lot of new people and they were all very helpful. I spent most of my time reading articles that are relevant to my project and getting used to working with the people in the lab. As of right now, it looks as though I may have a lot more to research before I get starting designing my web testing tool.

Week 2

I found some really good articles this week concerning web testing and also found quite a few descriptions of client and server-side testing tools that are already available. Right now, I am trying to get a better understanding of the characteristics of the web, web applications and the different techniques that can be exploited for testing web applications.

Week 3

This week I found and read more articles focusing specifically on those that discussed structural testing of web applications and the dynamic web. I have found so much information on web testing and there is still more to find. I organized my information by making a broad list of all the different aspects of the web (including: the functions of the client/server and how they interact when dealing with dynamic pages as opposed to static; characteristics and content of the pages; and the languages used, etc.) and I noted what others have been/are testing and the techniques that they used.

Week 4

I found an article this week that descibed a project similar to my own and searched for some of the papers that were referenced. From there I was able to get quite a few articles that discussed testing goals and plans. However, I was unable to locate or retrieve some of the articles. I e-mailed a few professors/authors to see if they were willing to send me a copy of them. I guess we'll see what happens. A few of the articles discussed proposals, but only two of the articles seemed to focus on actual tools that were being designed to white-box test web applications. They outlined some of the issues involved with web testing and possible solutions to them. We decided at our last meeting that our focus for now is to get more of an idea as to what has and has not been done as well as to find a way to automate a test case generator suitable for handling different types of pages whose result would be the inputs for our testing tool.

Week 5

So far, I have been taking notes on all of the articles that are related to our project (Most of the articles that I have found discuss automating test case generation, and goals/approaches for white box testing the web). I am still in the process of finding more information and discovering how big the "world" of web testing is. It doesn't seem like too many people focus their attention towards structurally testing the web. Most of the tools that are available focus on load/stress testing the server, hyperlink checks, code validators, functionality tests and regression tests. Most of the articles that aim at structural testing web applications only discuss ideas on how to test an application. This week I am sortof putting together all of the information that I found from ideas to issues and I plan on working with Lori and Amie to narrow things down or find out what our next goal is going to be. This week I also found a web crawler created by Robert Miller as a project at Carnegie Mellon University. When given a URL, the crawler creates a model of the web application. I have been trying to use it to figure out what it can do. This may prove to be useful for finding specific pages (pages with forms, frames, etc) for our testing.

Week 6

This week I made a bibtex file and referenced all the articles that I found concerning web testing and gave Amie and Lori a copy of all of the articles that I referenced. I also started writing information and ideas that I got from the articles and our discussions concerning this project in a LaTeX file. This week I began to write a C++ program that will hopefully help us come up with some statistics concerning the structure of a web page. This program is basically a counting program that takes in a file that has been downloaded to my home directory and calculates the number of loops, conditionals, functions within the source code and determines whether the document is a form or contains an embedded script.

Week 7

This week, I found a three perl scripts online that would work well with my counter program. When given a URL, (establishes a connection with the server), (retrieves the page that was requested), and (prints the source code to the screen) work together to gather the source code of a specific web page. I changed the program so that instead of printing the source code to the screen, it would open an output file and write the code to that file. This way I could use these programs to get the source code and then use my program to open the output file and examine the code. So, in order to make things easier, I started to rewrite the program I wrote previously in C++ using perl.

Week 8

Most of the perl program that I was working on last week is written and with the other programs that I found online, we hope to be able to gather statistics. My next plan is to extend the program that I wrote so that it recognizes declarations and keeps a list of the variable names that were declared and the line that they were declared on. There is one problem that is making this part fairly complex. Some variables are declared implicitly and are not given data types. This makes it difficult to find all of the declarations throughout a program. So far, this program is able to do this for variables declared with a var or Dim (like in JavaScript, VBScript, ASP pages), but I am still working on other variable declarations. I also spent a lot of time writing bits and pieces of the paper concerning this project in the LaTeX file that I created the other week. I organized the file by putting some notes of mine into sections. So far, I wrote an Introduction, Related Works and an Approach section.

Week 9

This week I worked on gathering sample programs or scripts written in different languages and using my program to gather statistics on them. I am analyzing the programs manually and then using my program to make sure that it works correctly. One problem that I am facing while writing this program is figuring out a way for the program to recognize comments in different languages. For instance, in perl and python, # is used to symbolize a comment, however, with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), the # is used as an indication to represent a single line or heading in a certain way. I decided to fix this problem by extending the capabilities of my program to include recognizing the different languages.

Week 10

So, this is it. My last week of summer research. I definitely learned a lot this summer. I was a little unsure in the beginning about starting a new project, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a great learning experience. It just seemed like there was so much information and it was everywhere. I actually enjoyed reading and dissecting articles. I'm also glad I got a chance to program a little this summer and that I learned how to program in perl. The program that I wrote brought to our attention some complications involved when creating a tool that handles multiple languages that may have gone unnoticed. Jean, another CRA-W undergrad that worked here for the summer, was nice enough to share with us some of her programs for an online auction. With these programs, we will be able to see the files that remain behind the scenes on the server (java servlets) as well as the client pages. This week I used Jean's files to get a better understanding as to how her client-side files work with her server-side files and the information residing on the database. This week, I also I worked on my program and finished up my webpage/final report.

Click here to see my final report

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