XML is important for Rational Functional Tester users for two reasons. First, data is now frequently formulated in an XML format, either for persistence in a file, a database, or to be sent (usually via HTTP) to another application. Verifying the data content of XMLs is often an important software quality task. So, parsing XMLs to capture data to compare it to baseline data is a common software testing need. Second, Rational Functional Tester employs the XML format to persist its own data. This chapter doesn’t discuss the details of Rational Functional Tester’s use of XML; rather, it covers all of the core XML-handling tasks that are needed to test XML data and to manipulate Rational Functional Tester XMLs.

Handling XML in Rational Functional Tester

This chapter uses a simple sample XML, but one that demonstrates all the basic moves you’ll need to make. It follows:

Rational Functional Tester
Rational Performance Tester
Rational Quality Manager

Our discussion of XML handling in Rational Functional Tester starts with a brief overview of the two main XML-handling standards, DOM (Document Object Model) and SAX (Simple API for XML). Both DOM and SAX are W3C standards; in Java, DOM and SAX are implemented in the org.w3c.dom and org.xml.sax packages. In VB.NET, the System.Xml libraries implement DOM and a SAX-like parser.


DOM and SAX are fundamentally different in that the DOM loads and persists an entire XML document in memory (in a tree-structure form), whereas SAX is event-driven, meaning that a SAX parser fires off a sequence of events reflecting XML structure and content as it scans through an XML document. A SAX parser never holds a whole document in memory. You see output from a SAX parser sooner than from a DOM for equal tasks on equal documents because the SAX parser fires off its events as it encounters them during its scan. In the DOM approach, the entire document is parsed and loaded in memory before any processing can occur.

Because of this key difference in structure, the DOM demands more memory than a SAX parser does for an equivalent document. On the other hand, the DOM provides random access to all document nodes at will because they are all in memory. One of the major factors in the choice of which to use is the size and complexity of the largest document that will have to be parsed relative to the available memory. The DOM is most useful when an XML should be persisted in memory for repeated access. SAX is strongest for processing large XMLs quickly for specific data content where it is not necessary to keep the full XML in memory.

A major intersection of test automation and XML is data content. Code to validate the data content of XML documents is mostly what you need to write, and the most direct route to this is through the DOM. The issue is not that data content can’t be validated with SAX, but more that the DOM is the path of least resistance; the code to extract the data is simpler. So, if your XMLs do not eat up too much memory, or they are not large enough to put you in the slow processing regime, DOM is the easiest route to go. If you are parsing large documents, then SAX becomes an attractive choice.