Simply Testable Updates #78: New Production Server, Stripe Integration Continuation, Cookie-Based Auth Planned

Simply Testable Updates #78: New Production Server, Stripe Integration Continuation, Cookie-Based Auth Planned

February 19, 2014
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This is the 78th of weekly progress updates on the development of Simply Testable, your professional automated web frontend testing service providing one-click testing for your entire site.

Highlights from this week:
  • a move to new production servers as the (now old) hardware wasn't up to scratch
  • Stripe payment integration final stages underway
  • Support for testing sites using cookie-based auth is planned

Move to new production servers
Late last week I hunted around for a new production server and at the start of this week I moved over the Simply Testable services.

Our previous production server was an EX40 from Hetzner. At the time when this was selected it fit the bill nicely: quick and easy to set up, good amount of RAM and CPU power for the price.

Hetzner use consumer-grade hardware in their servers. This brings down the price significantly but will have an impact on the lifespan of the hardware if it gets heavy use, at least with respect to what a pair of Seagate Barracuda T3000DM001 hard disks can handle.

Both of the originally-supplied hard disks failed about a year ago. Both at the same time. This was a bit of a problem to say the least. Late last week, the I/O throughput on the now-old production server slumped. Reading data from vinyl records would have been about as effective. Imminent hard disk failure loomed.

The time had come to move away from Hetzer and on to a more suitable grade of hardware. I selected a D8-490 from Redstation as the replacement featuring:
  • hardware raid (no more software raid for me!)
  • 64GB instead of 16GB RAM
  • 240GB SSD acting as a transparent cache for the 3TB hard disks
  • 12 hardware-level CPU threads, great for all the parallel jobs we run
The new server features significantly more reliable hard disks. Full hardware raid allows for a failed disk to be hot-swapped without the OS even noticing or caring. 64GB of RAM lets me dedicate plenty to MySQL for data caching, speeding up database access incredibly.

Stripe payment integration final stages
Premium plans were introduced back in July last year. At the time, all existing users were offered a one-year trial and this offer was extended to all new users for about a month.

This allowed me to defer fully integrating with Stripe, as it would be quite some time before any real payments would happen, and instead focus on continuing to make the service more useful, more stable and more reliable.

I'm currently completing Stripe integration. This will mean that anyone with a premium plan that is no longer within the trial period will actually have to pay for the service.

Much of the detailed backend work is complete and I hope to have this in place locally by the end of the week. There will then be a fairly long period of testing involved to ensure that you never miss out on any important payment-related notifications.

Testing sites using cookie-based auth
In response to last weeks' product announcement email regarding the testing of password-protected sites I was asked whether we have any plans to support the testing of sites that use cookie-based authentication.

After a little investigation this seems relatively straightforward to support and so was added somewhere near the top of my list of features to work on next.

If you need to test sites or web pages where an authenticated user is identified by a cookie you set and if you are able to generate the required cookie keys and values to mock that of an actual user, this is for you!

Upcoming Development
Stripe integration will take up most of the rest of this week with cookie-based auth support following after that.

As for technical options for offering arbitrary testing that simulates the activities of an actual end user, I'm leaning towards PhantomJS for carrying out the heavy lifting. Thoughts or suggestions are more than welcome!

As always, if you'd like to see web testing you find boring handled automatically for you, add a suggestion or vote up those that interest you. This really helps.

Feedback, thoughts or ideas: email, follow @simplytestable or keep an eye on the Simply Testable blog.


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