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Book Review: Apache JMeter

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Books 53

MassDosage writes "Apache JMeter written by Emily H. Halili is very much an introductory guide to using Apache's open source JMeter testing tool. Unfortunately a book that should have been good fodder to whet the appetites of testers is spoiled by shoddy editing, poor writing and very little content that isn't already included in JMeter's own user manual." Read below for the rest of MassDosage's review.I am one of those (fairly) rare software developers with a genuine interest in testing and first tried using JMeter many years ago after its initial release as a tool primarily focused on testing the Apache Tomcat web/application server. It was a bit rough around the edges and poorly documented in those days so I was looking forward to a book that would re-familiarize me with JMeter in its current form. This book clearly targets itself at the testing community and doesn't require any programming (or even much testing) knowledge.

Apache JMeter starts off with a not particularly convincing overview of why one would want to automate testing and goes off on a tangent trying to prove the monetary savings this leads too. Any testing will depend very much on the type of software being tested, the skills of the tester, technology stack in use etc. so trying to come up with a general formula proving that testing will save money is probably impossible and pointless. It would have been far more useful to include some practical examples where testing saved time, effort, caught bugs early etc. A very brief history of JMeter is provided as well as an overview of its GUI and the the various elements available. For those who haven't used it before — JMeter acts as a client which sends requests to the application being tested and can then act on the responses returned. Overall this isn't the smoothest of introductions with lots of grammatical errors, fragmented text and repeated concepts, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the book.

Installing and setting up JMeter is covered next and this is straightforward and simple. A good overview of what a JMeter test plan consists of is provided and this covers controlling how many simultaneous users a test will use, what logic and timing will be used to issue requests, the type of requests (e.g. HTTP for web sites, FTP for file retrieval etc.), various configuration options, how to assert the contents of responses and so on. The book is a bit dated and the version of JMeter I was using didn't always match up with the text and diagrams but most of the differences were self explanatory so this wasn't really an issue.

The chapter on load and performance testing is the best on offer and provides sensible guidelines on this type of testing. These include tips such as ensuring network bandwidth between the machines under test, running the tests on physically separate machines from the software being tested, running tests for long periods of time and what to monitor. This is mainly common sense but it's good to see them summarized and the book would have benefited from more sections that appear to be informed by the author's practical experiences as a tester. The example given in the book is the load testing of a web site over HTTP and it's left up to the reader to translate the various types of request being made to an example website of their own. The screen shots of setting the various GUI values are clear and useful. Remote testing (i.e. not using a single JMeter GUI but multiple command-line instances of JMeter) is mentioned but sadly not covered which is a shame as any serious load or stress testing usually requires this. Using JMeter as a proxy to quickly generate a test plan by recording HTTP requests from a browser is both neat and useful and explained well.

JMeter is not just limited to load testing but can also be used to do simple functional tests as it can inspect the values returned by requests and perform assertions on these responses (e.g. checking that the returned HTML contains some text). Unfortunately functional testing is covered very poorly with far too little detail and no explanation of how to run the examples yourself. The author should have stuck to one simple use case (ideally that the reader could follow along with) which would show how to add one's own custom values to requests and to assert the results returned. In the end I could figure it out for myself, but I'd expect a book to guide me through this.

Advanced features are up next and the reader is pointed towards the sample code included with the book (a .rar file inside a .zip file, why?) but absolutely no explanation is given as to what one should actually do with the bunch of PHP and SQL files included in it. Using regular expressions and configuring JMeter to run tests using loops is covered but this doesn't make much sense as there is no context for the example used in setting this all up. Fortunately the sections on using JMeter to test a database and an FTP server are introduced with clear setup steps that are easy to follow. I wouldn't classify most of this material as advanced, it just gives the reader the knowledge that JMeter can be used to test more than just HTTP sites and provides a few very simple examples which they can build on.

Finally the book wraps up by stressing once again that it's just an introduction to JMeter and a concluding table clearly showing that more is not covered than actually covered. The appendices consist of definitions of nearly every JMeter element that can be accessed in the GUI (a good quick reference), some pointers to material for readers interested in learning more, and a glossary of testing terms, the vast majority of which are never used in the book itself. Unfortunately the latter is yet more evidence of the biggest weakness of this book — the appalling editing that doesn't even remove sentences which are completely incorrect. 'You can too contribute.' (the closing sentence of Chapter 1) is just one of many examples of poor writing that somehow survived into print.

On the whole the book does give one an overview of how to get started with JMeter and the section on load testing a website is a useful introduction to various JMeter concepts. This is the only printed book on the topic out there so if you learn best reading from print then you don't have many options. This is a shame as a niche topic like this could do with an interesting, well-informed and authoritative guide. For everyone else I would suggest reading the User Manual on the JMeter website as it covers all the material here (and much more) and is far more readable.

You can purchase Apache JMeter from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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The problem is Packt (4, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027604)

I bought a Spring book from Packt which was full of wrong information, code examples that were garbage, et cetera. Packt is still selling the book, errors in place, and attempted to bribe me to remove my public requests to them to fix the book, instead of just fixing the book.

It's a shovel-ware scum publisher from India. They don't edit. Many of their books are essentially whole-sale theft of manuals.

Never buy Packt.

Re:The problem is Packt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36027740)

Packt must be paying decently to CmdrTaco to keep allowing these shill reviews to go up. It's almost like clockwork that you see a Packt Book being reviewed almost weekly.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027792)

Packt must be paying decently to CmdrTaco to keep allowing these shill reviews to go up.

Did you actually read the review?

Re:The problem is Packt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36027906)

I read the part where Slashdot is telling me to buy the book through their Amazon Affiliate link.

Re:The problem is Packt (2)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028338)

So Packt are paying CmdrTaco to put up a bad review with a link to the book in the hope that people don't read/heed the review but just buy the book anyway? Riiiight...

Re:The problem is Packt (3, Interesting)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028498)

Why else is Slashdot pimping people to buy the book from Amazon? If you follow the link you will notice a curious person who gave this crappy book 5 stars and conveniently every other Packt book he reviews (which are apparently the only books he reviews) all have 5 stars too. It's also been established before that Packt has had their own employees posting positive book reviews to this site and around on others. But hey, keep flailing around about how Packt can't clearly be using shills to try to push books.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028570)

Pimping people? Posting a link to buy a book at the end of a review is "pimping" now is it?

I don't care if some guy is posting 5-star reviews on Amazon, nor have I denied that Packt use astroturfing. They might, they might not, I don't much care in either case really. My issue is that every review of a Packt book comes with the same old bullshit whining even when, as in this case, the review is largely negative. The fact that they would do something as amateurish and transparent as having someone astroturf by solely reviewing Packt books with 5 stars only serves to lessen the likelihood that the negative book review above would have come from them.

But hey, keep flailing around about how Packt can't clearly be using shills to try to push books.

Yes, I shall keep flailing around with my wild notions of "logic" and "reason". Have you ever thought about dropping the 'Lunix' part of your username, it seems rather redundant.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033844)

Packt must be paying decently to CmdrTaco to keep allowing these shill reviews to go up. It's almost like clockwork that you see a Packt Book being reviewed almost weekly.

You are a retard. Since when does a shill conclude "don't bother buying this book, just look at the product's website instead"?

If the mere fact that a book is reviewed on slashdot somehow makes people buy it, then they are fucking retards too. I only glanced over this review because I'd never heard of JMeter and was vaguely curious. If I then went and ordered the book without even reading the last couple of lines of the review, then I really don't deserve anything other than to be metaphorically buggered senseless by any con man on the internet.

It makes me realise why people keep on with Nigerian 419 scams, there are obviously enough morons out there who will send anyone money just because you ask them.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

dragonquest (1003473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027834)

Are you sure they are from India? Looking at their careers page, they seem to be based in Birmingham. [packtpub.com]

Re:The problem is Packt (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028024)

All of the contacts I've ever had with them (as a technical editor and a prospective author) were people with Indian names. After they failed to come up with a contract for several weeks, while nagging me about sending in chapters according to the schedule we'd agreed on, I gave up on writing a useful book on the application of my choice. I have too many things to do to want to work with such a disorganized, unprofessional organization. The book I edited was written by an Indian developer who clearly has no real experience with the application, and his second edition which had Indian technical editors who also obviously knew nothing about the application is full of mistakes and just plain wrong information. They want me to post a review on my website which is dedicated to articles and demos of the application, but about all I could say would be "don't bother", so I won't.

Re:The problem is Packt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028146)

So there are NO Indian people in Birmingham, that's what you're saying ;)

Re:The problem is Packt (2)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028540)

All of the contacts I've ever had with them (as a technical editor and a prospective author) were people with Indian names

Wiki:

Birmingham is the most populous British city outside London, with 1,028,700 inhabitants ... The ONS estimates that, in 2007, 62.1% of the population was White British, 2.4% White Irish, 2.2% Other White, 21% Asian, 6.7% Black, 1.2% Chinese, 3.2% of mixed race and 1.2% of other ethnic heritage.

So it's entirely possible those people were in Birmingham, although hidden on the website is a tiny mention of their second office in Mumbai. I suspect the real work is done in India, and the marketing/accounting in England.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033858)

So it's entirely possible those people were in Birmingham, although hidden on the website is a tiny mention of their second office in Mumbai. I suspect the real work is done in India, and the marketing/accounting in England.

It's called global capitalism, all the gung ho free market cheerleaders can't really complain when this happens. Contrary to popular belief, it's not quality that always wins out in the end.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041668)

although hidden on the website is a tiny mention of their second office in Mumbai

That's actually their main office, where almost all of their staff are. Their Birmingham office has two people.

Please stop injecting guesses as data.

and the marketing/accounting in England.

The England address is just a secretary, there to fool people like you into thinking anything happens in England other than mail forwarding.

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042156)

Please stop injecting guesses as data.

Please take the time to read the comment you reply to, like this bit I suspect the real work is done in India. That's a guess, but with the word "suspect" I'm not presenting it as data.

The England address is just a secretary, there to fool people like you into thinking anything happens in England other than mail forwarding.

People like me? I'm the one who isn't convinced they do any writing in England ;-)

Re:The problem is Packt (4, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028038)

They acquired that "office" once I started telling people where they were. It's what an American would think of as a tax drop-box (some people might call it a safety deposit address).

Their real address is

Sagbag Lane, Off.Andheri Kurla Road, Saki Naka,
Andheri East
MUMBAI, Maharashtra, India 400001

Their phone number is

9769235506

On their various job postings for English technical editors, they mention that they will teach you English as part of your job ... verifying ... the quality of English technical writing.

Generally, their code samples don't even compile.

Don't buy Packt. They're just scammers.

Re:The problem is Packt (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028300)

On their various job postings for English technical editors, they mention that they will teach you English as part of your job ... verifying ... the quality of English technical writing.

Unless they've edited that page since you commented that's bullshit. The job posting explicitly says they want native English speakers.

Re:The problem is Packt (3, Insightful)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028508)

> Unless they've edited that page since you commented that's bullshit.

Maybe you shouldn't criticize from anonymous coward attacks in the singular. I'm not sure which "that page" you're talking about - I didn't cite a specific page, so you have no idea which page I'm coming from.

Astroturf much?

> The job posting explicitly says they want native English speakers.

Which one? There are literally hundreds using that exact text, cut and pasted.

It is interesting that you refer to "on their various job postings" in the singular, like it hadn't even dawned on you that your very first hit might not be the one I meant. (Ostensibly this is because you went straight to the page at your employer's website, rather than to look for it, because if you actually Google that text, you get results across dozens of sites.)

Go criticize your own lack of googling skills under someone else's name, sir. I have no interest being attacked by a Packt staffmember from incorrect "facts" so painfully obviously structured from falsehoods.

Anonymous cowards are called cowards for a reason.

Re:The problem is Packt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36031186)

I'm not sure which "that page" you're talking about - I didn't cite a specific page, so you have no idea which page I'm coming from.

Astroturf much?

The page linked in the GP's post. The one you replied to. Sorry, was that not obvious that the job information on the only page linked to in the discussion was the page I was referring to when talking about their ("their" refers to Packt, in case you're not getting that either) job postings.

Troll much?

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041644)

The page linked in the GP's post. The one you replied to.

So, you're telling me I'm wrong because someone replied to me with a guess at which page I meant, and it doesn't cite what I said?

Sorry, was that not obvious

No, it was not obvious that you were holding me to be responsible for someone else's link. Largely because that's retarded.

Troll much?

Ah, anyone who points out your anonymous errors is a troll. Go back to Digg where you belong.

Re:The problem is Packt (3, Interesting)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028534)

The only good thing I can say about Packt is that they pay book royalties to open source projects [packtpub.com] . Other than that, yeah, don't buy from them.

Re:The problem is Packt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36032118)

Oh, this is just utter BS. They are based out of Birmingham in the UK. They also pay their authors in GBP. Their contracts are also signed from the UK. They are not an Indian company.

But, yes, it is true that most things are outsourced to Mumbai. It is also true that their Indian office tends to employ unprofessional and incompetent numpties. It is also true that there is very little by the way of editing. Apparently editing at PackT means making sure that all images in the chapter have been added and that all required sections have been filled out. Proof-reading involves running the book through a spell-checker and an Americanisation script. Technical reviews are a really mixed bag and depends on the luck of the draw.

I wouldn't trust reviews for PackT books.

All this said, what is the story like for other publishers?

Re:The problem is Packt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36033026)

I don't think you know anything about Packt. Their office in Birmingham was founded much before you were born

Re:The problem is Packt (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36035690)

Their office in Birmingham was founded much before you were born

Which makes the person you are responding to what? Apparently less than 6 years old apparently since Packt is only a 7 year old company.

Re:The problem is Packt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36030104)

Are you sure they are from India? Looking at their careers page, they seem to be based in Birmingham. [packtpub.com]

This just in: Untrue statement discovered on internet!!

This also just in: Untrue statement discovered in advertising copy!!

Re:The problem is Packt (4, Interesting)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028102)

What's funny is if you follow the Amazon link you find a guy named Vamseedhar R. Sane who is the only one to give this book a 5 star review and he apparently gives every Packt book 5 star reviews [amazon.com] . And people still think Packt doesn't clearly pay shills to advertise their books around?

Re:The problem is Packt (3, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028160)

Some of their authors also like to copy/paste online tutorials (which I've seen done from my own website). Basically they're a cheap clearing house and don't do any real editing or verification of their publishing. Stick with O'Reily.

Re:The problem is Packt (2)

jaydonnell (648194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031836)

I bought a YUI book from Packt and it wasn't very good either. Never bought another book from them.

spec isn't solid and sample code full of errors (1)

MichaelKristopeit406 (2018812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027622)

slashvertisement fail.

slashdot = stagnated

Re:spec isn't solid and sample code full of errors (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36027662)

Not a good "slashvertisement" when the product rates 3/10...

Re:spec isn't solid and sample code full of errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36027680)

I always lol when slashdot do a shitty book review with amazon affiliates.

Packt Full Of +3, Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36027880)

Sh$%$@t [youtube.com]
!

Another Slashvertisement posing as news.

Six months to Slashdot's closing.

Good riddance.

Yours In Osh,
K. Trout, C.E.O.

Re:Packt Full Of +3, Interesting (2)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027992)

Kilgore Trout wouldn't look at a scathing condemnation and assume it to be an advertisement.

Re:Packt Full Of +3, Interesting (1)

MichaelKristopeit406 (2018812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36029596)

the amazon link doesn't go to a page where you can't buy the book.

dang didn't really need to click on "read below" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028340)

From the summary it's clear that this was going to be a scathing review. Felt uncomfortable even considering "Read below for ..."

The Problem is the Author (3, Insightful)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028356)

Looking at the author's bio on Pact's web site: http://www.packtpub.com/authors/profiles/emily-h-halili [packtpub.com] it would appear that English may not be her first language, and given that she's worn 6 different IT hats in 12 years, she's obviously not spent enough time doing any one thing to become an expert at anything. And now she's a consultant, which affirms the old saying "those who cannot do, teach".

Re:The Problem is the Author (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028494)

You do realise English is a common language in Malaysia right? And they speak it a fair bit at California State too (more or less).

Re:The Problem is the Author (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028544)

Yes, hence the "may not". The reviewer mentioned poor writing and grammar, and I would hope that English as a second language would be a much more forgivable excuse for that than simply being under-educated and/or sloppy.

Re:The Problem is the Author (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034300)

given that she's worn 6 different IT hats in 12 years, she's obviously not spent enough time doing any one thing to become an expert at anything.

Isn't Malcom Gladwell's notion that you need 10,000 hours doing something to become an expert in it? If she worked ten hours a day fifty weeks a year at each of those jobs, that's 10*5*50*2=5,000 hours so she's half-expert in 6 different things, which isn't bad.

Anyone else using JMeter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028458)

I was disappointed to see that the book is apparently crap. I've been wanting a good JMeter book for about 5 years.

So is anyone else actually using JMeter? Where do you go for your info/help?

I used Badboy and JMeter with good results (1)

vinn01 (178295) | more than 3 years ago | (#36028530)

It's been a while since I used JMeter, but I had good luck using a web capture/replay tool called Badboy as a functional input to JMeter.

I created the functional tests with Badboy, then export/imported them into JMeter. JMeter ran the Badboy functional tests with my desired testing characteristics. I got a pretty good overview of the performance of the application under test (an XML service that front-ended a database).

The problem with using load testing tools like JMeter for finding web site performance is that it's total guesswork to separate the web server performance from the network performance.

Re:I used Badboy and JMeter with good results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36033678)

The problem with using load testing tools like JMeter for finding web site performance is that it's total guesswork to separate the web server performance from the network performance.

JMeter provides masses of throughput and gives an overall view of response times. But you also need server side logging or monitoring of the JVM to locate bottlenecks.

Packt full of nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36028790)

It's a similar story with Packt's Blender book. Full of factual errors, spelling mistakes [yes, spelling misakes - what ever happened to spell checkers?], non sequiturs and diagrams that don't correspond with their descriptions. I posted a review to Amazon explaining all of the above but they spiked it. Fuckers.

More Pakt Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36029262)

Yet another book about something you've never heard of and probably incorrect at that.

packt isn't much more than a vanity press (1)

deander2 (26173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36029584)

one of their recruiters approached me last year to write a book on numpy. which was curious to me since while i've used it (and posted some very minor public code using it), i'm not a contributor, nor involved in the community in any way.

some googling led to some fairly consistent stories:
very little editing work
very low sales (rep told me 1000 copies would be considered successful for a sequel)
don't expect more than your initial front (~$3500, which isn't even a front; they pay it out over the different chapters you submit)
if they can they get multiple authors writing in the same category at the same time (which means you're basically competing against your own publisher)

needless to say: didn't want to sign my name to anything like that...

Re:packt isn't much more than a vanity press (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36034378)

I don't think you know what the term "vanity press" means.
Clue: they don't pay you anything, you pay them for the privilege of seeing your name in print.

Re:packt isn't much more than a vanity press (1)

deander2 (26173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36038900)

i don't think you know what "isn't much more than" means.
clue: it includes "a little more", as in "packt is a little more than a vanity press (but not much)".

=P

So Packt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36029902)

... is how I feel after I've purchased the book?

Slashvertising (0)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36029988)

Stop it with the Packit book reviews. These books are uniformly bad and overpriced. I made the mistake of buying the one on Tapestry and it was full of incorrect information and didn't address any topics beyond the Hello World level.

The book actually hindered my efforts to get up to speed on this framework.

-1 Overrated on this book, review, the editor who posted it and the shill who reviewed it.

Re:Slashvertising (1)

ajo_arctus (1215290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033064)

> the shill who reviewed it.

Is this really a shill review? I mean, I wouldn't expect to see the words "shoddy editing, poor writing and very little content" in a shill review, nor would I expect to see this in the conclusion: "For everyone else I would suggest reading the User Manual on the JMeter website as it covers all the material here (and much more) and is far more readable."

I mean, I'd be pretty disappointed with that shill review if I were packt.

There's another packt book that was reviewed here a while ago -- it's called Postgresql 9.0 High Performance, by Gregory Smith. Has anybody here read that particular book, and is it of the same poor quality that might appear to be the case for all packt books? I'm quite glad I didn't pick it up now...

Re:Slashvertising (1)

MassDosage (1967508) | more than 3 years ago | (#36085708)

Thanks @ajo_arctus. I don't consider myself a "shill" as my reviews are my own honest opinion and Packt have no influence on what I say about their books. This is only the second Packt book I've read, the other one (Solr 1.4 Enterprise Server) was actually pretty good so I'm not sure I'd write off *all* their other books. I haven't read the Postgres book you mention, the title sounds interesting though and I'd be curious to know opinions of anyone else has read it.

Re:Slashvertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36036786)

-1 Overrated on this book, review, the editor who posted it and the shill who reviewed it.

Obviously someone is spouting without actually reading TFA.

I have done some proofreading for Packt. One book, a cookbook for some Microsoft product, contained a lot of useful code examples, but the writing was mushy and overblown, like something you would do to fill up pages in an English assignment. The author was an English major, curiously enough. Not particularly impressive, but possibly useful.

The other two books were written by people with quite a bit of industry experience. Clean writing, a clear introduction to the subject and real examples - looked like good stuff if you were new to these products. I actually learned some project management tricks.

Moral: Your Mileage May Vary depending on your skill level and the particular book. Check the reviews and samples before you buy. An informed consumer is a happy consumer.

Jmeter's Pretty Straight Forward (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031110)

I use jmeter at work and it took all of about a couple of days to come up to speed on it. I've written some plugins for it now. Everything I learned was from their user manual and the source code. I'm not sure you need a book for it, but it kind of sounds like I could do a better job of writing one in any event. Hmm...
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