Mainframe Testing Tools

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COBOL
DB2
Functional
Mainframe
Performance/Load
Software testing
Software testing tools
My shop is currently looking for testing packages for batch (mostly cobol, some assembler) applications as well as our online CICS applications. We are z/OS shop using IMS and a very limited amount of DB2. We are looking at CA-InterTest, Xpediter, and SmartTest. In addition to the usual testing and de-bugging assistance, we would most like a tool to assist with analyzing the legacy applications that are a conglomeration of multiple levels of called programs. Any preferences or experience you wish to share to help us make a decision would be greatly appreciated!

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I’m currently using Xpediter with IMS and DB2 – both batch and on-line and I have used SmartTest not that long ago, around 2002. I haven’t used CA-InterTest for awhile.

I personally think that SmartTest has less of a learning curve than Xpediter. As for Pros and Cons.

SmartTest was easy to use both for Batch and On-line, it allowed easier insertion of on the fly code changes than InterTest and it remembered my breakpoints between tests.

Unfortunately, it was a little too smart. I had times where a screen would fail in Native CICS due to an Attribute or other error but SmartTest ‘knew’ what I meant, painted the complete screen and ran to completion. I didn’t experience any similar problems in batch.

Both Xpediter and SmartTest allowed you to follow a job through multiple called program although the setup in SmartTest was setup once and forget while Xpediter required it for each run of the programs. SmartTest was also more consistent in commands, PF keys, etc between batch and on-line than Xpeditor but part of that might just be the way we have Xpeditor setup here.

I lean towards SmartTest but the differences weren’t great enough for me hands down recommend one or the other. Cost would be a greater factor. Also, our support for SmartTest was great as we were on a ViaSoft contract. Not sure how they are otherwise.

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  • BlueKnight
    We switched from Xpediter to InterTest roughly 6 months ago because the InterTest license was half the cost of Xpediter. Both products are very similar both in how you set break points, keeps etc. and execution control functions are equivalent. I was fairly familiar with Xpediter so there was a small learning curve in the switch, but as I recall, I liked the ABEND feedback from InterTest better. InterTest displays are a bit different from Xpediter, but fairly similar. I have not used either product with an Assembler program since all new programs, and 99.9% of modified programs are COBOL. I'm one of only three guys who know Assembler here. I have not used SmartTest so I can't provide any info on it, but fortunately you've got some info from another respondent.
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  • GreyLensman
    I read the reply from BlueKnight and if you don't like Xpeditor's abend format you can hook in AbendAid. We do that here and it gives a little more information in a better format, especially for the IMS and DB2 abends.
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  • MEAnderson
    I have used Xpeditor eensively over the past eight years for Batch, CICS online, and DB2. I like it as a testing product, but the features the companies I have worked for don't have any 'anlaysis' components for multi-level call analysis. Xpeditor will let you walk through each called module starting at the driver, if all are xpeditor compiled, or you can just process through the called module without xpeditor compiled code. Xpeditor does have features to save all breakpoints and tests between sessions (for the batch component, but not necessarily the CICS -- it has been a few years since using CICS), and it has more features than the the average user will ever use. I have not used the other products, so I can not give you a comparable anaylsis.
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  • Cglancy
    I've used SmartTest, Xpediter, InterTest, and IBM's Debugger. I'm with GreyLensMan in preferring SmartTest. IBM's Debugger is a poor copy of Xpediter and was very frustrating to use. For analyzing your legacy programs (& current) a very useful tool is Compuware's STROBE. It's easy to set up and the reports are packed with useful information, even down to the line of code.
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  • Girlnerd
    Thank you all for your input. I didn't realize Strobe could be used as an analytical tool. I thought it was strictly a performance tool. It's been years since I've used it, I'll have to take another look. Again, Thanx!
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  • Rmainframer
    I work with CICS/VSAM systems, Assembler and COBOL. We have IMS but I am not involved with it. We use Intertest for online and Xpediter for batch. Some say we only need Xpediter, and they prefer it. I like Intertest and have not used online Xpediter.
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  • GreyLensman
    Another fact you might want to consider that I just became aware of is that CA-Intertest will not work with optimized programs. if you use CA-Intertest, you *must* specify OPT(NONE) or as a result of the optimization done, your breakpoints will either not work at all or will be unpredictable. The lead for the CA-Intertest programming group has stated CA does not consider this their problem and are not going to fix it. If you don't optimize then this won't impact you.
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  • ITKEditor
    Search390.com member Bob G. wrote: Our shop had been an Xpediter shop for a number of years and most of us had gotten to know and love the product. It just seemed to do well for whatever we needed. We're an IBM z/os COBOL shop. And with Xpediter you really didn't have to worry about any special JCL doctoring - the tool does whatever it needs in that area as a front end to the test. But MIP based pricing got to be a problem. We have a processor configuration with several large LPARs, and for awhile actually limited use of Xpediter to one of the smaller engines to keep the charges down, but it is still a "license-expensive" tool to use. Eventually the I.T. management team decided on moving to some other test tool, and did a survey of what was available. What they came up with was IBM's DEBUG TOOL. Well, to be frank, those of us who were used to driving a Maserati felt like we were being forced into a 1986 Yugo ! The transition is now the better part of a year old, and we're probably over the transition shock, but DEBUG TOOL still has enough faults that you're aware of them every time you use it. The screen display is unfriendly (yes it can be changed); commands feel like they are much more "typing intensive" than those of Xpediter; and what you have to key in to view the content of a field in an occurs area to me is a joke. Data item qualification requirements at first I could not believe. But it is usable. For us I guess the deciding factor was cost. But license cost was the only aspect of it that was looked at. The hue and cry from the development staff over lost productivity wasn't heard until it was too late. Now I think the people on the selection team realize that there are other cost aspects as well. Labor cost, lost time cost etc that are more difficult to quantify than a monthly or annual license fee. We are getting used to DEBUG TOOL, but ....
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