Prioritising Server Bugs via Inter-process Concolic Testing

Maarten Vandercammen1, Laurent Christophe2, Dario Di Nucci3, Wolfgang De Meuter4, and Coen De Roover5

The Art, Science, and Engineering of Programming, 2021, Vol. 5, Issue 2, Article 5

Submission date: 2020-01-02
Publication date: 2020-11-02
DOI: https://doi.org/10.22152/programming-journal.org/2021/5/5
Full text: PDF

Abstract

Context

Most approaches to automated white-box testing consider the client side and the server side of a web application in isolation from each other. Such testers lack a whole-program perspective on the web application under test.

Inquiry

We hypothesise that an additional whole-program perspective would enable the tester to discover which server side errors can be triggered by an actual end user accessing the application through the client, and which ones can only be triggered in hypothetical scenarios.

Approach

In this paper, we explore the idea of employing such a whole-program perspective in testing. To this end, we develop , a novel concolic tester which operates on full-stack JavaScript web applications, where both the client and the server side are JavaScript processes communicating via asynchronous messages -as enabled by the WebSocket or Socket.IO-libraries.

Knowledge

We find that the whole-program perspective enables discerning high-priority errors, which are reachable from a particular client, from low-priority errors, which are not accessible through the tested client. Another benefit of the perspective is that it allows the automated tester to construct practical, step-by-step scenarios for triggering server side errors from the end user’s perspective.

Grounding

We apply on a collection of web applications to evaluate how effective testing is in distinguishing between high- and low-priority errors. The results show that correctly classifies the majority of server errors.

Importance

This paper demonstrates the feasibility of testing as a novel approach for automatically testing web applications. Classifying errors as being of high or low importance aids developers in prioritising bugs that might be encountered by users, and postponing the diagnosis of bugs that are less easily reached.