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WebLoad: An introduction

Does anybody have any knowledge about the open source load testing tool WebLoad?

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WebLoad is another example of an open source project linked with a proprietary component. An open source component serves as the foundation, and a proprietary component builds on this foundation.

The project is sponsored by an Israeli company, Radview Software Ltd.. If you study its partner list, you'll see several companies that make money supporting the proprietary -- and presumably the open source -- components of WebLoad.

As the company explains, it's in the process of shifting the project's components to a General Public License (GPL).

While it has an active user forum (always a good thing for a software product), they do not seem to have attracted outside developers. This is not unusual at the beginning, and developers may come with time. For most projects, even getting outsiders to provide bug fixes can mean a long wait at first.

For the first year or two the sponsoring company has to provide all the development, provide a compatible environment for the developers to work in (if and when they show up) and watch the user forums to see what the users want and need.

Even with these requirements satisfied, it is possible that the whole project will never strike fire with outside developers.

The sponsoring company should provide, among other things, clean, modular code, a code repository, development tools that outside developers are familiar with and want to use, and means of communication for the project. It is also essential that the project have a leader whom the developers respect.

I can't form a technical judgment on WebLoad, but open source software software projects typically begin with a low degree of functionality and even disabilities such as terrible interfaces. But they do some things well enough that to a certain market the effort to use them is worth the savings over more sophisticated and expensive tools. If everything goes well, the project adds outside developers and functionality, and eventually a winning product like Mozilla emerges.

If the sponsoring company is providing a paid component, it may find it useful to require a special license from any contributing developers, so that contributed code can be used in the proprietary components as well as in the open source software project under the GPL.

WebLoad is not the only open source software load testing tool out there, but proprietary tools are still flourishing. How this market will look in a few years' time depends on the how much wind WebLoad and other projects receive in their open source sails.

The only reservation I have about the WebLoad project is that one must register with the site in order to download the free software. I believe Radview would appear more open and engender more use if the users could download the software freely.

This was first published in May 2008

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