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Book Review: Software Test Engineering with IBM Rational Functional Tester

Posted by Matt Archer on January 27, 2010

Like many others testers, I regularly incorporate IBM Rational Functional Tester (once known as XDE Tester) into my test automation repertoire.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with the tool, Rational Functional Tester (often abbreviated to RFT) is a GUI-level test automation tool that can be used to automate the functional testing of both Windows and Web based applications.  If you’re interested, more information can be found on the official IBM Rational website here.

To accompany the tool, IBM Press have recently published a book entitled “Software Test Engineering with IBM Rational Functional Tester”.  The authors have left no stone unturned in their feature by feature discussion of the tool’s abilities, which undoubtedly makes it worthy of its tagline – “The Definitive Resource”.

As an experienced user I found myself skipping pages in the early chapters, but it’s not long before the book arrives at the juicer topics, including handling unsupported objects, testing specialised applications (SAP, Siebel, Flex, etc) and using RFT within a Linux environment.

For those new to RFT I would follow the authors’ advice and not attempt a cover to cover read.  The first few chapters will provide a new user with everything they need to know to get started and be productive.  The remainder of the 600+ pages can then be dipped into as necessary.

My favourite part of the book is the script samples that are scattered throughout every chapter.  Like any automated testing tool, sometimes the best solution is to hand-craft all or part of your script.  It is at this point that the average tester (myself included) typically turns to Google with the hope of finding a similar example.  I can remember spending hours looking for information on how best to query a database, connect to excel and extract data from a PDF.  All of these topics are covered in the book with examples, along with many others.

Your local bookshop / website should have no problem getting you a copy if you’re interested.  For those members of the BCS Special Interest Group in Software Testing (SiGIST), you can also borrow a copy for free from the SiGIST Library.


10 Responses to “Book Review: Software Test Engineering with IBM Rational Functional Tester”

  1. Ganga said

    How to create and execute a Test Suite in RFT?

    • Sorry Ganga,

      There is not enough information in your question to answer it directly, however, below is some background information.

      RFT does not officially recognise “test suites” in the same way as something like Rational TestManager, where the term is used to mean something specific. If you are thinking about grouping a collection of RFT scripts (into what loosely could be referred to as a test suite) then there are a variety of ways to accomplish this task.

  2. Abitha said

    Hi Matt,

    I was in a dilemma to buy the book, as i was not sure what kind of information i can get out of it.

    Your review gave me a clear picture. I am going to buy the book.

    Thanks Matt!!

  3. Anoop said

    I tried the local bookstores and I am not able to find this book. Can you please suggest if I can download the ebook from somewhere? I cant buy this online as it would cost a fortune for me.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. ellice said

    You can purchase the ebook online and save $$.

    Simply use the following link.

    on the right side of the page – see become a member – (it’s free) this will give you an additional 30% off.

  5. Deepti said

    Hi Matt,
    I want to buy book this book — “Software test engineering with IBM Rational Functional Tester: the definitive Resource”.
    Please let me know if I will also be provided with RFT CD,so that I can practice on my own.

    • Hi Deepti,

      The book does not come with a copy of RFT, however, you can download a trial version from the IBM website that you can use for your studies.

      Hope that helps!



  6. Helen said

    Hi Matt,
    I have been searching the web for weeks for a good blog on automation testing and I am glad I found your website. I am an advanced automation tester using QTP and my company recently decided to make the change from HP products to IBM tools. I am new to RFT and so I bought this book and using it to learn all about RFT that I can. I have found the book very useful. However I am unable to find a good teacher led training that will help me. We are looking to use RFT and VB .NET. The advanced courses are all offered using Java. Do you know of any good courses that can help me?

    I have another question regarding the automation framework we plan to use. In QTP we used a keyword driven approach, we developed functions and did not use any of the build in QTP built in functionality like record/playback and the verification points. We instead called functions from a excel sheet that any tester could update without touching the code. We verified our test cases using functions as well using “if then” logic. If actualresult does not equal expectedresult then fail. What is your opinion on using such a framework in RFT?

    • Hi Helen,

      I’m not aware of any specific courses that teach advanced RFT topics using VB.NET, however, depending on what you have in mind, you may find that an introductory course to VB.NET will fulfil your needs. You’ll have to add the testing context yourself, but if you are thinking of creating your own keyword driven framework it’s unlikely to be a waste of time.

      Re-writing your keyword driven functions shouldn’t be a problem. It’s a common thing to do with RFT. Assuming you’re happy with your existing keywords you should (hopefully!) find creating your functions easier than the first time they were written. I say this because you are hopefully at the point where you know what most of your keywords are and can avoid those annoying situations where you find you have created a keyword (and associated function) that is either too small (i.e. practically a 1-to-1 mapping to a line of code) or too big (i.e. not atomic enough to be reused across multiple tests).

      Good luck with the migration,



  7. devwillie said

    Hello Matt,
    I like your Blog. I’ve used a couple of your posts to help me prepare strategy docs for the brass.
    Thank you!

    Re. the above post, I’ve been using the book for a few months and you’re right, it’s very helpful. I work for IBM so I can chat with the authors if I have questions, which is great! However, many of the authors are no longer w/ IBM and the man who wrote ch 4 is one of them. I’ve implemented all the methods in my own Java class and some of them work but the serializeXML method keeps bombing out with a class cast exception. I was wondering if you’ve implemented any of these methods before OR have experience serializing DOM objects in Java. Based on the err msg and some Google searches, it seems the problems might be that the author’s implementation has been deprecated (i.e. different xerces packages are needed) but it could be operator error :).

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
    P.s. I’m developing a framework to build a regression suite for a bunch of VT100-based apps. The terminal app extension plugin does NOT have good integration w/ the VT100’s, just the IBM terminals (big surprise.)

    Will Lucas

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