Web Application Testing with Eclipse
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What is Solex ?

Solex is a free open source Web application testing tool built as a plug-in for the Eclipse IDE. It provides functions to record a client session, adjust it according to various parameters and replay it later typically in order to ensure non regression of the application's behaviour (with stress testing capabilities being added at a later stage).

By recording, we mean that Solex acts as an HTTP proxy and records all HTTP requests and responses going through the wire between a Web client (eg. a Web browser) and a Web server. The task of replaying a scenario consists in sending the previously recorded and eventually customized HTTP requests to the server and asserting each response.

Solex 0.5.0 works with Eclipse Release 2.1.2, Build id: 200311030802 and Solex 0.5.3 works with Eclipse Release 3.1.1, Build id: M20050929-0840. You will also need a JRE 1.4.x or later.

Why another testing tool ?

Solex started as an internal project because we were unable to find an open source testing tool fully suitable to our needs and in particular capable of dynamically altering requests. Furthermore, the tool was expected to be fully integrated with our internal development environment based on the Eclipse platform.

For some web applications, a request depends on a previous server's response. To address such a requirement, Solex introduces the concept of extraction and replacement rules. An extraction rule tied to an HTTP message content will bind an extracted value with a variable. A replacement rule will replace any part of an HTTP message with a variable content.

Solex therefore provides an easy way to extract URL parameters, Header values or any part of a request or a response, bind their values with variables and then replace URL parameters, Header values or any part of a request with the variable content.


Let's imagine the next two requests recorded from a Web browser:

  1. GET http://www.myServer/myWebApp?action=connect HTTP/1.1
  2. GET http://www.myServer/myWebApp?action=list&dynamic_id=12345 HTTP/1.1

Replaying these two requests without any modification may fail because dynamic_id must be different each time. This value may come from the first response body content. By using Solex, it is possible to add an extraction rule to the first response (e.g. obtaining the value 12345) and a replacement rule to the second request (e.g. populating the dynamic_id parameter with the value extracted).

Moreover, Solex provides the user with the capability to add assertions for each response. Once a response has been received, all assertions of this response will be called to ensure that it is valid. If not, the playback process is stopped.

Solex provides several kinds of rules and assertions, the most complicated ones support regular expressions and XPath.

What can I do with Solex?

What do I need to run Solex ?

How does it look like ?


The easiest way to see the Solex components is to open the dedicated Solex perspective which supplies an editor and two views. All ".slx" extension files opened from Eclipse will invoke the Solex editor. The Message Body Content view shows the content of a request or a response when its body is selected.

The Playback Results view displays requests and responses sent and received during the playback process. It also displays all variables dynamically created during the process.

Getting Started


Solex preferences
We will start by recording an HTTP session with a Web browser. First, we must set the port you want to be used by the Solex integrated proxy.

Open the Eclipse preferences pages, choose the Solex section and enter any free port, eg. 8088.

Also, the player can be configured to play a session against a server different than the one used to record the session.

Finally, configure your browser to connect through a web proxy. The proxy address (also called proxy server) is the computer where Solex is running. The proxy port is the value previously entered in the Solex preferences.

The sample picture below is taken from the Mozilla Firefox settings, with Solex running locally.

Mozilla Settings

Solex session wizard
Create a new Solex session file by using the standard Eclipse New Other... menu entry, in the File menu. Select the New HTTP session option in the Solex section and click Next.

After choosing a file name, a new dedicated session editor is opened. The session is almost empty and ready to be used for a recording.

A Solex session always includes a Constants node. This element gathers named values that are created by hand.

ConstantsThis screenshot shows a session having one constant, named cte1 and and bearing the value val1.

To edit constants, double-click on the Constants node.

We don't need constants to record, so let's roll.

Start RecordingThe recording process can be started from the Eclipse toolbar or the Solex menu. The icon is the one with a red dot. You can now navigate through the Web application you want to test, and the Solex editor will record and simultaneously display in real time the HTTP requests and responses.

In this tutorial, during the session recording, we simply go to Google, then we search the web for the solex keyword and go to the Solex project page.

Stop RecordingStop recording once your session is over. Use the Eclipse toolbar or the Solex menu to do this. The icon is the one with a red square.

Session Content

The editor should now show all the requests recorded during the session.

Each request may be expanded to reveal its URL and the corresponding URL parameters. HTTP headers are also presented, along with the responses.

When a body is selected, its content is shown in the Message Body Content view. Three tabs are selectable:

The recording phase is complete and we'll now start to edit this session to let it do something of interest.


In this section, we'll add rules and assertions to our session. A rule or an assertion can be created by two means: by using the contextual menu (right button click with your mouse) on the desired item, or with the buttons found on the Body Content view. The Body Content view buttons are used when creating a rule based on a regular expression.

Replacement rule

Replacement ruleWe'll first do a very simple replacement of an URL parameter's value. The first step is to create a constant (double-click on the Constants node) with a value of "solex" and named "search".

We can now add a replacement rule for the URL parameter "q" of the google search request. This parameter contains the search keywords. Do a right click on the "q" parameter and select Add replacement rule. Then, select in the combolist the constant previously created and you're done. The rule should appear right under the parameter node, as in the screen shot.

At playback time, the parameter "q" will be replaced by the constant's value, which is "solex".


Create Assertion
We now want to assert the Solex project page on We'll check that the HTML <title> tag exists and contains "Web Application Testing with Eclipse " and that the page doesn't contain the sentence "Not for Eclipse" (it does make sense, doesn't it?).
Open the assertion dialog box: right click on the body of the first response, as depicted in the screen shot.

Edit AssertionFill in the regular expression field with the string that will be searched: "Web Application Testing with Eclipse". The Preview button computes the regular expression and returns true if the regular expression produces a token contained in the response. Which, hopefully, is the case.

Notice that an assertion allows you to assert the existence or not of the regular expression, i.e: if you want to assert that your regular expression doesn't exist in the body, write your regular expression (ex: "Not for Eclipse") and false in the combolist.

You can also assert with a variable/constant value: erase the regular expression and choose a variable name in the combolist.


Create an extraction ruleWe'll now add an extraction rule to the Google response page in order to extract a value using a regular expression.

Select the body of the google response. The Message Body Content view shows its content. We want to extract the Solex page title from the Google search results. The first step is to select a meaningful excerpt from the HTML code.

When selecting a body part, it is assumed that you select the first delimiter of the token to extract or replace, the token itself and the last delimiter. Both first and last delimiters may be empty if you search an exact phrase, which is useful mainly for assertions.

The string <font size=-1><b>Solex</b>. Web Application Testing with Eclipse. SourceForge contains the first and last delimiters, and the token we want to bind to a variable.

Extraction rule dialog
This time, the rule is added from the Message body content dedicated view by using one of the two buttons located at the top right position of this view. The way to create a rule based on a regular expression is the same for both extraction and replacement rules.
Open extraction dialogThe extraction rule button is the rightmost one.
At the top of the dialog window, an Helper is provided to simplify the generation of common regular expressions. The string in it is the one previously selected in the Body Content view.

Then, as we selected a string, the Helper section is enabled and provides you with the ability to select the token. The Generate button will then compute a regular expression returning the token. You can experiment with the regular expression until you're satisfied. In the sample, "title" is the variable name that will receive the extracted value. The Compute button computes and displays the value found in the originally recorded session.

You can get a list of the available variables and their value at any point in the session by right-clicking on a request and selecting Display Available Variables.

Warning : you can overwrite a constant with an extraction rule, but it is not advisable to do so as it could be misleading. We include this functionality because it could be very useful to provide a default value for a variable. Internally, if a variable is created with the same name as a constant, they both exist during playback, but the variable has priority over the constant.

The ability to extract an expression using XPath is also available in Solex. It appears through a dedicated tab (xhtml) in the Body Content view. It offers a tree view of the HTML page. You can type in an XPath expression in the input field and execute it to highlight the corresponding node(s). A very simple assistant, found in the contextual menu, can generate the XPath expression from a selected node.

A valid XPath expression must return a single node in order to be usable by an extraction rule.

XPath View


Solex offers a way to filter the elements of a session. These filters are not dynamic, meaning that they are launched on a session after the record phase, not during it. There are of two kinds: filters on HTTP requests and on HTTP headers. They allow you to enable, disable or delete requests or headers based on a simple pattern.


At last, we can run the session. The target host can be configured in the preferences. If you don't supply one, the host used for recording will be used.

Start PlaybackTwo playback buttons are supplied. The first one (leftmost) plays one request at a time and the second one (rightmost) plays all requests. 

The Playback Results view displays a summary of each request sent, its response status code, the time to first byte, to last byte and all variables dynamically created. Constant are displayed between parenthesis.

Results View

An export button located on the upper right corner of the Playback Results view allows you to export results as XML.

 Export Dialog


This product includes softwares developed by:
the Apache Software Foundation (,
Andy Clark.(,
the Jaxen Project (,
the SAXPath Project (,
the Xineo Project (