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FAQ: What is Co-Advisor?

Co-Advisor is a tool for testing reliability, compatibility, compliance, and other quality factors of communication protocol implementations. Co-Advisor has web and command-line interfaces. The Measurement Factory hosts an on-line version of the tool for remote, installation-free tests. Stand-alone distributions are available for in-house tests.

Co-Advisor checks the quality of a protocol implementation using malicious test cases for detecting reliability flaws, real-world test cases for detecting compatibility problems, and standards-driven test cases for isolating compliance violations. HTTP (RFC 2616) and ICAP (RFC 3507) protocols are currently supported.

More information is available on Co-Advisor web site.

FAQ: What devices/implementations are supported?

Co-Advisor can test HTTP intermediaries and ICAP servers.

Co-Advisor/HTTP can test virtually all HTTP intermediaries that accept HTTP queries, forward misses to specified origin servers, and relay the responses back to Co-Advisor clients. For example, forward caching proxies, reverse proxies or surrogates, various filters and firewalls, or origin server load balancers with a VIP. Users were able to test transparent (a.k.a., TCP hijacking) proxies as well. HTTP/1.0 intermediaries are supported though they will fail or violate version-dependent test cases, naturally.

Co-Advisor/ICAP can test any ICAP server. Co-Advisor sends ICAP requests to the server and inspects server responses. REQMOD and RESPMOD URLs can be configured by the user, depending on the ICAP server requirements.

FAQ: How much of HTTP is covered?

Co-Advisor/HTTP covers all RFC 2616 MUST-level requirements applicable to HTTP intermediaries. Hundreds of test cases are available. If you find a requirement that is not covered, please let us know.

It is possible to automate testing of HTTP servers and even clients. Most Co-Advisor additions are demand-driven, so let us know what your needs are.

FAQ: How much of ICAP is covered?

Co-Advisor/ICAP focuses on reliability of ICAP implementations, so the collection of test cases is growing and will never be complete. If you know of an interesting test case, please talk to us. Co-Advisor/ICAP will also cover all RFC 3507 MUST-level requirements applicable to ICAP servers. Existing cases cover most important requirements such as those related to HTTP encapsulation and preview.

FAQ: What about protocols other than HTTP and ICAP?

Starting with Co-Advisor 2.0, test cases are driven by a protocol-agnostic test scripting language, making it relatively easy to add support for new protocols. We have a few candidate protocols in mind. Let us know what communication protocols you want to test.

FAQ: How much does it cost?

The cost depend on your needs. On-line Co-Advisor trial with a subset of test cases is free. Individual tests without detailed logs are cheap. On-line tests with detailed logs cost more. Binary and source code distributions for in-house use come next. Exact prices are posted on Co-Advisor web site.

FAQ: Can Co-Advisor report a protocol violation where the device does the right thing based on real-world requirements?

Yes, if you test for protocol violations. Co-Advisor can test for spec compliance and for real-world quality factors such as reliability and compatibility. If you are testing for protocol violations, Co-Advisor ignores real-world requirements and uses just the protocol specs. And vice versa.

In situations where the protocol contradicts real-life requirements, Co-Advisor may have two test cases with identical protocol interactions but different result assessment logic. A device configured to obey the protocol would pass one case, and the same device configured to be robust would pass the other case. You can then tell your customers that your device is both compliant and robust, and that your customers have a choice (with a reasonable default configuration setting, of course).

The above "dual result" approach seems to be necessary if we want to test for formal protocol compliance at all. Our assumption is that marketing and sales/partnership departments would benefit from ability to claim certain level of compliance while also demonstrating real-world qualities.

FAQ: How do I start using Co-Advisor?

Register online. Login. Make your device under test accessible from Co-Advisor IP address(es). Configure and start the test.

Alternatively, you can download a stand-alone distribution for in-house tests.

FAQ: What IP addresses and TCP ports does Co-Advisor use?

Co-Advisor agents use IP address(es) of the web server host it runs on. For example, coad.measurement-factory.com currently has IP address. Co-Advisor clients use random TCP ports. Co-Advisor servers may use TCP port 80 and ports from the 8080-8099 range.

IP addresses and port ranges are configurable if you install Co-Advisor locally.

FAQ: How can I make my device accessible from Co-Advisor IP address(es)?

The exact procedure depends on your local environment. For example, if you have a firewall in front of your device, you may need to open up access for Co-Advisor IPs. You may have to move your device into a DMZ zone. Talk to your network administrator.

If you are using an on-line version, make sure your device has a routable IP address that Co-Advisor can reach. The following IP address ranges are reserved for "private" networks and are not routable (see RFC 1918):

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FAQ: Is there a Co-Advisor version I can install/use locally?

Yes, Co-Advisor binaries and source code are available. Please see Co-Advisor web site for details and pricing or contact us.

FAQ: Do you develop test cases on demand?

Yes. If you want us to add a specific test case or a group of test cases, please contact us.

FAQ: How can I contact Co-Advisor maintainers?

Please e-mail coad at measurement-factory dot com.

FAQ: How can I get help besides reading on-line documentation?

Please contact us.

FAQ: How can I get answers to other questions?

Please contact us.

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