Switching to Ruby on Rails finally kicked me into shape. Creating and running scripted tests within Rails is almost too easy not to do - the framework draws you into testing with it's excellent capabilities for Unit Tests, Functional Tests, and Integration Tests. I was initially hooked by using unit tests to do initial model testing (reaction: "cool.... this is much nicer than monkey testing various boundary behaviors"), then got the full testing religion after doing some significant code refactoring on code that was fully covered by tests ("Carrumba! I'll never write an application without fully automated tests again!").
One of the common complaints and FUD mentioned about Ruby and Rails is non-existent or weak support for debugging (although reportly Radrails, and possibly other tools, does have a decent level of debugging capabilities). Interestingly enough, I have found this to be an almost irrelevant issue, as my debugging is almost always done through the tests, not by stepping through code. I don't always follow the exact sequence of "write a test, see it fail, write some code to make it pass", but do make sure that my code is covered by tests, and do use the tests to exercise boundary conditions, failure cases, and so on.
Two additional tools we have found to be particularly useful for testing Rails code:
- rcov: code coverage for ruby - provides coverage analysis with excellent web reporting of the results.
- Watir - Web Applicatoin Testing in Ruby - The Rails tests can give your application and database servers a good beating. But they do run on the application server, only exercising a subset of your hardware and software. When you are ready to test your entire infrastructure from a browser (exercising your ISP, front-end web servers, SSL, etc.) , consider Watir. It's not really a load testing tool, but it does let you create browser-based tests scripted in Ruby, is quick and easy to install and use, and is handy if don't read (or are not ready for) incurring the full effort of a full blown load testing solution.
If you're not using Rails, there is almost certainly a tool available for your programming language. There are innumerable references on this subject, a good place to start looking is here.