ProtoTest readying open source commercial alternative to IBM Rational, HP's Mercury tools

One startup I bumped into at OSBC is quietly carving out a solid if not sexy open source niche -- in automated test tools.ProtoTest, a services provider in Centennial, Colo.

One startup I bumped into at OSBC is quietly carving out a solid if not sexy open source niche -- in automated test tools.

ProtoTest, a services provider in Centennial, Colo., plans to launch later this year its first commercial software product based on the open source Watir project, said CEO Pete Dignan.

Watir (Web Application Testing on Ruby) is an open-source library for automating web browsers, allowing developers to write tests that are "easy to read and easy to maintain." The software uses the source Ruby scripting engine and supports IE on Windows; support for Firefox and Safari is planned. Many large companies and service organizations including Google Maps, Yahoo, Honeywell, Epam Systems and ProtoTest.

Watir and Selenium are open source projects that have developed testing and automation tools. Selenium is a test tool for web applications in a web browser. Selenium IDE is available as a Firefox plug in. Selenium also offers a Watir recorder is also available and records actions in a browser, the Selenium site says.

ProtoTest's Dignan said there are few --if any -- commercial open source tools that compete against high profile proprietary tools such as IBM Rational and HP's Mercury Interactive.

But they will later this year.

"It's a ripe niche," Dignan told ZDNet at OSBC, noting that he hired one of the key committers to the Watir project in preparation for the product launch. "It's a mature market and no one's putting commercial resources behind it."