Testing with the “admin” user

One of the most common patterns when working with CQ5 in a demo or development environment is the use of the “admin” account for all kind of purposes. Be it content creation, administering and also testing. The best example is David Nüscheler, who regularly uses the admin account in his demos 🙂

This account has a big advantage, when it comes to demos: You don’t have any limits and you can change configurations on the fly without logging in twice with different accounts. Great deal.

But I see also many developers and testers, which execute their tests using the “admin” account. While on the pure functional stuff it doesn’t look like that important, what user is used (“I only check if I get the right result, and this result is not influenced by any ACL!”), there are some hidden drawbacks, which come up every now and then.

First, the admin user doesn’t have any ACL, therefor any code within CQ5, which has an admin session tied to the request, has all possibilities to read and write in the repository. If you have a team of not-so-experienced developers, you might get code, which does some things not in a way you expect. For example it tries to update tags, when you modify a page. On a developer test (developers usually work with the admin user) this isn’t a problem. A tester working as admin also doesn’t see any issues. Unless your code hits production. Then an editor which updates content will face an internal server error, because she isn’t allowed to modify tags. (The experienced developer will use a admin-session for this, which doesn’t show this error, but the design approach is bad as well …)

And as a second aspect, code accessing the repository using an admin session has a different runtime performance than a session by other users. This is mostly caused by direct shortcuts in the code and by the avoidance of ACL checks. This runtime performance effect is mostly visible in performance tests, when requests issued with the admin account are faster than requests made by a regular user account. So if you do performance tests, build a set of regular users and use them instead of the admin account.

So, if you test, don’t test only with “admin”. Use different users as well. Because out there most editors work with a limited account.

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One thought on “Testing with the “admin” user

  1. Feike Visser

    What I also ask normally from developers it to test also on ‘publish’ and not only on the author-instance. Then indeed you will find those issue ACL-type issues.

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