I want to load test a web site that provides a workflow system. In this system, users register and then create a record. An administrator sees the new record in their task list on a web page; they modify the record in the system and an email is sent to the user with a link to a web page for the updated record. The user clicks the link and adds information to the record and the administrator's task list is updated. The workflow continue with administrator updates sending emails to the user and user updates being seen on the administrator's task list. This workflow is strictly sequential, records move from stage to stage with emails and task list updates providing links between the stages.
How can I handle the emails linking the stages of the workflow? I would like to access the links within these emails to get the correct page but I do not know how to read emails within a web test. There are also a concerns about the time that emails take to pass through the various email systems and the order they would arrive; but I am sure that these concerns can be handled.
The only test method option I have found is to load lots of records into the system's database before the test runs. This data would have records at each stage in the workflow. The test cases would be data driven with the URLs for handing each record.
Are there any other methods?
My test system uses Visual Studio Web Performance and Load tests.