Technological advancements have allowed automation at an unprecedented scale, minimizing the need for human supervision in various processes. Software development is no different, where automation has paved the way to accelerate the testing phase.
Read ahead to find out what testing automation is, the strategy it uses, and some misconceptions about it.
While previously software testing relied heavily on huge teams performing manual tests, this has changed in recent years as teams move towards a quicker deployment cycle in the form of automated software testing.
A software testing method lets you test and contrast between the actual and expected outcomes. You can either use automated testing tools or write test scripts to get the results. Test automation automates repetitive and testing tasks that are tedious to carry out manually.
Manual testing needs physical effort and time to ensure the functionality of the software code. Additionally, whatever results manual testers get, they have to record them correctly by checking external services, databases, and log files for errors.
On the other hand, automated testing uses automation tools, reducing the time spent on running a test and using it for something more valuable. While you still have to maintain test scripts, the automation of time-consuming tests like regression tests increases your scalability and test coverage.
Manual testing does have the benefit of using human insights on a test that automation tests might miss. Automated testing is optimal for larger projects with repetitive testing requirements for an area. Additionally, it is also ideal for projects that have already undergone manual testing in their initial phase.
A testing automation strategy is a framework planned by automation experts to ensure better test coverage, higher test reliability with repetition, and increased ROI.
The strategy should include the testing phases, usable applications, roles of participants, and test environment.
Most teams use the Pyramid testing strategy as an automation testing technique to allow automated testing at three different levels. The base of this pyramid is the unit testing that takes up the highest percentage of the pyramid test. Following this, there is the integration testing or a service layer, and at the peak is the end-to-end testing.
The implementation of a test automation pyramid can become easy with integrated API and GUI testing solutions. These ensure that any changes in the API test cases automatically reflect in the GUI level too.
This test involves focusing on a small part of the codebase to validate the unit acts according to expectations, even in isolated conditions like a class or some individual function. Developers need to test various scenarios across a wide range of happy instances and problem-solving.
Since unit test constitutes the largest part of our pyramid, it should run fast and grow as more features are added to it. It should run every time a developer changes a code, giving them instant feedback about any breaks in the codebase due to the new code addition. A quick unit allows developers to run it more often, reducing the time wasted on debugging problems.
Small codebase pieces are straightforward to test with unit tests. However, unit tests don’t represent a deployed application. Neither do they test the interactions between the app and the outside world.
Since unit tests can’t entirely determine a codebase’s quality, we need integration tests that don’t appear as much as the unit tests, being in the middle of the pyramid.
Integration tests confirm interactions with outer components, which can be anything outside your application but still affects your app. For instance, software applications generally depend on databases, so it’s essential to test the interaction between the two. It is best if they run at odds with some real case of a database like that in the production environment.
Furthermore, it is also necessary to test integrations with external services. These are known as service tests, focusing on the interactions between the external service and your code.
With integration tests showing the functionality of our code, developers still perform unit tests because the app feature to be tested, and the dependency needs communication, as the latter is outside the app. It can make the web service or the database enable slower running of the integration tests than the unit ones.
Furthermore, it would help if you had a pre-production environment to test against using an outside web service to test integration.
At the peak of the pyramid is end-to-end testing, which ensures that our app functions as expected by testing if it works from beginning till end.
Let’s consider an example of an app with a login page. We want to ensure that our page works perfectly, and we can follow these steps to ensure that:
To test code changes every time can result in a long and time-consuming process for the developers, and they might have various strategies for this test. The best way to make this a more straightforward process is by using a testing framework.
Testing frameworks automate interactions in a browser, providing domain-specific language which lets developers write tests that interact with a browser’s web page. You could write a test following the login steps, indicating the collaborative working of the integrated UI with back-end API.
End-to-end tests lie at the top of the pyramid because of their fragile and slow nature, relying on external dependencies similar to integration tests which can be unreliable.
With agile iterations, testing often requires a “shift-left” testing approach to move the testing to an earlier time in the application lifecycle. Such shifts need developers to have the technical expertise to overlook the testing process and collaborate with testers to develop automation frameworks.
When you evaluate a testing solution, make sure every team member’s needs are catered to, and they have all the tools they require. These include:
Now let’s have a look at some of the misconceptions that surround test automation:
In a way, this misconception about more free time is right and wrong. Manual testing requires ample time for functional and explanatory testing, where you need to look for errors manually. After completing this process, the manual tester is needed to go over the exact steps continuously.
However, in automated testing, this time is reduced significantly. Automate testers spend more time on test coding and improving them constantly as adjustments are required. After the test completion, automated testing lets you recycle tests to avoid going through the entire process again.
With automated testing, you can focus your time on important issues related to the software rather than wasting time on repeatable tasks in manual testing.
When you start with automated testing, you might have inhibitions because initially, the cost will seem too high, especially for smaller companies. However, analysis shows that over some time, you will see good use of your money.
Automated testing allows you to focus on more pressing issues like functionality, improvements, and customer needs. Additionally, it decreases the need and consequent cost of multiple code revisions, resulting in the investment paying itself out over time.
Furthermore, with every modification of the source code, it becomes possible to repeat software tests. While manual test repetition is time-consuming and costly, the automated test requires can be run repeatedly without added costs.
Another way to find out your automated testing’s ROI is through parallel testing. Instead of constantly running separate tests, you can run several automated tests simultaneously with parallel testing, significantly reducing the time you spend executing automated tests.
There is no need to debate which test is better because each one is different. Both approaches have their own pros and cons.
A human carries out manual testing with the help of a computer. They carefully gauge the entire application with log analysis and SQL, testing multiple input and usage combinations, differentiating between the expected and actual results, and recording all findings.
On the other hand, automated testing is sometimes used after the development of the initial software. You can run lengthy tests without being constantly present, a process that is often avoided in manual testing. You can even run them on different computers with separate configurations.
Basically, both automated and manual testing contribute in their own ways, especially if you want to develop highly complex software to be completed by just the manual approach.
It is often believed that automated testing inhibits human interaction. Since it is faster and more straightforward than what humans can achieve, avoiding significant human errors, it is easy to assume that there is no human interaction.
However, many automation tools are designed to support collaboration with features that enable coworkers to examine a test coding piece and add comments to the script.
While this doesn’t replace face-to-face interaction necessary for software development, it does provide another channel for effective communication. For instance, emails don’t replace the telephone but act as an additional communication channel.
With the faster and easier methods due to the increasing technologies around us, you can make the software testing process of your app more convenient through automated testing.
Its pyramid structures strategy allows you to avoid errors, work faster, and focus on the more pressing issues in developing your software.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.