Software Testing Automation Guide

Software Testing Automation Guide Blog

When testing software, you can choose between manual and automated software testing. Manual testing is time-consuming and tedious, which can discourage software developers.

One way to overcome these problems is to automate software testing. Automated software testing has become an integral part of many business strategies. This burgeoning industry has brought with it many tools and methods for automating software testing. If you want to start automating your software tests, keep reading this guide. We’ll cover the specifics of software test automation to help you decide if it’s worth implementing in your company.

What is software test automation?

Software test automation describes any process that involves using separate software tools to test the software under development. These tools use sequences of scripts to test and validate products with much less human intervention than traditional testing methods.

With automated testing, automation software tools monitor tests, compare results to predicted results, and report the results. Automated software testing reduces time to market and provides greater efficiency in product testing. Automating software testing allows for continuous testing and product delivery. The two most common approaches to this technique are driven by application programming interfaces (APIs) and graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

What is manual testing?

Manual testing describes human-controlled tests for defects in a software product. These tests provide project stakeholders with information about product quality. Typically, the tester acts as the end user and uses features to determine if they are functioning properly. In addition, the tester follows a test plan to practice specific test cases. Manual testing can lead to increased monetary and labor costs for tests, which are better automated. However, investigations that require opinions and random inputs such as ease of use benefit from manual testing. Most products need a combination of automated and manual testing to ensure they are ready to go to market.

What is unit testing?

Unit testing is a process that involves isolating one component of your product. You then run tests on that unit to detect any defects. Unit testing does not involve databases or external APIs. When testing a component that uses an external resource or another device, the resource is replicated so that the part remains isolated. Software developers typically perform this test during development. Doing this work early can reduce time to market because it allows any bugs to be identified before the first draft is even completed. When building a large application, developers automate unit testing to save time.

Automating software testing versus manual testing

In both automated and manual testing, the tester must test the functionality of the software. However, manual testing involves a human tester, whereas software testing automation uses automation tools.

In manual testing, quality assurance (QA) analysts perform tests individually. During these tests, they check for feature problems, bugs, and defects before sending the application to market. The tester will test various key product features by running test cases. They then create bug reports to summarize their findings. Manual testing requires hands-on work from analysts and QA engineers who create and execute test cases for the application. The labor-intensive nature makes the tests less efficient and time-consuming. In addition, the QA team may not run enough tests on the application.

However, many tests require quality metrics from the end user’s perspective. They require manual testing. Automated software testing uses software testing tools and scripts to conduct research. The QA team will write test scripts to automate software testing.

The script includes instructions for specific platforms to test the result or feature. Automated testing solutions take less time to run each test. Therefore, they are highly efficient and provide more test coverage. You can automate most tests, including some custom simulations. However, they cannot always handle complex investigations.

Software testing automation versus unit testing

Unit testing is a useful tool for Agile development. Because you test individual parts of the program, you can test the application faster and make changes only where needed. This improves product quality, simplifies integration, and reduces costs because you can eliminate bugs early in development. Unit testing is usually automated, but not always.

When used in large applications, manual unit testing can be too expensive and time-consuming. Since many companies have massive applications, they need automated unit testing to deliver updates quickly. Smaller products, however, can get by with manual testing because of the lower effort involved. In general, unit testing can benefit from automating software testing. However, not all automated software testing is unit testing, and vice versa.

What are the benefits of automated testing?

There are many benefits to using automated software testing tools, including: 

Increase testing efficiency: A large part of the application development process is spent on testing. By automating this process, you can reduce the amount of time spent on testing and reduce human errors. Increased efficiency can help developers meet product delivery deadlines.

Continuity: Automation engineers can easily understand the software developer’s work, script, defects, patches and previous tests through the automation test report.
Reduced Operating Costs: By purchasing the necessary automation software, you will reduce many costs and increase long-term profits. High capital expenditures are offset by reduced testing labor. Labor can be deployed into separate business processes, which can benefit your organization in other ways.

Maximize test coverage: Maximizing test coverage with manual testing will require a lot of work. Automated software testing will use quality test cases to ensure 100% test coverage, ensuring that all user interfaces, databases, and web services meet business requirements.

Quick Feedback: Automating software testing speeds up test cycles and eliminates repetitive test cases. Software testing software will provide test results to all team members faster than a manual tester. Any problems can then be fixed in a shorter timeframe than with traditional testing.

Increased return on investment (ROI): Investing time and money in repetitive manual tests can increase time to market, with the potential to miss some bugs. However, test automation software will reduce product development lifecycle costs, the number of defects present, and time to market.

Improved scalability: With automation, companies can assign fewer human testers to each project. Automation tools give organizations greater flexibility and scalability to run more projects.

Easy to run tests: Many tests and test cases are complex, time-consuming, and error-prone. By automating these processes, you can easily create robust scenarios with minimal errors.

The challenges of test automation

Every test automation strategy comes with its own challenges. However, using the right tools can help you overcome these challenges in your business. Here are four of the most common challenges.

Choosing the right tools

When first integrating test automation software, a business may be inexperienced in choosing the best tools for a given application. Not every software package offers the necessary test coverage for a product. Given the wide variety of testing tools available, many vendors hyperbolize the product’s capabilities. The QA team should do enough research on a particular tool rather than buying the most popular option. You can solve this problem by defining the tool requirements for the application.

Make sure you also consider the skills of team members. By choosing software testing tools that meet the requirements, you can speed up the testing process.If you can’t find one tool that meets all your needs, try applying a solution with multiple tools. Also, identify the most important components of the application to test. This way, you will only spend money on the tools you need. Automation software has a high initial cost, so you will want to keep the amount of software you purchase to a minimum. Try a cost-benefit analysis to determine if you should pay for more automation software.

Incorrect testing infrastructure

To maximize test coverage and speed, you need the right infrastructure. For example, testing an application across multiple browsers and combinations of operating systems requires a parallelization strategy.

Such a situation requires a strong infrastructure. Many companies cannot create the necessary testing structure on their own, especially when they start doing automated software testing. Cloud infrastructure offers the necessary configurations in the testing environment so that you can run tests efficiently. In addition, these infrastructures are less expensive to maintain for the same benefits.

Lack of expertise and communication

While your QA team may have a lot of expertise in manual testing, automation presents a separate challenge. If team members don’t have expertise in this area, they will have to undergo training until they reach the necessary level for automated web application testing. In addition, many teams experience a lack of communication.

Lack of communication can lead to someone taking on tasks for which they are ill-prepared, or the team not completing their tests. You can overcome the lack of experience by using an automated testing system to allow team members to use their best programming language. For example, the Selenium software testing system automates browsers and links multiple languages to reach more programmers.

The team needs to decide which testing scenarios to automate. Although some elementary aspects can be accomplished without training, a software automation tester will need a training program on the topic.

Another way to improve communication within the QA team is to develop a robust testing plan that you can share with all team members.

Using the following processes, your team will be better able to plan, record, and document data as part of their collaboration:

  • Plan Studio: This allows the team to prioritize use cases when testing automation candidates on a scale from high to low priority.
  • Rec Studio: Through recording, SME can video record and transmit data to Automator, which helps improve communication between your team and fosters overall collaboration.
  • Doc Studio: Document previous processes by converting the automated script into text format. This allows you to manage changes and track artifacts.

If your company has the tools, infrastructure, and expertise to perform automated software testing, you may still be using the wrong approach to testing. Software automation tools don’t tell you which processes to automate. Not all tests can be automated, so automation must be strategic. When developing a test automation strategy, try to use test automation pyramid or risk-based testing. Test automation pyramids rank tests to run based on ROI.

Priority should be given to automated unit tests, then service tests, then user interface testing and exploratory testing. This pattern allows you to eliminate defects early on before moving on to other tests. Risk-based testing prioritizes testing the elements with the highest risk of failure. You can consider a component “risky” if its failure would result in serious consequences. When prioritizing, focus on service level agreements, probability of failure, and financial cost of defects.

How to begin the automated testing process

Determine the goals of the test case

Before choosing what to automate, identify several test case objectives. Testing stakeholders should focus on context and value when defining cases. Identify the most important areas for customer satisfaction, the most harmful defects to prevent, and the desired added value from automation. Throughout the product lifecycle, you will need to manipulate goals. In addition, consider the entire business when deciding on test case objectivity. That way, every department can see the desired results from automating software testing.

Prioritize your tests

Remember that just because you can automate a test doesn’t mean you should. Determine which tests are most needed for long-term continuous integration (CI). If a problem doesn’t cause critical problems, you can consider it unnecessary to test for it. By running a test, you will spend time and money on a minimal issue.

Ensuring reliability across all platforms

In the digital age, there are countless platforms that people use to access applications. Automated web application testing needs to determine that the product works across desktop browsers and mobile devices. Ensure that it works reliably across operating systems and platforms. In general, keep scalability in mind when developing and maintaining test automation.

Test development and maintenance

When developing tests, try to minimize the amount of time spent. While complex and time-consuming tests can produce the results you want, you will likely struggle to use and maintain them in the long run. Try to balance test creation and maintenance efforts to ensure scalability. Also, treat test code as production code. Keep backups and history. Also, make sure you can easily fix and maintain it.

Maintain open communication between channels

When working on software test automation, make sure that you keep open communication between channels. The test, business, and design teams must understand each other’s goals and work. Any miscommunication can lead to defects that will require more time and testing to fix.

What are the types of automated software tests?

When starting to use test automation tools, a company should prioritize the tests to automate. Keep in mind that all of the following tests can be automated or manual.

Endpoint tests

End-to-end tests (E2E) are among the most valuable tests for implementation. They simulate the end-user experience across the entire application. Some examples of E2E tests are checking that the user can log in, changing account settings, and uploading images. These tests allow the enterprise to be confident that the application will work without error for the end user. Because E2E tools record and replay user actions, test plans are records of user experience streams. Products that don’t have full test coverage will benefit most from E2E tests of vital business flows. Keep in mind that automating these tests requires a large capital outlay. For products that require rapid release of E2E tests, you need to automate. Otherwise, you may want to run them manually.

Unit Tests

Unit tests look at individual code components. They usually cover individual functions to ensure that the expected input yields the expected output. For code with a large number of critical calculations, an automated unit test strategy should be employed. These tests are affordable, easy to use, and provide a high return on investment. Because they are at the bottom of the test automation pyramid, almost all businesses should use them for their applications.

Integration Tests

Many departments refer to third-party services. The codebase cannot access a third party during testing. In integration tests, utilities are simulated to determine if the code will function as expected. Integration tests are similar to unit tests, and they can serve as a cheaper alternative to E2E. In general, their implementation is cost-effective and should provide a high return on investment from automation.

Performance Tests

Performance tests determine the responsiveness and speed with which an application responds to a stimulus. Typical metrics include response times to search engine results and page load times. These tests measure these metrics. Automated performance tests run test cases on multiple metrics to find any speed loss or regression.

Exploratory testing

Exploratory testing is relatively random testing that uses unscripted sequences to look for unexpected behavior. Solutions for automated testing of exploratory tests exist, but they are still in their infancy. If you can find software testing tools to create a set of exploratory tests, you can try them. However, it is often more efficient to perform these tests manually.

Code Analysis

Code analysis tools can be static or dynamic. They can look for style or flaws. An automation software tester performs code analysis when you check the code. The only thing automated tests require for code analysis is to set up the rolls and update the tools.

Regression testing

Regression testing involves repeating functional and non-functional tests. It determines whether previously developed software continues to work after an upgrade. Failure to succeed generates regression. Almost all code changes require regression testing. Because of its repetitive nature, it is well suited for automation. However, regression testing to identify visual flaws (e.g., incorrect font, element layout, color scheme) is preferable to manual testing. Automated visual regression testing takes screenshots of previous product states and compares them to expected results. Developing this process is time-consuming and costly. On the other hand, a human can quickly notice visual problems on the page.

Automated acceptance testing

Automated Acceptance Tests (AATs) verify that the system satisfies user needs and business processes within the acceptance criteria. They also determine whether the end user will find the application acceptable for use. Because of the critical nature of the AAT, the business, software developers and the QA team must collaborate. Once the acceptance tests are set up, they can act as regression tests.

Smoke Test

Smoke tests are usually conducted after a maintenance or deployment window. They ensure that services and dependencies are working properly. These preliminary tests identify simple malfunctions that can lead to serious consequences that can lead to release failures. Smoke tests are subsets of test cases that cover the functionality of a unit of code. They are typically executed through automated deployment. A smoke test determines whether the program runs, whether the buttons work, and whether the user interface opens. In this way, smoke tests can act as acceptance tests.

What types of processes are best suited for test automation?

Automating software testing can reduce the monetary and labor costs of some tests, but can increase the costs of others. Although most tests can be automated, you should give preference in purchasing software testing software to those that meet these criteria.

Deterministic Tests

A test is deterministic if the result remains the same every time you run it using the same input data. This test will have predictable results that are easily captured by test scripts. For example, stress and stress tests have deterministic results.

Unspeakable tests

You can’t automate software testing for tests that require user opinions and feedback. As a result, processes like A/B, usability, and beta testing require manual work. On the other hand, performance, integration, and unit tests are objective.

Repetitive tests

Repetitive tests benefit software testing tools. Although you can write an automated test script for a single test that you run once, it wastes time and money. However, time-consuming scripts that need to be run many times become much easier with automation. This criterion includes tests that you can set up in a consistent environment and then run and measure before returning the environment to a baseline state. For example, testing browser combinations would be extremely tedious without automation.

Test environments and data

You can customize test data and environments with automation. Some software test automation tools can create test scripts before writing code. The organization simply needs to define the functionality of the test.

Critical tests

Try to use automated application testing if the test could damage business or interrupt service. Software automation tools can prevent old features from being damaged by new ones. For example, you should automate regression, smoke and sanitation tests across all product releases.

How does automated testing work?

Automated tests conduct product assertions using machines. The results dictate the state of the application against the goals set. Automated application testing involves feedback loops in the testing pyramid. Before we look at the steps involved in automated software testing, we must define the different levels of testing.