Test Automation For Efficient Software Development

Jun 8, 2017

blog (5)

Driving forward digitalization increasingly requires faster application delivery. In fact, long and complex software tests can be replaced by automated processes. ‘Continuous delivery’ is the magic word.

In order to stay competitive, software is expected to be integrated into the production processes as quickly as possible. The continuous delivery approach helps to resolve this dilemma. Rapid app release requires fully automated Unit, Integration, and UI testing.

They are necessary to enable a smooth continuous delivery process. A successful software delivery is hard to imagine without dedicated tests.

Unit, Integration and UI Testing

Within the entire development process, the application tests are run at 3 levels.

At the first level (Unit Testing), individual software components are tested separately and isolated from other units. Usually, they are created by developers in order to determine whether a particular code section works as expected.

The second level (Integration Testing) is responsible for validating the correct interaction between several components.

The third level (UI Testing) consists of user interface tests. They are run to test user interface of an app using simulated user inputs.

Improved software quality

The automation of the three test levels mentioned above is constantly gaining in importance.

Fully automated tests ensure software release capability. Thus, the stability of an app can be timely evaluated, and potential bugs can be detected more quickly.

However, different test types can’t be always automated so easily. In Unit-Tests frameworks as, for example, JUnit is usually used as a standard. Dependencies are replaced with mocks. Hence, it allows fast and smooth Unit Testing.

Integration and UI tests require a complex infrastructure. That’s why managers often fear costs for the complete test automation needed to run Integration and UI tests. Using the right tools enables to keep investments within reasonable bounds. Through test automation, the release capability of an app can be fast and cost-efficiently verified.  In fact, this is a requirement for a time-to-market strategy.

Simplified bug tracking

It is recommended for enterprises to implement test automation from the beginning in their development projects. Thereby, all 3 test levels have to be integrated into the build process in order to run tests for every single change. The number of tests and their variants decreases from bottom to top at each level.

An important element of successful test automation is project team organization. As experience shows, cross-functional teams responsible for testing, software development, and release management represent the best solution. Improved communication, cooperation and consistent knowledge sharing among the team members are the results.

A regular exchange allows avoiding time-consuming communication loop between bug launching, test verification, and bug fixing. That’s why it’s highly recommended to select a common working basis with a methodology as a standard (e.g., Scrum or Kanban) for both software development and testing.

Visibility

It is a common situation in the development process when over hours and days within the ‘Continous Build’ several bugs occur and overlap. As a result, it is unclear which bug belongs to which code change. It makes bug fixing unnecessary complicated.

Therefore, it is worth making a list of all bugs, and ranking them accordingly for a daily discussion in the team. It increases the visibility of tests and responsibility for a failed build.

Making the next step towards Continuous Deployment

Test automation is just the first step of a continuous delivery pipeline. The automated deployment follows tests, e.g. in form of a Java web archive in an application server.  The artifact is automatically created and tested by the build and archived in a repository, for example, Maven or Docker.

In this context, there is no need for manual actions to be taken to get ready artifacts. Such tools as Jenkins include all the necessary features to enable a Continuous Integration Pipeline. The next step is Continuous Delivery. The CI pipeline is extended with an automated deployment that updates any target system with just one click.

Not each automation level is reasonable for all projects. In fact, organizational frameworks have to be taken into account. In any case, enterprises should strive to automated deployment.

It allows project team concentrating on the core tasks within the app development process.

Conclusion

Full automation of Unit, Integration and UI Testing represent a basic requirement for Continuous Delivery. The verification of application integration and user interface is difficult to automate and requires a special preparation of infrastructure and test data. Applying specialized tools helps to control costs, so the automation becomes a powerful weapon against bugs.

Automated testing enables fast and frequent software delivery.

Rapid feedback cycles and clear organizational responsibilities are also essential for a successful Continuous Deployment Process.