test automation best practices

Test automation or automated testing offers significant benefits — shortening of development cycles, reduction of cumbersome tasks, and improving software quality — but it can be a tedious process. It is essential to prioritize tasks and assure efficiency to get the maximum return on investment. This article discusses the best test automation practices to increase your productivity and improve your software quality.

Test Automation: An overview

Let’s briefly talk about test automation. It refers to the use of specific software programs to test the software in development for the execution of tests and comparing the actual outcomes with predicted performance.

This process is similar to ‘quality check’ in a manufacturing industry where the product quality team runs several tests on a product to ensure it is delivering the desired performance.

Testing is essential for the success of a software product because if it does not work properly, the consumers will not use it. However, manually testing software for bugs is a repetitive, time-consuming process, which is also subject to human error. Automation testing helps overcome this hurdle by using specific tools to automate these recurring tasks.

Best practices to follow

Here are some of the best test automation practices to follow in 2020.

Decide the cases that need to be automated

Automating the entire testing process is impossible, so it is crucial to determine the test cases that need should be automated first. Bringing the best out of automation testing is associated with how many times a test needs to be repeated. If a few times is enough, it should be better left for manual testing. The ones that need frequent, recurring testing, along with large amounts of data, are the ideal fit for test automation. Here is a list of test cases you should automate.

  • Recurring tasks that run for several builds
  • Tests that need various data sets
  • Tests that are prone to human error
  • Tests that are heavily time-consuming
  • Tests that run on varying software and hardware configurations

Test early and often

To get the best outcomes from your automated testing, make sure you start early and run it as often as required. The earlier you get involved in the testing, the better it will be for the product life cycle. Also, the more you test, the more chances you get to identify the shortcomings.

You can implement automated testing from the first day and then eventually develop your test suite. Bugs that are discovered early are easy and inexpensive to fix compared to those detected in the later stages.

The shift left movement has empowered testers and developers to build and run tests; several tools enable users to run UI tests for web applications. Thus, developers can now stay in the comfort of their ecosystem and corroborate product quality.

Select the right test automation tool

It is essential to select the automation tool that fits right for your testing requirements. There is an abundance of automation tools in the market, which can be overwhelming. Here are some key points to consider when choosing the right test automation tool,

whether it’s free or open source-based such as TestProject or any paid tool,

  • It should support your technology and platform. Consider what you are testing — .Net, C#, or WPF applications — and on what operating systems. Whether the test is for web applications or mobile applications. If mobile, is it for Android or iOS?
  • Is it flexible for testers at all skill levels? Is your QA department capable of writing automated test scripts or keyword testing is required?
  • It should be feature-rich but easy to use at the same time. Do the tool support record and playback test creation?
  • The tool should create tests that are reusable, resistant, and maintainable to the changes.

Divide the automated testing efforts

The creation of different tests depends on the skill levels of the QA engineer. It is essential to identify the level of skills and experience for all the team members and accordingly divide your testing efforts.

For example, it requires expert knowledge of scripting languages to write automated test scripts. Some members of the team might not be good at writing test scripts but test cases.

Thus, it is essential to pick a tool that does not require in-depth knowledge of scripting languages. You should also cooperate on your automated testing project with the Quality Assurance engineers of your department. When the testing is performed by a team, it is more effective in finding defects, and if paired with the right automation testing tool, you can share your projects with other testers as well.

Develop high-quality test data

It is no brainer that how useful good test data is for data-driven testing. The input data for automated testing is generally stored in XML files, database tables, or Excel sheets. A good test automation tool can understand the contents in a data file.

In most cases, you will need to create test data manually, but there are several tools that offer automated functionality for creating and storing test data. Generating test data for test automation can be a boring, time-consuming, and tedious task, but it offers extensive value; therefore, you should invest an ample amount of time and effort to make well-structured data.

Create automated tests that are resilient to UI changes

Tests developed with keyword tests or scripts depend on the application that needs to be tested. The UI of the app might be mercurial and change during the course of the build, primarily during the early stages.

These changes can have an effect on the test results; moreover, test automation might not even work with future application versions. Thus, look for an automation testing tool that can be tweaked to be resistant to UI changes.

Wrapping it up

Follow the practices described in this article for implementing successful automation. By this time, you must have grasped the essential tips to choose the best automation tool and use it adequately.

Automation testing is a crucial segment of the software life cycle and can make or break the success of the product. Therefore, make sure you follow the right steps towards productive test automation.

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