Testing is an integral part of the software development lifecycle. No software can be deployed without thorough tests. Quality Assurance or QA testing is essential in software development to ensure that the code performs the function it is supposed to.
Tests can be manual or automated in software engineering. Manual testing is a resource-intensive approach that demands QA testers to create test cases or even deliberately introduce bugs in the code to evaluate the effect. It’s similar to crash testing in the automobile industry. Manual software testing is complicated and expensive, so it is often reserved for the end of the production cycle. However, testing a product at the end of production can delay the product launch by months.
A better alternative is automated software testing that allows developers to run tests as often as they want without exerting high costs. The initial investment in automation testing is writing test automation cases. There are several benefits of test automation apart from frequent testing. It gives developers continuous feedback to spot bugs and errors early on. Automated software testing improves design, code quality, and timely launches.
Principles of test automation
Test automation can be achieved in several ways, but developers must understand a few fundamental underlying principles. Familiarity with these key test automation principles will make you a better QA tester.
Entire books have been written exclusively on the topic of test automation. It’s a skill every developer needs to master at some point, and it’s better to do it sooner rather than later.
1. Test automation improves the quality
Code quality is paramount and signifies a product that can be trusted. Several metrics measure code quality in the software industry, including code coverage, number of defects, CI error rate, readability, maintainability, and test failure. Still, none of these can completely define code test quality and only provide an idea about some aspect of the code.
Test automation must improve quality. It is the primary principle of designing automated test cases. With every iteration, tests must be able to find defects before they can reach production, inform developers of underlying loopholes, and check any deviations in the system behaviour. Successful test cases show a high-level view of a project, allowing developers to try different approaches for the same functionality to find the one that works best.
2. QA testing reduces risk
Human reviewers cannot find every error within the code, no matter how many eyes go through the same code. Code review is necessary and productive, but it must be reliable too.
Another essential principle of test automation is that it reliably finds errors. Automate test cases and check the code from top to bottom comprehensively. By progressively running tests to find errors and bugs, find regressions, and check device and environment compatibility, you can bring down the risks and cost through test automation. QA testing is mandatory to ensure no risks or discrepancies exist in the code, even when the most proficient developers work on a project. Programmers might not make a mistake, but using third-party dependencies did not introduce any errors or pose a risk to the integrity of the application. Test automation can evaluate every line of code to ensure no risk.
3. Be mindful of subtle design changes that test scripts can miss
When writing test case scripts, QA engineers often focus on testing the new functionality implemented in the software but overlook the design changes. For test automation, while creating test scripts, you must proactively anticipate any design changes that might result from code changes. For instance, an update of the application code can improve its functionality. However, it can introduce colour changes in the interface that test scripts might not check if you have not included a condition to review display changes. While not a critical error, it indicates that the test automation is not entirely reliable.
4. Test automation should require low maintenance
Developers are focused on writing concise code to create products that deliver excellent customer experience and perform as expected. Test automation ensures they can work on writing code rather than fretting over repeated testing. As a QA tester, you should focus on writing test scripts that are easy to execute and maintain.
Any reliable and practical test suite will require periodic maintenance to keep it in good shape for repeated use. Here are a few tips for writing and maintaining test cases:
Tests should be enough to be effective, not more. If you notice that with a small change, test cases are breaking, you might be using too many tests and need to remove a few.
Choose the proper test depending on the situation. For instance, unit tests are laser-focused and can be deployed faster, while UI tests are comprehensive and use a lot more resources. Healthy test automation follows the test pyramid approach.
Keep tests reliable and avoid flaky tests; otherwise, your test suite can waste time and create frustration. Flaky tests fail even when the code is correct or show an error for no apparent reason.
Developers who think precise testing is expensive are unaware of the cost of poorly tested code. Bugs and defects in a product can quickly spiral out of control, and practical test automation is the only way to ensure it never happens. QA engineers should consider the top QA testing trends when writing test cases.
Are you looking for QA testing opportunities? Join Talent500, where you will find opportunities with fast-growing startups and Fortune 500 companies.