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A Guide on How to Maintain Automation Test Scripts

A Comprehensive Guide to Efficient Test Automation Maintenance

June 29, 2023
Turbo LiTurbo Li
Turbo Li

Implementing an automated test suite in software development provides undeniable advantages in today's fast-paced landscape. By embracing test automation, organizations can streamline their processes, creating superior software with speed and efficiency. The immediate detection of regressions within the codebase enables swift bug resolution, empowering developers to focus on valuable tasks rather than firefighting. Moreover, it grants teams the confidence to frequently deliver delightful new functionality to customers. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of these benefits hinges on the diligent maintenance of the test suite. 

Test automation maintenance is an inevitable task to ensure continued success. Tests must be meticulously adjusted to align with the modified landscape as the application evolves through codebase changes and system updates. Whether it entails creating new test scripts or modifying existing ones, test automation maintenance is crucial to validate new features, safeguard against recurring bugs, and sustain a seamless workflow. Neglecting this vital aspect is akin to impeding progress, both now and in the future.

Read: Why Should Businesses Focus on Test Data Management

Addressing Common Issues in Test Automation Maintenance

When discussing test automation, Appium or Selenium immediately comes to mind. It is safe to say that Selenium test automation dominates the realm of automated testing. However, a significant challenge arises because Selenium utilizes JavaScript, which relies on locators. Consequently, when page elements shift, the associated locators may also change, leading to the selection of incorrect locators. While developing a test script, it is crucial to identify the appropriate selector for the targeted element, which can be found during script execution. At this stage, the team must take prompt action. However, page elements may relocate as user interfaces undergo modifications and updates. This necessitates updating the tests to prevent failures. Occasionally, the true error may not become apparent until several steps into the process, making the troubleshooting even more arduous. Thus, the maintenance of Selenium test automation becomes an ongoing requirement. Rectifying issues in existing tests can consume valuable time for testers, impeding their ability to create new tests, enhance test suites, and accomplish more in their roles.

What Are the Types of Test Maintenance?

When focusing on test maintenance, testers should address three types of maintenance testing.

1. Regression Test Maintenance

Regression test maintenance is essential when introducing new features to web or mobile applications to ensure existing functionality remains intact. As a pivotal part of the software development life cycle, regression testing is often automated to save time on repetitive and laborious manual tests. However, maintaining an automated regression testing suite is crucial to ensure proper application validation. The challenge lies in dedicating time to test maintenance and creating and executing high-quality tests within sprint cycles.

2. Confirmation Maintenance Testing

Confirmation maintenance testing involves examining modified code to ensure no functional or downtime issues. This type of maintenance testing requires vigilant monitoring of minor and significant code modifications to guarantee the system's smooth operation. 

3. Test Maintenance in the CI/CD Pipeline

Test maintenance plays a crucial role in the CI/CD pipeline, where automated tests are executed to ensure faster and more efficient testing in alignment with sprint requirements. Including testing after each commit in the CI/CD pipeline enables prompt identification and resolution of issues. It is vital to prioritize test maintenance in this context to ensure that tests are consistently current. By doing so, organizations can prevent build failures and maintain the smooth flow of the CI/CD process.

Learn more: A Comprehensive Guide to Cross-Platform Mobile Test Automation Using Appium

How to Perform Different Types of Test Automation Maintenance?

Test maintenance encompasses two primary categories of processes. Let's examine each of these cases individually.

  • When tests fail, the initial response should be to identify the cause. It could be due to software defects, unforeseen side effects, or changes in behavior. Fixing the code or updating the tests may be necessary, and sometimes both actions are required.
  • Changes in dependencies of test automation tools, such as reporting tools or APIs, may necessitate adjustments to ensure seamless integration within the toolset. This maintenance category also involves training developers on updated tool infrastructure if required.
Read: Choosing a Test Automation Tool - A Complete Guide

Effective Practices for Minimizing Test Automation Maintenance

Maintenance is an essential aspect of automated testing tools and neglecting it can result in future costs. To mitigate this, implementing best practices can help minimize maintenance requirements in automated browser testing.

 1. Streamline Your Automation Designs

Simplifying your automation designs is pivotal in facilitating the test automation maintenance process. Implementing uncomplicated Selenium test automation scripts can greatly improve productivity, although it may seem more challenging in practice. By focusing on low-level tests, you can swiftly execute them and minimize maintenance efforts. Unnecessarily complicating your test suites raises the risk of encountering breakdowns. However, in scenarios that demand complexity, the optimal approach is to develop reusable tests.

2. Simplify Test Maintenance with Page Object Model and Variables

Efficient test automation maintenance involves utilizing the page object model and centralizing updates for locators and methods. By making changes in one place, tests automatically reflect the updates, saving time and effort. Additionally, using variables instead of hard-coding values promotes code reusability and simplifies test creation and maintenance.

3. Enhance User Experience through Updated UI

Ensuring an exceptional user experience requires regular updates to the UI. However, it is common for UI/UX developers to overlook testing considerations during the code-writing process. Implementing a naming convention for each object can be beneficial to address this challenge. By establishing a stable QA identifier, Selenium test automation scripts can accurately recognize objects even when the code and UI/UX design undergo changes.

4. Optimize Test Execution Strategy

Maximize efficiency in test automation maintenance by adopting a smart test execution strategy. Implement automated browser testing to cover major test cases, focusing on regular maintenance tests. This approach saves time and effort while ensuring comprehensive test coverage and effective issue identification. Drive productivity and deliver high-quality software by prioritizing smart work over unnecessary test cycles.

5. Embrace the DRY Principle to Write Your Test Code

Minimize redundancy in your test codebase to streamline test automation maintenance. Following the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) Principle eliminates repeated code, ensuring a more efficient and reliable test suite. Leverage patterns like the Page Object Model and data factories to centralize standard functionalities, making updates easier and enhancing test readability. Take advantage of built-in features in modern test automation tools to implement these best practices, saving time and effort in maintaining your test suite.

6. Address Broken Tests Promptly and Maintain Test Suite Integrity

Ignoring broken tests and prioritizing new test cases over fixing issues can hinder automation efforts. Promptly resolving problems in the test suite is crucial for maintaining efficiency and code quality. Applying the Broken Windows Theory to software development, tackling issues early prevents further deterioration. Establish a workflow where fixing broken tests takes precedence, ensuring a stable and reliable test suite. Avoid complacency and proactively address broken tests to uphold the overall integrity of your testing process.

Check out: 10 Ways to Accelerate the Software Testing Cycle

7. Prioritize High Value and Unstable Features in Test Automation

To minimize the maintenance burden in test automation, it is crucial to carefully determine which features should be automated. While Selenium test automation can be challenging, the easiest test to maintain is the one that was never written. By focusing your automation efforts on high-value and unstable features, you can optimize the effectiveness of your tests. Prioritize automating tests that encompass critical business value cases rather than solely focusing on superficial aspects of your web application. This strategic approach minimizes the maintenance efforts involved in test automation, ensuring efficient and reliable testing processes.

8. Automate Test Reporting for Effective Analysis

Monitoring and analyzing test results is crucial for continuous improvement in test automation. By automating test reports, you can streamline the process of identifying areas that require improvement and assessing the stability of different features. This saves time and ensures that vital information from test results is readily available for future reference. Leveraging frameworks such as pytest in conjunction with Selenium can significantly reduce test automation maintenance efforts while enhancing the insights gained from automated browser testing.

What are the Key Challenges in Test Maintenance?

During test maintenance, you may encounter several common challenges that can impede your progress and efficiency:

  • Managing the cost and time associated with test maintenance can be challenging without the proper tools and knowledge.
  • Finding a test automation tool that can effectively analyze false positives and flaky tests can pose a challenge.
  • Poor or delayed communication between developers and testers can hinder the test maintenance process and make it hard to keep tests aligned with code changes.
  • Testing tools that cannot detect GUI objects and handle subsequent changes can lead to issues.
  • Skill gaps among testers and developers in understanding requirements and maintaining tests, either manually or using tools, can be problematic.
Learn more: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Between Appium and XCTest (UI) for iOS App Testing

How Does HeadSpin's Unique Automation Testing Solution Help Businesses Overcome Test Maintenance Challenges?

HeadSpin offers a valuable solution for Android automation testing, providing a range of features and capabilities. With support for real devices running iOS and Android, organizations can effectively collaborate to enhance performance outcomes for their digital experiences. The 'HeadSpin Bridge' facilitates the connection of remote devices to the local machine, enabling convenient testing on Android or iOS devices, whether native or cloud-based.

HeadSpin's Appium automation testing for cross-platform apps offers the following benefits:

  • Streamline the entire CI/CD process, simplifying the creation of robust Appium scripts and reducing the complexity of test frameworks.
  • Enable parallel testing on multiple mobile devices to ensure optimal app performance across various devices, networks, and global locations.
  • Test apps on real remote devices in real locations, significantly accelerating development speed and facilitating the identification and resolution of critical bugs.
  • Leverage tools for browser compatibility testing and capture real-time feedback.

Summing Up

Regular test maintenance is crucial as developers continuously modify the code to accommodate new features, UI changes, and user requests. Automated tests can effectively catch bugs in the latest code by keeping test cases up to date. However, test maintenance can become time-consuming if not appropriately managed. To alleviate this challenge, choosing a test automation tool that supports test automation maintenance is essential, enabling efficient and streamlined maintenance of automated test cases.

Leverage the power of HeadSpin's global device infrastructure, offering seamless access to real Android, iOS, and Windows devices in the cloud. With HeadSpin, testers can save valuable time and meet project deadlines efficiently without additional setup. Discover the advantages of HeadSpin's advanced Appium test automation solution, providing cross-platform compatibility and exceptional user-friendliness.

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Q1. What is the best approach to monitoring the progress of test automation?

Ans: Here are three formulas to calculate different aspects of test automation:

  • Automatable Test Cases: To determine the percentage of automatable test cases, use the formula (number of automatable tests / total number of tests) * 100.
  • Automation Script Effectiveness: Measure the effectiveness of automation scripts by calculating the percentage of defects found by automation compared to the total number of defects. The formula is (number of defects found by automation/number of defects opened) * 100.
  • Automation Pass Rate: Calculate the pass rate of automation by dividing the number of cases that passed by the total number of test cases executed and multiplying by 100. The formula is (number of cases that passed / number of test cases executed) * 100.

Q2. When is the appropriate time for conducting maintenance testing?

Ans: Maintenance testing occurs after the application is deployed to end users, addressing user queries and resolving issues for optimal customer satisfaction.

A Comprehensive Guide to Efficient Test Automation Maintenance

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