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The Testing Pyramid

The Testing Pyramid: Simplified for One and All

May 23, 2022
 by 
Rohan SinghRohan Singh
Rohan Singh

Does your development team have to wait longer for the test suite to run? Do they have to rerun the test suite repeatedly after failing tests as rerunning seems to resolve? If your developers are experiencing these issues, their test suite most likely does not adhere to the test automation pyramid.

This blog can guide you to orient appropriate platforms with suitable testing methods for your team by exploring the test automation pyramid.

What is a Testing Pyramid?

Testing Pyramid is a framework that can facilitate both developers and QAs to build high-quality software. It minimizes the amount of time required for developers to determine if an update they made affects the code. It also aids in developing a more robust test suite.

Also check out: Native, Web, Hybrid, & Progressive Web Apps - Development and Testing

The testing pyramid, also known as the test automation pyramid, essentially describes the test types that the development and QA teams should incorporate in an automated test suite. Moreover, it defines the order and frequency of such assessments. The purpose is to provide rapid feedback to ensure that code changes do not impact existing functionality.

the-software-testing-pyramid

Test automation pyramid functions at three levels:

  • Unit tests
  • Integration tests
  • End-to-end tests
Also read: Unit, Integration, and Functional Testing - 4 main points of difference

Unit Test

Unit testing serves as the foundation of the test pyramid. Unit tests have a limited scope and ensure that isolated code units function as expected. Unit tests should assess a single variable and not rely on external dependencies.

The team has to execute pre- and post-commit tests in this pyramid layer, and tests happen to be dev-triggered.

Using virtual devices like simulators and emulators for virtual devices for these tests is highly recommended. It is sufficient to execute these tests on virtual devices as it provides the required feedback with log/debugging information. Moreover, testing with virtual devices is both faster and more cost-effective.

Integration Test

The integration test is the second step of the software testing pyramid. Unit tests check small portions of a codebase. The Dev team should perform integration tests to verify the interaction of this code with other codes in the application, which generally comprise the overall software. These tests check how a code interacts with external components. These components may include external services(APIs), databases, web services, and similar elements. Integration tests ensure that the software communicates efficiently and retrieves accurate data to perform as expected.

Integration tests are generally slower than unit tests due to the necessity of interaction with external sources. They also require a pre-production environment to run.

It is essential to have the right balance of virtual and real devices for running tests in integration testing.

Some testing types, such as acceptance testing, can be performed on virtual devices. Other types of testing, including security testing, performance testing, and certain accessibility features, cannot be performed on virtual devices; therefore, it is ideal to have a combination of actual and virtual devices at this stage. You will also need to add additional real OS/device settings that correspond with usage metrics and market trends.

End-to-end Testing

End-to-end testing checks the enormous bulk of code (the entire application). It uses a test environment and data to simulate real-world functionality. It is the most expensive to maintain and has the slowest operating pace. As this test checks assembled applications, it is also the most difficult to identify issues.

The ideal method to approach end-to-end testing is from the end-users perspective. Testers might consider facts like different ways an end-user might engage with the app, what they would do to achieve their objectives with the app, and what might go wrong. The aim is to develop a test based on such actions.

End-to-end testing is the apex of the test automation pyramid as it can be the most time-consuming phase of the testing process. End-to-end testing is typically fragile and may have unreliable external dependencies like integration tests.

End-to-end testing necessitates that real devices more closely resemble the application on an end user's smartphone, as real users report issues on real devices and not virtual ones.

In addition, it is crucial to simulate actual user behavior during pyramid testing. You can determine how your app will perform in the real world by testing it under various settings, including app conflicts, call/text interruptions, network latency, and throttling.

Also check out: Steps For The Best End-To-End Browser Testing

What are the benefits of the test automation pyramid?

The key advantages of the test automation pyramid are:

  • Time and cost savings
  • Elimination of human error for accuracy
  • Ability to reuse, repeat, and scale application tests to meet your software requirements

How is the Software Testing Pyramid more beneficial for Agile teams?

Utilizing the test automation pyramid has vital benefits for agile teams:

Agile processes prioritize velocity and effectiveness. The agile testing pyramid streamlines the process of testing. Incorporating a logical progression and advancement into the pyramid testing pipeline helps to accelerate deliverables. Since the test pyramid is designed to run the simplest tests first, testers can manage their time more effectively and achieve better results.

The pyramid of testing offers the QA team the necessary priorities. If test scripts are created with a stronger emphasis on the user interface, core business logic and back-end operations are not likely to be adequately tested. This impacts product quality and increases the team's workload. Furthermore, the high TAT (turnaround time) of UI testing reduces overall test coverage. The development and QA teams can eliminate such occurrences by adopting the pyramid of testing strategy.

Check out: Choosing a Test Automation Tool - A Complete Guide

Conclusion

As with iterative development, the testing process should be divided into smaller chunks for increased efficiency. The testing team and software app developers should write tests based on the test automation pyramid in collaboration with the project management team. Agile testing depends on this principle for all testing components, including unit tests, UI testing, integration testing, and cross-browser testing.

FAQs

1. What kind of tests are performed in the test pyramid?

The top of the pyramid is allocated for exploratory and UI testing. These tests are typically more complex and have a more significant number of dependencies than unit and integration tests. While automation can accelerate UI testing, exploratory testing is often performed manually and is time-consuming.

2. What recommendations does the test automation pyramid give?

Test automation pyramid is an essential concept that all developers and testers must be familiar with. It is a framework that can facilitate the development team in delivering a higher quality product. The test pyramid also minimizes the time required for developers to determine if an update was introduced. 

3. Does inverting the test pyramid make sense?

Agile testing considers inverting the test pyramid to achieve the reverse effect. The focus is now on eliminating the existence of bugs. This means that most testing will occur at the beginning, at the code and user interface levels. In this situation, automation will be very effective.

4. What are the various testing levels and their corresponding goals?

The main phases of testing that are to be performed before an application can be made available for use are unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and acceptance testing.

The Testing Pyramid: Simplified for One and All

4 Parts