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What is Test Automation? A Comprehensive Guide on Automated Testing

What is Test Automation? A Comprehensive Guide on Automated Testing

August 17, 2022
 by 
Dante WuDante Wu
Dante Wu

Moving to a more digitally focused era, the importance of software is rapidly increasing. Software tools are crucial for upgrading life standards, enhancing business prospects, and making a smart world. The smooth and fail-proof functioning of the software is very critical, as a large number of people are dependent on them. Around 65% of companies focus on making QA and testing a smarter process, as per the 2021 World Quality Report. This data shows organizations' increasing emphasis on software testing, making it an essential process in the software development life cycle (SDLC).

In the present world, testing is very advanced and complicated. Critical functions in SDLC, including development, testing, and delivery, are performed by individual teams. This has created many inefficiencies and slowed down the entire process. Performing manual testing in some types of testing, like regression testing, is a wasteful practice, as testers must keep doing the same thing repeatedly. Some development cycles will also require the execution of the same test suite. Thus, automating the testing process will help the testers execute the tests faster and more effectively. There is an emerging need for test automation in the growing testing teams of software organizations to reduce the workload of the testing team and provide clear and accurate results.

In this blog, we will talk more about test automation and its impact on the present software testing space.

What is Test Automation?

Test automation is the method of automatically reviewing and validating software products, such as web and mobile applications. This process ensures that they meet all predefined quality standards for code style, functionality, and user experience. Test automation replaces manual human activity with systems. Even though tests, like regression or functional testing, can be done manually, automating the process will reduce the time taken to perform the tests. Moreover, it takes less time to perform exploratory tests and more time to maintain test scripts, thus, increasing the overall test coverage.

Automated Testing Life Cycle
Fig: Automated Testing Life Cycle

Automated testing is widely used in application development to help accelerate the launch of apps/software or new features for existing software tools. It is mainly used to assist the testing process done for software tools/apps developed by organizations, including functional and load/stress testing, and provides consistent results and data points. Testing experts use test automation tools to create scripts and test cases, and these scripts/test cases can be reused. Therefore, the primary features of test automation can help organizations eliminate human errors, reduce the total time taken for software development, and automate repetitive tasks.

With the focus on helping enterprises to optimize their testing procedures, HeadSpin offers test automation with unique testing capabilities, including functional, performance, and load testing across applications, devices, and networks for mobile, web, IoT, and 5G.

Check out: 5 Popular Test Automation Tools For React Native Apps

What Kinds of Tests Should be Automated?

While testing an application/software, testers cannot automate all processes involved in the testing cycle. Some tests need human supervision and involvement to get better results. Test automation is not an alternative to manual testing but helps and supports the entire testing team by reducing the workload.

In order to determine whether a test is suitable for automation, testers can check if it fits the following criteria:

  • The tests should be highly repetitive and take a long period of time to perform if it is done manually
  • The testing path must be predictable, as it has been verified earlier through manual testing
  • The tests that involve the testing of frequently used features that introduce high-risk conditions
  • The tests that require multiple datasets and run on several different hardware or software platforms and configurations
  • Tests that are not possible for human manual testing, e.g., thousands of concurrent users trying to log in at the same time

If a test meets all these criteria mentioned above, it can be considered for automation.

Various Types of Automated Tests

1. Unit Testing

The testing of each unit of the software application is known as unit testing. As it is the first level of testing, it can be automated. This type of testing is used to validate unit components with their performance. Primarily, unit testing is performed during the development phase.

2. Smoke Testing

Smoke testing is usually done on a build software received from the development team. The focus of the smoke tests is to check whether the build software is stable or not. If the software passes this test, then testers can proceed with further testing.

3. Integration Testing

Integration testing is the testing process that is performed after unit testing. This test ensures that units or individual components of the software are tested in a group and work well as a whole. This test is used to detect defects at the time of interaction between integrated components or units.

4. Regression Testing

Regression testing is both functional and non-functional type of testing. It verifies the code changes that do not impact the software's existing functionality. This testing ensures that the software works fine with new functionality, bug fixes, or code changes in the existing feature. 

With the HeadSpin Platform, testing teams can perform regression automation testing for their apps/websites. HeadSpin's Regression Intelligence is a powerful comparison tool for analyzing degradation across new app builds, OS releases, feature additions, locations, and more. Using the Platform, testers can also compare build over build, location over location, network over network, and device over device performance of their apps/websites.

5. API Testing

The application programming interface (API) is the connection between all the other systems that software needs to function. This testing verifies all APIs. API testing is mainly used to test the programming interfaces' functionality, reliability, performance, and security.

While executing API testing with the HeadSpin Platform, the API usage monitoring feature will help testers keep track of how their APIs are being used by applications or track the impact of 3rd party APIs on application performance.

6. Security Testing

Security testing is also functional and non-functional in nature. It detects the weaknesses and threats in the software. This testing can block the attacks from hackers and ensure the security of the software.

7. Performance Testing

Performance testing records the system performance of the software in terms of responsiveness and stability under a specific workload. The main parameters checked under this testing include the software's speed, robustness, and reliability.

8. Acceptance Testing

Acceptance testing is used to check how end users will respond to the final software product. Usually, this is the last type of testing used before a software/application is released. 

9. UI Testing

UI testing checks and verifies visual elements of apps/web pages to validate proper functionality and expected performance. This testing is done after the complete development of the application/software. 

With global device infrastructure and quality of experience (QoE) insights, HeadSpin enables organizations to deliver flawless UI experiences. Organizations can use the HeadSpin Platform to perform UI testing on real devices and record test sessions. This feature will give them real-time insights into the performance of their applications.

Also check: Choosing a Test Automation Tool: A Complete Guide

Different Types of Test Automation Frameworks

In the test automation process, testing frameworks play a crucial role. These frameworks include guidelines for testers/developers in coding standards, repository management, and handling of test data. The main focus of these frameworks is to reduce maintenance costs and testing efforts and achieve a high return on investment for the testing teams.

Let's look at the different types of test automation frameworks that many organizations use to achieve a good testing environment.

1. Linear Automation Framework

The linear test automation framework guides testers to create functions without writing codes, and the steps in this framework are given in sequential order. While testing with this framework, testers record every step and play the script back automatically to repeat the test. 

2. Modular-based Testing Framework

In the modular-based testing framework, testers need to divide the application/software under test into separate units or sections. These separate units or sections are tested in isolation. Individual test scripts are created for each part, and after testing, all parts are combined to build larger tests that represent various test cases. The most important step in this framework is creating an abstraction layer, which avoids changes in individual sections affecting the overarching module.

3. Data-driven Framework

In the data-driven framework, the test data are separated from script logic, and testers can store all the data externally. With this framework, whenever testers need to test application/software multiple times with different data sets, they can use the data stored in external data sources. The main external data sources used in this framework are Excel Spreadsheets, Text Files, CSV files, SQL Tables, or ODBC repositories.

4. Keyword-driven Framework

While using the keyword-driven framework for automated testing, all functions of the application/software undergoing the test are written out in the table with specific instructions in the order of the test that needs to be performed. In this framework also, test data are separated from script logic. Keywords are also stored in the external data table. These keywords represent the various actions that are being performed to test the GUI of an application. This framework requires a shared object repository to navigate the objects to their associated actions.

5. Hybrid Testing Framework

The hybrid framework is a combination of the already mentioned frameworks. This type of framework is used to leverage some frameworks' advantages and mitigate others' weaknesses.

Major Benefits of Test Automation for Enterprises

By automating the testing process, enterprises can leverage many benefits that will help them to develop software faster and more efficiently. Let’s check some of the important benefits of using test automation tools for software/app development:

1. Enables Reuse of Tests

Testing is a fundamental step involved in the software development life cycle. Mostly, this process is very complicated, as a lot of manual coding and testing are involved. With the help of test automation tools, test scripts developed by QA experts can be reused for all repetitive tasks. Generally, automated scripting techniques are used so that the same use case can be used in different test procedures with little or no modification. Moreover, testers can constantly re-test their applications during the development process, making the release process more efficient.

2. Simulates the Real Situation

With test automation tools, testers can perform tests that cannot be performed by manual testing, such as testing the load of the system with thousands of concurrent users at the same time.

3. Improves Scalability

With test automation tools, organizations can increase the scale at which their testing teams operate, as these tools can run tests 24 hours a day. 

4. Makes Regression Testing More Convenient

To perform regression testing, all functional modules of the system must be tested. The regression testing with a long cycle has a large workload and frequent testing, which is suitable for automated testing. Test scripts and use cases are designed to get expected results in automated testing. The automation of regression testing can greatly improve efficiency and shorten the regression time.

5. Reduces Delivery Time

Replacing repetitive and time-consuming manual testing with test automation can shorten software development cycles, as automation tools can work faster than humans. It will also enable developers to reduce the time between integrating and releasing a new feature. 

6. Saves Time and Money

Generally, testing is a time-consuming process. Test automation can help testers/developers speed up certain phases of testing. In the long run, companies can achieve cost-effectiveness with test automation.

Owing to the core benefits mentioned above, many organizations, including startups and multinational companies, have prioritized test automation in their digital maturity strategy. With test automation tools, enterprises can streamline their testing procedures to achieve the maximum return on investment. 

The main advantage of using the HeadSpin Platform is that it integrates test automation platforms, such as Appium or Selenium, and automates complex user journeys. With CI/CD integration capabilities, the Platform enables the testing teams automatically check new builds, run tests, and provide insights into the performance regression of applications.

Conclusion

Test automation is a crucial component of application development. By eliminating the mundane tasks of testers and reducing the time and cost required for developers, test automation has transformed the software industry. Manual testing is still a crucial component of the testing process; testing teams can save time, money, and resources by using test automation tools in the different stages of testing. With test automation in the development and testing cycle, testers/developers can generate a more positive and efficient feedback cycle, better test coverage, etc., which will help organizations to get their products in the market on time and under budget. With the help of test automation, testers can unlock the full potential of the DevOps process. This will help testers reduce bottlenecks and increase the efficiency of the software development life cycle.

Check out: A Detailed Guide to Code Coverage and Test Coverage

The unique benefits that HeadSpin offers to businesses shifting to automated testing for an effective testing process include:

  • Detects root causes of issues, such as hung and slow methods and third-party SDK bloat
  • Compares performance across various devices or OS to understand cross-device/OS compatibility and performance
  • Creates custom KPIs and evaluates these KPIs across various factors with HeadSpin’s data science capabilities
  • Executes tests on real devices deployed in 100+ locations with HeadSpin’s global device infrastructure
  • Provides test scenarios involving 3rd party services/applications to replicate real-world scenarios

Through the HeadSpin Platform, organizations can test, track, and collect insights into the performance of their apps/websites to enhance and shorten their testing and development cycles

FAQs

1. What is browser automation?

Ans: Browser automation is the method of programmatically launching a web application in a browser and automatically executing various actions like a normal user.

2. Does automation testing require coding?

Ans: With some tools, such as Tricentis, coding might not be necessary for automation testing. Since the tools can record and detect the areas/items to maintain, users can define the parameters to pass in (to the areas/items).

3. Which programming languages are mainly used in automated testing?

Ans: 

  • Python: It is a programming language used in automated testing, as it has large libraries that help developers perform the proper tests without writing new codes for every task.
  • Java: It has a variety of open-source libraries and is embedded with the stack allocation system, which supports automated testing.
  • C#: It is a programming language that uses the .NET framework. This language is very efficient in processing the test scripts for automated testing.

4. What are the key features offered by HeadSpin’s automated mobile app testing?

Ans: 

  • Unified testing: Leverage functional, performance, and load testing capabilities that are fully integrated with monitoring and analytics
  • Comprehensive coverage: Test every layer of the ecosystem, including applications, devices, and networks
  • Multi-experience support: Test across any digital channel, including web and mobile
  • Unmodified open source: Leverage leading automation frameworks, such as Selenium for web and Appium for mobile, without modification and vendor lock-in

What is Test Automation? A Comprehensive Guide on Automated Testing

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