Testing is the process of identifying errors in a software program. Automation testing is a software testing technique that identifies bugs, defects, and other issues in product development by comparing the actual outcome with the expected outcome. Having knowledge of the various automated testing techniques can help you select one that is appropriate for your use case. In this article, we discuss what automated testing is along with its types, learn its benefits and review some tips to perform effective automated testing.
What Is Automation Testing?
Automation testing is a technique that professionals use to verify that a product or software works as intended and satisfies all the requirements and quality standards specified. Manual testing involves quality assurance (QA) analysts running tests one by one to identify errors or bugs in software. Automated testing involves programmers or testers using automation tools or frameworks to run scripts to ensure that software works correctly with minimal human intervention. Automating the testing process is useful for:
- Repetitive tasks
- Complex scenarios that include components and sub-components
- Scenarios where testing is prone to human errors
- Tests that are time-consuming
- Extensive tests that require the input of large datasets
Professionals can also use the testing software to generate insights and detailed reports which they can use to make further improvements.
Benefits Of Automated Testing
Here are some benefits of automating the testing process:
- Increased productivity: An automated test runs repeatedly on a schedule and requires minimal human intervention. This helps professionals focus on other critical tasks instead of manual testing.
- Cost-saving: Using automated testing, the team can identify errors in the software at an early stage in the development cycle and make fixes. This reduces the cost and efforts of system maintenance at a later stage.
- Better insights: Automated testing aims to validate the software by executing a larger number of test cases, which facilitates detailed reporting and provides valuable insights.
- Improved accuracy: An automated test is highly accurate, in contrast to manual testing, which is susceptible to human error.
- Increased testing speed: The use of automated testing reduces the testing time by running several test cases in parallel with high efficiency and accuracy.
- Higher test coverage: By automating testing, it is possible to add more test cases to cover different aspects of the software.
- Reusability: You can reuse the scripts written for software in other projects with similar requirements, saving time and resources.
- In-depth testing: Automation tools and scripts allow you to test complex scenarios that are time-consuming and tedious in manual testing.
- Immediate feedback: With faster execution, automated testing generates detailed reports and identifies errors quickly. This helps professionals analyse the results and make changes to the code.
- Faster development cycle: With faster execution, higher accuracy and more efficient test cases, teams can release releases more frequently and make adjustments more quickly. It helps deliver products faster to the market and shortens development cycles.
Types Of Automated Testing
The common automated testing systems include:
Functional testing evaluates a software application against a set of functional requirements. The testing process focuses mainly on what an application does and involves black box testing. In functional testing, the primary focus is on testing the system’s key features, usability and accessibility to users. Functional testing includes unit testing, integration testing, smoke testing and user acceptance testing.
The purpose of unit testing is to verify that individual components or functions work as expected. Having unit tests facilitates the identification of bugs early during the development phase, which keeps the cost of fixing them to a minimum. Developers can use unit tests to better understand the functionality of each component in the application and to make the code more reusable. Performing this type of testing may not guarantee the resolution of every bug in the software, but it can help identify problems with smaller, individual components of the software. The categories of unit testing include:
- Black box testing: This involves testing software with no prior knowledge of its workings. A tester inputs a value and verifies the correctness of the output.
- White box testing: This approach allows professionals to test and verify the inner workings of the software. This includes the code, infrastructure and integration of its various components.
- Gray box testing: This testing combines black box and white box testing where a tester has partial knowledge of the software’s inner workings.
Developers may develop various independent components in isolation as part of a larger project and integrate them to achieve the desired functionality. Integration testing determines if the software, in its entirety, meets the set requirements and performs as expected. This involves integrating multiple components of software and testing them in unity. Developers can examine the interactions between various components after integrating them and make necessary improvements. This ensures that software is functional and that interactions between various components are seamless. There are several approaches to integration testing:
- Big bang approach: This involves integrating all the units or components of an application and testing them as a whole.
- Top-down approach: This is a type of big bang approach testing where testing takes place from top to bottom. QA analysts integrate lower-level modules with the main flow after testing the higher-level modules.
- Bottom-up approach: This is a type of big bang approach testing where testing takes place from bottom to top. QA analysts test lower-level modules first and integrate them with the main flow.
- Sandwich approach: Also known as the hybrid approach, this is a combination of top-down and bottom-up testing methods. QA analysts test the higher-level modules and lower-level modules at the same time and integrate lower-level modules into the main flow.
Smoke testing, also known as confidence testing, comprises a minimum set of tests designed to provide feedback on a software build’s stability and viability. The purpose of this type of testing is to determine whether major components of an application are working properly or if those components need further testing and improvement. QA analysts conduct this test after integrating all the developed functions into the software build. For applications that fail or do not operate correctly, they send them back to the development team for further investigation and improvement.
Non-functional testing tests the non-functional aspects of a product, such as its reliability, scalability, security, load and compatibility. The categories of non-functional testing include:
- Load testing: Load testing helps monitor a program’s behaviour under a specified load.
- Performance testing: Performance testing assesses the speed, responsiveness and stability of a software program under varying workloads.
- Reliability testing: The purpose of reliability testing is to ensure that software is functional across varying environments, such as across different operating systems and over a specific period.
- Security testing: The purpose of security testing is to identify flaws in the security mechanisms which protect information and maintain functionality.
- Compatibility testing: This test ensures product trustworthiness and customer satisfaction. It serves as a metric to evaluate the success of a product in the market.
Data-driven testing entails extending your automated test cases with external data. A spreadsheet or table stores the data and fed into test cases separately. Data-driven testing makes it possible to run the same test on multiple data sets, ensuring consistency, while requiring less time and resources. The advantages of data-driven testing are:
- Allows for code reusability
- Takes place at any stage in the product development process
- Changes made to the script do not affect the data
- Requires less time and resources
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Tips To Perform Automated Testing
Follow these tips to perform an effective automation testing for your use case:
- Decide what test cases to automate. Make a list of tests that are time-consuming, prone to human mistakes, complex or challenging to perform manually. Write custom scripts and use automation tools and frameworks to test the software in a variety of test cases.
- Select the right automation tool. Perform a thorough research on the various automation tools available in the market to choose the one that suits your needs. You can consider using trial versions to select a tool that helps you better your product.
- Input quality data. Preparing quality data is imperative to data-driven testing. Create data that is clean, well-structured and relevant to the use case.
- Create UI-resistant automation tests. There may be several changes in the UI in the early phases of product development. Ensure that the automation tests work irrespective of various changes made to an application.