A Comprehensive Guide to Test Automation

test automation Guide

In the modern era of the software industry, ensuring a delivery of high quality software is very essential for organizational success. To ensure high quality software, it is necessary that the application is validated before deploying it into production. This is where testing the software comes into the picture. As manual testing for an application with multifold features is a tedious task, software automation testing was introduced.

In this blog, you will learn all about Test Automation, and how it is beneficial. You will further understand the challenges, best practices, and how TestGrid is an easy way out for test engineers.

What is Software Testing? 

The technology domain today is vast and challenging. There are multiple companies that strive hard to release software that try solving various problems and making human life easier. The answer to the question, “Why should a customer choose us among our competitors?” is what organizations try to answer to make their product succeed. To succeed in this highly competitive market, the software must be apt, reliable, and robust. There is only one foolproof route to achieve this. Testing the Software. 

Testing is an important part of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). The reliability of the software is always decided by the amount of testing that it has gone through. Successful organizations spend more man-hours testing the code they develop than developing the code. Testing involves running the software through all the probable conditions that it might be used and validating its behavior. There are many aspects to this. Functionality, Performance, Robustness are a few that are commonly looked at.

Software testing can be broadly classified into two types. Manual testing and Automation testing. Before automation picked up the pace, testing the software was a manual process where engineers used to navigate and execute all the possible routes that a code can flow. Even today, many companies resort to a rigorous manual testing process to make sure all the edge cases are tested, and the product can have a confident test coverage. To test the general flows of the software manually each time is a cumbersome task. It increases the chances of human errors also. More than anything else, manual testing takes a lot of time and effort and has a direct impact on the “time-to-market” of the product. Automation testing is the way forward! 

Introduction to Test Automation

Automating the process of testing software to be able to run the tests at a higher pace and precision is called Test Automation. Normally, many organizations start with automating the basic functionality test first. This ensures the sanity of the product. This will be the most used flow in every testing process. Automation thus reduces the manual effort that needs to be put into this. 

In the fast-paced world of software development, ensuring quality takes center stage. Automation testing emerges as a game-changer, offering substantial advantages over traditional manual testing methods. Here’s why automation testing is critical:

  • Improved Efficiency: Repetitive tasks hinder tester’s progress. Automation handles these challenges directly, by allowing the software testers to allocate more time in exploring complex test scenarios. Automated tests are executed smoothly by enhancing the feedback loops and development cycle. This allows them to focus on high priority testing initiatives and exploratory testing, ultimately improving the speed and efficiency of the development lifecycle.
  • Expanding Test Scope: Imagine testing every possible scenario manually – an overwhelming task! Automation enables you to run a wide range of tests, covering a much broader spectrum than manual testing could achieve. This expanded coverage detects more bugs and edge cases that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Early Bug Elimination:  By integrating automated tests into the CI/CD pipeline, automated tests can be run frequently. This means bugs are identified and resolved early in the development cycle when it is easier to fix. This reduces the time, risk and resources required for fixes at the later stage of the development cycle. 
  • Enhanced Quality Assurance: By automating essential tests and executing them regularly, automation testing becomes a quality guardian. It verifies that the software functions as intended, resulting in a superior user experience.
  • Cost Benefits: While setting up automation tests requires an initial investment; the long-term gains are very valuable. Faster development cycles, reduced bugs, and minimized rework result in significant cost savings.
  • Improved Data-Driven Decision Making: Automation generates detailed reports in various formats with comprehensive test results. This data empowers the testing team to gain precious insights into application behavior and make informed decisions about future development and testing strategies.

In essence, automation testing acts as a powerful ally in the software development arena. It streamlines the testing process, boosts efficiency, and delivers software that excels in quality.

Automation testing framework 

An automation testing framework is a supporting structure that provides the foundation for building and executing efficient automated tests. It’s essentially a toolbox equipped with libraries, standards, and best practices to streamline the automation testing process.

Here’s how a framework empowers your testing efforts:

  • Structure and Organization: Frameworks promote well-defined structures for your test scripts, making them more readable, maintainable, and reusable. This keeps your tests organized and reduces redundancy.
  • Reusable Components: Frameworks often provide pre-built libraries with common functionalities like interacting with web elements or databases. This saves you time by eliminating the need to write the same code repeatedly for different tests.
  • Data-Driven Testing: Effective frameworks allow you to separate test data from your test scripts. This enables you to run the same test with different sets of data, improving test coverage and efficiency.
  • Reporting and Logging: Frameworks often offer built-in mechanisms for capturing and reporting test results. This provides valuable insights into the testing process, making it easier to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Integration with Tools: Many frameworks integrate seamlessly with other testing tools like test management systems or continuous integration tools. This facilitates a smooth workflow within your testing environment.

In essence, an automation testing framework acts as a conductor, orchestrating your test automation efforts for optimal efficiency, maintainability, and reliability. There are various types of frameworks available, each with its strengths and use cases. Choosing the right framework depends on your specific testing needs and project requirements.

Steps of automation testing

Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved in performing automation testing:

steps involved in performing automation testing
  1. Define Your Scope: It all starts with a clear understanding of what you want to automate. Not every test is a good candidate for automation. Focus on repetitive, well-defined tasks that are crucial for core functionalities.
  2. Choose Your Tool: With a variety of automation testing tools available, selecting the right one is essential. Popular options include Selenium for web applications, Appium for mobile apps, and frameworks like Selenium or Cypress. Consider factors like project needs, programming languages, and team expertise.
  3. Set Up the Testing Environment: This involves creating a dedicated test environment to run your automated tests. It should mirror the production environment as closely as possible to ensure test results are reliable.
  4. Script It Out: Now comes the coding phase! Write your test scripts using the chosen tool and programming language. Remember, clarity, maintainability, and reusability are key aspects of good test scripts.
  5. Strategizing the Data: Tests often require different sets of data to simulate various scenarios. Developing a strategy for effectively managing test data. This could involve separate data files or using a database.
  6. Run, Test, Repeat: With everything in place, it’s time to execute your tests! Run them and analyze the results. Identify failures and debug any issues in your scripts.
  7. Maintenance Matters: Automation testing is an ongoing process. As the software under test evolves, your test scripts need to adapt as well. Regularly maintain your tests to ensure they remain accurate and effective.
  8. Integration is Key (Optional): Consider integrating your automation tests with your development lifecycle. Tools like continuous integration (CI) can automatically trigger tests after code changes, providing faster feedback and improved quality control.

By following these steps, you can establish a solid foundation for automation testing and reap its numerous benefits. Remember, automation testing is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing effort and refinement, but it can significantly enhance your software development process.

Advantages of Automation testing

Faster Results: Imagine being able to execute hundreds, even thousands, of test cases in a fraction of the time it takes manually. Automation scripts take care of the repetitive tasks, freeing you up to focus on more strategic testing tasks. This means we get feedback sooner, find problems earlier, and develop software more smoothly.

Consistent Performance: Manual testing, as much as we testers love it, can be prone to human error. Fatigue, distractions, or simply overlooking a detail can sometimes lead to inconsistencies. Automation scripts, on the other hand, run the same way every time. They don’t get tired or distracted. This helps maintain a steady quality level during testing.

Better ROI: Manual testing does not provide the best ROI for your time and money, as it takes lots of time and the testing team charges a good amount of money and charges money for every project. Still, with an automation testing tool, you do not need to pay recurring charges.

Automation tools like TestGrid.io offer comprehensive features for website and mobile testing. This one-time investment consolidates multiple testing capabilities, enhancing efficiency and providing excellent ROI by saving time and resources across digital platforms.

Empowering Testers: Automation doesn’t replace testers; it empowers them. By taking care of the mundane, automation frees up your time and expertise to dive into exploratory testing, design more creative test cases, and focus on areas that require human judgment and critical thinking. This allows you to become a more strategic and valuable asset to the development team.

Cost-Effectiveness in the Long Run: While there’s an initial investment in setting up automation frameworks and scripts, the long-term benefits outweigh the costs. The time saved by automating repetitive tasks translates to reduced labor costs.

Which tests need to be automated?

Determining which tests to automate depends on a variety of factors, like project requirements, time constraints, and resource availability. It’s important to note that not all test cases can be automated. 

Some tests require human intervention to achieve better results. Here are a few types of tests that can be automated:

  • Repetitive Tests: Tests that need to be executed frequently, like regression tests, are perfect candidates for automation. Automating these tests saves time and effort compared to manual execution.
  • High-Risk Scenarios: Tests that cover critical functionalities or areas of the application with a high risk of failure should be automated. This ensures thorough and consistent testing of important features.
  • Time-consuming Tests: Tests that take a long time to execute manually, such as performance tests, load tests, or tests with lengthy setup times, are well-suited for automation. Automation can speed up the execution of these tests and improve efficiency.
  • Data-driven Tests: Tests that require multiple data sets or input combinations, like parameterized tests or data-driven tests, can benefit from automation. Automating these tests allows for comprehensive coverage of different test scenarios.
  • Cross-Platform Tests: Tests that need to be executed across different platforms, browsers, or devices, such as compatibility tests or cross-browser tests, are suitable for automation. Automation simplifies the process of running these tests in various environments.
  • Smoke tests: Also known as sanity tests, are crucial for automating to ensure basic functionality and system stability. By automating these tests, you can quickly assess the overall health of the system.

Challenges with Automation Testing

When compared with Manual Testing, automation testing is much more reliable and efficient. But, it still poses certain limitations and challenges. Here are a few challenges of Test Automation.

  1. Script Maintenance
  2. Learning Curve
  3. Test setup environment
  4. Test Data Management
  5. Flaky Tests
  6. Performance Accuracy

Script Maintenance
Regular maintenance of automated test scripts is essential to ensure they remain up-to-date with any changes in the application being tested. Failure to update scripts as the software evolves, can result in increased maintenance efforts and possible script failures.

Learning Curve
Automation tools often have a challenging learning curve due to their reliance on coding. From creating tests to maintaining them, coding skills are necessary. If you miss out on any one small component while coding, the test cases will throw an error. 

Test Environment Setup
It is imperative to maintain the test suite and the environment up to date with the most recent releases. Whenever there are changes in the environment being tested and the older test suites, the test cases must be updated with the latest version. Otherwise, the tests will become invalid. Consistent updating is essential in this scenario.

Test Data Management
Test environments need precise and relevant data to carry out authentic testing. Extracting, anonymizing, and managing data while ensuring data privacy can be quite a cumbersome task.

Flaky Tests
Dealing with flaky tests, where failures occur randomly without any modifications in the application code, can be quite a hurdle in test automation.

Performance Accuracy
Monitoring the performance of a system during testing and analyzing performance metrics to pinpoint bottlenecks and performance problems necessitates the use of specialized tools and knowledge. Making sense of performance data and drawing practical conclusions can be difficult, particularly in intricate distributed systems.

Types of Automation Testing

Automation testing empowers us to streamline the software development process. But with various testing types available, choosing the right type for the job is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of some key types of testing: 

Types of Automation Testing

Unit Testing  

This testing Isolates individual software units (functions, classes) and verifies the function as designed. Imagine unit testing as inspecting the bricks before building a house.
By ensuring each piece of code operates as expected in isolation, unit testing can help developers identify and address issues in the early development process. Writing automated unit tests can save bandwidth and improve the quality of the codebase. 

Integration Testing  

This type of testing validates how different software components interact and function together seamlessly. Once the bricks are built, let’s see if they fit! By testing the interactions between the modules, this approach helps catch compatibility issues and ensures seamless communication within the application. Automated integration tests can expedite the process and improve readability 

Smoke Testing  

Smoke testing is a quick and basic health check to verify the core functionalities of a new build are operational. Think of smoke testing as flipping on the light switch in your new house.
It involves running a set of core tests to verify that the application’s primary features are functioning as expected. This high-level testing is essential for identifying any critical issues before proceeding with more detailed tests.  

Regression Testing  

Regression Testing involves running previously executed test cases to verify that new changes haven’t introduced unintended side effects or broken existing functionality. Regression testing is like revisiting your house after renovations to make sure nothing essential, like the plumbing, got accidentally disrupted during the update. By automating regression tests, teams can quickly confirm that updates to the software have not adversely impacted its performance. 

UI Testing   

UI testing automates the process of verifying the application’s user interface elements function correctly and provide an intuitive user experience. UI testing is like checking the doorknobs, windows, and overall layout of your house. It involves simulating the user interactions, such as clicking buttons, menus and entering text, to verify the application behaves as expected. Automated UI testing helps improve overall user experience and detect potential issues in design or functionality.

Automating a simple test case 

There are many ways of writing a test case. The best-suited tool for test automation is Selenium. As you are aware of, Selenium is a versatile tool for test automation as it supports various programming languages, browsers, operating systems, etc.

Now, let’s write a simple program for a login function using Selenium and see how the test case can be automated.  Let’s use the Java code for writing the test case.

  • First import all the required packages for Selenium Webdriver to execute the test case. 
  • As we are using Google Chrome browser, it is necessary to import the Chrome driver package as well. 
  • System.setProperty command is used to instantiate the new Chrome driver instance to launch the browser. 
  • On using driver.get() command, navigate through the Testgrid login page and find the elements using the id locator and sign in through the website.
  • When you run the code, Selenium will automatically open the Chrome browser and navigate to the login page of TestGrid.  
  • After that, it will log in using the appropriate credentials and check the status of the test case by comparing the URL.

This is how we need to configure the system, and automate a Selenium test case. There are many prerequisites in order to set up the system and execute the test case. To know more about Selenium and how it works, you can refer to this post on Selenium.

Automation Testing Tools

The world of automation testing offers a vast array of tools to choose from. Here’s a quick introduction to some popular options: 

testgrid favicon

TestGrid offers a comprehensive suite of features for end-to-end mobile test automation, from app testing to load testing to visual testing. It allows users to conduct both manual and AI based codeless automation on real devices hosted on the cloud, on-premise or in a hybrid manner. This helps you achieve exceptional efficiency and high precision throughout your Android app testing journey.

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Selenium:
Selenium is a popular open-source testing framework used for automating web applications across various browsers, making it a versatile choice for web UI testing. It provides a comprehensive suite of tools to write, run and manage automated tests. Also supports multiple programming languages like Java, Python and JavaScript. 

appium logo

Appium
Appium is an open-source automation tool designed for testing mobile applications on Android and iOS platforms. It leverages the WebDriver protocol to automate native, hybrid, and mobile web apps, providing a seamless testing experience across different devices and operating systems. Appium supports a variety of programming languages, offering flexibility to testers. 

cucumber

Cucumber  
Cucumber is a behavior-driven development (BDD) tool that enables the creation of tests in natural language format, making it easier for both developers and non-technical stakeholders to understand. By writing tests in a human-readable format using Gherkin syntax, teams can ensure the application meets business requirements and expected outcomes.  

junit

JUnit  
A Java-based testing framework specifically designed for unit testing. . It provides annotations and assertion methods that simplify writing, running, and managing unit tests. JUnit is a key tool for developers seeking to test individual methods or classes, ensuring code quality and catching bugs early in the development process. 

bugbug

BugBug
BugBug is a low-code test automation tool known for its intuitive UI and efficient test creation capabilities. It allows users to record reliable E2E tests without coding. BugBug is packed with powerful features such as reusable components or variables that save users time and increase test suite flexibility.

cypress logo

Cypress  
Cypress is a modern end-to-end testing framework for web applications that offers a straightforward and efficient testing process. Known for its ease of use and fast execution, Cypress features a real-time, interactive test runner and supports JavaScript as its primary language. It provides robust tools for testing various aspects of a web application, from UI elements to network requests. 

To know more about the different automation testing tools, take a look at this article on 18 Best Automation tools.

Test Automation Best Practices

Test automation can bring numerous benefits to the software development process, but it requires a strategic approach for successful implementation. Here are some guidelines to ensure that your test automation efforts are effective and beneficial:

Make smart choices: Not all tests are suitable for automation. Focus on automating high-risk, repetitive, or regression tests that offer the most value.

Select the right tool: Choose a testing framework or tool that fits your project’s requirements, team expertise, and budget. Consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, and integration capabilities.

Plan and document: Develop a clear test automation strategy that defines the scope, objectives, and resources needed. Document the selected tools, test cases, and maintenance procedures.

Ensure data quality: Use clean and reliable test data to guarantee the accuracy and reusability of your automated tests. Explore data-driven testing methods.

Design for maintainability: Create clear, concise, and modular test scripts that are easy to comprehend, modify, and troubleshoot.

Embrace sustainable UI interaction: Implement techniques like the Page Object Model (POM) to make your tests resilient to changes in the application’s user interface.

Integrate with CI/CD: Incorporate your automated tests into your continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline to detect and resolve regressions early on.

Produce informative reports: Design test reports that offer clear and actionable insights into test outcomes, failures, and execution logs.

Foster collaboration: Encourage collaboration between development and testing teams throughout the test automation process.

Keep learning: Stay informed about the latest testing tools, frameworks, and best practices to continuously enhance your automation strategy.

By adhering to these best practices, you can establish a robust and sustainable test automation framework that adds significant value to the software development lifecycle.

Now that you know all the fundamentals of Test Automation, let’s now understand how TestGrid makes the life of a tester easy.

Boost Your Automation Efforts: How TestGrid Can Help

TestGrid offers a comprehensive suite of features for end-to-end mobile test automation, from app testing to load testing to API testing. It allows users to conduct both manual and AI based codeless automation on real devices hosted on the cloud, on-premise or in a hybrid manner.

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TestGrid offers a wide range of codeless testing options, including record and playback, AI automation, and low code/no code testing. Say goodbye to complicated scripting and make testing accessible for everyone, regardless of technical expertise.

Here are some benefits of using TestGrid:

  • TestGrid supports testing on various real devices, including Android, iOS, Samsung, Oppo, Pixel, and more.
  • Users can save time by performing codeless automation, especially for complex use cases.
  • It seamlessly integrates with custom scripts or code, providing flexibility in the testing process.
  • TestGrid offers AI-driven Auto-heal(Self-Healing), which automatically identifies and fixes defects, reducing maintenance efforts.
  • You can create custom dashboards to visualize test results and gain insights into your app’s performance benchmarks and metrics.
  • TestGrid integrates smoothly with popular CI/CD tools, allowing users to automate their entire testing process.
  • You have the option to reserve a device for a specific period, ensuring exclusive access for testing specific apps or features in a controlled environment.
  • CoTester™ is the core AI model in TestGrid, fully trained in software testing fundamentals, including tools, architecture, languages, and testing frameworks like Selenium, Appium, Cypress, Python-Robot, and Cucumber. It is constantly learning and improving with every task it tackles, making it a valuable asset that grows stronger alongside your team.
  • It can also assign bugs to team members, take notes, assigning tasks, setting reminders, and ensuring work is completed within deadlines.
  • With TestGrid, you can write test cases in English, BDD, CSV and paste them into TestGrid AI portal to generate test cases. It automates your test scenarios into actual automation steps and executes them on both mobile devices and browsers.

Take a look at our docs on Configuring the TestGrid account and experiencing Real Device Mobile Cloud.

Sign up for free and check TestGrid today or book a demo to get an in-depth walkthrough of  100+ features.

Conclusion

Automation Testing is an investment in the quality and efficiency of your software development process. By implementing the strategies and best practices outlined in this guide, you can streamline testing, expedite releases, and deliver a more polished product to your users. Remember, test automation is an ongoing journey. As your application and testing needs to evolve, so will your automation framework be. Embrace continuous learning, explore new tools and techniques, and stay on top of industry trends. With dedication and a strategic approach, test automation can become a powerful asset in your software development arsenal.