Automated Testing: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Posted Feb 23rd, 2022

Any software application must work properly, generate the right results, satisfy stakeholders, and fit into the organization's overall objectives. Automated testing can help.

It may sound easy, but we all know that achieving all of the above takes a lot of effort. Can we take a shortcut without compromising quality or causing costs to explode? 

What Is Automated Testing? 

Automated tests are code scripts that run your application and optionally track the execution. Although tracking is not always part of automated testing, it is one of its main advantages.

During an automated test, the script operates your application using its graphical user interface (GUI), command-line interface, or even an application programming interface (API). It can do so without your intervention (as opposed to manual testing that requires a human to perform the tests), repeat the procedure as often as necessary, and even follow a schedule. Nonetheless, you can monitor and steer your tests manually. 

One of the popular arguments against automated testing is that developing the testing scripts takes a lot of time because it is almost like writing another application. This is simply not true because if you plan your tests well, you can quickly create the scripts and reuse them multiple times, modifying them only slightly. You can even use the data or keywords provided by users to drive the tests.

Automated Testing: 6 Essential Steps To Get Started

Automated tests exist to ensure the highest quality of the software applications your company plans to bring to the market or use internally for facilitating routine workflows and boosting revenue. 

Testing automation helps you achieve these goals, ascertaining that: 

  • All of the application's functional and business requirements are met

  • The software works efficiently and fits well into the existing architecture

Well-designed automation testing allows you to cover a wide scope of application features and possible situations. 

1. Goals and Scope

Narrow your goals down to something you can measure. One of the most important considerations is test coverage. Are you testing software units or the application in its entirety? For unit testing, decide which units you want to test. Another best practice in test automation is to test the application for all end-user devices and browsers. 

You also need to prioritize your goals. To decide which to do first, perform risk analysis and identify possible failures that may be particularly costly for the company. Once your priorities are set, move on to a more detailed roadmap. 

2. Time Plan and Responsibilities

If this is your first time automated testing, you may not have a dedicated testing team yet. As such, it is important to clarify the roles before beginning. Everyone should understand the scope of their individual tasks and how they fit into their schedules.

3. Testing Scenario and Test Cases

Once you've defined your goals and the resources necessary to achieve them, you can start drafting the code scripts. Start with a testing scenario, which describes the functionality of the application you want to test. You may need a few such scenarios. 

For each scenario, create one or more test cases. The test case describes what your script should do in a very detailed manner, step by step, such as: “Press button A, wait X seconds for the result, check if the result is equal to Y, and proceed to … .” 

At this stage, you can start thinking about the reusability of your scripts.

4. Data and Keywords

If you test how the application responds to entered data, you do not have to write separate scripts for each entry— for instance, for every weekday if you need to enter weekdays one by one. Instead, use a data set that a script will access during the execution. 

You can work with any type of data, including keywords (a special case of data-driven testing). A keyword instructs the testing script to perform a particular action. A keyword set looks like a programming language and is usually delivered in the form of a table. This same table can contain keywords combined with other data, such as names, numbers, dates, etc.

5. Testing Framework 

The last step before you can create the scripts is to select the testing framework. Some of these frameworks do not require considerable programming knowledge, which means that later, you can build a testing automation team that includes nonprogrammers. 

The most popular frameworks are:

6. Creating and Running Automated Tests

Once you have decided on a framework—your working tool—and you know what your tests would do exactly, you can start building and running them. We highly recommend executing testing scripts in the cloud, which is more scalable, helping you prevent bottlenecks in the development process.

The Benefits of Automated Testing

There are several benefits of test automation. However, the main benefit is if you drafted the test case correctly, then the testing script will successfully replace time-consuming manual testing. You reduce the execution time of each test to milliseconds.

Although faster testing does not necessarily mean a drastic cost reduction (since developers are generally paid more than testers), automated tests demonstrate visible advantages for the quality of your final product. 

Cover Testing Varieties Easily

Quite often, you need to test different features of your application in different combinations, depending on what users do with your application. You can create testing scripts that perform a single operation and then assemble them as you wish, creating a few different automated tests in one leap.

In addition to that, you can build universal scripts and cover the varieties in test cases by feeding them with data sets. 

Approach Software Testing Systematically

By reusing parts of a testing script to create new ones, you ensure the ultimate coverage of all functionalities that must be tested. Furthermore, you can better catch bugs and other imperfections. A human tester would have to record them manually. 

When you run an automated test, the log data is generated in the background, tracking everything that happens during the run. You can use the log files to analyze errors thoroughly or even combine them with the input data to automate the analysis.

Conclusion

Automation testing needs a few prerequisites for you to reap the benefits. But once you've successfully set up your automated tests, you can speed up the development cycle, bringing your software to market earlier. Learn more about automating your tests with our test automation tutorial

You may also need a testing automation platform that works with your favorite open-source tools, offers pipeline testing, scales quickly, and provides a wide range of simulators. With the Sauce Labs Continuous Testing Cloud, you have a comprehensive test platform with advanced features like extended debugging, test analytics, and seamless integration with the tools you already use. Sign up for free and see for yourself what it can do.


Written by

Sauce Labs


Topics

Automated Testing