6 Elemental Principles of Automation: Why They Matter?

6 elemental principles to be discussed before initiating test automation

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Test automation distinguishes itself by making a difference via reducing expenses, boosting productivity, and lowering error rates. No development team, I’m sure, will reject the efficiency that a solid automation suite can establish during a typical development process. The most significant of these traits is that test automation is a collaborative and time-consuming effort. Silo tests frequently fail to produce the desired outcomes, especially when many teams are working together to create impact. 

In order to keep the machine running smoothly, collaboration is essential oil. This article focuses on the six crucial principles, software test automation teams should talk about before beginning to automate the tests  Creating consensus and outlining common rules aids teams in creating and maintaining cleaner and efficient code.

6 test automation principles

1. System state 

While building the test automation suite, one important principle is “system state”. System state makes the foundational aspect and has direct influence on the success or failure of test suite. Considering the application design into the account teams have to consider the state in which the application presents better. Not to forget the costs involved in maintaining the environment. Test environments are set up in various ways 

i. Long Living test environment – These are the test environments, once set up will continue to run except few maintenance shutdowns. Usually, enterprise applications are backed with such test environments due to the complexity of the business functions and speghetti system configuration. Most often we also see legacy applications running on long living test environments. 

ii. Hybrid test environments – These are the test environments where part of the system configuration is up and running all the time, whereas some part can be triggered on-demand. These type of test environments are the most complex to work with due to the partial existence, not many teams prefer the system set up this way. 

iii. On-demand Test environments– These are the test environments which can be set up anytime and dismantled after the use. Most often cloud applications harness this advantage. 

In each of these test environment the behavior of test data, authroization, authentication and external integrations vary at various levels. Test teams have to  take into application architecture into account before designing the E2E tests. While long living test environments are blessed with an advantage of maintaining and managing the system status, the On-demand environments have advantage of prestine test environment avoiding any stale test data.

test environments
On-demand Test environments

2. Authentication 

The most fundamental test that any automation suite may have is user authentication into an application. However, the majority of applications operate behind cookies. When a user logs into an application, the application is supported by pertinent cookies to function around the user. The high level of personal experience that e-commerce websites want to deliver necessitates that these applications operate behind cookies. 

There are 2 ways to distribute these cookies. 

1. Create the appearance of a typical user action and log in to the application using the user credentials. 

2. After starting the program, insert these cookies into the active browser session to acquire access to it before the window loads. 

Before creating the test suits, test teams should agree on the execution strategy, especially in multi-scrum/scaled agile teams. Depending on how the system is accessed, various testing strategies are used. When tests are created to use embedded cookies, extra caution must be taken to check the cookies each time the session reloads; otherwise, the tests will continue to regularly fail. 

According to the test requirements of the team, the test suite is frequently repeated and run in a variety of environments, including development, testing, staging, demo, and production. In these circumstances, the test suit unquestionably requires clarification regarding how authentication will be handled.


3. Authorisation 

One of the key concepts in any B2B or B2C application is access management. Authorization for user layers is a widely used notion in business solutions. Before developing the test automation suit, this is one of the most vital aspects that needs to be addressed. Concepts related to identity and access management should be handled as early in the phase as possible given they directly affect the test design. 

Below are a few open questions to consider 

Should you create several users with various levels of access? or alter the authorisations on the fly while running the test? 

Should you create a new user each time the test is triggered? or can we have long living user credentials? 

How do you prefer to compare modifications made by users with varying levels of authorisation? 

What levels must be included in the process of test automation? Should we conduct vertical testing or handle each tier separately? What user combinations can never be generated? 

Test data dependancy for user levels 

4. Test data bed

Preparing the test bed before the test execution is very important. Most tests should be supported with relevant Test data for successful execution. Theoretically most data should be flexible and should be achieved through parameterization. However, in real world execution not all tests can be run on flexible protocol due to various parameters. 

A shared understanding of the constants used for the test execution should be established. Test framework should also be supported with separate file with collection of hard data. Application URL, User credentials, search terms, forms etc are classic examples where we see hard data being seeded. 

5. Test Layering 

Load a Frontend, perform an action wait for the operation to take place triggering changed UI state. Applying assertion on the changed UI state is what by and large is defined as test automation. Personally, I believe this is not how tests should be automated. By restricting the checks only to the old v/s new UI state you are barely scratching the surface of the test goal. 

Establish a clear test design guideline for all CRUD operations performed and layers that needs to be verified to call it a successful tests. For example: When a user is prompted to fill the form and on click of save button the form details will be saved in backend DB. The tests should include the verification of the calls made to the backend, type of data transferred, checking the headers for security, verifying the response call, verifying the response schema and finally validating the data rendering on the UI makes a complete test flow for respective feature. 

Let us not forget, achieving such test design needs good hold technically. Most often test teams lose their track over a period of time when new team members join and automation is handed over with less care.

Test Layering 
Performance Checks

6. Frequency of test execution 

 A team of active developers generate more PRs in a day compared to conservative development team. The main goal behind automating tests is to free up test engineers time for more critical tasks and also to achieve flexibility in executing the tests wherever required without having to worry about environments where the tests are triggered. 

A team with higher PR traffic cannot afford to wait until all tests get executed to receive the early feedback. As this becomes the bottleneck in the CI pipeline as agents get busy building the code for a long. Thus, as a team, the last principle of software test automation is to decide on the type and frequency of tests to be performed during the code build, during the nightly executions etc.

Frequency of test execution

Read more articles written by Sowmya Sridharamurthy:

The Unpleasant Phenomenon In Agile Testing

API testing basics for beginners


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