Test Automation To Achieve Fail Fast, Fail Often

April 3, 2024Shruti Sharma
Test Automation To Achieve Fail Fast, Fail Often

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Though ‘Fail Fast, Fail Often’ is a commonly misinterpreted phrase, in the positive opinion of the person using the phrase, it is supposed to mean that there should be a quick feedback loop such that errors are caught quickly and frequently. And creating such a feedback loop means that there should be sufficient resources to enable quick turnaround to learn from the failures and make the system ready to fail and come back up again.

What is the Fail Fast Concept?

The fail-fast concept is a software engineering principle that stresses detecting mistakes and potential problems as early in the software development process as feasible. It is frequently accomplished using a variety of automated testing methodologies, including unit tests, integration tests, and acceptance tests. This idea is important when quick iteration and frequent releases are anticipated in modern software development. Developers may maintain a rapid development pace without losing software quality or stability by discovering and correcting issues immediately.

How does Fail Fast Work?

This strategy works by finding and reporting defects or issues inside a system as soon as possible. Identifying difficulties as early as possible makes treating them easier and less expensive before they develop more serious issues. The following are the stages required in putting the fail-fast concept into practice:

  1. Detect errors early: The fail-fast idea is to discover faults as early as possible in the development process. This can be done using automated testing methodologies such as unit testing, integration testing, and acceptance testing. Developers can easily uncover and isolate bugs by running tests regularly.
  2. Report errors clearly: Proper reporting of errors is essential to ensure developers understand and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. This can involve displaying a descriptive error message explaining what went wrong, where the mistake occurred, and how to resolve it.
  3. Stop the system from progressing: QA’s should suspend the system when an error is found to prevent future problems and focus on resolving the issue. This can help prevent cascade failures and prevent more serious issues.

Overall, the fail-fast concept is a critical component of modern software development. Developers may maintain a high level of quality and dependability while keeping up with the fast pace of current development by immediately recognizing and correcting errors.

Implementing Fail Fast, Fail Often

Fail Fast, Fail Often not only means the ability to fail, but it also means the ability to rectify just as quickly and any number of times. Achieving this means putting in systems that can speed up processes and allow for quick feedback. It is only when you have the ability to resolve failures in a minimum amount of time that the ‘fail fast, fail often’ mechanism works.

At present, there are multiple tools and products available in the market that aim to cater to a pain point and make the process easier. But because not all products and processes are the same, the same tools cannot cater to all the needs to establish ‘Fail Fast, Fail Often’. Hence, according to the product and the specific processes followed, thorough research needs to be done on what tools should actually be used.

What are the Benefits and Challenges of Fail Fast Culture?

The benefits of fail-fast culture are as follows:

  • A fail-fast culture encourages developers to notice faults early in the development process, resulting in faster resolution of issues and lower total development costs.
  • It also promotes innovation by encouraging experimentation and risk-taking, improves teamwork by encouraging developers to collaborate to solve problems, and lowers risk by discovering and resolving faults early in the development process.
  • Lastly, it enables developers to move swiftly through the development process by detecting mistakes early and making changes quickly, resulting in shorter development cycles and faster time to market.

Challenges of fail-fast culture:

  • A fail-fast culture can result in a lack of responsibility, high stress, increased complexity in development processes, and a resource-intensive atmosphere.
  • These issues can result in a lack of responsibility, greater stress, a blame culture, increased complexity in development processes, higher expenses, and longer development timelines.
  • A fail-fast culture, when executed successfully, can result in a lack of responsibility, high stress, a blame culture, increased complexity in development processes, and a resource-intensive environment.

Fail Fast, Fail Often during Software Development

In the Software Development world, Testing is an important process because that is what decides if the software can be released into the market. Testing is also of various types and is done at different stages of software development. Testing is just like a feedback loop at every step to uncover any issues before moving to the next stage in the SDLC.

For example, during the Design Phase, the Developer created a design for which development would be done, but soon after, a tester figured out a bug in the design. This would hamper the software quality in a real-time scenario. Here, the Design failed, but the feedback was quick so was the defect fix. Hence, in the next step, this error will not be repeated.

Similarly, after the development, a short round of smoke testing will verify that the happy path works. This also gives quick early feedback, and bugs can be handled quickly.

Test Automation and Fail Fast, Fail Often

After the test cases are designed and the software is developed, it is test automation that matters. If the number of test cases that are automated is more, there is a better probability of catching any introduced bug with any new build. But for the feedback to be configured for every check-in and build, there needs to be a continuous integration system in place. After the continuous integration is put in place, the process that is followed is as below:

  1. The new code is checked in to the repository
  2. The code is compiled and built
  3. If the build is successful, test cases are executed. 
  4. After the test case execution, a complete report of the successes and failures of the test cases is sent via email to the concerned people/the team
  5. If there is any failure, the bug is identified, the feedback is sent and the issue fixed followed by rounds of regression testing.  Again, the process starts from Step 1.

When all the possible steps above are automated, the time for feedback reduces by a great deal and when the test cases are run every single time, some code is checked in, the “fail fast, fail often” methodology is realized. 

In terms of test automation, the execution of the test suite after every check-in is the major contributor to fail fast, fail often. Thus making it work at its best becomes important. One way is to enrich the test suite with all types of test cases including the complex ones and the edge cases. This can be achieved if along with the testers, other stakeholders are also involved in test case creation. 

For eg. The client knows of the critical scenarios that can never fail for them, the project manager knows of the errors that need to be caught before the build reaches the customer, the developer knows the intricacies of the product and will know what parts will be impacted by any feature change. If all of the knowledge along with that of a tester is unified and put into place as automated test cases, the ‘Fail Fast, Fail Often’ system will surely work as it is supposed to. A tool that allows for scriptless test automation and relaxes the learning curve is the way to go here.

Read here – Why Test Automation Fails

Resolution after Failure

When there are changes in the code, changes in the test cases will be needed too. The answer to this is a tool that modifies the test cases according to code changes and makes maintenance easier. Testsigma is a tool that uses AI at its core. Here test cases can be written in simple English using NLP and AI adapts itself to new changes automatically.

Another challenge in the software world is the technology and methodologies that change every other day. Keeping up with these changes is essential for the companies otherwise they face the threat of losing out on the competition in the market. Here again, a Unified test automation tool like Testsigma comes to rescue where it helps maintain the test cases using the AI and provides integration with third party tools. In addition to local devices‘ execution, it also provides cloud hosting for all test cases as well as a dedicated device farm to run those test cases on. So the cost of investing in the procurement of any new devices in the market that needs certification is reduced.

Thus, enabling your testers with the latest tools in the market with the least amount of effort and keeping your test cases up to date and good on coverage will help your software development process to fail fast, fail often via well-defined test automation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is fail fast in agile?

The fail-fast concept is a key principle in Agile development that emphasizes discovering and correcting faults as soon as feasible. It is often implemented by agile development teams using a range of testing methodologies, such as automated unit testing and continuous integration. This allows agile teams to quickly detect difficulties and make required modifications to keep the project on track, enabling a more adaptable and iterative development approach.

What is fail fast and Fail-Safe?

There are two techniques to handling errors and failures in software development: fail fast and fail safe. Fail-fast is a software engineering concept that stresses detecting mistakes and potential problems as early in the development process as feasible. It is often used in Agile software development processes and is implemented using various automated testing tools. Fail-safe is a software engineering concept that ensures a system can continue to operate even when something goes wrong. It is intended to identify mistakes and failures and take appropriate action to prevent additional damage. Fail-safe is frequently employed in sensitive systems, such as aviation or medical devices, where even little errors can have serious effects.

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