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How to Create a Test Automation Framework Design?

April 4, 2024Harish Rajora
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Automation has worked as a catalyst in testing software. It has saved more than $2.9 million and has reduced bugs by 20% on average over all the companies. While it is implemented in testing predominately, the impact is seen across each of the teams including developers and business analysts. Its heavy usage and wide acceptance have made it complex leading to too many elements scattered around all the place. If this is how a tester would want to work, test automation would not be implemented in its most efficient form. All it needs is a little extra time to brainstorm and develop a test automation framework design that establishes finer details and provides a skeleton of what’s about to happen during the automation process. However, this step needs a thorough understanding of a few principles before starting the actual design process. We will try to understand these elements throughout this post with real-life examples.

What is test automation framework design?

Test automation framework design is the blueprint of the elements that make the test automation framework. The design part in the test automation framework is considered the most challenging work as the team takes a lot of time analyzing various requirements of the project. Once the test automation framework design is completed, creating a test automation framework is a quick and cost-effective part of the process.

Test automation framework design can be considered as a standard or go-to document where we know what strategies and protocols are being implemented. Since the test automation framework is a collection of a lot of elements, their work should be discussed and understood by the team members before starting the actual framework development part. Test automation framework design fills this gap and informs the testers about the elements, challenges, and expected output from the framework. This helps save a lot of time and money for each of the team members and hence for the organization overall.

How to design an effective test automation framework?

To design an effective test automation framework, we need to follow a few steps in the same order as listed below:

  • Plan and lay down rules: The first step is to plan a design based on the project and team’s requirements. For instance, the type of automation (scripted or codeless) has to be finalized at this point as different approaches will yield an entirely different design.
  • Implement function wrappers: The technology we are using will come with its own set of libraries that contain the functions. For instance, Selenium (a popular web app testing framework) has a “click” function that clicks an element on the web page. These functions can be altered according to our requirements by creating a wrapper around them. It is a very efficient method of designing an effective test automation framework.
  • Implement logging facilities: The next important step is to implement logging facilities all across the framework for effective maintenance and debugging when testing is done. It should be finalized beforehand as there are many loggers and different testers will start to choose as per their convenience which will create confusion in later stages.
  • Incorporate a design pattern: The test automation framework has to follow a design pattern already established in the testing industry. They provide a skeleton to the framework and lay down set rules and protocols tested over time with scalable applications.
  • Isolate test scripts from the framework: Test automation framework and test scripts both can produce failed results and when kept intertwined with each other can prove to be extra time-consuming for the testers. It is therefore always advised to design the test automation framework by keeping test scripts and the framework separate from each other.
  • Implement testing plans: The next step is implementing the plans of testing and how the actual testing will be conducted. This is purely technical and should be left to the team members and their experience. The team can analyze the areas where automation will be implemented and where the manual will work and proceed accordingly.
  • Attach pipeline: Finally, the test automation framework design is completed by attaching the pipeline at the end. A framework should be able to integrate pipeline technologies and run the new code changes automatically before integration with the help of CI.

These points make sure the design of the test automation framework is efficient and robust and does not break even if the team members change, technologies change, or the architectural elements are altered.

Pre-requisites for Test Automation Framework Design

Before starting the design of the test automation framework, there are certain characteristics of the framework that the designers need to keep in mind for a better quality product.

  • Maintainable: The test automation framework should be highly maintainable as maintaining the software takes the majority of the time of testers.
  • Technology friendly: The test automation framework will be designed according to certain technologies. In such cases, it should facilitate methods used in that technology and not just merely support it.
  • Works within design model/pattern: The final design model and pattern selected for the test framework should guide the testers working on it during testing. It should create boundaries to establish protocols that constantly remind the testers about their efficiency with respect to the design model.
  • Reliable: The test automation framework should be reliable and designers should keep this in mind while designing any element of the framework.
  • Reusable: The design should facilitate reusability inside the test automation framework. This will help save time and costs that mount up to a big number in the long term as the application scales.
  • Test data supportData-driven testing will be a part of the software testing process no matter what kind of application we are building (except maybe simple gaming applications). Even if we are not, we cannot always keep designing newer frameworks for new projects. Test data support will help a test automation framework attach data in various formats and facilitate testing on it. It is an important prerequisite for designing the framework.
  • Integration-enabled: A final pre-requisite for designing a test automation framework is the knowledge of wide areas of integrations and accepting it into the framework. Integration is a powerful feature of a framework and has definitely become a set standard among all.

Working on these prerequisites before starting the actual design process will help in constructing a robust and quality automation framework for the future. 

Top design patterns for test automation frameworks

We started this post by mentioning how test automation has expanded to various domains today and how it all has become unstructured and unorganized due to that. It is only obvious that when some problem happens at such a large scale with so much at stake, it becomes a focal point of research and innovation. The solution to those problems is the design patterns for test automation frameworks that provide a fixed set of standards to follow and eliminate all standard and conventional problems from the mix.

Page object model design pattern

The page object model, as it sounds like, creates objects from the page elements to target them from a single space while testing. These objects help separate the test code from the page code and increase the maintenance and reusability of the framework. The most popular framework that uses page object design patterns is Selenium.

Factory design pattern

Another extremely popular method to generate tightly coupled code in test automation is the factory design pattern. The factory design pattern designates a class, called the factory class, that has a responsibility to instantiate the objects or create subclasses through inheritance. This enables all the code to be connected and dependent which helps us separate the code logically and avoid multiple impact points overall.

Factory design pattern

Source

Facade Design Pattern

A facade in architecture is the front part of the building visible to the people. Similarly, in a facade design pattern, the developers create a simpler object (a facade) that connects the messy and complex source code beneath it. All that the user sees is this simpler mechanism and everything else is hidden from him. It is a great design pattern when there are too many interdependent classes and the code is confusing to understand. 

Facade Design Pattern

Source: starter tutorials

Singleton Design Pattern

The singleton design pattern aims to keep the test automation methods in the simplest form. In this design pattern, the testers (or developers) are allowed to instantiate a single class and a single object out from it (hence the name singleton). This keeps the complexity to a minimum because we need to track only a single object. It will also enhance the reusability of the code in the framework.

Fluent Page Object Model

To simplify the working and development of the page object model, a new API called Fluent API was released. It makes the code more readable and reusable and hence becomes the basis of the Fluent page object model. The model uses page objects but through method cascading (or method chaining) to relay the instruction contexts of the current page to the called method.

While these are just a few design patterns, there are around 23 in total that can be considered for designing the test automation framework. However, since these are the most popularly used, they are good for a start and would definitely yield fruitful results.

Pitfalls of automation testing Frameworks design

A poor design will create a poor test automation framework in the end which in turn will not perform testing efficiently. In a way, the quality of every process including the quality of the end product depends on how well the framework is designed. Hence, it is important to know about the pitfalls of automation testing frameworks to avoid committing these mistakes.

  • Inexperience: The inexperience of the people working on the design in any way will make the framework and the quality suffer. The most important pieces to look at here are a programmer’s inexperience in programming languages and in designing a framework according to the requirements in the past. For instance, a mobile test automation framework will have entirely different requirements and procedures than a web app automation framework. It is always better to work under experienced designers first and then move on to handle the critical jobs later.
  • Misjudgments about the project: Making wrong predictions about the project’s scale and other future prospects can twist the design into something that will not support it when the time comes. Some irreversible changes can force the team to start the process again from scratch which would waste a lot of time and money.
  • Short time frame: Designers should be given ample time to conduct their business. A deduction in this part can make them take shortcuts and other decisions that will impact the quality of the framework. Hence, to save time in the future, the design time should depend on the team designing the framework only.
  • Hurrying to get things done: Finally, if the team itself is hurrying to start the actual testing and not focusing well enough on the design, the framework is set to suffer from this. The process requires complete focus and dedication in each step for a fruitful result.

Pitfalls are an important part of design (or planning) or anything that initiates a series of processes after its completion. These should be managed under experienced supervision and analyzing each step as we go through.

Sometimes its advisable to use a pre-built test automation tool, considering it fulfils your test automation needs.

Here is a blog that throws light on how to choose a test automation tool that meets your needs: https://testsigma.com/blog/10-points-to-help-you-choose-the-right-test-automation-tool/




Conclusion

Test automation frameworks cut down costs, time, errors, repetitiveness, and a lot more elements that could prove harmful to the software and the business. It would not be wrong to say that a lot of responsibilities ride on the quality of the test automation framework itself as its quality impacts the quality of the software. Therefore, teams design the test automation framework beforehand to analyze all the parameters and determine the best tool according to their project and requirements. This involves understanding the design process, the design models, and of course, the pitfalls that challenge us at each step. This post highlights all these ingredients to collectively provide a guide that helps in each phase of testing. We hope this will help the testers in their future projects.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the best design pattern for test automation?

While it has been a popular question whether one design pattern is the best one, practically, there are none of them. Each design pattern brings something to the table that others don’t and vice-versa. I believe each of them works towards reusability and simplicity, but technically they do tend to differ in the process of achieving that. It is recommended to go through either “Gang of Four” design patterns or the 23 most popular listed patterns to understand which one suits the most according to your project.

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