Automated Testing Best Practices: 9 Ways to Ensure Efficient Testing
We need to follow Automated Testing best practices as software gets more sophisticated. Recently, top QA consultancy companies QASymphony and TechWell surveyed mid-size and large-size enterprises for insights into the QA Automation trends. They found that most organizations(76%) were automating less than half of their test cases.
However, almost half of these enterprises expect to automate 50% of the test cases by this year. In general, 92% of organizations, including startups and large enterprises, perform some automation with the help of tools. You can find the full report here.
The benefits are huge and rewarding if automated testing is practiced diligently with proper planning. The ROI increases exponentially with time if we follow top automated testing practices.
However, it does not mean that we can depend on automated testing completely and bid goodbye to manual testing. The overall software testing process will always include a mix of manual and automation test cases to achieve high quality and better speed with optimum use of resources. In this blog, we will discuss 9 top Automated Testing best practices.
Table Of Contents
- 1 9 Best Practices for Automated Testing
- 1.1 1. Automation is the second step, not the first
- 1.2 2. Identify ideal test cases for automated testing
- 1.3 3. Stability of Environment and Application Under Test(AUT)
- 1.4 4. Choose the Appropriate Automated Testing Tool
- 1.5 5. Follow Programming Design Principles
- 1.6 6. Simple Automation Test Design
- 1.7 7. Screenshots, logs, and detailed reports are important
- 1.8 8. Review and Remove Outdated/Non-Usable Tests
- 1.9 9. Naming Convention
- 2 Conclusion
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
- 4 Suggested Reading
9 Best Practices for Automated Testing
So, let’s look at some top automated testing practices we can follow while automating the test cases for a happy automated testing experience.
1. Automation is the second step, not the first
We cannot directly start automating new software. The first step is to have a stable and well-designed manual testing process and right test cases in place. When the environment, development code and manual test processes gain stability, we can start thinking about bringing automated testing in the project. Hence, the test cases which are ideal for automated testing can be selected with the help of manual testers and put in automated testing which frees up manual test engineers’ time for more human attention specific tasks, such as usability testing, exploratory testing, and ad-hoc testing.
So, how do we identify which cases to be automated? Let’s find out in the next point.
2. Identify ideal test cases for automated testing
Though 100% of the test cases present in any project can be automated, it does not imply that they should be automated. We need to be very careful while selecting the ideal cases for automation. Otherwise, we may lose time and money on creating scripts for the cases which are rarely run.
Below test cases could be picked up for automation because of their repetitive nature:
a. Regression Tests
We need to ensure that the new code changes have not introduced any new defects in the code. Execution of the regression test cases manually could be time-consuming and a mundane task for the manual test engineer. That is why regression test cases become the best for automated testing. The test engineer can use the time for other more useful tasks that require manual attention, e.g., exploratory testing.
You can find more on automating regression tests here – How to Best Automate Regression Testing Effectively.
Get to know more Types of Regression Testing – 7 Types of Regression Testing in Software Engineering
b. Smoke Tests
Whenever a new build is released for testing, smoke testing is performed to ensure that the critical functionalities of the product are checked. Since these tests are run after each build, they are good candidates for automated testing. Most smoke tests are integrated with Continuous Integration(CI) tools like Jenkins to run them automatically whenever the development team releases a new build.
Know more on Smoke Testing here – What is Smoke testing? – A Detailed Guide.
Check out the difference between Smoke testing, Sanity testing, and Regression Testing here- Smoke Testing vs. Sanity Testing vs. Regression Testing Explained
c. Data-Driven Tests
Data-driven testing involves running data stored in several file formats like CSV, Excel, DB tables, and JSON files through the same code multiple times.
(i) Reduction in testing time Data-driven testing is time-consuming when done manually. Automated testing considerably reduces the testing time whenever a test scenario changes. Only the file where data is stored needs to be changed.
(ii) High-quality test data The data we use for data-driven testing should be high quality and easily maintainable. Otherwise, if we are using just filler data or data that is difficult to maintain later with requirement changes, our purpose of automation will be lost.
Want to know the benefits of Data-Driven Test Automation? Check out – Top Benefits of Data-Driven Test Automation
d. Difficult manual test cases
The manual test cases which are difficult to execute, for instance, cases involving many numerical calculations, are ideal for automated testing. Since they consume the manual tester’s time, it is better to leave such calculations to the automation scripts and make better use of the saved time. In short, the test cases repeating in nature are the best choice for automated testing.
3. Stability of Environment and Application Under Test(AUT)
The environment and application should be stable so that the automation scripts provide consistent results.
- Stable AUT: If the AUT is unstable and keeps changing, the QA team will have to rework automation scripts in every release. This will diminish the purpose of automated testing. Hence, ensure the application is stable before starting with automated testing.
- Stable Environment: If the environment is unstable, the actual result will vary from the expected result on every automated test run. In this case, it won’t be easy to verify the correctness of the test run and then eventually debug it.
4. Choose the Appropriate Automated Testing Tool
The next crucial thing in Automated Testing Best Practices is selecting the right tool. There are currently plenty of automated testing tools, and it is very important to analyze them. the below points before selecting the automated testing tool. Know the points that help you choose the right automation testing tool.
a. Application Technology
Is our application web-based, desktop application, or mobile-based? This analysis is important because this will help in the selection of the correct tool.
b. Platforms and OS
Will the application run on which platforms and Operating Systems? Does your automated testing tool support Android and iOS or both? Think about your requirements and the features of the automated testing tool.
c. Skillset available
Today, the boundary between the manual tester and automation test engineer has diminished. It is required for a QA team member to be well-versed in manual and automated testing both. Automated testing means knowledge of scripting/programming languages like Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, etc. One test engineer may be well versed in one language and unaware of the other. Hence, it is important to discuss with the QA team if they are comfortable with the language and the automated testing tool.The below options can be considered if there is a mismatch between the skillset available and the skillset required:
- Training – The QA team can be trained with the required scripting language.
- Hire resources – New resources with knowledge of the automated testing tool and corresponding scripting language can be hired.
- Scriptless automated testing tools – Scriptless automation tools remove the dependency on coding for testers. These Scriptless tools can be NLP (Natural Language Processing) based, AI-based, Model-based, etc.
Find here more on scriptless automated testing methods
d. Cost of the Tool
Is your tool open-source? Or are you using some licensed tools? It is wise to calculate the cost of the tool and your budget before selecting the automated testing tool. Mostly, there are different open-source tools available for different applications like mobile, web-based, and desktop. So, if the organization does not want to spend on licensed tools, the QA team must understand all the different tools if the application runs on different platforms.
A licensed tool can escape this because a single licensed tool will provide solutions for all the platforms and technologies. Hence, the QA team will need to learn only a single tool, so this can also be a good choice if the application runs on diverse platforms.
Also, the licensed tool provides services and support for the tool, which is a plus.
5. Follow Programming Design Principles
Test script writing is similar to software programming only when an automated testing tool with a scripting language is used. Hence, the programming design principles must be followed for a simple, maintainable, and reusable testing framework.
Today, we have scriptless automated testing tools where we need not worry about the programming design principles. Know here more about the benefits of scriptless automation.
6. Simple Automation Test Design
Try to keep the automation test design simple so that it is easy to understand and maintain.
- Keep the test data and test scripts separate for easy test execution
- When there is a test data change, only test data files should require modification, and the test scripts should use variable names to fetch the required data without any script change. Keep the test cases independent.
If you have dependent cases in the framework, parallel execution will not be possible, and it will hinder the purpose of automation testing.
7. Screenshots, logs, and detailed reports are important
As part of automated testing best practices, you must choose a framework that provides screenshots, logs, and detailed test reports on fail/pass for debugging. This will help the test engineer to find out where exactly the defect is or if there is an issue with the test script. These screenshots and reports are the deliverables after every testing cycle. Hence, they must catch the issue easily, and the tester takes an immediate necessary step like logging the bug in a defect tracking tool without wasting time in analysis.
8. Review and Remove Outdated/Non-Usable Tests
Periodically, the test scripts need to be reviewed to find outdated, unused, or irrelevant cases. These cases should be removed because running them unnecessarily means losing time and resources.
9. Naming Convention
To make the test cases readable and maintainable, tests should be clean. The naming convention of test classes, test methods, class fields, and variables should be self-explanatory so that it is easy for the test engineer to recognize which particular test has failed/ passed without giving much effort to understanding. The name should explain it all.
For example, a class method performing a new user registration- when a valid email id is provided, the registration is successful, and a success message is displayed. We may use below method name to elaborate on what the method does and what is the expected result –registerNewUser_ValidEmail_ShouldCreateNewUserAndDisplaySuccessMessage()More on clean code here.
In the case of scriptless automated testing tools, the naming convention and other design-related protocols are automatically taken care of. Hence it is very liberating for a QA engineer.
Automated testing is an important aspect of SDL, but it’s essential to follow best practices to get the most value out of your tests. Time, cost, quality, and risk mitigation are key points to be kept in mind when discussing SDLC. The perfect balance of these four factors does the actual magic. We have discussed 9 top Automated Testing best practices to follow.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the Best Practices for Automation Testing?
Ans: The Automated Testing best practices are summarized as follows:
- Choose a suitable automation testing tool.
- Plan and design tests that cover a variety of scenarios.
- We need to maintain test code along with version control and updates.
- Integrate testing early stages of the development process.
- Analyze test results and continuously monitor execution.
2. How do you Automate QA Testing?
Ans: As part of best Automated Testing best practices, you must know the following to automate QA testing:
- Specify which parts of testing you need to automate.
- Choose the right automation tool.
- Plan the test automation strategy and setup environment.
- Write and execute automated tests frequently.
- Examine test results and maintain tests.
3. What are the Elements of Good Automated Tests?
Ans: Good automated tests are relevant, robust, maintainable, and fast. Also, it will provide comprehensive coverage of various scenarios.