Everything you should know about Automation Testing
Automation testing is no longer a strange term, especially when it gradually replaces manual testing. As the manual testing process is time-consuming and error-prone, many corporations are looking for a more convenient way to execute the test steps automatically without human intervention.
Sound easy, but there’re some things about automated testing that you should keep in mind. Here’s our ultimate guide to help you take full advantage of automation testing.
Table of Contents
What is Automation Testing?
Automated testing or automation testing is a modern software testing method that comprises the use of special tools or platforms to run test cases and monitor test performance automatically. The actual results of the tests are then compared with the forecast results.
In automation testing, most activities are automated, with the test engineer having little or no intervention. Automated testers (as distinct from manual testers) write scripts that have a number of actions and controls (so-called automated test cases). Well-written automated test cases can speed up the project, reduce errors, and help to save time and workforce. In other words, automation testing is the approach specifically developed to emulate customer interactions with an app and to verify test steps based on predefined requirements.
Benefits of Automation Testing
- Increased test coverage: By virtue of automation, testers can run a broad number of test cases. More tests ensure that requirements and features are exhaustively covered throughout each test cycle. Additionally, more comprehensive test coverage enhances the probability of detecting bugs, preventing avoidable issues that may bring a low-grade experience to customers.
- Time-saving for testers: With automation handling mundane, repetitive tests, QAs can spend their time on tasks that require discernment and intellectual engagement. For instance, they may devote more time to creating new test cases or deciding on advanced testing metrics. This method also helps reduce time spent on regression tests or recurring tasks, allowing continuous testings while other product functions are released.
What’s the Difference Between Automation Testing and Manual Testing?
For long-term projects, manual testing costs are comparably lower than automation testing’s costs. The initial investment of manual testing lies in the expenses for team setup and human resources. This may seem cost-effective at first, but in the long run, the costs can pile up to enormous expenditures.
Conversely, the automated tests require a significant initial investment, including automation testers and open-source automation tools. In charge of that is the higher return on investment (ROI) yielding in the long term.
The manual tests can be performed manually without the intervention of any automation tools. In contrast, automation testing demands tools like Katalon or Eggplant to run and monitor test cases. However, not every test cases are suitable for automation testing, while most of those can be executed manually. Therefore, manual testing is irreplaceable.
In accommodation to application changes, test cases must be adjusted regularly. In manual testing, this mostly does not happen as manual testers may comprehend the changes and decide on the next step without writing new test cases. It’s an entirely different story for automation testing since every little detail matters. Therefore, test scripts must be updated whenever modifications, even the minor ones, happen to the software under test.
Types of Automation Testing
Typically, there are two kinds of software testing: Functional Testing, which focuses on the software system against the functional requirements, and Non-functional Testing, which validates the non-functional aspects such as data storage and security.
Sorts of automation testing are:
- Unit testing: consisting tests for small and individual software components. It’s the initial and crucial stage of software testing. Although most unit test cases are done manually, you can automate them.
- Smoke Tests: as a sort of functional test, smoke tests ensure that builds are stable. It evaluates the capability of functions to ensure the app can endure additional testing. The purpose of a smoke test is to prevent software from catching fire if it’s not ready for any further tests.
- Integration Tests: functional tests guarantee that all components of an application can operate together smoothly.
- Regression Tests: can be both functional and non-functional. They ensure no software component regresses after new modifications.
- API Testing: the app programming interface or API serves as the bridge between all the other systems that your software is required to operate. API is often implemented after program development to ensure that everything works together.
- Security Tests: are counted as both functional and non-functional. Its objective is to reduce security weaknesses that can be exploited.
- Performance Testing: responsiveness and stability are assessed using non-functional performance tests. They ensure that the app can cope with stress and bring a more consistent and reliable user experience.
- User Acceptance Tests: functional tests that attempt to anticipate how end-users will react to the final product. Before being released to end-users, these tests must be passed successfully.
- User Interface Tests: one of the last tests in the process is user interface testing. This test is executed to resemble a common user experience closely. It ensures that the final product is matched with which people interact appropriately.
However, not every test case should be automated, and you must carefully choose test cases for automation. There’re some key considerations when evaluating test cases for automation testing:
- The test case’s complexity: evaluate whether it’s necessary to execute test cases on various configurations
- The execution time and testing frequency needed: test cases that take considerable time to test manually should be run automatically at the beginning.
- The automation testing’s ROI: you can estimate the ROI of each automated test case and choose the ones that give high results.
Which are the Components of the Test Automation Solution?
Test Script Development Environment
Testers usually use tools for automatic script development and execution.
The HP Quick Test Pro Utility is one of the standard systems which enables the development of VBScript-language test scenarios. Testers can collect UI application layouts and enter the test code, which is used to manipulate windows by using this recorded layout.
There are also low-code, user-friendly tools that can scale as the team grows, such as Katalon. It’s an end-to-end automation tool that supports most activities related to automation testing.
An automated test tool is a program that enables testers to use a programming language or a pseudo-code to develop test scenarios. In general, the following tools allow:
- Record human actions while working with the application;
- Write scripts simulating human activities and capturing screens or app responses;
- Generate test execution reports;
- Store test data using Excel external spreadsheets.
Test scripts contain the logic of tests. You can define the steps of the test process, either by programs or tablets. Test scripts should be held in a readable human format as they should be read and understood by QA or business analysts.
Prepared Test Input Data
Test data is a vital part of all automated test suites and includes:
- Different securities and their parameters;
- Various trader accounts and their settings;
- Market information on all the securities in the test scenario;
- Anything else that may affect business trading logic.
Automated tests are heavily dependent on test data. Parts of them can be saved within the test script in Excel tables. The developer of the test script shall keep the data accurate and consistent. Another part of the test data is stored in the databases; this data maintainer, including appropriate user accounts, is responsible for the running of a test script.
Action-Based Test Engine
Test cases for trading systems consist of a small number of clearly defined transactions, i.e. orders and executions. It is useful to present test scenarios as sets of order management requests, market data manipulations, venue responses, and system responses verifications. It is also recommended that the test script be split into two major parts: (1) a library with generic actions (place, order, cancel, amend or verify the results); and (2) actual test scenarios defined in spreadsheets.
Requirements for test automation frameworks, which are used to run the test cases described as a set of Excel spreadsheets, usually include the following:
- Each line in the spreadsheet is a single action within the test case;
- Usually, the spreadsheet contains multiple test cases;
- Each action functions with a set of input parameters which returns a set of outcomes;
- Consequent actions may re-use previous actions, parameters or outcomes. For this, the tester should have the ability to place in one of the cells an expression that instructs the extraction of values (either inputs or outcomes) from one of the previous actions;
- The input data values for each test case may be put into a separate spreadsheet(s). Each step may contain a link to a row within the input data table within the data spreadsheet(s);
- During the test, everything should be logged into a results table within the reporting database or a log file. The tester should be able to inspect the results at any time during or after test execution.
Emulation of external systems
Distributed trading environments typically have multiple interfaces to various external subsystems, such as execution venues, market data delivery, and back office services. Often, such external subsystems are not available during testing hours. They mostly do not offer enough features and control, which testers require to conduct meaningful end-to-end testing. Due to that, one of many test automation tasks would be to recreate the functionality of such external systems. This is normally achieved by building emulators allowing the testers to have complete control over venue settings, market-maker responses for market venues, or current prices for market data.
How to Start Automation Testing from Scratch?
In automation testing, it’s crucial to understand which step is to execute first and why. Sticking with the automation testing process will help you to implement automation smoothly and avoid common pitfalls which lead to automation failures.
1. Defining the Automation Scope
The first step is to clearly identify which test cases to run automatically and which to keep testing manually. This will help the QA/QC team reduce the testing effort and time spent on the unnecessary process.
Repetitive tests are the most prevalent instances of automation. This part consists mainly of tests for fundamental product functionalities that must be validated whenever a new build is released. The manual execution of these tests is time-consuming, while they can be done simply by automating.
Besides, Data processing and validation, Cross platforms tests, and Impractical manual tests also need to be automated.
2. Choosing Testing Tools
There is a wide range of test automation tools to pick from, making it even more challenging to find the right one for your team and project. Initially, this stage is time and effort-consuming; however, it will benefit your team’s testing process in the long term. Here’re some best practices that can help you find the appropriate tools for your project’s requirements:
- The best tool might not work best for you.
- For teams that have significant test automation professionals, choose Selenium for web testing and Kobiton for mobile apps.
- In case there’s a shortage of automation capability, you can seek out commercial tools that go with free trials and experts.
Some testing tools that automation testers should take into consideration:
- Selenium: is one of the most recognized open-source test automation frameworks. It offers test automation of web apps across multiple browsers & OS systems. This tool provides interoperability with numerous programming languages, enabling testers to automate their testing in any language that they are familiar with.
- Kobiton: a mobile testing platform that speeds up the testing and delivery of apps. This tool lets you quickly create automated test scripts by simply running manual tests and having that replay on hundred devices.
- Katalon Studio: renowned end-to-end test automation suitable for Continuous Testing and DevOps. The tool provides a broad range of codeless capabilities that enable even unskilled testers to execute automated testing, record the CI/CD process, and generate reports using built-in test analytics.
If you’re still considering which tools to adopt, check out our hand-picked list of the top automation testing tools for your reference!
3. Planning, Designing, and Developing
After identifying your objective and which types of tests to automate, deciding which actions that your automated tests should perform next is needed.
For the execution plan, it’s vital to detail the daily tasks and processes for automation. First, choose the automated test cases that you’ve defined in stage 1. Then, build comprehensive testing scripts that make test cases resistant to modifications to the automated system. After all, executing test cases with the pipeline orchestrator.
Once you have the completed plan, you can base on it and decide on whether to develop test cases or develop test suites.
4. Performing Test Cases
This step concentrates on the execution of automation testing scripts, such as those run with the help of input test data. Once the test has been conducted, a detailed test report is created, which highlights any possible bugs or failures so that they may be resolved quickly and the tests can proceed without incident.
Challenges Faced in Automation Testing
Changing from manual testing to automated testing may be advantageous for the project. Nonetheless, the automation testing also results in obstacles for the QA team as they need to be proficient in the given automation tools and have the necessary skills to ensure the predicted goals are met. Some challenges that they may face include:
1. Communication and Collaboration
To make automation testing work, every team member should be on the same page when developing a testing strategy. To run automation testing effectively, you are required to consider the sorts of automated tests and testing phases, plans, scopes, tasks, and wireframes. All of these things will need to be discussed thoroughly with every stakeholder.
2. Test Automation Skills
What makes flawless automation testing are proper tools and expert skills. There’s still a widespread misperception that manual testers can carry out automation testing without having enough relevant skills. Although most testing tools nowadays can support test script record and playback, if testers cannot use those tools to their full advantage, automation testing efforts may fall short.
3. Upfront Investment
When applying automation testing, the initial costs can exceed your expectations. The costs may comprise operational costs, tool licenses, and employee salaries. Moreover, there’re also lots of things that need to be set up, including an execution plan, testing script, automation framework, etc. These processes will cause considerable time and resources as well.
Which Skills that the Automation Testers Need?
To overcome the challenges arising during the testing process, automation testers are required to have sufficient knowledge and skills, which are:
- Understanding programming languages: although not every tester needs to know about coding, it’s still fundamental for successful software test cases. In the case of developing an automation framework and writing automated scripts, coding emphasizes its importance to automation testers and the process as a whole.
- Expertise with automation testing tools: to deliver good quality bug-free software in a short time, QAs are required to have sufficient knowledge and experience in some standard automation tools, i.e., Selenium, Appium, Katalon Studio, and HP - UTP.
- Familiar with Agile & DevOps methodologies: automation testers are expected to know how different development methodologies work. Especially with a project that follows DevOps or Agile approach, testers need to deliver work appropriately and be ready for daily scrum meetings.
- Knowledge of test management tools: it’s essential for testers to have experience in management tools as they are flexible and allow users to keep track testing phase, record any errors and report the problems instantly.
Automation Testing is a welcome step forward, but it is incomplete and still has a lot of flaws. Automation testing cannot completely replace manual testing. Human involvement in the testing and functional assurance process is very important.
If you're still stuck with manual testing, try to level up with a bit of automation testing skills. Manual testing and automation testing are methods that bring high work efficiency and have certain advantages and disadvantages, so you should consider the amount of testing method that is appropriate, with the goals and needs of the business, at the lowest cost, and with the highest efficiency.
To learn more about Software Testing, check out our latest paper on Software Testing Lifecycle.