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There are two main categories of software testing: Manual and Automated.

Manual testing is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and with complex software, it can also become costly when you use it exclusively. Automated testing streamlines processes, reduces the time it takes to test, and eliminates inefficiencies like software developers spending tedious hours testing software functionality.

The following summarizes automated testing and how it can help your software testing workflow.

What Is Test Automation, And Why Do We Need It?

What is test automation?

What is software testing automation? Automated testing is the process of using software tools that run newly-developed software or updates through a series of tests to identify potential coding errors, bottlenecks, and other hindrances to performance. Software test automation tools perform the following functions:

  • Implementing and running tests
  • Analyzing the results
  • Comparing the results to expected outcomes
  • Generating a report on the performance of the development software

When testing new software or software updates, manual tests can be expensive and tedious. Whereas, automated tests are less expensive and take less time. 

Automated tests can help detect failures faster with less chance for human error. Plus, they are easier to run multiple times for each change or until you get the desired results.  

Automating also speeds up the process of bringing software to market. Automation allows thorough testing in specific areas, so you can address common issues before moving on to the next phase.

The Test Automation Pyramid

A test automation pyramid helps you understand how frequently you should be performing each type of test.

The test automation pyramid splits testing into four levels. The bottom layer represents the tests that you should perform most frequently. The levels get smaller the closer they get to the top of the pyramid, representing tests you should be doing less often. 

Here are the type of tests the test automation pyramid indicates you should be doing, from most to least:

  • Unit tests
  • Integration tests
  • API tests
  • UI tests

1. Unit

Unit testing involves breaking down the development software into digestible units to identify any errors or performance issues. 

Unit testing helps in identifying errors before the software development process progresses too far. This type of testing happens during the earliest stages of software development, isolating and addressing problems before moving forward with testing.

Unit testing is the type of testing you should be doing most often because it ensures that all the smallest software components are working correctly before integrating them into the whole. 

2. Integration

Once you have checked to determine that each individual component of the software is working correctly, it is time to combine them to determine if they all work together. Integration tests validate component interactions, including those within the same software program. 

It is essential that all integrated components interact correctly with the software or with external services, such as web services. Thus, most people choose to create a database for integration testing to list out all possible scenarios. 

Since you will work out the majority of code errors during unit testing, you shouldn’t have to do integration testing as often.

3. API

Application Program Interface (API) testing tests whether two distinct software components can communicate with each other in various circumstances. 

Some types of API testing include:

  • Validation testing
  • Functional testing
  • Security testing
  • Load testing

4. UI

User interface (UI) testing (also known as GUI testing) ensures that the software works with various user interfaces such as operating systems, browsers, and other places where end-users interact with it. UI testing evaluates features like functionality, visual design, performance, and usability. Luckily, UI automation testing eliminates the need to purchase multiple devices for testing.

UI test automation considers the end-user experience and helps mold software to match that interaction. The UI test automation framework should include testing scenarios related to system and process bottlenecks.

Since all previous testing steps should have identified and repaired the majority of issues the software might have, UI testing should be the least time-consuming test. UI automation tools save even more time. 

What Are the Main Criteria for a Successful Test Automation Process?

The main purpose of test automation is to identify software errors and repair them before a project moves on to another phase or reaches the end-user. A successful test automation process takes less time and produces software that behaves and delivers functionality as intended

best practices software testing automation

1. Having A Dedicated Team

Having a dedicated team for testing the software is essential. Developers, testers, and the quality assurance team can be involved in different parts of the testing process to ensure nothing is missed at each level of testing. 

2. Having The Right Tools

Choosing the right automated test automation tools is essential. Automated testing tools work best when they are:

  • Easy to use
  • Able to test a variety of operating systems, browsers, and devices
  • Equipped with the necessary tools (full stack) to test what you need
  • Able to support your scripting language and be easy to use even for people who don’t know the scripting language, or have no coding skills 
  • Reusable for multiple tests and changes
  • Able to leverage large sets of data from multiple sources to provide data-driven validations

3. Having a Dedicated Budget

If you are already investing in software development, having a dedicated budget for test automation software, development and training can save you money in the long run. You will spend less time doing manual testing and get the software up and running more quickly.

4. Implementing a Strong Testing Framework

What is a test framework? A testing framework that includes guidelines, best practices, tools, and rules for testing can save time and effort. A good web automation framework should integrate various functions like:

  • Libraries
  • Test data
  • Reusable modules
  • Third-party tool integration

What Are the Types of Automated Tests?

While there are many types of tests that are possible to automate, here are some of the most common. 

1. Functional Tests

Functional testing helps determine if the software or app works according to expectations. It tests whether the software is producing the correct results without errors or gaps.

2. Non-Functional Tests

Non-functional tests measure several things, including:

  • How well the software performs in various circumstances
  • How well the software works under expected user loads, including peak usage
  • How well the software works under the heaviest load conditions

3. Code Analysis

Code analysis looks at code and identifies problems via testing, such as:

  • Redundant code and performance loops
  • Code that does not work
  • Code that has interface issues
  • Code that has internal conflicts with other code

4. Unit Tests

Unit tests evaluate individual software components. The purpose of unit tests is to ensure the basic functionality of specific units within the software is intact and error-free.

5. Integration Tests

Integration tests make sure that units work together when they are connected with each other. It examines whether components cooperate logically and produce the correct values. It also tests whether modules work with third-party tools.

6. Smoke Tests

Developers use smoke tests to verify the stability of the entire system after each new build.

7. Performance Tests

Performance tests measure how well the software works. Its main concern is the overall quality of the software, points where it fails, speed, and scalability.

8. Regression Tests

Regression testing ensures new code, error repair, or updates don’t break the functionality of previously existing components within the software.

9. API Tests

API testing ensures that two components are able to communicate with each other reliably and securely in a variety of scenarios. An API test automation framework should be easy to use, scalable, and reusable.

What Processes and Types of Tests Should You Automate?

The goal of any automation scenario is to speed up testing time and reduce costs, so data-driven automation is essential. Here are a few examples of processes that automation can help:

1. Repetitive Testing

Any test involving sequential and regular repetition benefits from automated testing simply because it can run faster than manual testing.

2. High-Risk Tests

Automation lets you isolate potential failure points and address them before you start changing any code. Avoiding changing code prevents slowing down the development cycle unless the test identifies a problem.

3. Time Consuming Tests

Manual testing takes longer and is prone to error. Automating tests reduces the manpower needed to conduct the tests and the chances of not catching vital errors.

4. Multi-Faceted Apps

When software has a lot of interaction with other apps or software, there is more potential for conflicts. Automating ensures catching all potential conflicts.

Who Should Be Involved in the Test Automation Process

who should be involved with software test automation tools and planning

Automation testing is rarely a job for a single employee. Here are a few examples of people that should be involved in any automation testing processes:

1. Developers

Developers are the initial testers to ensure there are no issues arising from errors in the code. They attend to the finer details of testing, such as unit testing, smoke testing, and integration testing.

2. Testers

Testers also do a bit of unit testing and may do smoke or integration testing. They also do regression testing to make sure new components work with old ones.

3. Quality Assurance Team

Using automated tests ensures that the QA team doesn’t have to have coding expertise, beyond the relevant fundamentals. Their job is to find issues that developers and testers may miss. They also test the limits of the software’s capabilities.

A good GUI test automation framework improves the ability of the QA team to handle testing rather than relying on developers or other testers.

4. Stakeholders (End Users)

Beta testing from end-users is essential to make sure it works properly for the people who will be using the end product.

Test Automation Process & Implementation Checklist

Software testing checklist

A successful test automation system will adhere to the following process:

Step 1: Define Test Goals

Map out what you want to accomplish with testing before selecting any tests to run. This way, you are not wasting processing time for meaningless results.

Step 2: Prioritize Testing

Setting a list of priorities for testing lets you focus on the most vital areas first and work your way down to the least important. 

Step 3: Cross-Platform Applicability

It is essential to test whether the software works with various operating systems, browsers, and devices. 

Step 4: Ease of Testing

Tests should be reusable, applicable to other applications, or able to quickly adapt to other scenarios. This way, you are not reinventing the wheel when you initiate testing processes.

Step 5: Streamlined Communications

Ensure that everyone who needs to provide input into testing does so and that the information is available in a common location. Making a clear map of who should be involved in each test and the results can eliminate redundancies or undoing someone else’s hard work. 

Step 6: Quality Assurance

It is essential to use a QA team to verify results. Using a QA testing group eliminates the chance of missing important errors in the final product. 

Some Common Misconceptions About Test Automation

The largest misconception about automated testing is that it is a fix-all for every development software. That belief leads to the following wrong assumptions.

1. Automation Replaces Manual Testing

The best analogy about automation replacing manual tasks comes from the false idea that dishwashers can eradicate all manual dishwashing. However, there are always dishes that need manual washing. 

The same concept applies to automation testing in software. Automation speeds up common test scenarios and reduces testing workloads. However, it does not eliminate the need for manual testers, especially at that troubleshooting stage, where a developer is better able to identify error sources.

2. Automation Eliminates Errors

Even the best tests will not eliminate errors or system crashes. Some flaws in the code are inherent to the process. Other coding errors only activate in very specific scenarios. Using automated testing is like how traffic lights make intersections much safer, but they don’t eliminate accidents, bottlenecks, or traffic jams.

3. Automation Requires Experience to Develop

While some automated tests are more complicated and do require an experienced developer, many testing packages allow beginners to write simple automated tests. 

Things to Keep in Mind Before, During, and After the Test Automation Process

As with any testing system, certain assumptions and realities must always be a consideration.

1. Testing Is Not a Fix-All

Testing is a way to identify problems via a robotic automated process. It is not a once-off solution and will not identify every issue. Retesting will be necessary until every component works correctly.

2. Rushing Invites Errors

Rushing tests risks the integrity of the test. Make sure you let each test run through completion if you’re going to run it at all. Stopping it before it reaches the end because you assume that it’s going to yield positive results may result in surprises you don’t want later.

3. Even Tests Have Errors

Sometimes a test can have an error that only surfaces in particular circumstances. Keep the possibility of testing errors in mind when reviewing results and follow up on any anomalies.

End-to-End Test Automation Tests With ZAPTEST 

ZAPTEST is a leader in automated testing, providing both a no-cost/free test automation framework and enterprise-level services. Some of the many advantages of software testing services with ZAPTEST include:

  • Testing across multiple platforms at once
  • A wide variety of test automation scripting languages
  • The ability to run multiple scripts across different platforms at once
  • Pairing ability with multiple Mobile; Desktop; and Web apps
  • One-click conversion for testing scripts
  • Automated scripts
  • A variety of testing scenarios
  • Realistic, real-time simulations
  • Scenario recording for executable scripts
  • A code-free (No-Code) testing framework for non-developer usage
  • The ability to pair with your current software, such as JIRA or any other ALM and Test Management platforms 
  • Cloud-hosted testing solutions
  • Hyperautomation and robotic process automation
  • Auto-Documentation 
  • Recording Video Scenarios 
  • 24/7 expert customer support
  • Increased ROI 

FAQs

The following are common questions regarding automated testing and what it entails.

What is automation testing?

Automation testing is using external tools to test the software before it migrates to the next development phase or the end-user. Automation testing saves time, money, and avoids errors involved in manual testing. It also speeds up moving a software app to market.

What is an automation framework?

An automation framework provides a way to standardize the testing process components for comprehensive, efficient results. It includes the guidelines, protocols, tools, and rules for testing. The framework may include protocols like coding standards or managing access to testing environments. 

What is the framework in test automation?

In test automation, the framework includes the components that help execute the tests and provide comprehensive testing results. These components may include testing tools, scripts, and automated testing rules

What is a data-driven automation framework?

A data-driven automation framework inputs data from and stores data in a spreadsheet.  

Why is automation testing required?

Automation testing isn’t required, but it is more convenient than manual testing. It eliminates time-intensive and tedious work, the high costs of labor, and needing to test across multiple devices and systems. Ultimately, it saves money and time.

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