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What Is Test Automation? How It Simplifies Software Testing

March 8, 2021

Test Automation

Software is eating the world.

Those are Silicon Valley entrepreneur Marc Andreessen’s words, not ours. With millions of software products being shipped out every day to make our lives a bit easier, we can’t complain either. 

Software and technology have amped up the living standards of people around the world. And to do that, more software products are being pushed out every day, each better than its previous version, helping the digital world to grow a bit faster.

Software development has become a key player in the digital revolution and continues to bring innumerable innovations along the way in every business. For each software product that is shipped out for real-time usage, there exists a set of norms to ensure the best user experience for the customer. One of the most important steps in the software development procedure is software testing, which analyzes the developed code before deployment.

Considering the magnitude of software testing being performed every single day, it was only a matter of time that test automation software landed a firm foot in the digital market. Automation has made its mark by speeding up the software testing process and helping organizations deliver products more efficiently.

Test automation is a helping hand for efficient software development, and it makes running tests for new software easier. But not all test solutions need to be automated because they might not be adaptable enough for automation. Let’s take a look at the factors that make test suites fit for automation.

Criteria for automation

Automation aims to create cost-effective, scalable solutions that reduce human effort. But that’s why everything can’t come under the umbrella of automation. Some solutions may prove to be too cumbersome or expensive to automate. We can narrow down test solutions ready for automation by judging them based on the following criteria.

Reproducible

For a functional testing solution to be considered for automation, a test needs to be repeatable and reproducible. The test needs to set up a base environment every time the user needs to execute and measure a result.

Determinant

For a test to be determinant, it needs to produce the same results every time it’s provided with the same input. This is a quality check to ensure that the test is accurate. A test needs to be determinant and error-free to be considered for automation.

Quantifiable

A test needs to be quantifiable and unbiased to be considered for automation since automated tests, once in place, won’t take into account user opinion or vaguely described protocols.

If your business has a test suited that fulfills the above criteria for test automation, the next possible step would be to find the right automation tool for your business. It involves taking a look down into how your business may adopt and react to an automation tool being onboarded. 

Finding the right test automation tool for your business

Adopting test automation is a crucial business decision. Since the effects of adopting this software are long-term and perpetual, there is a certain number of things you need to keep an eye on to choose the right tools for your business.

Understanding project requirements

Each project or product in a business has a defined bandwidth of skills, resource strength, and scope of project. The right automation tool will effortlessly integrate with the existing project path and is easily accessible to the team with a reasonable learning curve. It also caters to all your mandatory project testing requirements for a quality test automation experience.

Gauging key metrics

Key metrics such as ease of developing test scripts, checking browser and mobile support, programming language support, and pricing compatibility with the business need to be kept in mind while choosing a test automation tool and testing framework. They are crucial metrics that determine if the organization can continue using the automation tool on a long-term basis.

Evaluate tools and vendors

With a forecasted share of 28.8 billion dollars by 2024, the test automation software market has many players offering automation services suited to organizational needs. Choosing the best fit among them will require matching the vendor to your budget, business ethics, and infrastructure limitations.

Cost-benefit analysis

A test automation software solution will require an initial investment which will be justified with the payoff received from the benefits of the software. To judge the financial viability of a test automation software, an organization needs to balance the return on investment they’re planning to achieve through the automation and the onboarding cost of the software.

Types of automated tests

Depending on the software or application, test automation can be done in different ways to ensure optimal results and insights for each application. Let’s take a deep dive into the different kinds of automated tests.

Code analysis

Code analysis is testing your code before or during deployment. The two major kinds of code analysis are static and dynamic. Static code analysis is conducted on code that isn’t running in a real-time environment and is usually used to pick out code design flaws early in the system.

Dynamic code analysis, on the other hand, is conducted on a deployed code to check the code’s interaction with other databases and servers. It’s useful in recognizing errors in the entire codebase.

Automated tests for code analysis standardize coding standards and make it easier for developers to find errors.

Unit testing

Unit testing is done on individual programs to check if a particular feature works in the way it was intended to. It’s testing each new program in an isolated environment before the entire software is run in realtime. Automated testing is essential in unit testing since it helps save a lot of time and effort for each unit test.

Integration testing

Integration testing is a cumulative test run on several programs working co-dependently, as a single product. Integration testing is primarily done to check the code behavior of the entire system as a whole.

Automated continuous integration testing enables efficiency problem detection in software products by running a test script on the entire product. It continuously checks how well the various components work with each other when run as a single unit.

User acceptance testing (UAT)

User acceptance testing is performed to check if the product meets the user or customer expectations such as continuous delivery of applications. It’s an important facet since it directly judges the success of the product with its end-user.

Automated acceptance testing ensures continuous UAT or UI tests done to improve the customer experience without repeating any of the previous bugs or errors reported. 

Performance testing

Automated performance testing is used to check the viability and performance of software products by judging parameters like speed, reliability, response time, number of resources used, and scalability under normal working conditions. For all the different types of test suites mentioned above, test automation has provided some obvious benefits over manual testing. 

Benefits of test automation

Manual testing is cumbersome and time-consuming. Test automation has eased the lives of developers and quality analysts by eliminating human effort for redundant tasks such as regression testing and made the software development cycle more efficient as a whole. 

Application benefits

Test automation is useful in increasing the frequency of tests done on applications to improvise their performance. It also facilitates the reusability of test scripting for faster iterations and increases the accuracy of the continuous testing methodology by identifying errors in each cycle.

Cost benefits

Test automation involves minimal human intervention and speeds up the testing process. It also helps organizations detect code defects early on in the process, thus helping them save resources on fixing the application issues later.

Once the test automation process is in place, products are shipped out faster because of the time saved in the testing lifecycle. This has a positive impact on the return on investment for the business.

Faster feedback

Test automation enables the developers to catch bugs early on in the development workflow, reducing the feedback cycle for any new feature being introduced. It also reduces the time it takes to deploy a new feature in any application under test by ensuring lesser errors in the code in a short period.

Test suite reusability

Test automation enables the reusability of existing test suites or test environments. This helps save time for building new test scripts for every new project and increases the efficiency of the team by ensuring that they aren’t working on redundant tasks.

Better insights

Test automation software provides agile application insights such as error logs, memory and file contents, and physical component stats. This helps developers in pinpointing the exact root cause of the issues that may pop up during the testing process.

Lesser dependency on QA team

Automating tests reduces the chances of human error by strictly following coded scripts and reduces the dependency on quality assurance teams for debugging applications. This gives the freed resources an option to innovate the process further and make it even more efficient.

Build stability determination

Build stability of a product is determined by interacting with the participating databases and checking if the application holds under various input metrics. Test automation can ease this process by automating scripts to access the right databases for determining the viability of a product faster.

Challenges in test automation

Test automation is a miracle help in the software development process. But as a business, you also need to consider the challenging facets of the process which may prove counterproductive if ignored. Here are the common challenges faced in the test automation process and how they can be mitigated.

Communication between participating teams

For test automation strategy to work seamlessly, your participating teams and developers must communicate effectively about the bottlenecks and how to tackle them in the automation process. Test automation tools will need a lot of back and forth conversations between stakeholders to be prepared for the issues that may arise while running the test scripts. 

Selecting the right tool

For your business-specific needs, selecting the right automation tool is of utmost priority. This may involve using multiple automation tools, each suited for different web applications or web services, brainstorming with the stakeholders of a product to find the best fit, or customizing existing automation testing tools to suit your needs.

Setting realistic automation expectations

Test automation software is primarily used for diagnosing issues in the system that may not be caught otherwise with non-automated testing. It’s also not a magic wand that can catch every issue that persists in the system without timely human intervention which is backed with the insights provided by the tools. It’s important to set up realistic expectations such as the frequency, test coverage, and accuracy of the tests from the automation software for all stakeholders. 

Mandatory programming knowledge

Test automation is a challenge for people with no programming knowledge since it’s heavily reliant on heavy coding required to write and maintain the test scripts. Some programming knowledge is necessary to be able to use automation testing efficiently.

Dynamic environment adaptability 

For dynamically changing application UIs and environments, test automation can be presented with a challenge since they rely on a fixed set of parameters for input and output. Test automation software needs to be adaptable to changing technologies, business models, and programming environments.

For an organization to adopt a test automation framework, it must get the maximum benefits out of the process considering the time, effort, and resources required for implementing the automation software.

Getting the most out of automated tests

No business likes to lose money on a recently onboarded resource that they spent a lot of effort and planning on. Here are some of the best practices for organizations to optimize their benefits list of adopting a test automation software. 

Analyze test automation results

Test automation not only makes the testing process faster but also provides valuable insights regarding the application errors and performance of the components. Analyzing test automation results will help organizations speed up the debugging process and handle known issues more efficiently.

Optimal testing environments

It’s important to ensure the quality of test data by taking random input samples from databases or taking real-time production data as input. This facilitates an ideal testing environment and pushes the test automation software to produce quality results by providing them good data and test cases to work with.

Experimenting with AI for test automation

Artificial intelligence can help test automation software in developing their test suites, mimicking user experience with products, and pave the path for better testing models. 

Now that you know how you can leverage test automation software to work the best for your business, let’s take a look at the market leaders in this category and make your lives a bit easier by choosing from the best. 

Test automation tools

Test automation software allows organizations to run a pre-scripted test on their software before they are deployed in real-time production environments. They play a crucial role in saving both resources and time for an organization by simplifying the testing process. 

To qualify for inclusion as a top test automation software solution, a software must:

  • Run software tests
  • Generate outcome reports
  • Provide comparison reports from previous tests
  • Carry out several tests every day

*Below are the five leading test automation software solution providers from G2's Winter 2021 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.

1. Sauce Labs

Sauce Labs is a comprehensive testing platform that assures a great user experience for an organization’s customers by taking care of the performance and agility of the applications and products.

What users like:

“Sauce Labs gives me different real devices to test my web applications and that is what I like the most. It has a very intuitive user interface, so anyone can carry out a test. Furthermore, parallel tests can be carried out on different devices. Also, I like that a tool for recording and playback is available.”

- Sauce Labs Review, Claudia L.

What users dislike:

“The logging at the moment doesn't seem to be all that great, and from time to time I encounter some lag or stuttering issues over the network causing some of our tests to fail or preventing the user interface from being responsive.”

- Sauce Labs Review, Cohen S.

2. LambdaTest

LambdaTest is a cloud-based testing platform that ensures robust testing of all web applications and provides support for both desktop and web-based application test automation.

What users like:

“I like how easy LambdaTest makes it to test web pages across multiple devices with ease. Just because the web page may look good on one device, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on others. LambdaTest has saved me multiple times during my web page presentations for clients where I caught the website issue during the testing phase. Especially useful when making this work with both IOS and Android. I would highly recommend this to any designer and developer to test the front end before shipping out the project.”

- LambdaTest Review, Andre S.

What users dislike:

“It’s a somewhat slow platform, when I use it on my mobile there is very little help it provides. You need better tools to find the error and provide details about the incidents, in this way we could find faster and more accurate solutions.”

- LambdaTest Review, Ricardo R.

3. Ranorex Studio

Ranorex Studio is an all-in-one test automation solution that supports multiple programming languages and platforms to help automate the regression tests for applications.

What users like:

“Ranorex helps speed up the automation process and good to get up to speed with quickly. It’s easy to learn and pick up but can enhance functionality by manually adding user codes”

- Ranorex Studio Review, Arwinder S.

What users dislike:

“There are a couple of features which other automation platforms have which aren't in Ranorex in standard, such as the ability to clear the app cache using pre-existing functionality. This can be worked around using ADB and some minor coding though.”

- Ranorex Studio Review, Thomas H.

4. Browserstack Automate

Browserstack Automate provides a cloud Selenium grid to run parallel tests and scale software infrastructure. It helps teams to reduce the software build time to a great extent and ship out software faster.

What users like:

“I can spin up instances of different devices and browsers at the click of a button. This is perfect for testing responsive sites without having to have a multitude of physical devices on hand. Additionally, for automation testing, you can integrate Selenium testing scripts into the Browserstack environment. Browserstack also provides a platform called Percy.io which, with a simple script, can integrate UI differential testing into your continuous pipeline. This allows you to quickly see if changes to the UI have been made with a different build - they can be intentional or accidental and it's up to the team to decide if those changes are correct.”

- Browserstack Automate Review, Karan S.

What users dislike:

“What I dislike about this software is that sometimes it becomes slow and heavy, it would be good if it improved the test speed, although I think that it can also be due to unstable internet connections, otherwise I have no problem its implementation is very simple, it has a support system that solves any problem in a matter of seconds and from the price I can say that it adapts to the quality of its services.”

- Browserstack Automate Review, Brook K.

5. SOAPUI

SOAPUI is an efficient API test automation tool that supports web and mobile applications testing for RESTful and SOAP API testing.

What users like:

“I like the ease of testing the API with Soapui Software. All we need to do is just enter the API's path/URL and add the factors like headers, including some parameters to be added in the URL or the JSON input which has to be sent to use the API. Also, we need to select the type of request like GET, POST, PUT, etc. It provides results in multiple formats which we can check as per the requirement. We have the option of XML, JSON, and HTML output.”

- SOAPUI Review, Shubham S.

What users dislike:

“Didn’t work that well for complex or large XMLs.In case of multiple queries it should be displayed as Tab, currently, it overlaps the previous queries. Starting up with a heavy load can take quite a long time. Sometimes input doesn't get updated unless you restart the app, mostly in case of header manipulation.”

- SOAPUI Review, Vishal K.

Optimize software development with efficient automation

Test automation takes the pain out of software testing by reducing the time and effort required to be put in by the organizational resources and replacing them with well-coded test scripts that can be scheduled to run at will. 

Our digital world has moved on from wasting resources on heavy infrastructure and mundane code. With automation, innovation is the way to be for every business to stay relevant.

Stay on the top of your business game with the current key players such as cloud migration and never lose out on a day of productivity.

Test automation tools
Automate your software testing

Speed up your software development process with test automation. Find the right tools for your testing process.

Test automation tools
Automate your software testing

Speed up your software development process with test automation. Find the right tools for your testing process.

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