Continuous Testing is a genre of software testing where testing plays a key role – testing is conducted from early phases, often and everywhere. Automation is key here. The strategy here is to evaluate quality at every step of Continuous Delivery. Continuous Testing is based on the concept of testing early and testing often.
The software offers a competitive advantage in any market. There need no longer be any trade-off between speed and quality. The key catalysts that enable quality even at speed are – Continuous Integration, Continuous Testing and Continuous Delivery. Among these, the most challenging is Continuous Testing, involving individuals, teams, tools and services. Building and integrating the code changes here are important. If the automatic delivery process is incapable of identifying the impact of changes on end-user experience and business risks, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery become a liability.
Keeping with today’s scenarios, Agile modules for testing and development is seeing increasing demand. This is why most teams are trying to improve Agile management. With Agile development and testing, speed is the only thing you need to focus on. Speed is critical in the user-centric applications to quickly raise the ability to innovate. With higher agility, the development process needs to be faster and more powerful.
The term agile (or Agile) was popularized by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. The principles and values of Agile were developed from several software development frameworks, like Kanban and Scrum. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development has 12 principles:
- Keeping customers satisfied through the early and continuous delivery of software products
- Welcoming the changes in requirements, even late in the development phases
- Close communication between the developers and the management
- Delivering working software very frequently, almost every few weeks
- Making face-to-face communication
- Projects should be built around trustworthy and motivated individuals
- Ensuring sustainable development at a constant pace
- Measuring progress through working software
- Focusing on good design and technical excellence
- Keeping everything as simple as possible
- Constant discussion to increase productivity and making the adjustments
- Using the best architecture and designs from the teams who can self-organize
How continuous testing is different from test automation?
Test automation is a process where certain software or tools are used to automate the tasks. These are a set of repetitive or similar tasks that can be done by a machine with very few mistakes. It is possible to integrate automation in the process without the need for continuous testing. The software releases might take anywhere between months to years. Also, regular feedback will be shared after testing each release. Automated testing protocols aren’t anything new.
Continuous testing methodology is different in the sense that it focuses on testing the software continuously, starting from the early stages, to achieve continuous improvement and quality. The continuous testing process helps in finding the risk, addressing them and improve the quality of the product. Though continuous testing can be implemented in theory without automation, it is greatly benefited by integrating automation. The software releases can be made weekly or even hourly. There needs to be instant feedback at each stage. The concept is pretty new.
How automation testing of Agile projects fare against Waterfall projects?
To maintain agility, automation is a critical component and is prioritised by the entire team. There are established disciplines and practices for that. Functional and integration test execution, continuous integration and automated deployments are some of the examples of applying automation beyond the traditional automated tests. Waterfall projects do not consider automation as a priority due to the hands-off mindset and phased investment. There might be some automation in the builds and a phase of waterfall project might be dedicated to functional test automation.
What falls under the responsibilities of an Agile Team?
Anyone who needs to do anything repetitively in a short span of time will have the need to automate the process. This can be done with a well-known tool like TestComplete or open-source options and even homegrown scripts or utilities. Testers have the responsibility of developing functional test automation as the activity runs parallel to the development of the actual feature.
Maintaining and Reviewing the Automated tests in Agile Environments
The tests are often developed by teams consisting of testers and developers or testers and product owners. Owing to this, there will be a built-in review process of test scope and validation level. Collaborative planning and collaborative acceptance with the owner of the product offer a lot of shared knowledge and review. Thus, robust and resilient automated tests can be created which offer the backbone of regression testing. Failures in tests from regression testing fire a test review.
In ideal cases, all the tests are maintained by the team – be it functional, unit or other. Specialized GUI tools might be used by the testers that require them to maintain the tests over time. The tools need to be carefully chosen to be accessible to all team members. The information should be readily available and the test inventory needs to be continuously culled to prevent test bloating.
Automation ensures a test-driven environment in Agile
The Test Driven Development is a coding practice undertaken by a developer and not the Agile testers. The developers write a failing unit test and add the associated code to satisfy the test and then run the tests to success. The higher-level functional and acceptance tests use the same concept, be they automated or done manually. Detailed requirements are expressed in the form of acceptance tests and they can be captured in advance in a test automation environment.
Why should you use automation for continuous testing in Agile?
If you need to consider the factors that automation can boost in Agile development, these are the following:
- Early defects and less cost – Continuous testing has a vital role to play in the agile development methodology. Test automation in continuous Agile delivery helps in the determination of software defects and basic authorization. If the defects are fixed early on, there would be minor costs to the enterprise. An adequate testing process in the initial stage of development allows recovery to be fast in the case of unexpected defects in the product.
- Automation is easy and it makes things easier – A continuous delivery model needs a continuous testing process. This can be done only through test automation. An end-to-end test automation strategy would help empower the organizations to test early, quickly and automate. It can be done easily at every phase of product development. It helps to coordinate QA efforts to balance the speed of DevOps and assist developers in delivering unique software features in weeks.
- Reducing the testing efforts – No matter the methodology that is used for testing, automation can reduce the testing efforts remarkably. With a good focus on agility and continuous development and delivery, automation tools can serve the testing team and the overall product development.
- Increase in the speed and performance of the software – An increase in speed and performance becomes easy with automation. The test cycles move faster and allow developers to gain feedback and insights much faster. Though it can become enticing to automate every testing mode, manual testing needs to be used in regression and exploratory testing at the UI level.
- Gaining efficiency – There needs to be a lot of expertise in creating test environments and configuring the automation framework. The greatest hardships are probably gaining the test automation coverage including the time and cost associated with setting up the effective automation framework. The comprehensive test management platform simplifies the achievement of the test automation project. Finding the perfectly skilled automation expert can be a challenge and most organizations have to face this. There needs to be a lot of coordination between developers, product managers and testers for continuous delivery and continuous Agile testing.
- Robust Planning and Execution – Organizations can assist the development teams to make faster developments without striving the in-house QA resources. Access to the right expertise who can understand the software architecture can plan and execute successful automation scripts. By automating significant workflows, companies can reduce the cost and time in testing.
Continuous testing and the automation process begins at around the same time as the development. The testing process should also begin the same time as the development, i.e. Day One. An automated testing ROI is a prerequisite for a truly agile team. The tests will offer faster feedback and reduce work and long feedback cycles.
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Finally, it is important to know that the auto-generation of the tests would not cover the needs of the teams. Someone would still need to write broader and global tests, which are more general. These would include system testing, the non-functional requirements and integration testing. The projects focused on delivering the user-facing software where the majority of requirements are functional, automation in continuous testing will ensure your team the major jump on the quality confirmation. Continuous Testing acts as the centerpiece of the Agile downstream process.