Technology

Eight test automation principles for your development methodology

4 Mins read

Introduction

Using mobile app testing tools on software before launching it is an unskippable step of the Software Development Lifecycle, making it essential to know where to focus. Statista noted 230 billion app downloads in 2021, making the global demand for mobile applications evident. With development methodologies changing for the better and newer, more agile models adapted, the responsibility of quality assurance seems daunting. While it is essential to keep up with the developments and deliver timely and efficient results, one should also be wary of the primary testing principles.  

The eight fundamentals of testing 

The general idea is that quality assurance is a cumbersome task and can be time-consuming at the very least. However, this is more myth than reality. According to the World Quality Report 2021-22 by Capgemini, Micro Focus, and Sogeti, 61% weightage is given to the quality of the software solution in QA testing processes. If executed on time and keeping the basics in mind, QA testing teams can save time and precious company money. Following are a few principles that every QA team should be aware of:

Testing cannot be all-exhaustive 

Optimal testing is always the way to go. We need to understand that exhaustive testing is not possible. Unless the application has a limited logical structure, teams cannot check everything. Taking all combinations of inputs, conditions, and scenarios into consideration is almost impossible.

Determining the risk and assessment is the first step. Once the testers agree unanimously to which risk is the most pressing one, the team can get around to planning the tests. Developing risk assessment as a skill to optimize and prioritize is useful for budget and time planning. Not every single line of code needs to be tested, only the most at-risk ones. 

Grouping of the defects is a reality, but not the last word. 

This principle emphasizes that particular modules in a software contain the most significant number of defects which may lead to the most operational issues. Having that clarity in mind can be helpful when making decisions about what to focus on while on a software testing platform. We should give proportional attention to the areas with serious clustering issues. This principle can be the most important for testers who deal with complex systems where the density of defects can be very varied and unevenly distributed in the system. Complex components also tend to have third-party dependencies increasing the likeliness of defects. There may be more defects in the same place where there were errors first. The Pareto principle to mobile app testing tools is applied here, claiming that 80% of defects may be in just 20% of the modules. 

The only problem with an unshaken belief in clustered defects is that when the tests are repeated a certain number of times, the same test cases will not be enough to spot newer bugs. While experience can help identify risky modules, one should not just depend entirely on this for testing automation decisions.  

Using the same tests can make defects immune. 

Also known as the ‘Pesticide paradox‘ this idea reiterates the age-old understanding that by using the same pesticides on insects, they start to develop a resistance to them. The same can be the case for software testing as well. Using the same mobile app testing automation methods on every new defect makes them useless. To deal with this, methodologies must be revisited regularly. Existing testing techniques cannot be enough to deal with a myriad of bugs and issues which crop up every day. 

Regression testing also needs to be implemented to ensure that newly added functionalities don’t hurt other existing parts of the software. These tests need to be revised to reflect the changes in the software so that new defects can be found and fixed. Using various methods and approaches parallelly can help get out of this paradox. 

A software testing platform must discover new defects and not testify to their absence.

A software testing platform must reveal undiscovered defects in software. Reporting the absence of bugs or issues doesn’t automatically mean that it is entirely perfect. Ironically, testing reduces the number of undiscovered defects hugely. It is hardly possible that a system can be 100% free of issues, but managing client expectations is also necessary.

The fallacy of absence of errors 

Software testing requires more than just finding defects. It is also about making the tests about addressing business needs and requirements. This fallacy draws from the idea that test automation must reveal errors and shows that even if tests show that particular software is error-free, it doesn’t mean that it is ready for launch. The tests must match user requirements. Usability, error-free or not, is a concern. The end-users must be able to navigate software to the fullest. Companies can achieve improved usability by working with feedback gathered from the users. 

Testing as early as possible 

Starting testing processes as soon as possible is always a good practice. When we test in the early stages of the Software Development Life Cycle, we can catch defects early, and they can be fixed quicker and at a much cheaper rate. The test automation process should start as soon as the client states the requirements. Doing it after the development process can be expensive and time-consuming. Functionalities often need to be re-written in such cases. 

Testing must be contextual

Software is not all the same or even similar. Testing must always be context-dependent. For instance, the testing required for an e-commerce site will not be the same as the kind required for an off-the-shelf application. Similarly, testing API applications is not the same as database reporting applications.

Documentation is key

Communicating, reviewing, and documenting the test automation process is essential. Having progress reports of a test while executed makes it easy to maintain a standard. A measure of the number of tests performed against the number planned can also be recorded. Completion reports should also be drawn to summarize the results of the tests. This report discusses:

  • Defects discovered
  • Defects resolved
  • Defects outstanding at the end of the execution 

It provides an analytic outline of the identified report to be reused in the future.

Documenting the decisions, requirements, assets, and test cases is needed to communicate achievements to stakeholders. Documentation and reviewing promote collaborative practices within the team as well.

Conclusion 

Principles that are fundamental to the practice of software testing are not just a reference point. They are very much there for practical use and adaptation into the actual process of software development. To create a strategy that works for a particular team and their needs, these principles can be customized and used to optimal benefit, but they remain the base of any test automation strategy. Experience leads testers to develop an intuition that naturally applies these principles. Quality assurance must strike a balance between the amount of governance required and the time when it should be delivered. Such decisions become very easy to make when the principles mentioned above are considered.

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