Testing is an essential part of the development process. Every change you make to a piece of software needs to be tested, as any modification can potentially break the existing functionalities. In order to speed up the testing process and increase its reliability, you can automate it with the help of specially designed tools. This is what is usually referred to as QA automation.
What can be automated and why:
- setup of testing environments – to test different versions of the application on multiple platforms;
- generation of test data – to reduce the amount of routine manual work and increase the speed of data preparation prior to the testing itself;
- generation of test reports – to reduce the time needed to describe the results of performed tests (plus, all reports come in a standardised format);
- monitoring of connections between artefacts – to automatically generate tasks for developers based on failed tests;
- execution of tests and checks – using automation tools for testing allows you to make it much faster, reduce the risk of human error, and improve the reliability of your product.
If you represent all types of tests in the form of a pyramid, placing the slowest and the most expensive ones at the top, you will see that the uppermost level is fully comprised by manual tests.
Lower down, you will find automated user interface (GUI) tests. Similar to manual testing, this type of autotests requires a significant amount of time and money; moreover, they are rather slow to execute – a full set of automated GUI tests can run for hours on end. In some cases, GUI tests can also be called E2E, or end-to-end tests, since they typically automate the testing of user scenarios that run through the whole application. From a technical point of view, they mimic the actions of a real end-user with the help of specific drivers (e.g., Selenium WebDriver, Cypress, and so on). This way, QA automation engineers can simulate users’ clicking on various web elements, filling out text forms, page scrolling, opening and closing drop-down menus, waiting times and much more.
API tests are much quicker to prepare. Instead of the graphical user interface, this type of testing deals with the programming interface; core functionalities of the application are tested by sending queries to the server and getting responses from it, without involving any UI elements. Running such tests may take you a couple of minutes, which is considerably faster in comparison to end-to-end testing.
Finally, at the bottom of the pyramid is where you will find automated unit tests, also known as component or module tests. This is low-level testing of individual methods and features of the developed application. Unit tests last seconds and are usually run each time the developer changes something in the code.
What is the right time to start implementing QA automation?
The success of the QA automation implementation primarily depends on the project’s peculiarities and the current stage of its life cycle. It is recommended to start introducing automated testing into the project in the following cases:
- Long-term development (the projects lasts over a year)
- The project is currently at a stage where all core functionalities are stable and you are not planning to change the product’s interface in any significant way
- Frequent releases (which means a frequent regression testing schedule)
- A lot of routine manual work, which may lead to a high percentage of missed bugs (increased risk of human error)
What are the benefits of QA automation?
From a business perspective, QA automation has a number of undeniable advantages:
- Shorter time-to-market – releases are “smaller” and more frequent
- Early detection of bugs – test engineers are sure to find them quicker than the users of the application
- Clear test reports with the visual presentation of key data – managers can monitor the quality of the product pretty easily
- The lower the number of manual tests, the lower the cost of testing (according to the test pyramid)
- QA engineers get more motivated to pursue professional development and feel more engaged at work since there are fewer routine operations
From a technical standpoint, QA automation has the following benefits:
- Consistent test results
- Since automated tests can be run in parallel, they take less time than manual tests
- Autotests are easier to maintain than manual test cases
- Testing across multiple environments
- Quick generation of test data
- Test reports are generated automatically
- Autotests don’t require human supervision (you can run them at night and check the results the next morning)
Implementation of QA automation is, first and foremost, a long-term investment in the quality of your product and will ultimately allow you to save both the time and money on testing. Although automated testing is slightly more costly than manual testing in the earlier stages, it is well worth it in the long run:
Test automation framework, designed with modern technologies and best practices in mind, helps you to detect and fix bugs much quicker, shorten the app’s release cycles, increase the overall quality of the product and make it more reliable as a result.