Best Peer Review Guidelines For Low-code Automated Tests

While performing software testing, there are numerous things that you have to take care of, and we always try to focus on them in our articles. Peer review is one of the most important steps that should occur post-creation of tests to ensure that the test suites are fine and the entire quality engineering team can work collaboratively to make decisions.

Now, as you have already seen in our previous articles, modern agile practices like shift-left testing need the software testing phase to be shifted earlier in the development life cycle. That means with earlier testing, the necessary steps like peer review should be performed with more precision to ensure that the overall efficiency of the process remains high.

What Is Peer Review In Low-code Automated Tests?

Peer review is the traditional name of the process of rechecking different parts of the automated tests and working based on collaborative feedback & approval for improving the quality of the tests as well as of the codebase. It is a useful step in ensuring the best quality across all artifacts and deliverables such as the codebase, designs, architecture, business requirements, test cases, user stories, and so on.

To make the best out of such high dependence on low-code automated testing in present times, you surely need to follow the best practices for peer reviews, and the same we are going to see in the further sections.

Best Practices For Peer Review

1. Take Time For Perfection, Set Achievable Goals, and Capture Metrics

The whole point of performing the review is to find out as many defects as possible so that the tests can get the maximum accuracy. Now, the human brain can efficiently process a limited set of information at a time, and according to some sincerely conducted research, reviewing a maximum of 400 lines of code (LOC) at a time can let you maintain accuracy in your code review process.

An effective way of maintaining the concept of taking proper time for inspection is setting small achievable goals for the review. Also, it is a wise approach to avoid reviewing more than 60 minutes or more than 500 lines of code (LOC) at a time. Reviewing code in a reasonable quantity can be beneficial for both technical and business aspects.

Now, coming to the metrics, they can really help you get rid of a lot of difficulties in your review process. For example, external metrics can lead you toward reducing support calls or the bugs induced during development. Also, remember to pay attention to the internal metrics such as -

  • Inspection Rate: It is the speed at which a review is performed.
  • Defect Rate: It is the number of defects found per hour of review.
  • Defect Density: It is the average number of bugs found per line of code.

2. Review The Test Title, Description, and Metadata To Analyze The Following Facts

We have jotted down a few questions that you should find answers to while reviewing the test title, description, and metadata.

  • Is the test title necessarily descriptive? Does it clearly tell which functionality or user journey is supposed to be tested?
  • Does the test follow naming conventions? Does that decide if the teammates will be able to intuitively locate the test by searching when the test suite becomes very large?
  • Is the test saved on a branch other than the main? If so, should it be saved like that? This is a very important point in terms of code versioning.
  • Is the test description sufficient to understand the test goals? Does it follow the proper internal guidelines for linkage to user stories, test cases, Jira tickets, etc.?
  • Is the criticality of the test easily understandable? Should a failure alert someone off-hours? Block a release?
  • Does the test follow labeling standards? For example, the labels should indicate the type of test (smoke, validation, API, etc.), area of the application, or feature. Remember that all tests of a given type or feature should not be triggered using labels or analyze test coverage by feature.

3. Get Annotations From The Authors of The Code

The developers who have written the code know every minute aspect of it. There are certain parts of the code that should be reviewed first to achieve better efficiency. Hence, consider getting annotations from the authors of the code to prepare effective strategies for the peer review process.

4. Minutely Review The Test Step Descriptions

Analyze the test step descriptions to get answers to the following questions.

  • Are the test step descriptions intuitive? That means they should clearly communicate the purpose of the step. If that is not the case, suggest the authors add or modify annotations to clarify.
  • Are there hard-coded values present that should better be variables? Also, should those variables be shared at the environment level?
  • Is the test well-organized? If there are any areas that would benefit from logical separation, consider using echo steps.
  • Are the variable naming conventions consistent?
  • Is the test data-driven? And, should it be?

5. Consider Using Checklists For Review

Checklists are always a great way to ensure that everything is being taken care of. Now, when you work with teams containing multiple members, it is very likely that each one of them will make a few repetitive mistakes that are normally hard to detect in normal working motion. Omission is one such mistake that is difficult to detect because you are trying to find mistakes in something that is not even present there.

Hence, to detect such omission mistakes, you must have a clear idea of everything that should be present in the code, and nothing is better than a checklist to keep track of everything that should be present in the code. A checklist is a widely used method to ensure that every necessary thing is taken care of before proceeding towards the next step in anything. Similarly, use a code review checklist as an important step in your code review process.

6. Review The Running of The Test

Reviewing the test in action is the best way to check if the steps are moving as expected. So, replay the test steps in a non-live environment and analyze how it responds to the following questions.

  • Are all the steps passing as expected?
  • Is each and every step fulfilling its purpose? That means will the steps be able to prevent false positive and false negative results?
  • Are the tests using all the anti-patterns such as fixed wait times, XPath queries, or CSS queries? If that’s the case, is there an annotation that explains the reason behind it?
  • Are there areas where the tests apparently wait too long between steps? If so, can “wait until” steps or other modifications speed that up without compromising the reliability?
  • Are there logical points where assertions are missing? Or, are they even necessary?

7. Review The Plan/Environment or Configuration For The Tests

Consider reviewing how the tests will be run and what the best-suited configuration will be.

  • Are the test configurations made according to a plan? Or should they be?
  • Are the tests enabled? Or should they be?
  • Among a sequential or a parallel pattern, which one will be the best formation to execute the tests? Are there necessary prevention measures available for collisions between tests?
  • What are the possibilities of one test causing another to fail?
  • Can the tests be run parallelly across browsers? If so, will they cause problems in application databases, authentication measures, etc.?
  • If the tests are data-driven, are there enough unique scenarios present to make meaningful contributions to the test coverage?

8. Re-review The Test Steps For Taking Some Efficient Steps

Re-reviewing the test steps can significantly help you in taking some great steps. So, find answers to the following questions during the re-review process.

  • Are there any ways available to minimize redundancy across tests? For example, using reusable flows or JavaScript snippets can be suitable.
  • Are there “setup” steps that should be tested with a different test before the main test? Is using API steps more efficient for the test setup?
  • Are there teardown/clean-up steps present in the test? If so, do those steps require to be tested through separate tests so that the clean-up works normally even if the test fails?
  • Do the tests account for pre-existing data?
  • What are the dependencies that the tests have on variables? And, can those variables be randomized?

9. Build An Effective System For Fixing Detected Defects

Detecting the bugs is not the end of the story. They need to be properly fixed so that the final product solves the users’ requirements. So, you must have a systematic process to fix the detected bugs.

Now, one of the most effective ways of fixing bugs is using an efficient automated testing tool like PreFlight that allows your entire team to work collaboratively for finding and fixing bugs. This tool can provide you with significant benefits that can truly improve your QA experience.

10. Maintain An Overall Positive Code Review Culture

Any process can only be successful when everyone willingly gives their best effort to walk toward collaborative growth.

Now, in terms of code review, it is a possible scenario where senior developers may get offended by the fact that someone will review their work for correctness. In such a case, it is the role of the managers to maintain a healthy, collaborative work culture where everyone embraces others’ feedback & suggestions, and works for holistic growth. That way the work will get the best results and everyone will get amazing opportunities to learn new things.

Conclusion

Peer review is a great way to ensure that the codebase of your products does not have bugs and that you can launch a perfectly working product. In this article, we jotted down some of the best practices followed by the most successful tech businesses around the world for performing low-code automated tests with the objective of achieving maximum efficiency.

One of the most important aspects besides following these guidelines is using an efficient low-code test automation tool like PreFlight to fulfill all your testing needs. And, it is by far the most effective step too. This simple browser extension can easily enable anyone to create, run, and manage complex test cases irrespective of their coding knowledge. You can get to know about all the amazing features of this tool from the article “10 Amazing Software Testing Benefits From PreFlight In 2022”.

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