Test Automation | Definition, Types, and Examples

Automated Software Testing

Test Automation is the pathway to achieving better performance with lesser efforts. Since the tech world has started to adopt agile practices, test automation has been serving everyone to achieve unimaginable levels of efficiency and productivity. It’s all about taking some intelligent steps initially and then enjoying magnificent results. A lot of people often think that it is a critical skill to learn from any Test Automation University but, you must know that it is such an easy process that you can know everything about it just from this article. So, go on with it.

During the initial phase of tech evolution, most or all of the software development and testing operations were performed manually. There used to be different teams for different stages in the CI/CD pipeline as well as in the DevOps. And, it was quite common that any one or more of the design team, development team, and QA team used to take more time than planned, and the entire CI/CD pipeline used to get affected. Hence, the overall process was never that efficient even after enormous efforts by a number of professionals and after spending a lot of time & resources.

That’s where test automation came in as a savior. It exempted the QA engineers from the hassle of executing the test cases one by one by themselves. It enabled them to put more time and focus on improving the quality of the existing features and developing new ones. Let’s check it out in detail here.

What Is Test Automation?

Test Automation is the official name of the process that consists of automatically testing, reviewing, and validating every part of a tech product and ensuring that the components and the app itself are satisfying the quality standards on important grounds like design, performance, functionality, user experience, etc. The easy detection of the points for improvement provides everyone with more time, scope, and opportunity to improve the app’s overall performance and quality. That’s why it becomes almost essential to learn everything about test automation and choose the best test cases to automate.

In other words, test automation can be described as a planned set of activities that save you from the repetitive task of testing every small function or component by rigorous human intervention. You just need to follow the testing pyramid, the globally accepted most effective and efficient strategy for test automation and leave the rest for the automated test suite. It will execute all the planned test cases by itself and will provide you with detailed test results so that you can easily work to improve the product’s quality.

The popularity of automated UI tests or automated regression tests or any type of automated tests doesn’t need to be specifically mentioned. The modern tech world is crazy about finding the best ways to achieve the best performance of automated testing. But, what are the reasons behind such unimaginable popularity of this practice? Let’s find out.

Improvement In The Scale of Operation

The basic foundation of using machines is improving the performance level that was previously being achieved through manual efforts. Similarly, automating your tests significantly improves the scale of your team’s testing operations. Now, if you try to figure out the reason behind it, let’s break it down. There is a certain duration of time for which your QA team can efficiently perform their tasks and normally, even the most effective QA engineers cannot work for more than 60 hours in a week. Pushing that limit or overworking can become extremely harmful for both the QA engineers’ health and the results of their work.

On the other hand, automated tests are run by computers that are capable of working round the clock for even the whole week. Hence, it is evident that using computers for executing the automated tests will naturally make you achieve much better results and higher test coverage within the same time & resources that were previously being used in manual testing operations, and eventually, you will get to experience faster debugging, better scalability of your business. That’s why we suggest that you must adopt automated testing to utilize your human resources wisely.

Higher Stability and Speed In CI/CD Pipeline

We have already discussed how the number of tech users and their demands are surging. So, naturally, to cope with such huge demand, businesses are pushing their limits for developing more and more applications with numerous useful features. To maintain a good balance in the development of so many applications, you must maintain a robust CI/CD pipeline. And, you must already know that if you do not conduct rigorous regression tests for every update in any application’s codebase, it may get bugs anytime and of any severity. So, it is clear that regression tests are highly repetitive and manually performing those tests can cause unimaginable wastage of time and resources. Hence, prioritize performing automated regression tests to effectively shorten the time consumption by them and achieve the best results within the same resources.

Well Maintained Release Process

In the conventional testing process, tests are executed after the entire development phase is completed. But, for larger codebases and when clients modify their requirements frequently, it becomes necessary to keep updating the codebase. In such cases, trying to test the code after the completion of the development phase significantly delays the release of the product. However, the conventional testing process means all manual tests so it is evident that such testing will consume a lot of time, effort, and resources.

On the other hand, automated tests enable you to execute tests within seconds at any point in the development phase. You get the ability to run smoke tests every time new code is pushed to the codebase. Test automation ensures that every new feature is efficiently tested. Hence, eventually, you will get to experience an efficiently streamlined release process for your products.

How Does Test Automation Revolutionize QA?

Quality Assurance is a highly important aspect of DevOps as well as of the overall growth of your business. Previously, QA used to mean that professional testers writing test scripts and checking if the user interface and functionalities that the end users will use are working properly. However, this approach need the testers to dive into tutorials of different programming languages like Java, Python, JavaScript, etc. and, even after so many hassles, the reusability of the test cases used to be quite insignificant. Hence, let’s see how test automation has improved the scenario.

  • On average, agile methodologies need multiple releases per day. And, that’s being possible only due to different types of testing (e.g. UI testing, API testing, Application testing, End-to-End testing, Black box testing, etc.) getting automated.
  • No matter whether you use an open source IDE or a closed environment, advanced test automation tools like PreFlight can efficiently handle test executions without involving a single line of coding.
  • You can use any automation strategy you like in every suitable test environment.
  • Test automation offers multiple types of frameworks to choose from. However, using a truly no-code automated testing tool like PreFlight is the perfect choice for everyone.
  • You get the cross-platform support to use your testing strategy in different setups including different operating systems like Android, Windows, iOS, etc. without any worry.
  • Test maintenance has become extremely easy by using the efficient features like playback of tests, the auto-saving of the test results in dynamic formats, etc.

If you are worrying about finding a test automation tool that offers all such marvellous benefits, know that PreFlight is one of the market leaders there. You can check out the astonishing advantages of using it in the article “10 Amazing Software Testing Benefits From PreFlight In 2022”.

Types of Automated Tests

Another widely enquired topic is “Types of Test Automation” which is concerned with telling about the tests that you can easily automate. So, let’s check out the most popular ones.

Unit Tests

You already know that one of the prime objectives behind test automation is saving time and resources. So, a common step will surely be automating the type of tests that take the maximum time in a complete test suite. And, you have already read in the testing pyramid article that unit tests are its largest subset because it has to ensure that every smallest bit of the codebase is working properly and is not affected by any changes made to other parts of the application. Hence, naturally, for any advanced tech product, the number of unit tests will be enormously high and the best choice will always be to implement test automation there.

Integration Tests

As described in the article on Integration testing, these tests work intending to ensure that the application is working absolutely fine when it's smaller than the smallest modules (known as units) are connected or dependent on each other. As these tests have a lot of dependencies to test, the best practice is to automate them. Just keep in mind that the inputs to these tests are not going to be as per expectation every time. Hence, make sure that the test cases are created for all expected and unexpected inputs.

System Tests

Proceeding with testing the application step-by-step will lead you towards getting a complete system to operate. And, it is also very crucial to test the complete system to ensure that it performs at its best. Here we are jotting down the most popular types of system tests that you should automate.

  • Functional Tests

These tests work for ensuring that the planned functions for the system are working properly. For example, if you are changing any specific data on your profile, the data must get updated everywhere it is present. Hence, you can clearly predict how test automation can save a lot of time and resources in these tests, and you will receive the best results too.

  • Regression Tests

It goes without saying that these are one of the tests with the maximum number of occurrences. For every small to big change in your codebase, these tests must be executed to check if the other functionalities are working properly. Automating regression tests can exempt you from the headache of whether the tests are running properly or not. The automated test codes will verify if any new code has caused any issue or if any old bug is reintroduced.

  • Smoke Tests

These tests have such a responsibility that requires them to be run numerous times. The primary objective of smoke tests is to ensure that all the services and dependencies in any application are running correctly. Though these quick tests mainly test the core functionality of your app, these are not completely functional tests. Hence, to increase efficiency in running these tests after the deployment of a new feature or after a maintenance routine, the best practice is to automate the test cases. It will save you a lot of time and resources in identifying the issues.

Acceptance Tests

This is a type of software test that mostly does not have a generic format or reference scale to analyze the results. Performance tests are mostly dependent on the users’ feedback so they are primarily executed through manual handling. The prime objective of these tests is to ensure that the app is delivering what it was intended to. And, that is best understood from the feedback of your users. Popular methods like Behavior-driven development (BDD) or Automated Acceptance Test-Driven Development (AATD) are used in these tests. Depending on different feedback from the users, you have to create different test cases. That makes these tests more suitable for manual operation but there are some types of acceptance tests that can perform well even when they are automated. Let’s check them out.

  • Performance Tests

As the name suggests, these tests are all about checking if the application and its functionalities will perform efficiently under any kind of load from the users. Hence, the main category named Performance tests is further classified into sub-categories like load tests, stress tests, responsiveness tests, etc. which analyzes if the application can withstand extreme pressure, and high heat conditions, and perform normally in response to any random choices made by the users. These tests eventually help you understand if your application is scalable for its performance.

These tests can get good results when they are automated by emulating different choices of your users. Just make sure that you are executing these tests in an environment that can smoothly execute those emulations. You can save resources by using cloud services for the emulation works or can use your own hardware.

  • A/B Tests

These tests are really crucial to figure out the time and version of necessary features that are exposed to the users. The primary objective of these tests is choosing the most preferred version of a feature or UI element for your users or finding out if a feature is popular. These tests can reach another level when they are automated simply by using feature flags as switches for the features so that you can turn them on or off willingly. Coupling this method of A/B testing with instrumentation and analysis will help you figure out how your users interact with the application.

Code Analysis Tests

Till now, you saw how the tests with specific purposes are automated for the best results. But, other than those tests, there are some code analysis tools that perform static & dynamic analysis of the codebase to ensure that there are no security flaws and the style & form are as they were planned. These tests are run whenever new code is introduced so, automating these tests/tools is the best way to configure the rules and keep the tools up to date.

Conclusion and The Best Pick For You

Our article can describe only a part of the massive place and importance that test automation holds in the present world. If you want your technology business to grow and stay competitive with the contemporary market, you must ensure that you are using strategies that take less effort and provide maximum outcomes. Test automation is such a thing that efficiently streamlines a huge portion of your product’s complete life cycle. Its contribution to the development of your business is discussed in detail in the article “How To Improve The QA Process With No-Code Testing?

Now, if you want to further simplify your test automation process, you must choose the amazing no-code tools over the traditional test automation frameworks like Selenium. And, any list of the most renowned no-code test automation tools will always have PreFlight’s name in the top tier. This most simple and remarkably efficient browser extension can easily fulfill all your testing needs including applying automation to crucial time-consuming processes such as non-functional testing, security testing, app testing, exploratory testing, etc.. To know more about the advanced AI features such as context awareness, workflow set up, etc. that you can experience from this awesome tool, check out the article “Best AI in Automated Software Testing Tools”. A unique software testing experience is waiting for you just after you start booking a demo.

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