“The new software is apparently great but, when it has to fetch some data from the database or calls any other functionality, it starts malfunctioning.” What will you do if you hear about such experiences of your users?
These can create tremendously negative impressions about your product as well as of your business. And, you will be shocked to know that such mishaps are common if you do not focus on checking if the communication among different aspects of your app is working properly.
Your app has a lot of features and functionalities. Then it is natural that they will communicate internally to complete complex operations. But, this internal communication is not as simple as it may seem to be. It may easily experience the following issues -
Well, we are not here to scare you by mentioning the problems you may face by ignoring the collaboration between the units in your app.
We are here to make you aware of the simplest way of preventing those issues. Yes, we are talking about Integration Testing, the second phase in the testing pyramid, the universally followed best strategy for software testing.
Integration testing is the process of checking how different software modules (also known as units) perform when they are connected together or dependent on each other. These tests determine if their compatibility is great and if they collaboratively perform with great efficiency as expected in the planning.
So, this testing process is all about connecting all the units together as one unit and testing the performance, functionalities, and reliability of the software.
That's why in the testing pyramid, this crucial phase comes after testing the small units in unit testing.
A question may arise if the unit tests are the largest subset of the whole testing process and if they hold such high importance, why Integration Testing became necessary. The following reasons can clearly state why unit tests are not enough to fulfill all your testing needs.
A module/unit is the smallest individual part of the software and multiple engineers develop these small pieces.
The thought/planning behind and the techniques used in the development of any particular unit may be completely different in another. And, unit tests can never check whether those units with different configurations have good compatibility among them or not.
As we can see that unit tests are not enough to ensure that the units that perform amazingly in isolation, can also perform at their best when integrated. That's where integration testing comes as a savior.
You saw why you need to perform integration tests but you must know its awesome advantages to make your concept more firm by making it mandatory in your test suite. So, let's go.
Though conventionally software engineers or QA engineers perform the integration tests, amazing no-code testing tools like Preflight allow anyone from any department to easily create and execute efficient test cases. Let's explore more about this important testing phase in the next sections.
Till now, you clearly got the idea that integration tests are a highly important part of an efficient test suite as unit tests are not enough to complete the objectives behind testing. Now, let's see the actual differences between those vital parts of the testing pyramid.
You got to know that integration testing means checking if the small software modules/units are performing at the best efficiency when they are interacting with each other for completing their operations. But, based on several parameters, Integration testing is also categorized into a few types that are mentioned below.
As the name suggests, it is a type of integration testing that involves a huge volume. In this type of testing, when all the small modules are developed, they are integrated and tested in one go.
That's why these tests can only be performed when all components of the application are available to operate.
The point to remember is that due to the massive volume of these tests, they are only suitable for testing compact applications such as when the bundle has the entire software in it.
Incremental Integration testing is the name of the testing method where a test starts by connecting two or more modules that are logically related. Then more modules keep getting added and tested until all modules are integrated and the functionality is properly tested.
Based on the difference in the method of operation, this type of Integration testing is further categorized into three different approaches. Let's check them out.
This type of Integration testing follows a control flow hierarchy of testing the modules starting from the top-most ones and then gradually moving down to the lowest set of modules one by one.
One crucial point to keep in mind is that sometimes it may be possible that the lower-level modules might not have been developed while top modules are being tested.
Then the correcting approach is using stubs for those not ready modules because it provides the advantage of returning control to their superior modules in simple applications and in complex applications, they will simulate the full range of responses.
As the name suggests, it is the opposite of the Top-Down approach. Here you have to start with testing the lowest units first and then gradually move upwards. So, the testing follows the control flow from the bottom toward the upper phases.
Again, as it's the opposite approach of the top-down one, here it is possible that the higher-level modules may not be developed when the lower modules are tested.
In those cases, the functionality of missing modules is simulated by using drivers. The drivers are preferred because they perform numerous important tasks like invoking modules under test, passing test data, and receiving output data.
We can see that both top-down and bottom-up approaches come with awesome advantages along with a few limitations. So, an efficient combination of those two approaches will do wonders in terms of overall test efficiency.
Hence, to cope with the limitations and get benefited by the advantages of both approaches, a hybrid approach of integration testing is used with the name “Sandwich Integration Testing” or “Mixed Integration Testing”.
The method of operation in this approach consists of viewing the system as three layers where the target layer is in the middle with one layer on the top and one at the bottom.
The top-down approach is used on the layers from the above to the middle and the bottom-up approach is used from the bottom layer to the middle.
The modules in the main target layer in the middle are tested with the highly prioritized Big-bang approach.
These are the amazing Integration testing approaches that can let you check how the numerous small modules of your software are working when they are interacting with each other. And, after having a clear understanding of them from the above, you can easily decide which approach will work best for you.
Though Integration testing is an extremely efficient top-level testing process, you may face some challenges while moving on with it. Here we are providing you with a brief of them for your better understanding.
Despite a few challenges, Integration testing is an extremely important part of the widely popular testing pyramid that ensures that the small units in your application are working perfectly together.
Though this type of testing used to be a complex process, awesome no-code testing tools like Preflight have enabled everyone to conduct tests as a cup of tea. You can book a demo of this amazing tool now and experience the many benefits of integration testing!