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Continuous Testing Strategy to Revolutionize Product Quality

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Continuous Integration has become part and parcel of the software world today. There is a conception that Continuous Integration (CI) is a development practice, which is practiced by only developers to integrate code into a shared repository frequently, preferably several times a day. Basically, each pull request/commit can then be verified by an automated build and automation tests. This helps the developers to understand on the fly if the integration has not broken any existing functionality. This even helps pull request reviews to be done easily. You can detect errors quickly and locate them more easily and that is the key benefit of integrating regularly. This being done to pinpoint the defect created by each small change.

Finding the defects at an earlier stage is the ultimate goal of CI. In that case, incorporating continuous testing with continuous integration is the right way to move forward to make sure your product quality is always intact.

Continuous integration has now become the best practice for software development and is guided by a set of key principles. Among them, automation testing in many aspects plays a vital role. Empower the CI pipeline with a great emphasis on testing. If CI leads to continuous deployment and delivery, then let the code go through all test checkpoints to filter out all possible defects. A good and solid strategy for continuous testing would help you get the maximum out of your Continuous Integration. Let me give you the key points I believe in and which worked for me so that you could build up your own continuous testing strategy. This could make you get the maximum for your product quality out of CI.

Ultimate Continuous Testing Strategy for Your Team

  1. Choose the right set of integration tests to check the changes made
  2. Link test case management with CI execution
  3. Keep your testing suites separate
  4. Continuous reporting with comparisons is key
  5. Integrate issue tracking system with your CI stack to automatically raise tickets
  6. Incorporate non-functional testing as much as possible in CI
  7. Choose the continuous integration tool that fits the purpose
  8. Make the team believe in the change
  9. Start small and aim big
  10. Conclusion – Get your builds running

Choose the right set of integration tests to check the changes made

Make sure the set of automated tests related to a pull request or user story (that would critically impact the use of the feature) be part of the continuous integration checkpoint. Do not mix integration testing and unit testing. Unit testing can still pass but integration tests can fail, therefore checkpoint and the build-go-ahead rule should be determined on the pass rate of the integration testing. Tag the tests with the pull request that has been released, so that you do not let the CI build run for long. Keep the regression tests for the end of a sprint or a marked period.

Link test case management with CI execution   

This is seldom given much importance to when coming up with a continuous testing plan with CI. Little do we understand that test case management places a vital role in our understanding and reporting the issues that have occurred during the CI build. Certain test failures appear as show stoppers. In such a case, having the test cycle linked to CI execution can keep the visibility crystal clear to the entire team on what went wrong. This could eliminate the manual execution of the test cycle, since test execution is automated. Lead to quick communication with the project team.

Keep your testing suites separate

By keeping your test suites separate, your developers can feel free to run the quick unit tests during development and before committing any code. The long and tedious integration tests should be reserved for the build server in a separate test suite and can be run less frequently. Tag the test accordingly and connect them accordingly to CI so that you run the right test suite for the right story without confusing them.

Continuous reporting with comparisons is key

Have a robust reporting system that can tackle historical coverage and give you a comparison with the previous runs. This can help you spot what are the new breaking points and work around them. While many changes are made daily, there could be an opportunity each time for those changes to disrupt a previously working part of the code. Therefore very informative reporting is key to understand which existing issues still remain and which new issues have been created due to the new changes.

Integrate issue tracking system with your CI stack to automatically raise tickets

In a real-time scenario, it would be difficult to keep track of all the issues and report them back to the developers. If the defect management is incorporated with CI then this would not be the case. This will maintain collaboration within the team to work on the issue. Ensures continuity in reorganizing the issues. This would lead to quick communication with the project team.

Incorporate non-functional testing as much as possible in CI

Testing does not end with how your software modules work with one another, or even how they work with other, third-party modules. It goes beyond. Your software is going to be deployed in a complete production ecosystem that may include virtualization tools, databases, mail servers, load balancers, DNS servers, proxy servers, and more. Your customer’s user experience depends not only on your application but also on how it is deployed in your production environment and how it works with all those other peripheral components.

Performance and security of the application play a vital role in customer trust and satisfaction. Having such tests incorporated in the CI to at least a certain extent can help be aware of how your application is performing. This will help to identify potential bottlenecks & vulnerabilities at an early stage. Moreover, this approach would help us narrow down the changes that were bad influences on the application performance, security, etc.

Choose the continuous integration tool that fits the purpose

There are many solutions out there for continuous integration tools. You can look at Jenkins, TravisCI, SemaphoreCI, CircleCI, Bamboo, TeamCity, or many others.

Your pick will strongly depend on:

  • Your requirements
  • The tech-stack you have
  • How you handle your daily workflow

This decision has to be taken unanimously by developers, QA and DevOps in your team.

For Continuous Integration testing, open-source tools like Selenium and Appium are most popular for automating tests. Additionally, free tools like TestProject can also be used to execute test automation and create an environment for continuous testing in the cloud.

Make the team believe in the change

Make sure the project and quality team understand the key benefits of having continuous testing integrated into the CI pipeline, and believe in the change. Speak about the key benefits such as:

  • Enables to communicate quick feedback mechanism for every change
  • Allows earlier detection and prevention of defects
  • Helps collaboration between team members
  • Reduces manual testing effort
  • Building features more incrementally save time on the debugging side so you can focus on adding features
  • Initiative for a fully automated whole release process

Finally, start small and aim big

There is so much to think about when setting the testing part of continuous integration, to get the maximum benefit out of it. But there is no hurry to get everything going at the very beginning. Start with the basics. Then with continuous learning, you and your team will obtain knowledge to enhance your process and leverage it so that you benefit from it.

Conclusion – Get your builds running

Continuous Testing will have to be quick to follow, as more QA and DevOps professionals begin to implement Continuous Integration and Delivery. This will help to better meet customer demands, keep a competitive edge, and secure a standard of quality.

As technology advances and testing trends change, being able to adapt to change and follow faster development cycles will become the differentiator for many software teams. Continuous testing is how those teams will meet the demands of agile practices, frequent integrations, and rapid delivery cycles.

The above approach has helped teams that I worked with immensely. We were able to make the maximum out of the CI, which led to continuous deployment and continuous delivery. Therefore, I hope these could help you to go from a newbie team at continuous testing to a team that uses continuous testing to get real work done 💪🎯

 

Christina Thalayasingam

About the author

Christina Thalayasingam

Christina is a Senior Test Engineer at Medidata Solutions by Dassault Systèmes with 6 years+ of experience in both Automation and Manual Testing. She also possesses strong skills in Test Automation with Selenium and Performance testing with Apache JMeter. She comes from the development background as she has worked on PHP Web Development and Android Mobile Development before taking up the Software QA Engineer role. She is passionate about learning new testing tools and technologies. She does have prior experience with software development. She was more inclined to automated testing.

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