In this article, we will examine the methods and best practices for Agile automation testing. Agile automation testing is an approach to utilizing test automation in Agile. Like most organizations, the goal is to release quality software in a timely manner ⏳
One of the ways to achieve this goal is to include test automation. Test automation helps meet the dynamic demands of the Agile development approach. A few benefits of test automation include Fast Efficient Accurate Repeatable (FEAR) results.
- Fast – executes tests quickly and speeds up the delivery of new software
- Efficient – takes less time to execute more test scenarios
- Accurate – carries out the same steps every time
- Repeatable – executes a test multiple times before each software release
The Agile development methodology builds a product using short iterative cycles for continuous revisions, and swift releases while acknowledging changes from the customer. It consists of a cross-functional team (Scrum master, product owner, BA, dev, QA) which requires constant collaboration and communication.
- Scrum master – organizes meetings and responds to blocks
- Product owner – identifies and prioritizes the system’s functionality
- BA – gather and write acceptance criteria for the product
- Dev – develops the product
- QA – assure quality in the product
Most of the times, an Agile team has sprints to finish developing and testing new functionality in 2 weeks. With this accelerated technique, there isn’t enough time to test new functionality and existing functionality.
Although there is a time limitation, automation in Agile ensures quality of existing and new functionality. Existing functionality is validated via regression testing and should not be broken by new functionality.
The new functionality must be fully operational and working by design in each sprint cycle 🔁 With the help of automation in Agile, feedback will be rapid and reliable after executing the automated test scripts. Here’s a list of 5 keys to consider before starting automation in Agile:
- Consider automating repetitive tasks
- Consider automating pain points of the product
- Consider automating critical paths of the product
- Consider automating tests that need multiple sets of data
- Consider automating time-consuming human intervention steps
By default, most people think about the user interface (UI) when it comes to test automation. In addition to the UI, an engineer can also automate at the unit layer and service layer. Here’s a diagram of the test pyramid that includes UI, service, and unit layers:
- Unit – forms the bottom layer where developers create unit tests
- Service – forms the middle layer where information is exchanged via requests and responses
- UI – forms the top layer where test scripts interact with the application
Unit testing represents the biggest part of the pyramid. The bulk of testing is at this foundation layer because specific data is returned to the developer if an error occurs. Small units of code are created and executed using a test framework such as JUnit, TestNG, etc. Many Agile teams apply test driven development (TDD) where unit testing is performed before totally developing the software.
The service layer responds to a set of requests that includes automating business logic and web services. It is also known as the layer for automating APIs. We have the option of constructing our test by going through a series of inputs. The inputs allow us to bypass specific steps that have already been automated by the UI.
Testing at the UI layer can take longer to execute than in the service layer and unit layer. Some of the reasons include network speed and interactions with the application. Network speed can impact how long it takes to load an application. Interactions with the application such as clicking a button or entering data into a field are behaviors that dictate when a test is complete.
Nevertheless, an effective method for Agile automation testing is automating at all 3 layers: unit layer, service layer, and UI layer ✅ Each layer is relevant and has advantages for delivering a viable product to the market.
Product quality is crucial as the rate of releasing products is increased by Agile teams. QA must test as fast as possible just like products are developed fast as possible. Test automation is suitable for verifying quality in a quick time span. The following are best practices for Agile automation testing:
- Prepare and plan before creating automation test scripts – the plan serves as a template to conduct automation within the Agile team
- Understand what scenarios to automate – create test scripts for high-value scenarios that contribute to reuse
- Choose the best tools – invest time evaluating the capabilities of tools in the market, then select the best automation tool. Selenium and TestProject are leading tools for test automation
- Implement in sprint automation – automate test scenarios in the same sprint as the developed features
- Establish test automation code review – provide automation check-ins that are analyzed by someone other than the author
Speed is an essential characteristic of Agile. In addition to speed, the team has an obligation to mitigate risks and optimize performance. Usually, the new features are developed within a sprint of 2 weeks. We implement automation in Agile to cover new features as well as existing features.
An effective blueprint is to combine testing at the unit layer, services layer, and UI layer. For example, our test can include the services layer and UI layer to verify a certain product function. The services layer via an API plus the UI automation steps allows us to create less code.
However, Agile automation testing is accomplished through preparation and having a plan. Preparation is necessary because there will be challenges such as maintaining test scripts, failed tests, and roadblocks. A plan is like a bridge to obtaining a successful project with automation in Agile ✨