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In today's technology landscape, people demand innovation, convenience, comfort, and more from products and services. Meeting these requirements at a rapid-fire pace is vital to thriving in any market. And to do so, many companies are turning to test automation technology as a solution.
But what are the crucial components needed to create a successful test automation framework? And what separates a stellar test automation framework from the rest?
To answer these questions, we sat down and talked with Integrant's Technical Project Manager, Walaa Elyamany, and Senior Technical Architect, Mohamed Shahin.
A test automation framework is a comprehensive set of guidelines that facilitates a consistent way of changing test scripts and functions. By doing this, it provides users with a streamlined test environment that helps them develop, execute, and report on automated test scripts effectively and efficiently.
You can think of it like cooking. Everyone possesses some level of skill and intuition in the kitchen. But you can elevate your results by following a detailed recipe with step-by-step instructions, methods, and examples that you can compare your outcome with.
Here is an example of a test automation framework that we built for a Life Sciences company.
Test automation framework guidelines will vary depending on who you ask.
But they usually include aspects such as the following:
● Coding standards
● Assumptions about the desired outcome
● Test tools, interfaces, and libraries
● Test data handling protocols
Regardless of your guidelines, your test automation framework must provide scalability, reliability, and reusability while decreasing the effort needed to conduct constant code maintenance.
The main goal is to reduce repeated manual work and the time for running tests while gaining a faster response and ensuring your tests are consistent with your expected outcomes. This goes for whether you're testing application programming interfaces (APIs) for websites, mobile apps, or any other type of software.
With that being said, let's take a look at Walaa's and Shahin's essential factors for a successful test automation framework.
No matter the technical topic, the greatest solutions are always the most elegant ones. And a test automation framework is no exception. A great automation testing framework should support users' needs as simply as possible.
Shahin and Walaa both emphasize that test automation frameworks should function like plug-and-play devices. Quality Assurance (QA)team members should be able to use an automation testing framework even if they don't necessarily understand how it works.
No learning curve should depend on their automation experience or technical skills. It should be so user-friendly that writing, inserting, compiling, and running a test script should be seamless without needing to dive into the underlying mechanics.
Let's see this in action with a RESTful API testing framework example. To make a request and validate the response of an API endpoint, Walaa explains that she doesn't need to know everything about the API as long as the request can find the information required for the test, execute it, and compare the results.
This applies to various aspects of API testing, like performance, functional correctness, and security.
An automation framework design can encapsulate a wide variety of tests in a test environment; load testing, unit testing, and functional testing, to name just a few. Depending on changing requirements and scenarios, some tests must be scaled up and down.
To address this, minimizing the development effort is crucial for a great test automation framework. Let's say you build software for RESTful API testing. Because this software was only constructed to test specific elements, it does not accommodate anything else outside of that particular scope.
Every time you need to add new automation testing tools, a developer will most likely have to add extra code.
In contrast, an API test automation framework is already equipped with the capabilities to cover most API test cases. So, you can add extra scenarios without any additional development needed. Configure the new APIs and test cases, and you should be all set to go.
Every test automation framework should have a robust and transparent reporting mechanism. This is the only way to analyze any glitches present and fix them efficiently. Besides this, the details of what you find must be accessible and understandable for a wide range of people.
After all, a manager, developer, or automation testing tools could examine your results. And each requires different information and level of detail to understand the situation. Shahin and Walaa like incorporating reporting and logging mechanisms to cater to each audience member.
Reports display information such as how many test cases were executed, how many failed, and how many passed. They're helpful for QA engineers and managers to find out what's going on quickly. Users should consult the log if more information is needed. This shows technical details that allow users to trace failures to their root cause.
Maintainability plays an essential part in keeping things cost-effective. And traceability is integral to ensuring excellent maintenance. But a few other components are also crucial for proper care.
Walaa likes to take a modular approach to maintainability (not to be confused with the modular test automation framework type, also known as functional decomposition).
For example, suppose she has to modify login functionality. In that case, she only has to make changes in one place (such as the location of her global variable assignment) for them to be carried out across the rest of the automation testing framework.
This also makes it easy to keep the framework backward-compatible with tests already developed. Shahin emphasizes that backward compatibility is key to great maintainability. Whenever he makes changes, whether it be adding a new feature or revamping an existing one, Shahin always ensures it is backward-compatible with previous iterations.
Reusability is one of the primary benefits of a successful test automation framework. It's essential to prioritize this factor in your automation framework design. You optimize their value by building automation frameworks and test scripts that can be implemented across numerous functions.
Not only does reusability make testing quicker, but it also lowers maintenance costs. Reusability and maintenance are vital to meeting budget demands and rapid software release schedules. Together, they simplify processes for both developers and end-users, extending the code or framework, reconfiguring aspects, and setting up other test cases, all becoming much easier to accomplish.
In addition to framework and script reusability, you should consider how your framework is optimized for testing across various device platforms. An ideal test automation framework will generally support various sizable applications, platforms, and operating systems (OS).
When contemplating this factor, you must anticipate what types of platforms and OS your organization may use in the future. Technology stacks and digital ecosystems are ever-changing, so it's prudent to select automation testing tools that are compatible with a variety of options. This is best in terms of both convenience and cost.
As we mentioned before, reducing manual work is a big reason why many organizations choose to employ a test automation framework. This factor goes hand-in-hand with ease of use. Since end-users should be able to use automation testing services without understanding them, they should not need to go to the backend to debug something.
The general rule of thumb is to continuously work towards being unattended. Therefore, this means that even if you only run automated tests occasionally, they should be able to operate unattended. Otherwise, they cannot support continuous testing.
Shahin uses Microsoft Word as an analogy: You simply click the "New Document" button, and you can start writing from scratch. You can change your formatting, colors, and fonts with a simple click. No development is needed.
By having the necessary utilities in place already, anytime you add a new test, you only have to think about what you need to do instead of "reinventing the wheel" every time.
This final factor on our list is undoubtedly the most important one. Only a team of talented techies can make a successful test automation framework. With the appropriate knowledge required, you can get the other ingredients on this list -- you'll only have a recipe for disaster.
It's important to work with engineers, architects, and developers who know what they're doing. They should be experts in automation implementation. And they should be partners you can trust at every step of the process.
In conclusion, a successful test automation framework requires careful planning and attention to detail. By implementing these eight essential factors, businesses can streamline their testing processes and stay ahead of the competition.
With the proper framework in place, your business can deliver innovative, high-quality products and services rapidly while maintaining the highest quality and reliability standards.
Investing in a successful test automation framework can unlock your company’s full potential and achieve long-term success in today’s fast-paced technology landscape.
Feel free to contact us so we can help you set up your test automation strategy and lead your business to extensive growth!
Integrant’s Vision is to transform the software development lifecycle through predictable results.