What is Automation Testing? Process, Benefits, and Tools

In the digitalized age of today, technology permits users with the opportunity to avoid ominous errors before they are concurred, rather than incurring massive disappointments post-completion. One such software means which provides such a service is automation testing; a new-age method that draws comparatives between the potential outcome and the definite outcome. 

Primarily engaged with to mechanize cyclic tasks (which are otherwise time-consuming and inefficient when done manually), automation testing achieves the desired result through creating test scripts, or producing alternative tools within the automation testing spectrum.

The importance of automation testing is profoundly highlighted where it concerns myriad tasks in the technological workspace. There are undoubtedly numerous situations where manual testing is futile, displays a blatant disregard for the time passing by, and is mainly cost-ineffective. 

Amongst the multitude of these, examples such as the comparison of two databases with hundreds of thousands of columns and rows, the evaluation of images gliding through every single pixel, testing done simultaneously on alternative browsers, and drawing performance benchmarks spring to mind. Thus, carrying forth with these through the utilization of automation testing is preferable, relatively quicker, and a better selection overall. 

Gliding through the automation process

Primarily, automation testing involves four principal elements: awareness regarding the spectrum of automation involvement, drawing a preference for a particular testing tool, the organizing and developing of an automation syllabus to abide by, and lastly, the execution of test cases. Having established the basis of what automation testing is, the actual process of it is further elaborated upon below while considering each element. 

  • Determining the spectrum of Automation Involvement

This refers to identifying which parts of the application require automation. Typically, a conclusion is drawn upon by considering diverse subjects, some of which include: 

  • highlighting features that are vital to the business
  • intricacy and scale of complexity concerning the test cases
  • ability to use parallel examples when conducting testing across different browsers simultaneously
  • similar functionalities ranging from pole to pole across the application
  • technical viability of the form. 

Moreover, additional factors can be taken into consideration; however, this is determined respectively to the user implementing automation testing based on their specific requirements. 

Once these factors have been thoroughly considered, the condition of automation testing can be concluded upon and proceeded with accordingly.

  • Selection of a testing tool

Drawing a preference for a testing tool is dictated by the technology utilized for building the application tests (the types of automated tests will be enlisted and detailed upon below). Therefore, it varies accordingly based on the several utilization of automation testing. 

Yet, it is mostly recommended to follow through with a ‘proof of concept’ when making an allowance for various testing tools; this can be done on AUT and is of utter importance since it provides users with clarity regarding their purchases, while additionally ensuring the investment is accountable.

  • Organizing and developing an automation syllabus

The third phase of automation testing calls upon the creation of a curriculum in order to outline what needs to be done throughout the automation process. 

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Besides, this is widely necessary to build a distinctive strategy to abide, which ensures the actual automation testing is conducted in a well-timed, cost-effective, and smooth manner. 

Features which need to be definite inclusions in the plan are: careful selection of a testing tool, creating a schedule and assigning periods for the execution of test cases coupled with scripting (enlisted in the following content), the framework and its nuances ( also elaborated upon below), alongside the deliverables lastly. 

Moreover, flanking this list, the consideration of out-of-scope elements, laced with in-scope elements, is an integral component of the automation testing process.

  • Execution of test cases

Before the running of test scripts, users are required to supply the input data (for the script) only after which the thorough test reports can be acquired. The test cases can be performed directly with the assistance of an automation tool, or the option of availing a test management tool is also viable. Test management tools are chiefly made usage of since they invoke an automation tool themselves.

The integration of automation testing within any project  

Before beginning to integrate this form of technological testing within any project, there are several integral considerations which spring to mind. 

Amongst these contemplations, the following must be heavily deliberated: the actual parts which need to be automated must be reflected upon, mainly if the product does not yet possess a UI. 

When deciding so, users must first ensure the tests are concrete and laced with clarity. Secondly, the product should be able to evolve without complications with the addition of each new script, and the scripts themselves must be relatively simple to debug, thus, keeping the entirety of the integration sophisticated yet simple. 

Furthermore, users are recommended not to exploit UI automation during the initial phases of integration since UI is often prone to recurrent changes- this inevitably leads to the failure of the scripts. 

Therefore, Non-UI level automation, or API level automation, is highly suggested, at least until the stabilization of the product is underway. This is particularly because API automation is far easier to debug and maintain.

Automation frameworks: what they are, when to utilize them, and the different types 

Frameworks, within the automation testing spectrum, are regarded as a set of guidelines that are widely useful in various scenarios and are meant to enrich the overall end product. They provide users with assistance when they may be striving to improve the uniformity of their testing or improving the structure of their automation tests. 

Moreover, they also permit testers unfamiliar with automation testing to be involved within the testing process. In addition to these benefits, frameworks are essential to curtailing the amount of code generated, while allowing the cycling of existing codes.  

There are primarily four kinds of frameworks which are utilized in automation testing. These include

  • Keyword-driven automation framework: this consists of a table format which defines action words concerning each function that needs to be performed
  • Data-driven automation framework: encompasses test data in a spreadsheet format where input data is contained within diverse sources
  • Modular automation framework: data is planted into test scripts which eventually leads to the construction of a much larger script possessing the ability to test the overall scenario
  • Hybrid automation framework: a combination of the data-driven framework coupled with the keyword-driven framework

Excluding these, the linear scripting framework and the behavior-driven development framework are also made usage of, though perhaps not in such a comprehensive manner.

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Automated tests: what they are, generic uses, and crucial types

Once users have familiarized themselves with the concept of automation frameworks, they may then consider exploring the various types of automation tests and their myriad usages. Particular tests are respectively allocated based on the type of application being run and the desired outcome being sought. Elaborated upon below are the primary forms of automation testing.

  1. Unit Testing: This type of automation test is utilized when singular components of web applications are being put to the test. Generically, the unit tests are provided by developers; however, those familiar with automation testing may also compose them. With regards to web applications, unit testing is integrated within the phase of development and is deemed the initial stage of testing web apps.
  1. Functional Testing: Automation testing of this form is utilized to ensure the various functions of the web app are running smoothly and delivering the expected outcome. Some of the integral aspects of functional testing are client and server applications, security, the entirety of the functionality, APIs, user interface, and several others.
  1. Integration Testing: Integration testing is when the modules of the application are tested together after they have been integrated within the app. It confirms the presence of the adequate and required data communication amongst the diverse modules of the application.
  1. Regression Testing: Regression testing is a vital part of automation testing since it confirms that no damaging changes have alternated the existent code or the features of the application created. It further ensures the previous code functions in the same manner it did earlier even after the integration of newer changes.
  1. Smoke testing: Automation testing in this way is conducted to inspect whether the functionality of the primary features is adequate so that automation testers may move on with other aspects of the automation process.

Excluding these prevalent types of automation testing, there are a couple of other automation tests that aren’t as widely utilized yet essential to some processes. These include black-box testing, data-driven testing, keyword testing, and myriad others. 

Tips to abide by while exploring automation testing 

The following pointers are meant to assist users in their software explorations while ensuring the process is carried out with the end goal of achieving the maximum ROI (return on investment) possible.

First, the decision of what cases to apply automation testing should be carefully considered. Typically, once this decision is arrived at, users must ensure they are paying attention to tests that may require a hefty amount of data sets, and analyses which are exceedingly prone to errors caused by humans. Moreover, automation testing is a necessity for specific tests that cannot be performed by users in a manual manner.

Users must recognize this and directly begin to integrate automation testing within a project, rather than biding (and wasting) time by attempting to do it manually. In addition to these cases, tests that are repetitively utilized across diverse builds must also be automated, alongside functionalities that impose hazardous conditions on the project.

Secondly, tests must unquestionably be conducted quite frequently and certainly within the earlier stages of the development. The inclusion of testing early on in the project cycle ensures better results while the higher frequency of testing guarantees the discovery of bugs (which otherwise jeopardize the project). 

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The flaws discovered during the earlier stages of any project are far cheaper to resolve than those in advanced stages of deployment; thus, testing often and testing earlier on proves to be quite cost-effective. Therefore, automated testing should be implemented from the first day itself, after which it should be further developed and customized gradually.

Users must also be able to identify the testing tool, which would prove most lucrative and advantageous to their respective projects. This can be done by familiarizing oneself with the current data being dealt with, coupled with visualizing the end product and what achieving that result entails.

As part of this decision, it is essential to recognize factors such as the operating system being dealt with, whether outside support or consultation should be brought in, whether it is web applications that are being tested, amongst several notable dilemmas.

It is further fundamental essential to possess a team of testers who are flexible with their knowledge and ability to integrate various forms of automated testing. They must certainly be aware of how to write their test scripts or be able to access and make use of keyword testing otherwise.

Moreover, the data that is fed to the input field during the testing stage must inevitably be retained in an additional external file. The usage of external data allows for easier maintenance of while also permitting the reuse of the same. 

Furthermore, it is also relatively simpler to add newer data to the external files without having to edit the automated test itself.

Indulging in the latter may result in the accidental erasing of central data, or maybe lost within accidental power cuts. This is mainly directed towards data-driven testing since quality data is exceedingly useful for this form of automation testing. 

The defining factors of an excellent testing tool are its ability to comprehend the content of a multitude of data files while iterating the data in the automated test.

How to best select the right automation testing tool for you:

Today’s technological age is fast, replacing software testing with programs utilizing automation tools. The latter is highly yielded due to its efficiency, enhanced coverage and unquestionable effectiveness. However, selecting the adequate testing tool which caters to your needs respectively requires a few essential steps to be followed. These are elaborated upon below.

  • Amongst these requirements, those in charge must be particularly aware of their coding team’s strengths and weaknesses- a matter which has been explored earlier as well.
  • Regarding your existing automation testing tool as the prerequisite: Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of your current testing tool enables users to better their search for a secondary testing tool.
  • Recognizing vital criteria of any project: The support being given to applications (mobile, desktop, or web ones), the effort of maintaining a script after development, test reports, technical assistance, and language support are considered necessary during projects. Thus, these, amongst others, must be focused upon when choosing an automation testing tool.

Some of the most used Automation Testing Tools are as follows:

ProductUFT OneTest CompleteSeleniumSoapUIKatalon Studio
LogoUFT OnetestcompleteseleniumSoapUIKatalon
Released Date19981999200420052015
Supported TechnologyWeb/Desktop/MobileWeb/Desktop/MobileWebAPI/Web ServicesWeb/Desktop/Mobile/API
PlatformsWindowsWindowsWindows
Mac OS
Linux
Solaris
Windows
Linux
OS X
Windows
Linux
OS X
LanguagesVB ScriptJava Script
Python
VB Script
C++
C#
Java
Python
C#
Perl
Ruby
PHP
Groovy
Java Script
Java
Groovy
Programming SkillsNot Required for basic but recommended for advanced scripts/scenariosNot Required for basic but recommended for advanced scripts/scenariosRequires advanced skills for integrating with other toolsNot Required for basic but recommended for advanced scripts/scenariosNot Required for basic but recommended for advanced scripts/scenarios
Ease of UseInstallation process is complexEasy to set upAdvance skills neededEasy to set upEasy to set up
LicenseFrom $3200From $4,836Open SourceFree – $644/yrFree – $759 /license/year