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As we are moving towards rapid development cycles and quicker deliveries to market driven by Agile methodology, performing manual testing seems time-consuming, repetitive, and prone to human errors. The requirement to implement automation testing from scratch seems to fit in the business owing to its flexibility of greater coverage of functionalities with lesser time-to-market and early discovery of issues as compared to manual tests.
Having said so, manual testing in itself plays an important role in the software development cycle and cannot be completely replaced by automation testing. But transitioning from manual to automated testing is the need of the hour. At first, the idea of starting automation testing from scratch may seem intimidating. You may get stormed with questions about how to start and where to start from. I am going to highlight some key notes for you to keep in mind as you plan to start automation testing from scratch.
Also read Brief about Selenium — Getting started with Selenium Automation Testing
Why We Hesitate While Switching From Manual to Automation Testing
Automation testing is considered a widely-used parameter to overcome manual testing issues and probably trying to rule it out to the max. Performing the transition isn’t a piece of cake and may lead to multiple blockers that may come during this pathway. The few challenges are:
- Preoccupied with upcoming release activities. We are too busy writing effective manual test cases and devising test strategies due to back-to-back planned releases that we forget to plan a time window for developing automation test scripts.
- Complexity, time, and resources. Any new process comes with time and learning new areas and methods. If you are starting automation testing from scratch, areas like training resources, giving ample time, and expecting higher efficiency in terms of automation can be calmed with more time consumption and more monetary impact.
- Test stability and scalability. For starting automation from scratch, it is important the AUT be stable to prevent multiple re-works and ensure easy maintenance. If the AUT is not stable, it can lead to major re-work and less efficiency in terms of quality. It’s important to have a scalable automation suite, which sometimes becomes redundant and repetitive as the regression testing suite increases after every release.
- Automation of processes. Automation is not only about automating the tests but it is also about having an approach and pathway for reporting, cleaning test data, and setting up and tearing down various environments. Turning a blind eye to those may not return the quality and the metrics we were supposed to achieve from this transition.
- Corporate mindset. The organization or senior management can be difficult to unlock regarding showing the immediate effects of automation on the whole process. Automation acts as a long-term goal and not a short-term one. Pursuing management and promising quicker and sooner benefits of automation can be a tricky key to resolve. Providing a better road plan can act beneficially.
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Why You Should Switch From Manual to Automation Testing
This is one of the important questions your team must answer. The decision to implement automation testing from scratch, should be based on the current issues you face while testing your application and not merely because your team or you were fascinated by the word automation. Making the right decision at the right time is more important for better quality achievement and ROI. The below factors highlight the key areas as to why you need automation.
Moving from manual to automation testing can help you with these testing types:
- Regression Testing: An ever-increasing regression suite which needs to be executed post every release to ensure no new or older functionality tampers.
- Complex functionalities: Complex calculative areas which lead to human errors.
- Smoke testing: Running automation suites for major functionalities will help assess the quality of the build. This helps to save time for teams by analyzing whether the build needs in-depth testing or not post the automation suite results.
- Data-driven testing: Functionalities that required to be tested with multiple sets of data.
- Cross-browser testing: This is one of the bigger issues that arises when it comes to supporting an application on multiple browsers and versions or if refers to responsive testing for validating the website’s RWD (Responsive Web Design). Running manual tests over and over again on multiple browsers takes a lot of effort, time and investment. Automating the application and running those tests on multiple browsers in parallel helps make testing quicker, efficient, less monotonous, and redundant. Cross-browser testing tool such as LambdaTest can help teams ensure their applications are functional and cross-browser accessible across the broadest range of browsers, versions, and devices.
- Repetitive tests: Tests that are relatively repetitive and unchanged from one test cycle to the other.
- Performance testing: Manual alternatives do not exist and need an intervention of tool support.
A very important key area to kick-start automation testing from scratch is to ensure the application under test (AUT) is stable in all terms. An unstable application with too many frequent changes will lead to a lot of efforts in maintenance, thereby leading to larger investment and lower ROI. Automation testing may seem fascinating to start with but figuring the pain areas that should encourage automation for the organization is important. The project at initial stages may not require automation to focus on and would rely completely on manual testing.
Some key areas where manual testing is still preferable to automation testing:
- Subjective-Oriented Testing: For an application that should be tested from the usability and UI perspective, manual testing seems a more viable option than automation.
- New and frequent changing functionalities: As mentioned above new and changing functionalities may lead to more efforts in automating and maintaining script and may lead to a waste of time.
- Strategic Development: FA few modules or functionalities may need a strategic approach to testing various viable business flows user may opt for. Working them through manual may seem more profitable and provide better coverage than automation.
How to Start Your Automation Process
The very first step to consider while transitioning from manual testing to automation testing would be to define a proper scope for the automation testing. 100% automation is one of the myths related to automation, so defining the scope of it is a very important element to distinguish what to automate and how much to automate.
What To Automate
The answer to this question lies in the following criteria:
The frequency of testing: If you have frequent release hitting the market, it’s of more importance to automate your smoke testing as well as regression testing first, as that would help speed up the testing cycles with quicker time to market with lesser manual intervention.
Business and technical priority: This is of importance as, based on the business needs and complexity, testers can split functionalities that need automation support first as compared to others. Areas with less business priority can be removed from the automation scope.
What can be automated: This factor depends upon a lot of areas like usability aspect which cannot be automated, other aspects like tool dependency can also limit the areas to be automated. Other aspects like application supporting multiple browsers should be prioritized for automation testing to save time on cross-browser testing.
How To Automate
One basic fundamental that a team or any organization overlooks is that not all tests can be automated. Instead of targeting the unrealistic goal of a 100% automation for your application under test, set a target for the portion of tests that you wish to automate. If you are new to automation testing, you can start by moving just a few percents of your tests from manual to automation.
The key goal is to start small. Writing smaller test cases will help you in maintaining and reusing them in future areas of the application you wish to automate. Mapping your test cases with each method or function will help provide better coverage. Also, labeling your test cases helps in easier identification, so the team can figure out which ones to automate and which ones not to. This also helps in better reporting.
As I said before, do not aim for a 100% automation. Rather, when you starting automation testing from scratch then it would be better to just go by exploring new areas of the application via manual means and creating a risk plan as what needs to be automated and what need not, based on the business priorities.
Also, create a list of browsers and devices with the help of web analytics to understand your end-user preferences as you start automation testing from scratch. This helps to ensure you are covering your application from a cross-browser compatibility point of view as well.
A clear distinction of what areas should remain manual is as important as deciding what should be automated. Keeping these criteria to decide on the scope of automation helps to evaluate automation on a long run and provide better ROI when the plan to start automation testing from scratch.
Acknowledging The Unreliable Areas For Automation Testing
There are few testing techniques which, if done manually, will yield more powerful results as compared to automation or cannot be achieved via automation at all. As I said earlier assuming everything can be automated is a myth and should not be preached. The following testing techniques are encouraged manually than for automation:
- Exploratory testing – In real-world user intent to explore applications rather than following them in the standard streamline workflows which we intend to automate. Exploratory testing cannot be automated as they may tend to follow a hay-way process which can only be achieved via human thought process.
- User experience testing – Automation tools can’t fully capture the emotions, the likelihood of usage, or overall experience for the application user tend to use. For example, if you need to experience your user issues or area, they face difficulty in using the application, that can only be achieved when used through a human experience then via a tool
- Accessibility testing – This testing helps to evaluate how accessible your application is for end users. A tool cannot measure the accessibility rate, this can only be achieved through manual testing by analyzing the experience through the workflow or through application usage.
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Selecting The Right Automation Tool
Automation testing is highly tool-dependent. Deciding which tool to use for automation testing of your application, depends on multiple factors like:
The domain of your application: Tool selection depends majorly on the domain of your application, whether the application targets a web-based application or a mobile based application. If it is based on the web-UI application one can go for tools like Selenium, QTP and if it is a mobile-based application you can go for tools like Appium or Robotium.
Open Source or Commercial: This is one factor which is ruled more from an organizational perspective than from just mere choice of an individual when starting automation testing from scratch, as this has budget constraints. Examples of a few open source tools are Selenium and Appium and commercial tools like LoadRunner and QTP.
Selecting The Right Test Grid Infrastructure
One of the key areas of testing is to have a versatile and supportive test grid infrastructure or a test bed for your application under test. A test grid or a test bed is an environment containing a collection of multiple devices, browsers, versions and operating system. This helps running your application on all these multiple combinations for better compatibility of your app. Building your test grid infrastructure is very important as it has a direct impact on your maintenance and overall cost. Two main types of test beds we have:
On-premises Test Grid Infrastructure: This helps to have access to a collection of real devices which helps in controlling data, but can turn to be expensive in maintenance making it all the more difficult to have access to a wide variety of multiple devices introduced into the market every month.
Cloud-based Test Grid Infrastructure: Offers anytime accessibility from anywhere with the opportunity of scaling as much as you want. Cloud-based testing infrastructure grid would help to provide access to a vastly larger combination of software and hardware environments than most organizations could afford to manage and maintain in their own internal on-premises grid. It helps to expand the possibility of running your applications across different versions and devices for all the newly introduced devices in the market every now and then via cloud-based tool support. In comparison to the on-premises grid infrastructure, cloud infrastructure helps to provide greater scalability and not much need of maintenance.
Baby Steps As You Plan To Start Automation Testing From Scratch
This step can be achieved through planning, estimating and concluding to a delivery date. It’s important to train teams to deliver maximum productivity and efficiency from them. Do not start analyzing the ROI from initial days, as those can be bad or even worse. Automation testing provides results in the long run and probably to a bigger picture. Creating a test automation framework for easy maintenance and better usage for a longer run. Easier reporting and smoother execution are the keys to a successful automation journey.
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