In today’s large-scale software systems, test automation is an inseparable part of website/web application development and deployment. As software systems evolve, their framework or modules need to be updated(maintained) to verify that they stay relevant to the new or modiﬁed functionality of the software. If you think new updations are made once in a software lifetime, think again, because without continuous updations test codes begin to erode; it may become complex and unmanageable and increase the cost of test maintenance.
By modifying a software unit in the maintenance phase, testers not only need to analyze the test suite but also ﬁnd relevant frameworks and update them correctly with the unit. On the other hand, if test maintenance is not administered precisely, the integrity of the complete test suite will be under question.
By detecting and dealing with redundant test cases (e.g., carefully removing them), we reduce test maintenance costs and the risk of losing integrity in our test suite.
This is why Test Automation frameworks have to be precisely considered based on the client requirements! If you are wondering how to choose the right framework; don’t worry because we have got you covered!
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How Can Test Automation Effectively Analyse Your Web Application
Before we learn about the different frameworks, let’s learn about how Tests can effectively analyze web applications!
Most of you might know the basics, which is: Automation of web application testing is the process of creating a program (test script) that simulates the manual test case steps. These test scripts are created with relevant programming/scripting language with the guidance of external automation assistant tools. Testing engineers have to implement and run a program with different use cases (which will be entirely focussed on their type of audience) to test the Web Software Under Test (SUT). In other words, it is the process of developing toolkits to test the already implemented source code and it aims at amplifying the testing phases by making it automated.
Developing the application and test scripts are both development tasks, the first one is for the development of the application itself and the other is for developing the scripts that will be utilized to test the web application. Automating the execution phase of the software testing cycle is particularly the most popular approach in the automation field.
Nowadays, not only automated software testing is important but also adding more toolkits to make testing phases fully automated by the generation of test scripts is also essential. It increases the test execution speed as it can be used many times with the same effort. Let us learn about some of the benefits test automation provides in web applications development:
Test Script Creation Time: The main target of test automation for web applications is to automate the test script development task. This is achieved by auto-generating a complete test project within a less time span and lesser expense. This helps in a quicker analysis of the web application, assisting the testers to create more dynamic and agile web applications.
Usability: The test automation framework provides testers with autogenerated high-level TCS files instead of asking the tester to go deeply into technical details. This enables testers or business users to easily edit the TCS sheet as it does not require any programming background.
Reusability: The generated output test project is built using the keyword automation testing technique. Therefore, this enables the testing engineers to easily create new keywords which are then used by the framework for an entirely different web application.
Maintainability: The QA team can seamlessly navigate through the source code to include some business logic for maintenance schemes(optional step) instead of creating source code from scratch. This step does not require the tester to have a deep background in software or web application development because the framework is built over an existing automation tool.
Extensibility: Since an automation framework is not tightly coupled to a specific automation tool, this gives more flexibility to the tester to run the generated tests upon any new automation tool.
What Is an Automation Testing Framework?
So let us get back to what we discussed earlier, yes you guessed it right, it’s testing frameworks!
A Test Automation framework is a hierarchical directory that brings together common resources, such as a shared library, image data, localized strings, header files, and reference records all in an individual package. It works as an envelope around complicated internal architecture which makes the end-user interaction with the system more efficient.
We can also say that Test Automation Framework is an application-independent framework that deals with all possible actions and verifications that can be performed on an application. Therefore, the developed code for the same application can be applied across multiple domains without any alterations, therefore makes testing more simple and quicker for your quality analysis team. There are mainly 5 types of Test automation frameworks and by understanding their advantages and disadvantages, you will know which one is right for your web application development. The test automation frameworks are:
- Keyword-driven Automation Framework
- Test Library Architecture Framework
- Modular Framework (Test Script Modularity Framework)
- Linear Framework (Record and Playback)
- Data-driven Automation Framework
Alright, let’s get started.
Keyword-driven Automation Framework
Keyword-driven testing or commonly known as table-driven testing is an application-independent test automation framework. This framework needs the addition of data tables and keywords, which are independent of the test automation tools. Keyword-driven tests look exceptionally similar to manual test cases. In a keyword-driven test, the functionality of the application which is undergoing a test is documented in a table as well as in step-by-step instructions for each test. There are three fundamental components of a Keyword Driven Framework viz. Keyword, Application Map, Component Function.
- Keywords are re-usable
- Provides highest code re-usability
- Test Tool Independent
- Independent of Application Under Test
- Maintenance is low in the long run
- Test cases are concise, readable for the stakeholders and easy to modify
- Keyword re-use across multiple test cases
- It is not reliant on a particular tool or programming language
- Test case development requires more powerful domain expertise and lesser skills in tool/programming languages
- Abstraction of layers
- Initial investment being pretty high, the advantage of this framework can only be recognized if the application is considerably large and the test scripts are to be supported for some years
- High-level automation expertise is needed to build the Keyword Driven Framework
Test Library Architecture Framework
The Test Library Architecture Framework aka “Structured Scripting” or “Functional Decomposition” is somewhat similar to the test script modularity framework and provides similar advantages. The only difference is that it breaks the application into procedures and functions instead of scripts. This framework demands the development of library files that describe modules, sections, and functions of the application under test. These library files are then invoked directly from the test case script.
- The codes can be reused more often in Structured Scripting when compared to “Record & Playback”
- The higher code re-use makes the automation scripts less expensive to develop because they can be used again and again
- Easier Script Maintenance
- Years of technical expertise are essential to formulate Scripts using the Test Library Framework
- Extra time is required to design and develop test scripts
- Test Data is hardcoded within the scripts
Modular Framework (Test Script Modularity Framework)
As the name indicates, the test script modularity framework creates independent yet smaller scripts that showcase different modules, sections, and functions of the web application. These small scripts are later utilized in a hierarchical order to develop larger tests, realizing a particular test case. The test script modularity framework applies this method of abstraction in order to enhance the maintainability and scalability of automated test suites.
- The fastest way to generate script
- Automation expertise not required
- A most uncomplicated approach to study the features of the Testing Tool
- Little reuse of scripts
- Test data is hardcoded into the script
- Maintenance is a nightmare
Linear Framework (Record and Playback):
This is the simplest of all Frameworks and is also known as “Record & Playback”. In the Record and Playback Framework, a Tester manually records each and every step (Navigation and User Inputs), and then insert checkpoints (Validation Steps) in the initial round. The tester then plays back the recorded script in the consequent rounds. This method is very easy and fast.
- The fastest way to generate script
- Automation expertise not required
- Little reuse of scripts
- Test data is hardcoded into the script
- Maintenance nightmare
Data-driven Automation Framework
In this Framework, the Test Data is separated and kept outside the Test Scripts, while Test case logic remains in the Test Scripts. The Test Data can be read from external files such as:
- Excel Files,
- Text Files,
- CSV Files,
- ODBC Sources,
- DAO Objects,
- ADO Objects
These are packed into the variables inside the Test Script. The variables are then used for both Input values and for output (verification) values. Unlike in table-driven testing, the navigation data isn’t contained in the table structure, only test data is contained in the data files.
- Modifications to the Test Scripts does not change the Test Data
- Test Cases can be executed with multiple Sets of Data
- Multiple Test Scenarios can be achieved by just modifying the Test Data in an External Data File
- Extra time is required to design and develop both Test Scripts and Test Data
How Can Businesses Choose The Right Framework
Test Automation can improve product/software quality and lead to higher testing efficiency. Hence, it is important to plan it well and make the right choice of tools and frameworks. When enterprises employ test automation and utilize the appropriate framework based on the context, it yields exceptional benefits. Hence, every organization must thoroughly understand the benefits as well as the consequence of any framework, before choosing the right one.
Some key aspects of the automation framework to look for during the digital assurance journey are provided below:
The Need for Extreme automation
If your enterprise makes use of digital transformation strategies, such as big data, cloud service models, and web/mobile applications then you require a framework that changes the way testing is being done. For such situations, enterprises depend on frameworks that are more scalable and facilitates lifecycle automation, as well as broader test coverage, which is needed for digital assurance programs.
As innovative technologies such as DevOps are gradually taking over the IT landscape, it is essential to overcome the time between development and deployment. Test scripts require to be performed in an unattended method without needing much manual interference. In such circumstances, the automation framework must have the capability to incorporate remote, parallel, zero-touch execution, and execution from continuous integration tools like Jenkins and Hudson. This will assist a lot in maintaining multiple sprints and shorter cycles more efficiently.
Over the years a lot of new tools have been introduced into the test automation domain. Innovative tools such as Selenium, TestComplete and Appium have helped get test results back to development faster, reduce risk & cost by fixing defects earlier and get a competitive advantage with smarter software testing. With this plethora of tools being utilized in the application development and testing landscape, it is essential that your framework must facilitate integration with any of these tools.
The developments in Agile and DevOps have brought together experts from every domain, including business, development and QA teams. Since it includes experts from not only testing domains, the generated reports must be easily understandable to experts from the non-testing domains as well. As the name indicates this framework has to generate automatic reports of the complete test execution and display the results in an easy-to-read format. Hence, the framework with good reporting capabilities such as HTML reports, live execution dashboard, screenshots in case of failures, and video reporting of the execution options will be very helpful. Automation framework facilitating detailed test result reporting reduces the overall effort to a greater extent.
So there you have it! If you are looking to outmaneuver your competition with smarter software or web application testing, look no further because Test Automation with the right tools and framework is your answer. It not only gets test results back to development faster but also reduces risk and cost by fixing defects earlier. The bottom line: virtualization with the adoption of automation reduces your cost and accelerates development, and that’s what companies need to stay ahead of their competition.
Ricky Philip is an industry expert and a professional writer working at ThinkPalm Technologies. He works with a focus on understanding the implications of new technologies such as test automation, artificial intelligence, big data, SDN/NFV, cloud analytics, and IoT services. He is also a contributor to several prominent online publishing platforms such as Medium.com and HubSpot.