Functional test automation: Complete Guide

Ultimate Guide to Functional Test Automation

Testing your newly-designed code for bugs and malfunction is an important part of the development process. After all, your application or piece of code will be used in different systems, environments, and scenarios after shipping.

According to statistics, 36% of developers claim that they will not implement any new coding techniques or technologies in their work at least for the coming year. This goes to show how fast the turnaround times are in the software development world.

It’s often better to ship a slightly less ambitious but functional product than a groundbreaking, unstable one. However, you can achieve both if you automate your quality assurance processes carefully. Let’s take a look at how and why you should automate your functional tests for a quick and valuable feedback during the coding process.

Benefits of Functional Testing & Automation:

  • Maintaining your Reputation:
    Whether you are a part of a large software development company or an independent startup project, your reputation plays a huge role in the public perception of your work. Research shows that 17% of developers agree that unrealistic expectations are the biggest problem in their respective fields. Others state that lack of goal clarity, prioritization, and a lack of estimation also add to the matter.
    There is always a dissonance between managers and developers, which leads to crunch periods and very quick product delivery despite a lack of QA testing. Automated functional testing of your code can help you maintain a professional image by shipping a working product at the end of the development cycle.
  • Controlled Testing Environment:
    One of the best parts of in-house testing is the ability to go above and beyond with how much stress you put on your code.
    For example, you can strain the application or API with as much incoming data and connections as possible without the fear of the server crashing or some other anomaly. While you can never predict how your code will be used in practice, you can assume as many scenarios as possible and test for those specific scenarios.
  • Early Bug Detection:
    Most importantly, functional test automation allows for constant, day-to-day testing of your developed code. You can detect bugs, glitches, and data bottlenecks very quickly in doing so.
    That way, you will detect problems early in the development stage without relying on test group QA which will or will not come across practical issues. The bugs you discover early on can sometimes steer your development process in an entirely different direction, one that you would be oblivious to without automated, repeated testing.
  1. Is Your Test’s Automation Necessary?
    Before you decide to design your automated functionality test, it’s important to gauge its necessity in the overall scheme of things. Do you really need an automated test at this moment or can you test your code’s functionality manually for the time being?
    The reason behind this question is simple – the use of too much automated testing can have adverse effects on the data you collect from it. More importantly, test design takes time and careful scripting, both of which are valuable in the project’s development process. Make sure that you are absolutely sure that you need automated tests at this very moment before you step into the scripting process.
  2. Separate Testing from Checking:
    Testing and checking are two different things, both of which correlate with what we said previously. In short, when you “check” your code, you will be fully aware, engaged, and present for the process. Testing, on the other hand, is automated and you will only see the end-results as the final data rolls in.
    Both testing and checking are important in the QA of your project, but they can in no way replace one another. Make sure that both are implemented in equal measure and that you double-check everything that seems off or too good to be true manually.
  3. Map out the Script Fully:
    Running a partial script through your code won’t bring any tangible results to the table. Worse yet, it will confuse your developers and lead to even more crunch time. Instead, make sure that your script is fully written and mapped out before you put it into automated testing.
    Make sure that the functional test covers each aspect of your code instead of opting for selective testing. This will ensure that the code is tested for any conflicts and compatibility issues instead of running a step-by-step test.
  4. Multiple Tests with Slight Variations:
    What you can do instead of opting for several smaller tests is to introduce variations into your functionality test script. Include several variations in terms of scenarios and triggers which your code will go through in each testing phase.
    This will help you determine which aspects of your project need more polish and which ones are good as they are. Repeated tests with very small variations in between are a great way to vent out any dormant or latent bugs which can rear their head later on. Avoid unnecessary post-launch bug fixes and last-minute changes by introducing a multi-version functionality test early on.
  5. Go for Fast Turnaround:
    While it is important to check off every aspect of your code in the functional testing phase, it is also important to do so in a timely manner. Don’t rely on overly-complex or long tests in your development process.
    Even with automation and high-quality data to work with afterward, you will still be left with a lot of analysis and rework to be done as a result. Design your scripts so that they trigger every important element in your code without going into full top-to-bottom testing each time you do so. That way, you will have a fast and reliable QA system available for everyday coding – think of it as your go-to spellcheck option as you write your essay.
  6. Identify & Patch Bottlenecks:
    Lastly, it’s important to patch out the bottlenecks, bugs, and glitches you receive via the functional test you automated. Once these problems are ironed out, make sure to run your scripts again and check if you were right in your assertion.
    Running the script repeatedly without any fixes in between runs won’t yield any productive data. As a result, the entire process of functional test automation falls flat due to its inability to course-correct your development autonomously.

In Summation

Once you learn what mistakes are bound to happen again and again, you will also learn to fix them preemptively by yourself without the automated testing script. Use the automation feature as a helpful tool, not as a means to fix your code (which it won’t do by itself).

Patch out your glitches before moving forward and closer to the official launch or delivery of your code to the client. The higher the quality of work you deliver, the better you will be perceived as a professional development firm. It’s also worth noting that you will learn a lot as a coder and developer with each bug that comes your way.

Author: Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools, and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered;) When she’s not engaged in assessing translation services for PickWriters you’ll usually find her sipping a cappuccino with a book.

cross browser testing strategies

Effective Strategies for Cross Browser Testing

With the latest technologies and trends coming up in the online world, the major thing that is being added is the number of mobile devices and the latest updates in browsers.

Every other day, a new mobile device is launched in the market. With the buzz of new iPhones coming around the excitement gets doubled. However, this is not just limited to mobile devices, we see frequent updates in browsers as well.

Some people love chrome, others are fond of Firefox. Don’t forget Safari too. Some unfortunate souls even have to use Internet Explorer because of company restrictions.

So, billions of people, thousands of choices for browsers, devices, operating systems. But one thing remains the constant, USER EXPERIENCE. The user experience or you can say the experience that you provide to your users irrespective of the browser, operating system, or device. So, you need to perform cross-browser testing for your website across hundreds and thousands of possible combinations to test that the website or the Web application should work perfectly.

Testing on all the thousands of combinations is not a wise thing to do, you will spend all the time testing your website even on some combinations that your audience might not be using or you might be missing out on some common errors because of that. So, you need to have an effective and a time-saving cross-browser testing strategy.

So, let’s get started.

Target the Browsers to Add in The Testing Matrix:

You need to prepare a matrix of browsers that your audience might be using.

It will require a lot of research on the data before you can choose the few among the hundreds of browsers available on which your website is meant to be rendered by your audience.

Let’s discuss the tools that will help you in gathering relevant information regarding the browsers used most by the users you are meant to target.

  1. Google Analytics – Google analytics can help you track important data like the device used by the users to browse your website, the platform and operating system mostly used, along with the browsers used by them. Using it, you can prioritize the most used browsers and sort them accordingly in the matrix.
  2. Data from Other Sites – If your website is new, Google Analytics won’t help you much. In that case, you can research on other sites that are similar to yours and gather analytics on them.
  3. Stats Counter – Stats Counter is the perfect tool that lets you gather data specifically based on your requirements. You can keep filters like location, time, operating system, browser, and sort accordingly.

Once the data source is figured out for your browser matrix, it’s time to decide the key factors you will need to cover.

Data Points Required for Your Browser Compatibility Matrix:

Let’s discuss the important data points to collect from the analytic tools based on which you can plan your cross-browser compatibility strategy.

  1. Platform – The users can access your website from a desktop, mobile or tablet. Find out the most preferred platform of your users and make sure that the website is rendered properly on them.
  2. Browser Usage – After you have selected the platforms, find out the browsers that are mostly used to access websites on those platforms. The results will vary location wise and also according to operating systems.
  3. Compare the Platforms – Do the research over and over again and find out a combination of the most used platform, browser and operating system in a specific zone. Know the best combination preferred by users before you start testing.

Once your analysis is done, sort the browsers according to the following points that will help you to find out the best-supported browser for your website.

  • A- The browser that is most loved and fully supports your website.
  • B- Browsers that are not so preferred yet supports your website.
  • C- Browsers that are partially supported and most preferred.
  • D- Browsers that are partially supported and least preferred.
  • E- Preferred browsers that do not support your website at all.
  • F- Least preferred browsers that do not support your website.

Analytic results will help you rate the browsers accordingly based on traffic and conversion.

browser rating based on traffic and conversion

So that you can prioritize which browser to test first and which one the last.

Prerequisites For Cross Browser Testing:

Now that your browser matrix is ready, and you have targeted the browsers on which your website should render properly, let’s discuss the perquisites that are mandatory to have before you perform cross-browser testing.

  • First, make sure that you know how to perform cross-browser compatibility testing or at least have a testing team in your project.
  • Formulate a testing strategy by getting all the devices ready with you. In case any device is unavailable, use an emulator. Install all the required browsers in the system on which testing is to be performed.
  • You can also use a cloud-based cross-browser testing platform like Lambdatest that will provide you with thousands of browsers and devices on which testing can be performed.

The Three Basic Steps In Cross Browser Testing:

You’re now all set with the browsers to test upon, the tool and all the prerequisites, now it’s time to know how to go ahead with performing cross-browser testing. You can execute your website’s cross-browser compatibility tests in three phases.

  • Testing for Bugs – This is the first step where you will execute all the test case scenarios and note down any bugs that you notice. While fixing those bugs you should make sure that any new bug is not created. Perform proper unit testing after each defect is fixed.
  • Create Plans and Strategies – This is the second phase where you repeat the test case scenarios performed in stage 1 at all the browsers. Classify the browsers according to priority into 3 types – High Risk, Medium Risk, and Low Risk. Your aim should be to cover all the test case scenarios in a very few iterations of testing rounds.
  • Sanity Testing – After all the defects, misalignments and other compatibility issues are fixed, its time to move on to Sanity Testing. Here, prioritize the browsers and start testing, starting from the least preferred ones. Go back to level 2 and perform the same test until you are sure that your website is rendered properly in all the targeted browsers.

What Can be the Possible Elements to Test for Cross Browser Compatibility?

Once you have set your system for testing, procedure, tool, the strategy now let’s see the elements that you need to check or that might be the victims of cross-browser issues.

  • Alignment of elements – Ensure that all the elements in your website are properly aligned in all the browsers.
  • SSL Verification – Some browsers may not support your SSL certificate. To avoid unforeseen situations when a user is unable to access your website because your SSL certificate is not supported by the browser, check your SSL certificate’s browser support.
  • Rendering of Fonts – Nowadays, most websites use cool new web fonts. However, some new fonts are not supported by many browsers. You will need to make sure that the fonts you are using in your website are supported by all the browsers that you selected in the matrix.
  • Media Elements – You should ensure that the audio or video elements used in your website are rendered properly in all the browsers.
  • Validate HTML and CSS – An HTML tag when left open will easily cause disruption in the display when a website is rendered in the browser. Use W3C Markup or other validation services to ensure that your code is properly written without any syntax error.
  • Check the API Requests– It is often observed that in a website when an external API is called, it throws some errors because the API request is not supported by the browser. You will need to make sure that the browsers on which you are running tests accept all API requests which are made by your website.
  • Pop-Ups– Many times pop-ups don’t occur in some browsers so check if all the pop-ups are being displayed properly and are opening in all browsers. Also, see if they are correctly aligned as per the design.
  • Alignment of checkboxes– Checkboxes can cause problems in some browsers while they may render properly in the others. Make sure that all your checkboxes are properly aligned and in working condition in all browsers.
  • Test the buttons– Not all buttons work the same in all browsers. Test by clicking on them, check if they are redirecting to the correct URL.
  • Drop Down Menus– IE and Safari are the favorite victims of drop-down menus. Check if the drop downs work as expected in all the browsers.
  • Grids/Tables– Broken grids and tables affect the user experience badly. Check the alignment and location of tables and grids( if any) across every browser.
  • Test for sessions and cookies, zoom in and zoom out functionality, the appearance of scroll, dates, rendering of HTML animations, flash media elements, mouse hovering across all the browsers.

Once you make sure that all your elements are rendered on all browsers, devices, and operating systems and you get a seamless experience all the platforms. You are all set with the perfect cross-browser testing strategy.

With the software industry evolving daily and new devices and browsers arriving in the market, cross-browser testing can be a little scary at first in case of a large application since it involves hundreds of combinations and maybe thousands of scenarios. However, once a proper testing strategy and planning is devised section wise, the job becomes much easier and you ensure a seamless experience for all your users no matter what device or browser they are using.

Author Bio:

Deeksha Agarwal is a growth specialist at LambdaTest and is a passionate tech blogger. She loves to write on latest trending technologies.