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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.