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How to Manage Test Data in End-to-End Test Automation?

How to manage test data in end to end test automation.

The present era imparts the diverse usage of latest and advanced technologies in producing out the fined quality of software products as a boon to mankind in performing each of the long, complex, heavy, useful and repetitive activities and operations in an effective way and at no time. However, most of the software products or may be said all of them are standalone inefficient to carry out their desired and appropriate functioning.

These software applications require their association or integration with other external applications, systems and environment components in order to perform their intended functions in a smooth and in an uninterrupted manner, and thereby increases the already present complexity of the software application multiple times, and subsequently escalates the probability of occurrence of bugs and defects in the system.

Software QA process provides the approach of end-to-end testing methodology which not only looks after and ensures the integration aspect of a software with other required systems needed to execute intended functionalities but also tests the completeness of a software application, right from the beginning to the end, at each different level to ensure desired, appropriate and streamlined work-flow and data-flow throughout its schema during functioning.

Adding to this, automation of end-to-end testing process may prove to be an efficient, productive and time-saving approach as the said testing technique encompasses the whole software system to test, including different types of interfaces, databases and other relevant entities, along with complexities associated with each of them. Further, the involvement and usage of large volume of test data to extensively and thoroughly test the system along with the consistency, accuracy and integrity throughout the testing schedule, right away strikes out option of manual approach of testing.

What is Test Data?

An umbrella term "test data" comprises all sorts of data input required to test system's functionalities and may include positive data for expected functioning, negative or invalid data for error and exception handling mechanism.

Test data has a major role in the software testing process to generate out the qualities or the deficiencies present in the system. Thus, it arise the need of creating and maintaining the test data in end-to-end test automation, which is not an easy task for the testing team.

Then, how to deal with the test data management in end-to-end test automation?

A QA team may consider and implement certain specific strategies/practices to manage the creation and execution of test data in end-to-end test automation as per their needs and requirements. A few of these are stated below.

  • Test data creation during test phase set up
  • To ensure correct and precise results for each testing process/phase and for each functionality or module to be tested, it is preferable that the test data for each testing activity should be created in parallel along with the other activities carried out for a particular test phase. This approach would derive out and makes the availability of appropriate and desired test data inputs for each of the testing process. In this approach, test data may be generated using insert operation over database or may be simply through the user interface of the software application.

    However, with simultaneous process of creating the test data, the amount of time required to execute and terminate a test phase also increases. Further, setting up the test data would require additional development and execution of extra scripts, and subsequently extra burden on the cost of automation.

  • Test data creation prior to test phase
  • Creating test data prior to actual execution of the tests may prove to be a more convenient and productive option than creating test data during the test phase as the former lets the testing team to be completely focussed on the execution of the automated test scripts rather partially indulging and focussing on the test creation as well as on its execution.

    Test data prior to actual execution of the testing activity may be generated similar to that done during the test phase i.e. applying insert operations on database or by using user interface of the system. However, the strategy is uncertain about the veracity and appropriateness of the test data for testing the software.

  • Cleaning the test data
  • This approach involves the refreshing of the test data or restoration of test data in its original state after the tests execution (or before the execution of the next phase). To implement this strategy, backup of the test data repository or database needs to be taken for restoring the original state of the test data or clearing the test data database after the execution of test. Thus, the strategy rolls back the executed used test data to its original state which ensures and maintains the repeatability of the tests along with the test data. However, it requires thorough knowledge of the database model and database provides no or limited access to its architecture, which may be considered as the reasons to strike out this approach from the list.

  • Visualizing and understanding the data layer
  • With help of different types of tools readily available in the market, a tester may virtualize and go through each different data layer to analyse and understand the data flow, which may help and prove to be beneficial in testing the system.

  • Cutting out the test data
  • Testing is a methodology that works great when it comes in a good practice, that's why expertise professional it required to do such tasks. To perform test, firstly it is necessary to make a systematize procedure to test individual pages of site by tracking bugs and required fixes within system. Using regression testing technique at the time of fixing bugs will eventually lead you to the correct destination because it has an ability to perform better the way every team wanted.

Besides above stated strategies, a testing team may go for the other approaches which suits and fulfils their need and requirement in the given time. Managing test data in automation is a crucial step or task which directly impacts the productivity and results of the automation as automation is all about repetitive and larger usage of test scripts, including test data to perform end to end testing of software application.

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