Software testing is one of the most critical stages of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) because it helps companies comprehensively assess whether or not their software product fulfills its functional and non-functional requirements. The goal of the testing phase is to identify and resolve all of the bugs and errors in the product before it is taken to market. In most cases, software testing remains a consistent phase throughout the SDLC, and it is done manually by human QA testers.
The main challenge faced during manual software testing is that it takes a lot of time and effort to ensure that the software product is bug-free. It involves inspecting every single part of the product modules, checking log files, checking for database errors, inspecting third-party integrated services, and documenting the journey. Any software tester who is familiar with manual testing techniques will surely agree that the whole process can be extremely time-consuming, tedious, and monotonous. There are many tools that can streamline the software testing process by implementing test automation. In this article, we will introduce you to automation testing, its use cases, and some best practices for implementing it. We will also take you through the process of getting started with automated testing step by step.
What Is Automated Testing?
Automated testing is a software testing technique that leverages automation technologies rather than human testers to control the execution of tests. The actual test findings are then compared to the expected outcomes. Your projects will be more efficient and have a shorter time to market if you use automated testing.
Automated testing is also referred to as test automation or automated QA testing. Well-implemented automated testing improves test coverage, increases execution speed, and reduces the manual effort involved in testing software.
What Are the Advantages of Automation Testing?
A lot of software companies across the globe are embracing software testing for their SaaS products. Below are some of the many advantages of implementing automated testing:
- Simplifies testing: Automation testing simplifies the typical software testing routine and operations in tech companies by using automation test tools and test scripts which can be reused for different test cases. Unlike in manual testing (where every single line of testing code must be written and executed), automated testing scripts are easily customizable for different use cases.
- Speeds up the testing process: Automated tests shorten software development cycles because automation tools and machines are faster than humans. This way, the testing phase of the SDLC is faster and more accurate.
- Reduces the risk of human error: Automation testing can be run at any time of the day without human intervention. It also increases the accuracy level because it reduces the risk of human error due to manual testing.
- Saves time and money: In the long run, automation testing is more cost-effective and time-saving compared to manual testing, which takes longer and requires paying staff to do work that machines can do. Plus, automation frees employees to focus on other tasks like designing new functionality that can increase revenue.
- Improves bug detection: Automated testing provides wider coverage for analyzing and detecting bugs that humans might not be able to see during manual testing.
- Comprehensive reporting capabilities: Automated tests provide extensive visibility into testing reports through dashboards and insight views which are not possible with human tests. These detailed automation test reports give developers and business teams an in-depth analysis of the SaaS product, its functionality, and what needs to be done to improve it.
- Reliability: Automation testing is less likely to cause errors – hence, it is more reliable.
- Parallel testing: Automated tests can be run on multiple devices at the same time, which is impossible with manual testing. This increases the volume of tests that you can do within a given timeframe, and shortens the test cycle dramatically when large tests can be carved up into smaller (atomic and autonomous) test cases that are run in parallel.
- Information Security: The effectiveness of testing is largely dependent on the quality of the test data provided as input to the automation tool. Using a good automation tool will ensure the security of the test data when manipulating, creating, and protecting the test database (which manual testing does not achieve in most cases).
Test Automation Test Cases
In software testing, a test case is a detailed document containing specifications, input, steps, testing conditions, and expected outcomes related to the execution of a software test on a particular application. Every feature in a SaaS product involves two test cases – a positive and a negative test case – to produce the desired coverage in different scenarios in the test suite. The following are some of the test cases that can be automated:
- Regression tests: Automation testing is ideal for sanity or smoke tests because they require significant human resources and are time-consuming.
- Performance tests: To perform stress and load testing on the application, automated tests repetitively query the desired coverage, which is tedious and time-consuming when done manually.
- Data-driven tests: Automation tests use input data to analyze the SaaS product and minimize human error.
- Unit tests: Automation testing supports unit tests due to their reusability and low maintenance costs.
- Functional tests: Automation testing can also test whether frameworks and development codebases meet the desired specifications.
- Integration tests: Automation testing helps identify integration faults and provides a reliable way of ensuring robustness between different modules and interfaces.
Getting Started with Automated Testing
In this section, we will use Selenium WebDriver and Python to show you how to get started with automation testing in web applications.
Step 1: Install Python
Python is one of the most high-level programming languages available today, and it is very popular due to its ability to work seamlessly on many platforms. It also contains a rich network of libraries and packages, including test automation frameworks. If you do not have Python installed on your machine, please follow this link to install it and set it up.
Step 2: Install Selenium
When working with Python, it is recommended that you use a Python virtual environment supported by “pip” (Python’s package management system). This will enable you to install packages and libraries specific to the application that you are building. Once you have Python installed, you can install Selenium using this command:
pip install selenium
Step 3: Install Selenium Web Drivers
To run the Selenium web driver efficiently, you need to install browser-specific Selenium drivers. You can follow these links to download the drivers for your chosen browser: Chrome, Edge, Safari, or Firefox.
Step 4: Write the Python + Selenium Automation Test
You can click here to get started with Sauce Labs for free. For our purposes, you’ll want to choose “automated testing” and then the Python and Selenium option, as shown below:
You will then be directed to a GitHub repository containing best practices and sample Python code for testing purposes. For instance, the code below validates your login credentials and functionality for the Sauce Labs demo account at http://www.saucedemo.com/v1.
Paste the following code into your Python test file to see how it works:
from selenium.webdriver.common.by import By from selenium.webdriver.support.wait import WebDriverWait def test_valid_crentials_login(driver): driver.get('http://www.saucedemo.com/v1') username_locator = (By.CSS_SELECTOR, '#user-name') password_locator = (By.CSS_SELECTOR, '#password') submit_locator = (By.CSS_SELECTOR, '.btn_action') wait = WebDriverWait(driver, 10) wait.until(lambda x: driver.find_element(by=username_locator, value=username_locator).is_displayed) username_element = driver.find_element(by=username_locator, value=username_locator) password_element = driver.find_element(by=password_locator, value=password_locator) submit_element = driver.find_element(by=submit_locator, value=submit_locator) username_element.send_keys('standard_user') password_element.send_keys('secret_sauce') submit_element.click() assert "/inventory.html" in driver.current_url
Test Automation Best Practices
If you’ve read this far, it will be obvious to you that automation testing is the most effective way to perform software testing for your SaaS products. There are a lot of test automation tools available today, and it is very important to follow best practices when implementing them in order to achieve more efficient results. The following are some of the test automation practices that can accelerate your testing process.
Choose the Right Test Automation Tools
Automation testing is entirely dependent on tools, so it is imperative that you choose the best tool depending on your test case. Thankfully, Sauce Labs offers a wide variety of automation tools. In order to select the right tool, you should consider the following:
- The nature of software: Different automation testing tools work for different platforms, so if an application is running on a mobile device, desktop, or the web, choosing the right tool will ensure full coverage of the device specifications.
- Open source applications: If you do not have a budget for testing, you should consider using open source tools such as Selenium, Appium, Robot Framework, or Cucumber. Please note that you will need to have coding experience to use these open source frameworks.
You can find other best practices for working with Sauce Labs test automation tools here.