There are some repercussions observed in development teams like professionals spending way too much time waiting on their test suite to run or constantly rerunning the test suite if it fails, and this can likely affect the quality of the software.
If you’re one of those teams facing similar problems, implementing a test automation pyramid is all you need.
In this blog, you’ll have a deep exploration into the test automation pyramid and various strategies to manage it. But before that, let’s dive into understanding “Test automation”.
What is test automation?
When it comes to testing, there are primarily two types: Manual and Automated. In today’s automated world, manual testing has almost become extinct. In some cases testing like regression and functional are practiced manually but it’s relatively inefficient practice for humans to keep doing the same thing repetitively. It’s such kinds of repetitive tasks that let test automation come into play.
Test automation is one of the software quality assurance practices that run tests automatically, manages test data, and studying the test results to improvise the quality of software.
Test automation plays a crucial role in reducing the total amount of time developers invest in testing their software applications because they get prepared and cleaned up environments automatically, in advance. Also, it stores and manages results acquired in the test run to gain better insights and use them for future purposes. This can help developers debug problems faster.
The major goal of automation is to conserve time, money, and effort. So, the test needs to undergo some criteria to get automated, otherwise, the entire process can get expensive. Here are some test automation criteria-
- Repeatable – The test must run over and over again. Tests that are run and executed once are not automated.
- Determinant- When a function is a determinant, it means that the outcome is the same every time it’s run with the same input.
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What is the Test Automation Pyramid?
The test automation pyramid depicts the different types of tests and their expected frequency in the codebase’s test suite. It provides direct feedback to the developer that code improvements do not break existing functionality. The test pyramid is mainly divided into three parts. Unit tests at the bottom of the stack, integration tests in the center, and end-to-end tests at the top. These layers in the test pyramid enable developers to deliver quality software seamlessly.
Every test in the codebase has a distinctive role to play. Let us see what those are-
Unit test– The research pyramid’s foundation is made up of unit tests. They test individual components or functionalities in isolation to ensure that they perform as intended. It’s critical to run a variety of scenarios in unit tests, such as the happy course, error handling, and so on.
The unit test suite must be written to run as quickly as possible since this is the largest subset. Always remember that the more the feature, the more the unit test will grow. Every time a new function is introduced, this test suite must be run. As a result, developers gain direct input on whether specific features are functioning properly or not.
Unit tests are excellent when you have to test individual components of a system, but unfortunately, it raises a lot of bugs when all the mobile parts come along. This is another reason they are known as the first line of defense, a precursor to integration tests.
A proper way to build a powerful unit test suite is by implementing test-driven development (TDD). The code generally is simpler, clearer, and bug-free. And as for TDD, a test is written before any code.
Integration test- The middle layer of the test automation pyramid is integration tests and unlike unit tests, it should not be performed on a regular basis. They basically measure how a feature interacts with external dependencies. Whether it is a call to a database or web service, the software must communicate effectively and retrieve the correct and expected data back to function.
Unit tests verify every small piece of the codebase. To check how the code communicates with the other codes, integration tests take place. And that makes up the entire software. These tests are usually slow because they involve the interaction with external services and need a pre-production environment to run.
End-to-End tests– End-to-end test is the topmost layer of the pyramid. And it ensures that the functioning of the entire application is well-versed. In other words, it assures seamless working from start to finish.
Since they are at the top of the pyramid, end-to-end tests take the longest to complete. They may also be vulnerable as they would test a wide range of use case scenarios. These checks, like integration tests, can enable the app to interact with external dependencies, potentially contributing to block completion.
Testing is an essential aspect of software development, especially to guarantee the product’s quality. Most smaller to mid-sized firms don’t think of testing as important as the rest of the phases of the product development life cycle, even though it’s very crucial for delivering robust software. It is vital to have tests in place. Likewise, it also matters the way tests are run and executed.
Test automation aids in the rapid improvement of software quality. As we saw earlier, all kinds of tests cannot be automated due to financial commitment. So, in this case, where there are multiple tests involved, you need to make correct decisions, and implementing a test pyramid would be one of those.