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Maximize Your Test Script Quality: Coding Standards and Best Practices

Communication and collaboration are straightforward when testing is carried out for a small application with a small team. However, when the same application scales up, grows in complexity, and the team members also increase, maintaining the testing artifacts becomes challenging.

For example, if a few of the key team members from the testing team leave the organization and new ones join, the test scenarios, test cases, and test scripts should be simple, structured, and follow standards so that everyone can understand them without any time lag.

Test scripts are the detailed instructions that need to be carried out to test the application under test (AUT). These scripts provide all the required information, such as test data, steps, text, clicks, etc., and ensure that nothing is missed in detail to test the application through automation testing. Read here how to build a test automation framework.

In this article, we will discuss the coding standards and best practices to maintain the high quality, simplicity, and maintainability of these programming test scripts.

Why Follow Coding Standards and Best Practices?

When you write high-quality test scripts during testing activities, the whole ecosystem becomes more reliable, easier to maintain, and can be reused across different testing scenarios. These coding standards and best practices are rules that help provide accurate test results, reduce the time spent on debugging test scripts, and ensure that the focus remains on testing the actual software product.

Here are the reasons why coding standards and best practices should be followed while writing code for test scripts:

Enhanced Readability and Maintenance

Coding standards, when followed, make the test scripts readable and understandable for anyone on the team, and everyone can work on each other’s code quickly. When standards are followed, it becomes easier to maintain and scale the test automation when the project grows.

Example: Using clear naming conventions for variables and functions, such as a function named testLoginWithValidCredentials(), is more intuitive than test1().

Better Efficiency

Standard coding practice is to reuse the code whenever possible. It reduces the code base and saves effort in rewriting already existing methods or functions. Moreover, the reusable methods and functions reduce the code complexity and make it easier to understand and debug.

Example: Create reusable functions for common tasks, like a function to log in to an application. This function can be used in multiple test scripts instead of writing the login code repeatedly.

Reliability and Accuracy of Code

When best practices and coding standards are followed, then the code reliability increases. It reduces the likelihood of errors and exceptions as well. Standard code provides known results and reduces abrupt script behaviors.

Example: If a test case fails due to an element not being found, the script could log detailed information about the failure through proper exception handling. It reduces the chance of just stopping the execution abruptly or throwing a generic error.

Easier Collaboration and Knowlege Sharing

When all your team members follow the same set of standards across projects, it becomes easier to collaborate and share code. These standard practices help make onboarding and knowledge transfer easier among new team members or when handing over projects.

Example: When all team members use the same format for assertions and test structure, it becomes easier for any team member to review, understand, and provide feedback.

Smooth Integration with Tools

You can gain better and quicker compatibility with other testing tools, CI/CD pipelines, and frameworks when your test scripts follow industry standards.

Example: When you follow syntax and structure recommended by a test framework (like JUnit for Java or PyTest for Python), you have smooth integration and utilization of the framework’s features, like setup and teardown methods, fixtures, and test reporting.

Flexible and Scalable Code

Standard coding practices allow the test script code to be flexible, adaptable, and scalable in case of updates and requirement changes. Read here about test scalability.

Example: If a test script is programmed to work with external data sources (like CSV files or databases), then you can add or modify test cases without changing the script’s core logic.

More Professional Approach

Following coding standards shows professionalism, commitment to quality, and best practices in software development. Ultimately, the quality of test scripts directly impacts the quality of the software product. High test script standards contribute to the software’s overall quality and reliability.

Example: Regular code reviews and refactoring to improve script quality and performance.

Coding Standards and Best Practices for Test Scripts

Here are the top coding standards and best practices you can follow to keep the test scripts simple and maintainable:

Coding Standards

  • Meaningful Naming Conventions: Name your test methods, variables, and objects with meaningful names to describe their purpose inherently. Avoid using digits in the name of variable names.

  • Consistent Format and Structure: Maintain a consistent format and structure of the test script code. Use appropriate indentation and spacing to keep the code readable and structured.

  • Comments and Documentation: Do not use comments on self-explanatory lines of code. It will make the code more verbose. Use comments to describe the complex logic of code. Maintain updated documentation to explain the purpose and scope of the code clearly.

  • Restrict the Use of Global Variables: Use global variables in code when it is extremely necessary.

  • Use One Identifier for One Purpose: Do not use one identifier for multiple purposes. This helps reduce confusion for the person maintaining the code later.

  • Avoid Deep Nesting: Though nesting helps maintain code readability, too much deep nesting is difficult to understand and increases complexity. Hence, it should be avoided.

Best Practices

  • Simple Lines of Code: Use simple functions/methods in the programming. Lengthy and complex functions are difficult to understand and debug. Make sure that one function/method performs one task only.

  • Use Modularization: Break down your test scripts into small modules that are reusable and readable.

  • Data-Driven Testing: Separate test data from the script logic using data-driven testing. This makes it easier to update test cases without changing the script.

  • Use Version Control: Track changes and modifications in your testing framework through version control systems to make it easier to collaborate and identify changes.

  • Get Code Reviewed: Use peer reviews and code reviews to check that the code follows the standards and best practices.

  • Automate and Automate More: Repetitive tasks should be automated to reduce the time and effort elapsed in running those. Know which tests you should automate first.

  • Use Error Handling: Use good error/exception handling and reporting mechanisms. This helps quickly identify the root cause of failures and provides graceful messaging in case of failures.

Choice of Testing Tools and Frameworks

Correctly choosing testing tools and frameworks helps you smoothly follow the coding standards and best practices. Below are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Use Built-in Features: Utilize the built-in functionalities of these frameworks, such as assertions, setup and teardown methods, and reporting features.

  • Select the Right Framework/Tool: If you use Selenium for test automation, following these coding standards and best practices is imperative. The programming-rich Selenium framework and associated tools/ frameworks require careful planning and adherence to standards. If you fail to do so, you fall into the trap of unmanageable test script maintenance. Here are the 11 reasons why not to use Selenium for automation testing.

    However, if you are looking for alternatives to this indefinite problem, there are intelligent AI-driven tools available today. Take testRigor, for example. It uses generative AI and NLP to let you write test cases in plain English. Since programming code is not used, you can stay at ease with these coding standards and best practices. Here is an example of test steps in testRigor, just plain English and simplicity at play.
    enter "Peter" into "First Name"
    click "Submit"
    check that page contains "Welcome, Peter!"
  • Integrate with CI/CD and Development Tools: The automation testing framework that you are using should easily integrate with CI/CD, unit testing, and development tools. If you have to write dependencies and configurations for each integration, that is indeed an overhead.

    You can avoid this additional effort by using testRigor since it allows seamless integration with major test management, issue management, infrastructure providers, ERP systems, etc.

    Here are the top 7 automation testing tools to consider.

Conclusion

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand” – Martin Fowler.

As we know, writing clean, simple, and readable code is an art and imperative as well for a good testing ecosystem. However, if you wish to focus more on writing robust test scripts that provide great coverage and quality, then you might want to shift your focus to intelligent testing tools such as testRigor. It eases your coding problems since anyone in your team can write test scripts without the requirement of knowing programming.

If better alternatives exist, why not avail them and achieve the testing goals faster with the least effort and low cost?

Join the next wave of functional testing now.
A testRigor specialist will walk you through our platform with a custom demo.
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