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Test Automation Pyramid Done Right

The importance of thorough and efficient testing cannot be underestimated since bugs leaked into production lead to diminished customer experience and loss of revenue. Most companies strive to either automate all of their testing scenarios or come up with a hybrid approach to get the most benefits of both manual and automated testing.

Automating certain types of tests increases the effectiveness, efficiency, and coverage of the test scenarios. The test automation pyramid, when used correctly, enhances the testing process on all stages and results in a higher quality software shipped to your end-users.

What is Test Automation

Test automation techniques use automation tools rather than human testers to control the execution of tests. Test automation executes tests, manages data, and helps to analyze results to improve the overall quality of developed software.

Although it is primarily a quality-control measure, the software development team requires the participation of the entire development team. Everyone must participate in test automation, from business analysts to developers and test engineers.

An automated testing tool can perform pre-recorded actions, compare the results to expected behavior, and provide feedback to the team. Computerized tests are simple to replicate and extend to perform tasks impossible to complete manually, such as for non-functional testing.

Automated software testing is one of the critical factors to the success of development projects. Depending on the type of the test, automation typically requires a longer time to build (unless you’re using testRigor, of course); however, it significantly shortens the overall testing time. Automation brings significant cost savings both in terms of spent man-hours and increased revenue due to a higher quality product.

What is the Test Automation Pyramid

It is a concept that allows the software teams to prioritize different types of testing to be executed in their test strategy. The Testing Pyramid is a framework for helping developers and QA professionals create high-quality software. It reduces the time for developers to figure out if their code changes are causing any code-breaking issues. This method can also be used to build a more reliable test suite.

The pyramid typically consists of three layers. Unit tests make the test pyramid base, and in the pyramid’s center are Service/Integration tests. The top layer of the pyramid comprises UI End to End tests.

The ultimate goal is to provide complete test coverage on each layer and decrease the feedback times as much as possible. It makes a huge difference when a developer is notified about the bug an hour after creating the build vs. in a couple of days, isn’t it?

Now we will discuss each of the main layers of the testing pyramid. Keep in mind that there might be more layers depending on the company’s needs, as well as some of them might be called differently. The idea of the testing pyramid is to provide general guidance.

Pyramid Foundation – Unit Tests

Unit tests are the foundation of the automation testing pyramid. Before coding the next software component, software developers ensure that a small codebase functionality works as expected. It is considered a good practice to aim for 95% unit test coverage for any newly created functionality.

Because it is the most significant subset, the unit test suite must be written quickly. Unit tests will increase as more features are added to the software product. They must be run on every commit, i.e., every time a new feature is added or a piece of code is changed.

High-quality unit tests might even serve as project documentation for software engineers. They also help with code re-use, where individual components are copied over to modify or add functionality and immediately verify it works as designed.

How to build strong unit tests?

Test-Driven Development (TTD)

Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a method that puts unit test cases ahead of actual code. According to TDD, the engine that drives software development is the test process. It mandates that developers begin by writing small test cases for each feature they will later be working on coding. TDD heavily relies on testing frameworks, and the team makes sure that all classes in an application are covered with tests.

Write a Test Before any Code

To validate specific feature functionality, developers must write precise unit tests. With this approach, they need to consider each part of the requirement specifications before beginning to write the solution. Which in turn leads to the code being better structured and cohesive. Another important benefit is this approach also leads to components not being tightly coupled, as each functional part is kept distinct.

Regardless of what approach to unit test coverage is being used in a particular company, such tests should always be a foundation of the testing pyramid.

Pyramid Middle Layer – Integration Testing

If unit tests are used to test small chunks of a program’s code – integration tests focus on the interfaces, as well as the data flow between different modules. This category includes database testing, APIs, and other components.

Each module is first tested with unit tests in isolation and then combined together with other modules for the integration testing. Integration tests should run less often than unit tests. Whether the software calls a database or a web service, it must communicate effectively and retrieve the correct data.

Because integration tests interact with multiple systems, they are more complex and take longer than unit tests. It also becomes increasingly harder when integration with an outside system is involved.

Top of the Pyramid – End-to-End Tests

This is the primary focus area for any QA team. These tests determine the overall functionality of the application and confirm it runs smoothly from start to end for various user flows.

This layer includes many different types of UI tests, which strive to simulate an approach from the user’s perspective. How would a real-world user interact with the software? How can we test that interaction?

End-to-end tests are usually the most time-consuming and expensive to perform. They might require multiple testing tools to cover different scenarios. Here’s a test example: you need to open a mobile app, request a password reset, then open the email in your mobile browser, go back to the app and log in. Some automation tools only cover certain platforms, which makes the job of creating an end-to-end test much more complicated.

If you follow us long enough, you might already know why testRigor works so well for end-to-end testing. The automation process becomes a piece of cake since tests are easy to create due to no code and no reliance on details of implementation (forget about CSS Selectors, XPaths, etc.) and are extremely stable. And the best part is that maintenance is taken out of the equation with testRigor – since it takes up to 200X less time than with other widely used automation tools.