What is Regression Testing in Software QA?
If you’ve ever seen a software developer staring at a bunch of running tests like the future of their life depended on it, you’ve probably already seen the tail end of regression testing in software QA.
While their life might not be on the line, their ability to release a code update and shut down for the day could be. Indeed, few things are as gratifying as seeing a regression test suite turn green (pass with no issues), and seeing unexpected failures in regression tests can strike dread into the hearts of unsuspecting devs who were hoping to move on to other tasks.
So what exactly is regression testing, and why is it so powerful that it can ultimately make or ruin someone’s day? Below is a quick explanation, along with some advice about how your team can most effectively and efficiently maximize the value of regression testing in your software project.
What is regression testing?
Regression testing is a form of testing that checks whether or not all of the features within a software project are functioning as intended.
Usually, regression testing is used to determine whether or not an update should be released into production for end users to interact with. To put it another way, any failed tests within a core regression test suite will signal that an update should not be released into production due to the failure somewhere inside the functionality. All regression tests indicate a passing status before the update can be released.
Since regression testing is often a gatekeeper for determining if a change should be deployed into production or not, regression testing is typically performed upon every software build and before release for teams using a modern software development lifecycle.
What makes regression testing so important?
As you can imagine, being a gatekeeper for deciding if a release should go into production is a powerful role that comes with a lot of responsibility.
Because regression testing has the power to block releases, it is inherently important for any software team. To bring it down to a more personal level, no software developer likes to see their code blocked from going into the next stage, and having to spend more time than originally anticipated on a release is never a good feeling.
However, the true significance of regression testing is not the act of blocking updates from a developer but rather ensuring that end users are protected from updates that could break the existing features that they rely on. Most software developers realize that catching an issue before it ends up in production is better for them in the long-term, so they don’t need to deal with complaints about the issue affecting users in production.
Therefore, regression testing is important for both the end user and the software development team to ensure problems are caught before they end up in production and negatively affect the ability of the software to fulfill its purpose for existing.
Why is regression testing automation so important?
You may already be starting to get a feeling that automating regression testing is of critical importance for modern software development teams.
For any team emphasizing a CI/CD process, the more frequently the team releases updates into production, the more regular regression tests will need to run.
Regardless of the frequency of software updates, as a software project grows and adds more features, the regression test coverage will likewise need to become larger in scope to account for testing more and more functionality.
Therefore, regression testing usually becomes such a broad and frequently performed function that teams quickly begin to realize that manually performing regression testing would create an unsustainable cost and bottleneck in the flow of updates into production. At the same time, regression testing is so critically important that it cannot be taken out of the software testing process without adding an extreme level of risk.
This is where automation of functional regression testing with a leading platform such astestRigor is a must-have for any software development team. testRigor allows teams to quickly and easily write regression tests using plain English, and automatically run the regression test suite upon each deployment with no manual intervention.
As one of the most advanced AI-powered test automation platforms on the market, testRigor can also help automatically prevent tests from becoming invalid due to superficial changes in the software project, like UI modifications, further reducing the need to perform manual maintenance across all regression tests.
In other words, testRigor is the best option for any team trying to automate as much of the regression testing process as possible. While it might not change the habit of anxiously staring at regression tests as they run, testRigor can at least keep everyone on your team happy – knowing that they don’t need to pour a lot of time and effort into creating, running, and maintaining your regression testing process.