A Guide to Test Automation Types, Tools, and Benefits
Why should you have to do all that heavy testing lifting by yourself? Or at all?
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Automation is taking the software development industry by a storm, especially in the testing department. There are many phases involved in the software development process, and automation is used in the advanced stages. It is majorly used during testing of web applications, as it allows testers to execute multiple tests at the same time on a single machine.
But, is it really beneficial to use automation for your web application testing? If so, then what are the different types of automation testing?
Today, we will talk about what automation is, what are the different types of automation, and how it is beneficial for your web application testing process.
What is Test Automation?
Automation testing, or more accurately test automation, refers to the automation of execution of test cases and comparing their results with the expected results. That’s a standard definition that you might find everywhere on the internet. So, let's make it more clear with an example. As you know, manual testing, is performed by humans while writing each test case separately and then executing them carefully, automation testing is performed with the help of an automation tool to run the test cases.
It is widely used to automate repetitive tasks and other testing tasks that are unable to execute by manual testing. Also, it supports both functional and non-functional testing.
But why should you use automation testing rather than manual testing? Well, there are multiple reasons for that, such as:
Manual testing for all the workflows and fields is very time-consuming and costly.
Testing various sites manually is very difficult and complex.
Manual testing requires repeated human intervention whereas automation doesn’t.
With automation, the speed of test execution as well as test coverage increases.
These points are enough to give you an idea about why you need automated testing rather than manual testing. However, that doesn’t mean you have to or should automate every test case; there is a specific criterion for automating test cases.
Test Cases That Need to Be Automated
You can automate the test cases based on the below conditions, which will also help you increase the ROI on automation.
When there is a high risk involved, such as business-critical test cases.
If you need to execute test cases repeatedly.
If test cases are tedious, and you are unable to execute them manually.
When test cases take more than expected time for execution.
In most cases, using automation is only beneficial for the above conditions, otherwise, you should continue using manual testing.
Working Process of Automation
Moving on, let’s talk about the working process of automation testing. Generally, it involves four major steps, which are as follows.
1. Defining the Scope of Automation
The scope of automation is the part of your application that needs to be automated; it can be determined with the following considerations:
Common functionalities across the application
Features that are crucial for your business
The complexity of test cases
Capability to use similar test cases for cross browser testing
Based on these points, you can describe the scope of automation.
2. Selecting a Testing Tool
The second step involves selecting a tool for automation testing; you can choose from multiple automation tools available in the market. However, it largely depends on the technology on which the application tests are built. So, it is recommended to conduct a proof of concept of the tool on AUT before selecting a tool.
3. Planning, Designing, and Development
In this phase, you have to create an automation strategy and plan. It can include the following details:
Selected automation testing tools
Framework design and its features
Schedule and timeline for scripting and executing test cases
In-scope and Out-of-scope items of automation
Deliverables of automation testing
4. Executing Test Cases
During this phase, the automated testing scripts are executed, for which you need to provide input data to the scripts before they are ready to run. After executing the test scripts, you will get the detailed test reports.
You can execute the test cases directly with the help of automation tool or via a test management tool that can invoke the automation tool.
Types of Automation Frameworks
A framework consists of a set of automation guidelines that can be helpful in the following scenarios:
While maintaining consistency of testing
To improve test structuring
To minimize the code usage
Help even non-technical testers to be a part of the testing process
Improve re-usability of codes
Generally, there are four types of frameworks that are used in automation testing, which include
Data-Driven Automation Framework
Keyword Driven Automation Framework
Modular Automation Framework
Hybrid Automation Framework
Apart from these four, there are two other frameworks that are also used in automation testing – Behavior Driven Development Framework and Linear Scripting Framework.
Types of Automation Tests
After knowing the automation frameworks, you might be interested in knowing the types of automation testing. Depending on your application, there are different types of testing that can be automated. Here, we have mentioned the most crucial types of automation testing.
1. Unit Testing
In unit testing, the individual components/units of a web application are tested. In general, unit tests are written by developers, but automation testers can also write them. Unit testing of a web app is performed during the development phase. It is also considered as the first level of web app testing.
2. Smoke Testing
Smoke testing is performed to examine whether the deployed build is stable or not. In short, verifying the working process of essential features so that testers can proceed with further testing.
3. Functional Testing
Functional testing is performed to analyze whether all the functions of your web app works as expected or not. The sections covered in functional testing involves user interface, APIs, database, security, client/server applications, and overall functionality of your website.
4. Integration Testing
In integration testing, the application modules are integrated logically and then tested as a group. It focuses on verifying the data communication between different modules of your web app.
5. Regression Testing
Regression testing is performed to verify that a recent change in code doesn’t affect the existing features of your web app. In simple terms, it verifies that the old code works in the same way as they were before making new changes.
Apart from the above testing types, there are some other automated tests as well that need to be executed, such as data-driven testing, black box testing, keyword testing, etc.
Types of Automation Testing Tools
One of the biggest challenges in automation testing is choosing the right automation tool. With a wide variety of automation tools available in the market, selecting the best can be very complicated. While choosing an automation tool, you should look for the following features:
Ease of use with a user-friendly interface
Support almost every automated test like functional, mobile, etc.
Ability to recognize objects in any environment
Uses scripting language and offer error recovery testing
Provide extensive test results and reports
Based on our research, we have listed the best automation testing tools that are used in 2019.
Ranorex is an all-in-one testing tool that can be used for mobile, desktop, and web application testing. It can easily automate functional UI tests, data-driven tests, regression tests, and much more. What makes Ranorex unique is its click-and-go interface that allows testers to automate test cases easily. The features of Ranorex are as follows:
Functional UI and end-to-end testing on desktop, web, and mobile
Reliable object identification
Secure cross-platform and cross browser testing
Quickly integrates with tools like Jira, Jenkins, TestRail, CI, Travis, etc.
Selenium is an open-source automation testing tool that comes as a testing suite with four different testing tools. It is widely used for regression testing. It even allows testers to record and playback their regression tests. Some are the features of Selenium are:
It can be executed in multiple browsers and operating systems
Compatible with almost every programming language and testing framework
Allow you to run multiple tests at a time
Quickly identifies the elements with their id, name, X-path, etc.
LambdaTest is one the best automation testing tool available in the market that allows you to run cross-browser testing for your web app across a combination of multiple browsers, operating system, and devices. It even allows you to run Selenium scripts on a scalable, secure, and reliable cloud-based Selenium Grid. The features of LambdaTest are as follows:
Perform automated cross-browser testing across more than 2,000 browsers
Provides WordPress and Chrome extension for easy web app testing
Offers Screenshot API to automatically generates screenshots
Easily integrates with project management tools like JIRA, Asana, GitHub, Trello, etc.
Supports a wide range of applications like .Net, Native and Hybrid, and Android apps
Allow you to perform the regression, parallel, and cross-browser testing
Scale tests across 1,500+ real test environments
Complete test coverage of web applications
If you want to automate the mobile app and cross-browser testing for your website, then Experitest can be the game-changer for you. It allows you to run tests across a combination of more than 2,000 real browsers and mobile devices. Apart from that, it offers incredible features, such as:
Compatible with open source tools such as Appium and Selenium
Allow running automated tests and projects developed by IDE and any testing framework
Execute existing projects or build new Appium tests
Execute tests on a large scale
6. Katalon Studio
Katalon Studio is one of the most potent automation utilities that can be very helpful in testing API, web, and mobile apps. It is integrated with a rich set of features for automation testing and supports almost every platform, including macOS, Windows, and Linux. The features of Katalon Studio are as follows:
Offers a unique integrated environment for testers
Allow deploying different frameworks and libraries to use Selenium and Appium
Supports both SOAP and RESTful for API and services testing
Suitable for both automated and exploratory testing
Absolutely free to use
If you have heard of QMetry Digital Quality Platform that is empowered by artificial intelligence, then you might get an idea by now that QMetry Automation Studio is a part of it. This automation tool offers test automation, test management, and quality analytics in one suite. A few highlights of QMetry are as follows:
Based on Eclipse IDE and open source systems like Appium and Selenium
Provides efficiency, structure, and reusability to automation endeavors
Offers a combined resolution for an Omnichannel, multi-locale, and multi-device situation
Based on our research and user reviews, we found the above tools to be the most useful and efficient for automation testing. However, there are other tools as well that you can use for automation testing.
The list of automation tools is never-ending, but choosing the right automation tool depends on your requirements. So, select a tool that can fulfill all your needs.
So far, we talked about automation tests, frameworks, and tools. Now, it’s time to evaluate the actual benefits of using automation testing.
Benefits of Automation Testing
The advantages of using automation testing are much better than manual testing. Here we have enlisted some of the significant benefits of automation testing.
The first advantage of using automation is higher ROI. Using automation requires less time and cost while providing better ROI than manual testing
Provide faster testing results as compared to manual testing
Offers comprehensive test coverage for all features of an application
Requires less human resource to perform the testing
No need to create test scripts again and again, even if the OS version on the device changes
Helps in finding bugs in the early stages of web development
More reliable and quicker during repetitive testing of web app
Allow testing more devices simultaneously that results in detailed comparative reports
Disadvantages of Automation Testing
Using automation testing might be beneficial for most of the testing part, but there are some disadvantages as well, such as:
It requires proficiency to write the automation test scripts
Debugging the test scripts can be tricky because a minor error in the test script can lead to deadly consequences
Test maintenance can be very costly during playback methods. If a minor change appears in the GUI, you’ll have to record and replace the old test script with a new one
Maintaining the test data files is a bit tricky
These disadvantages can often lead to failure in your web app testing.
We have talked a lot about automation today. But, as far as it goes, it’s necessary to highlight what automation is capable of and what it has to offer us. So, we tried to cover most of the things related to automation testing like automation frameworks, types of automation testing, tools, advantages, and disadvantages.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.