No-Code Automated Testing: Best Practices and Tools
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Editor's Note: The following is an article written for and published in DZone's 2021 Low-Code Development Trend Report.
Getting started with no-code automated testing can be daunting, especially for developers and testers who are used to creating test cases with the same code they use to develop the application. With so many tools and so much information to parse through, getting started can seem like an overwhelming task. In actuality, it is easier than it looks. In this article, we will cover three best practices to help get the ball rolling, as well as cut through the confusion and explore the four most supported no-code automated testing tools.
Getting started is usually the hardest task on a project. Fortunately, we are not the first developers to make the leap into the no-code automated testing world, and a sizeable amount of wisdom has built up over the years. Below are some useful best practices we can utilize to get the ball rolling and to keep the momentum up when creating a no-code automated test suite.
- Start small and grow: No-code automated tests are usually at a system or application level, which makes creating a test suite more daunting (since we are dealing with the entire application at once). It is important not to become fixated on getting 100% test coverage from the get-go. 100% coverage is a great goal, but it can seem so far away when starting out. Instead, we should focus on getting a handful of test cases created and really understanding how the tools we select work. Becoming an expert in our tools is much more beneficial than creating dozens of tests in an unfamiliar tool.
- Focus on the essential use cases first: It can be tempting to focus on every use case all at once, but it is important to prioritize which use cases to target first. The reality of development and testing is that we may not be able to test every single use case. In such cases, it is a good idea to start with the following use cases and then focus on the remaining ones afterward:
- Most common use cases a user will perform
- Most critical use cases (i.e., logging in or transacting money)
- Most revenue-generating use cases (i.e., checking out or sign up for a subscription)
- Focus on what the user does: It can be tempting to exercise every nook and cranny of an application, but it is important to start with only the actions the user will take. For example, when testing a login form, it is important to test the fields visible to the user and the login button, since that is what the user will likely interact with in most cases. Testing the edge cases is important, but we should always start with the happy-path (the steps where everything goes right) before moving onto edge cases.
One of the most difficult aspects of jumping into no-code automated testing is finding the right tools. As with many other segments of software, no-code automated testing is a maturing ecosystem, and tools range from well-trusted to crude. While there is no perfect tool for every situation, there are tools that have taken the lead, proving their merit enough and earning the trust of some of the largest companies in the world. Below is a list of four of the most popular no-code automated testing tools currently available, along with some key points that provide some insight into how each tool stacks up against the others.
This is an excerpt from DZone's 2021 Low-Code Development Trend Report.
Read the Report
Katalon Studio earns a spot on many top no-code testing tool lists, and for good reason. Not only does this tool provide a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that allows developers and testers to create new test cases, but it also provides out-of-the-box support for validating web, mobile, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Representational State Transfer (REST) Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and desktop applications. Additionally, it also stores test cases as specially-crafted eXtensible Markup Language (XML) files — with the
.tc extension — which ensures that test cases can be managed using the same version control tools (such as Git) that we use for application code.
- Built-in tools for creating automated tests for web, mobile, API, and desktop applications
- Desktop-based tool
- Familiar Eclipse-like interface
- Creates tests using GUI and persists them as text-based files
- Used by some of the largest companies in the world, including Samsung, Toyota, and Siemens
- Robust tool that is flexible enough to create specialized tests
Figure 1: Katalon Studio
Unlike Katalon Studio, Perfecto focuses on web and mobile applications. This can be a non-starter for those who work primarily with REST API development, but for those who are in the business of creating web-based and mobile applications, this concentration ensures that Perfecto is designed with relevant features, reports, and dashboards in mind (i.e., supports features that web and mobile developers will appreciate rather than supporting general-purpose features that we do not need). In addition, Perfecto supports testing of mobile applications on both real and virtualized hardware.
- Focused on web and mobile development
- Web-based GUI
- Includes dashboards that are familiar to those with Continuous Integration (CI) experience
- Incorporates testing on a matrix of different browsers and mobile devices
- Allows for testing on real mobile hardware
- Used by more than half of the Fortune 500, including Ford, IBM, Salesforce, and Verizon
Figure 2: Perfecto
CloudQA takes a simple approach to no-code automated testing. Instead of establishing an elaborate environment in which to test an application — such as deciding the devices and the browsers in which we wish to run our tests, as well as the granular details about the values passed to our application — CloudQA works as a Chrome Extension that allows us to navigate our web application like a user and make assertions after actions are performed. This approach is much closer to the textbook no-code automated testing approach and makes it easier for less technical personnel and even novices to create new test cases and quickly build up a substantial test suite.
- Simple and straightforward to quickly create numerous test cases
- Uses a Chrome Extension to record the tests and opens a web application to view and edit recorded tests
- Can make assertions about what we expect to see after performing an action
- More detailed and complex test cases can difficult to create
Figure 3: CloudQA
In many ways, Ranorex combines the benefits of the previous tools into a single automated testing tool. While it may not have the vastness of support for mobile applications as Perfecto or the simplicity of CloudQA, Ranorex provides an appealing level of simplicity to get the ball rolling, while at the same time provides an extensible toolkit that can be used to create more complicated test cases. Additionally, test cases can be created as aggregates of simpler steps — such as clicking a specific button or submitting a form — which greatly increases reuse. Combining this with its tool suite integration, Ranorex should be a notable consideration for any tester looking to get moving quickly, but not be hampered by an overly simplistic toolset.
- Integrates with most common development tools, including Git, Jira, Visual Studio Code, and Jenkins
- Allows test cases to be source controlled
- Provides a simple interface to get started, but still allows for expert users to add more complex details when necessary
- Supports desktop, web, and mobile application testing
Figure 4: Ranorex
Image obtained from official Ranorex website
No-code automated testing can be an intimidating venture, but the benefits dramatically outweigh the difficultly. It is important to start small and build up a test suite that targets the use cases that the user will directly experience. By combining these best practices with the correct no-code tool, it is much easier to get the ball rolling on our no-code automated test suite than it looks.
|Justin Albano, Software Engineer at IBM
@albanoj2 on DZone
Justin Albano is a Software Engineer at IBM responsible for building software-storage and backup/recovery solutions for some of the largest worldwide companies, focusing on Spring-based REST API and MongoDB development. When not working or writing, he can be found practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, playing or watching hockey, drawing, or reading.
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