The Ultimate Guide to Shift-left Testing

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The Ultimate Guide to Shift-left Testing

Take a look at this quick primer on the importance of shift-left testing and how you can implement it in your CI/CD pipeline.

· DevOps Zone ·
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In today's competitive era, the demand to deliver quality software products in a cost and time-effective manner continues to accelerate. To accommodate that need, more and more companies are now incorporating shift-left testing to their product development processes. To help you better understand this methodology, in this article, we will delve into the basic tenets of shift-left testing, its benefits, and how to measure success.

What is Shift-Left Testing?

Shift-left testing comes about to test earlier in the development process. Even with Agile teams breaking away from the traditional Waterfall development model, testing always seems to be the last step.

For example, if everything is completed on the developers’ side and they begin new projects, but then tests come up with bugs that have to be fixed before it can be released to production, the developers would then have to shift focus from the new projects to fix bugs in the last project or the last project would have to wait until a new release cycle. Talk about a waste of time!

In an effort to bring testing earlier into the development lifecycle while improving quality measures, tasks are being shifted left rather than the traditional method of keeping delivery and testing requirements to the right side of the development model. If possible, testing should occur from the very beginning of the design phase to build an appropriate testing strategy.

As testing will occur throughout every stage, even at the end, finding problems as soon as possible reduces the amount of time spent resolving them and reduces the change of testing becoming a bottleneck to a fast release.

Benefits of Shift-Left Testing

  • Early detection: Find bugs early and fix them before they become a problem in production

  • Cost savings: Time and resources can be quickly used up. Shift-left testing helps reduce that problem and saves you money.

  • Reliable testing: Increase your testing reliability by using the shift-left testing procedures

  • Teamwork makes the dream work: Create a sense of unity amongst your developers and testers by keeping differences between them from creating a bottleneck.

  • Fast delivery: Deliver your product to the market faster.

  • Development pipeline: Shift-left testing helps to perform testing as soon in the development pipeline as you can achieve.

To learn more about the benefits and challenges of continuous testing, refer to this article.

Why Shift-left Testing Matters in Continuous Testing

How to apply shift left testing

While shift-left testing might sound like the perfect approach to help you in the testing process before rolling out new products, the technique alone is not enough.

Your ultimate objective is to automate and test as many aspects of the product as possible while reducing the amount of time invested in the testing phase. This is why shift-left testing should come into the picture.

Shift-left testing should be incorporated into continuous testing so that testers can generate more frequent, holistic and more practical tests with the implementation of real functional data. The combination “shift-left continuous testing” adds to the automation of your application testing, ensures that it is utilized as much, as early, and as continuous as possible throughout the product development pipeline.

In other words, by incorporating shift-left testing and continuous testing, bug detection can be done more efficiently in the early stage, resulting in higher quality feedback and faster issue resolution with lesser effort.

How to Apply Shift-Left Testing in Continuous Testing

shift-left testing katalon studio

Now that you have understood the two definitions, let’s unravel these concepts to see how they fit into the big idea.

Shift-left testing is a part of continuous testing, as it employs the same process of testing at every stage and as often as possible. While continuous testing is part of the process of executing tests in the DevOps pipeline to get feedback on bugs as soon as possible, shift-left testing focuses on defined objectives. Therefore, if continuous testing incorporates the entirety of the DevOps pipeline (i.e. from planning, designing, developing to deploying), shift-left takes a part of each cycle and sets testing strategies for each task in the cycle. Shift-left testing enhances continuous testing and makes it a stronger weapon against bugs.

In addition, you can apply shift-left testing through behavior-driven development (BDD). BDD is a versatile Agile software development approach that enhances collaboration between developers and non-technical team members such as managers.


Overall, shift-left testing is all about incorporating testing earlier and earlier in the development process. In other words, it is the first half of the maxim "Test early and often." However, making the jump to shift-left testing is not an easy task, and if you are not aware of the barriers to it, you will head for disaster. So make sure you have a solid plan in place before incorporating this testing procedure into your organization. 

ci cd pipeline ,continuous testing ,devops ,shift-left testing ,software testing ,test automation

Published at DZone with permission of Oliver Howard . See the original article here.

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