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QA Automation is a way to automate the testing of software components using professional and industry-standard testing tools. Software development is prone to bugs and defects no matter how efficient the code is. Therefore, to make sure that the final product works according to the requirements, testing measures are taken into consideration.
Quality assurance of the software is made in different ways. Even though the developer working on the coding of the application takes effective measures by testing his/her application before sending it to the next step, there are different automated tests in place such as unit tests, regression tests, etc. to make sure that everything can be covered from an end-to-end perspective. These sorts of testing methods can be classified into automated testing sections.
In this article, all the necessary details of Quality Assurance including the working methodology, types, benefits, and challenges are covered for a clear understanding.
What is QA Automation?
Quality Assurance means verifying the software piece to make sure that it meets the industry standards. Quality Assurance acts as an essential piece of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) for the successful delivery of a project or product. For medium to large-scale organizations, there are dedicated teams of Quality Assurance Engineers working to increase the efficiency of the software. However, for repetitive tasks, automation can be done so tests can be run many times without needing to do any manual work.
Automation in quality assurance is required for agile and scrum-based development models. For automation, there are different testing tools such as Selenium, Appium, Cucumber, Watir, etc providing ease to the developers and high-quality products to the market. Thus, automation in quality assurance is not only eliminating the need to do manual testing but also providing a much higher rate of efficiency at a faster pace.
Working on QA Automation
QA Automation tools provide a way to write independent code to run tests on already written code by developers. These testing scripts can be added to version control systems or tools where they run on each Pull Request or branch code,
Automation tests are written from scratch according to the testing functionality or can be incorporated from the tools depending upon the scenario. For people working on no-code platforms, there are separate testing tools. Similarly, testing can be handled based on code, functionality, sprints, and many other ways depending on the scenario.
Automation in different areas of Development
For frontend or graphical user interface testing, the layout and design are automatically tested to make sure that the buttons, links, inputs, and other events are working as expected. These types of tests are essential to maintain user experience and overall interaction of the app with the users.
The Application Programming Interface is a way to send data to and receive data from servers. APIs are written as backend code, therefore they run behind the application. To make sure that the response is sent and received as expected, the payload covers all the requirements, and third-party integrations are working fine, automated tests can be written. For API testing, the response time, authentication tokens, edge cases, and boundary values are tested.
Benefits of QA Automation
In this modern age of development, Quality Assurance using automation tools has provided several benefits to speeding up the testing processes, providing efficient results, and reducing development costs. With quality assurance automation, there are no chances of human errors as all the tests run in a similar way without considering the frequency or iterations. All the major benefits of QA Automation are covered below.
Decrease in Testing Time and Cost
Software testing is a repetitive thing as the tasks flow in and out of sprints many times. The whole process is really error-prone given the number of people working on it, experience in development, and so on. Testing the code for each task using automated ways can be really beneficial in such scenarios as it reduces the repetition in testing and is usually a fast process.
Contrary to automated testing, manual testing is a way to test for bugs manually using human techniques. This can be really costly in that it requires a lot of time and resource effort to do the same kind of work again and again. Automation not only speeds up the complete process but can also boost the release time for customers.
Quality Assurance Automation provides an end-to-end testing mechanism for software. For medium to large-scale software products, the quality assurance teams write all the scripts relating to API, frontend, and backend to make sure that all the bugs can be traced and eliminated. This not only covers web development but can also be beneficial for mobile development.
To provide even more efficiency, automated testing tools calculate the processing time for APIs, loading time, and delays to make sure that user experience can be maintained. The data side of things, file system for the project, and redundant code can also be pointed out with automation. Finally, to make sure that the product is an applicant to work on a big scale, different scales of regression testing can be done to make sure the product or project is industry ready.
CI/CD and Pipelines
For a fast-paced development environment, Continuous Integrations and Deployment (CI/CD) is essential. To handle such scenarios, automated testing is a must. In this way, the tests can be run automatically with each code push. Based on the result of the tests, the code can be automatically deployed. Thus, automated testing is an essential piece for the past flow of development.
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Types of Software Tests for Automation
Unit Tests refer to the testing of an individual piece of code that is independent of all the other related functionalities. These tests are automated to make sure that every task or independent functionality works fine and according to the requirements. In most cases, unit tests are written by the developers writing the code to test their work.
The software has many third-party APIs and services integrated. To test whether the integration is successful and the results are working as expected, integration tests are run using automation tools. These tests are covered in automating the API testing.
Functional tests are a way to automate the testing of complete functions or features. It is a way to make sure that the outcome of the function or method is working as expected.
Smoke testing refers to the ability to check all the essential features of the app. For an app, the essential features are prioritized, and based on the results of these features, the next steps are taken into consideration.
End-to-end testing is a way to test the complete features of the app including frontend, backend, services, database queries, etc.
In contrast to testing the output, desired results, or working of the app, performance testing covers the speed, agility, stability, and robustness of the app. These tests are carried out to make sure that the app is able to work in the real world with a lot of actual users.
To further test the performance of the app based on the load, usage time, and memory loads, regression tests are carried out.
Popular QA Tools
There are tons of Quality Assurance Automation tools to help developers test their applications in a better way. The most popular ones used in the market include the following.
Selenium is an open-source testing tool considered an industry standard for testing applications. Selenium can be used in different programming languages and includes several plug-ins and third-party integrations to support multiple development environments.
Appium is another open-source testing tool used mostly by mobile app developers to perform unit tests, integration tests, and functionality tests. Although it can be used on web platforms for web development testing as well, it is usually preferred for mobile applications.
Cucumber is a really interesting automation and testing tool developed by considering the general public in mind. It provides a way for non-technical users to learn the flow of code and the development process. Thus, it can be used by both industry experts and beginners trying out different things.
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Challenges in QA Automation
Although automation in testing can be great considering the benefits mentioned above, it comes with a lot of challenges especially if an organization is experimenting or is in the initial phase of its development. Some of the most common challenges that come with automation tools include the following.
Setup and Configuration Costs
Automation requires a bit of configuration cost if the selected tools are not open-source. Considering the learning curve offered by open-source testing platforms, junior developers usually go with basic plans for paid automation tools which usually have some cost associated with them.
Automation and testing tools are difficult to integrate with the app currently under development. Considering the learning curve these tools offer, it can be a bit challenging to work with junior developers and testers. Also, it should be made sure that automation tools should be integrated with the app in the initial stage as testing out the features later will be really hard.
Automation testing is ideal for testing repetitive tasks, however, for tasks requiring some level of intelligence or workaround, manual testing is the preferred option as automation testing has not reached that level of smartness to do everything on its own.
Choosing the Right Tool
There are plenty of testing tools available in the market. Choosing the right one can be really challenging given the type of project a business is working on, the languages and framework chosen, the expertise of the people, and so on.
Automation testing requires a lot of collaboration among developers, testers, project managers, and other members of the team to make sure that the tests written are according to the requirements. Thus, there can be a lot of issues in case of inaccurate test cases.