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Automated Testing & Continuous Delivery in Software Development

Modern software development techniques such as automated testing and continuous integration are crucial for ensuring high-quality software is produced rapidly and effectively for users.

DevOps has become one of the most well-known tech buzzwords in the last ten years. And with good reason, given the positive effects, it has had on businesses and software development processes. 

According to a recent RedGate Software report, out of 3200 participating firms, roughly 74% have adopted DevOps. In 2016, the figures were approximately 45%. What was once considered a “nice to have” methodology is now a need for software development.

 What is Automated Testing?

 What is Automated Testing?

Software tools are used in automated testing to speed up the tedious, human-driven process of evaluating and certifying software products. Automated testing is now a standard component of the majority of contemporary agile and DevOps software projects. 

However, it is helpful that you comprehend the world before automated testing became extensively used in order to properly understand its worth.

It used to be standard for software companies to employ a full-time QA ( quality assurance) crew back when manual testing was the norm. This team would create a number of “test plans,” or detailed checklists, that guarantee a software project’s feature functions as planned. Every time a new update or change was sent to the software project, the QA team would manually carry out these checklists, assess the results, and send any necessary feedback to the engineering team.

This procedure was cumbersome, costly, and prone to mistakes. The effectiveness of teams and ROI of quality assurance teams both significantly increase with automated testing.

The engineering team is given ownership duties by automated testing. The test plans are created concurrently with the usual roadmap feature development and then automatically carried out using continuous integration software solutions. Automated testing encourages QA teams to be smaller and allows them to concentrate on more delicate aspects.

Continuous delivery (CD)

Continuous Delivery

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Continuous delivery (CD) focuses on providing clients with new code releases as quickly as feasible. To do that, automated testing is essential. If the distribution process includes a manual, time-consuming step, there is no possibility to automate delivery to you.

A larger deployment pipeline includes CD. Continuous Integration (CI) was replaced by CD, which is likewise dependent on it (CI). Running automated tests against any new code changes to ensure that they don’t damage existing functionality or add any new issues is entirely the responsibility of CI.

 Once the automated test plan is passed by the continuous integration stage, CD is initiated.

For a high-velocity software team, the link between automated testing, CI, and CD has many advantages. By verifying that no problems are introduced by new commits, automated testing maintains quality at every level of development and keeps the program ready for release.

What Kinds of Software Tests Should be Automated First?

What Kinds of Software Tests Should be Automated First?
  1. End To End Tests

Possibly the most valuable tests to implement are end-to-end (E2E) tests. E2E tests simulate the user experience throughout the entire stack of software. User-level stories like “a user can log in,” “a user can make a deposit,” and “user can alter email settings” are typically covered by E2E test plans. Implementing these tests is very beneficial because it ensures that real users are getting a seamless, bug-free experience even after new commits are submitted.

E2E test plans eventually turn into recordings of the main user experience flows since E2E testing technologies record and playback user actions.

 A software product will benefit most from implementing E2E tests of the most important business flows if it lacks any kind of automated testing coverage.

The user flow sequence can be expensive to record and capture during E2E tests. 

A human team manually running through the E2E test plans may be more cost-effective if the software product is not performing quick daily releases.

2. Unit tests

Unit tests, as the name suggests, test individual pieces of code. The best way to measure units of code is via function definitions. A particular function will be tested in a unit test. Unit tests will make the claim that a function’s expected input and output match. Unit tests are the best way to cover code that contains delicate calculations (as it may relate to banking, healthcare, or aerospace).

Also, they have a high return on investment and are rapid and inexpensive to implement.

3. Integration tests

An external call to a service provided by a third party is frequently made by a unit of code. The code of this third-party utility won’t be accessible to the main codebase being tested. Integration tests verify that the code interacting with these third-party dependencies operates as expected by mimicking them.

In terms of writing style and tooling, integration tests resemble unit tests. Although integration tests can be a less expensive alternative to E2E testing, their ROI is questionable when unit tests and E2E are already present.

4. Performance tests

Performance refers to how quickly and responsively a software project responds when employed in the context of software development.

They include things like “time to page load,” “time to first render,” and “search results response time.” For these example instances, performance tests produce measurements and assertions. Test cases will be executed against these metrics using automated performance tests, which will subsequently notify the team of any speed or regression regressions.

What Kinds of Software Tests Should be Done Manually?

What Kinds of Software Tests Should be Done Manually?

Any test that can be automated should, in theory, be automated. It is a significant increase in both productivity and labor costs. That being stated, there are instances in which the ROI of creating an automated test suite is inferior to that of carrying out a manual test.

1. Exploratory testing

In order to verify behavior, automated tests are programmed to follow a set of instructions. Exploratory testing is more haphazard and employs unplanned actions to uncover faults or strange behavior. Software tools are available to build a software exploratory testing suite, although they are not yet completely developed and extensively used. Assigning a manual QA tester and utilizing human ingenuity to discover ways to break software products might be significantly more effective.

2. Visual regression testing

When a visual design defect is added to a software UI, a visual regression occurs. The UI elements may be positioned incorrectly, the font or colors may be off, and more. There are tools available to help develop automated tests to catch these regressions, just like exploratory testing. These tools take screenshots of software products in various stages and use OCR to compare the results to what was anticipated. The cost of creating these tests is high, and few people use the available tools. Having a person examine something to check for visual flaws might be considerably more effective.

3. Building a test automation framework for your DevOps team

There isn’t a complete automated testing solution. There are a few important factors to take into account while developing an automated testing solution for your team.

4. Frequency of release

Manual testing may be more appropriate for software products that are released at regular intervals, such as weekly or monthly. Software products that are released more frequently will gain a lot from automated testing because CI and CD depend on it.

5. Available tools and ecosystem

Each programming language has its own ecosystem of helpful utilities and tools. Every sort of automated test pattern has its own set of tools, some of which may or may not be present in the ecosystem of a specific programming language. The confluence of language and tool support is necessary for the successful use of an automated testing pattern.

6. Product market fit and code base maturity

It might not be wise to invest in automated tests if your team is developing a new product for which there is no clear target market or business plan. Automated tests serve as a safety net to limit unanticipated code regressions. When your team is working quickly, updating and maintaining automated tests when the code is drastically and quickly changing can be a frustratingly expensive endeavor.

Why You Should Make Automated Testing Part of Your CD Pipeline

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A common practice in contemporary software development is automated testing. The top teams and businesses employ automated testing.

 Automated tests are necessary for CI/CD, which is essential for assisting the finest teams in delivering stable and reliable software to their clients.

As long as the performance test environment replicates the production environment and resources are equivalent, it aids in getting constant performance metrics in addition to faster feedback times. Additionally, it makes it possible to keep numerous certified versions of the code that may be sent to clients iteratively.

Developers benefit from test automation because it provides them with quick feedback on the effectiveness of their code. The requirements can alter as a result of the tech industry’s constant evolution, and automated test suites can significantly shorten cycle times and improve flexibility. It also makes sure the product is released with high degrees of sanity. Automation can therefore assist a company increase its confidence in its software and guarantee a healthy environment for development and delivery.

John Adebayo
John Adebayo
https://www.johnadebayo.com

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