Automation testing describes a tool or a process where the computer runs multiple tests on various parts of a software with minimal or no involvement from the developer.
Any software that we use daily, whether it be the software that powers up your phone, laptop, TV or even your car, had to go through a set process before it was released for customers to use. This set process is called the software development lifecycle. The lifecycle starts with the idea behind the software (i.e. the problem the software is intended to solve) and ends with releasing and maintaining that software. A crucial step in this process is the testing stage. Before any software is released, it must undergo extensive tests to ensure that it operates as expected under different circumstances.
Types of Automation Testing
- Functional Testing
- Unit Testing
- Smoke Testing
- Integration Testing
- Non-Functional Testing
- Performance Testing
- Regression Testing
- Keyword-Driven Testing
- Data-Driven Testing
Automation Testing: When and Why to Use It
Testing software involves running it through different scenarios and observing its behavior. Suppose we have a small program that performs various mathematical operations. In that case, the testing process for the program will include feeding the program different numbers — positive, negative, whole, fraction and so on. This test could be tedious (not to mention time consuming) if done manually by the developer. As a result, developers began experimenting with automated testing, the first of which appeared in 1985. Since then, developers have tried different techniques to teach computers how to perform testing with more efficiency and accuracy than humans.
Why Use Automation Testing?
Using automated testing can benefit the development process in two main ways.
1. Better Scalability
When we automate tests, we can apply more tests to our software without requiring developers to be present through the process. Moreover, as the software becomes larger and more complex, the number of tests needed to achieve high coverage will increase, which automated testing can easily handle. For example, when Linux was first released in 1991, its kernal contained a little over 10,000 lines of code. Now, the kernel contains over 12 million lines of code. A software that size would be impossible to test manually.
Computers can run multiple tests within a relatively short amount of time. Compared to manual testing, automated testing can save a significant amount of time and speed up the software development and testing processes. Automated testing likewise increases software development efficiency because we can run tests in parallel with the development process. In other words, we can test software as we develop it, which can lead to a faster release.
When to Use Automation Testing
You may be wondering when you should use automated testing with your software. Use automated testing if:
- You test your software quite regularly.
- Your tests are repetitive and automating the testing process will save time and resources.
- You want or need to run multiple tests in parallel.
- Automating your tests will improve the quality of the testing process.
Types of Automation Testing
We can use a wide variety of automated testing depending on the type of software and the purpose of the testing process. While there are nine types of automated testing techniques, the three most commonly used are functional testing, unit testing and smoke testing.
1. Functional Testing
Function testing assesses the software against the set requirements. In other words, function testing primarily focuses on the big picture by answering the question: “Is the software as a whole accomplishing the task it was built for under different scenarios?” This type of testing is often referred to as black box testing.
2. Unit Testing
Unlike function testing, unit testing is used to test individual components or functions of the software in isolation to ensure that they work as expected. Because unit testing focuses on the individual components of the software, it’s often done during development as a first step of the testing process.
3. Smoke Testing
The purpose of smoke testing is to choose only essential test cases that are designed to assess the stability and viability of the software.
4. Integration Testing
Integration testing focuses on evaluating the application as a whole by studying how the different modules interact with each other within the program.
5. Non-Functional Testing
Unlike functional and integration testing, non-functional testing focuses on the non-functional elements of an application such as performance and reliability. Basically, it tests how well the application performs rather than if it performs correctly or not.
6. Performance Testing
Performance testing involves testing a software's speed and stability. The goal is to optimize the application so it will deliver the best results in the most efficient way.
7. Regression Testing
Regression testing is a maintenance type of testing. Developers use it after adding or removing a part of the application to compare its current performance to the previous iteration.
8. Keyword-Driven Testing
Keyword-driven testing involves analyzing specific keywords and connecting them with particular actions. Every time the keyword is called, the correlated action should automatically deploy.
9. Data-Driven testing
Data-driven testing involves using external data to extend your automated test cases. We do data-driven testing so the developer won’t need to manually develop new test cases.
Often, developers make use of more than one testing technique to assess the software. Although automated testing is designed to eliminate human involvement, the developer needs to choose the testing techniques to use, analyze the testing process results and take further action accordingly.