Why software testing is important in CI/CD
Software testing has become a cornerstone of software development through CI/CD pipeline implementation and DevOps culture.
What is software testing?
Test automation looks for the best possible combination of quality and speed as organizations have moved towards Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), Agile and DevOps methodologies. Test automation is one of the foundations of these concepts.
Software testing is fundamental during the development of a project. It enables designing processes, work methods, and tools to identify product defects. Contrary to what most people think, software testing is not performed by the end of a development process but alongside it. This principle is supported by the ISO 25000 Standard, which regulates software quality parameters. It establishes that a product is not only the final deliverable but each intermediate deliverable during the process.
The purpose of testing is to ensure software quality, which at times can be costly. Mistakenly, many teams still consider it an expenditure rather than an investment that leads to prevention. One key in the software business is to spot and fix errors as soon as possible. Fixing errors at an advanced stage of product development is always heavier on effort, time, and costs.
In any planned process, each QA team is assigned different days for testing right before deployment. Sticking to each development plan is another significant premise; it is crucial not to harm the testing activity—if there are any delays in it, this phase suffers the most drawbacks.
Different types of software testing
There are several tests to check the quality of a product while it is still being developed. Here are some of them:
- Unit tests: they check the correct performance of a code unit.
- Integration tests: they verify that the different modules and services used by the application are working harmoniously. They tend to follow the unit tests.
- End-to-end tests: they reproduce user behavior with the software in a complete application environment.
These first three are the most important ones, and you will see them on every video or article around. Trust me, I watch and read them all.
- Functional tests: these check the result of actions regardless of the intermediate system statuses.
- Regression tests: these are used to confirm that a change introduced in the code has not affected a scenario that worked correctly.
- Smoke tests: they check the basic functionality of an application. They are quickly executed and guarantee that the core features of the system work as planned.
- Acceptance tests: these are the formal tests used to check if a system meets the business requirements.
- Performance tests: they assess a system response to a heavy load.
So you plan out all your tests, automate them, and profit while popping champagne? That would be too easy, wouldn’t it?
Manual testing vs. automated testing
As discussed in a previous article, DevOps and automation go hand in hand, and testing is not the exception. Automated testing eliminates errors derived from manual testing saving time and resources. Also, you can free up people from alienating repetitive tasks like clicking on every button and testing each functionality for hours. Who would have thought?
Also, in today's hurried world, when time-to-market is critical, automation is often a go-to solution. But we have to set some boundaries here: manual testing has not been fully replaced. No, both manual and automation testing work together. Manual tests performed by a person simulate a user's actions and exist to check functionality and usability. Some tests are still performed manually:
- Exploratory testing: works more at random and tries unscripted behavior. It requires a manual QA tester. This way, you use human creativity to break things. Aren’t we good at that?
- Visual regression testing: when graphic design flaws are part of the UI, a bot can have trouble finding them. It may be the wrong font, colors, or any other element. In this case, it’s much more effective to have a human looking at it, even if the test could be automated.
Differences between static testing and dynamic testing
During the software development process, the testing team goes through several thorough reviews, even when dealing with partial deliveries, using a large number of texts. Depending on whether the code is executed or not, these tests are known as static or dynamic.
In static tests, the review is focused on analyzing the source code in search of defects but without running it, which is associated with verification. Instead, dynamic tests do need to run the software to be tested comprehensively. That includes functionality trials with the application running, and it is related to validation.
Static tests related to verification consist of reviewing code, documentation, and tutorials while performing software analyses to check if it matches the preset parameters. Here are some of their characteristics:
- Objective: prevent errors in the software.
- Automation: static tests are usually performed manually.
- Variants: reviews, walkthroughs, and inspections are three types of static tests.
- Implementation: they are performed throughout the entire software cycle—from the beginning of the project as soon as the requirements specs are available.
- Financial impact: during static testing, the cost of finding and fixing errors is low.
Dynamic tests, those for validation, check the product's efficiency by executing its code. To sum up, this is a hands-on assessment applied directly to the software in question. Here are the main features of dynamic tests.
- Objective: spot errors in the software.
- Automation: they can be automated or performed manually.
- Variants: there are several types of dynamic tests, such as functional tests, confirmation tests, regression tests, non-functional tests, usability tests, performance tests, security tests, among others.
- Implementation: they can be performed after the executable code has been completed.
- Financial impact: the cost of finding and resolving defects in dynamic testing is high.
The use of test automation in software development
Test automation may be defined as a Quality Assurance procedure to test software behavior and upgrade code inspection and integration. But there is more to test automation than meets the eye. If we consider automation only to execute tasks without human intervention, we could be losing the much-needed human touch. At the same time, automation minimizes repetitive jobs that are otherwise susceptible to errors when performed by people.
In code testing, test automation is the use of software separate from the software being tested. The aim is to monitor applications by controlling test execution and compare the expected outcome with the actual one.
In that sense, the QA tester writes test scripts (i.e., a list of commands) and uses software tools to run a thorough test automatically. Testing includes load, performance, and stress control of the application or software under inspection.
Infrastructure automation refers to adopting software to reproduce iterative orders or instructions that replace human interaction with IT systems. Automation also takes care of infrastructure monitoring by enabling organizations to detect and solve issues that might affect regular operations.
Top automation testing tools for DevOps
As we have seen, test automation is one of the pillars of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, Agile, and DevOps. We already talked about our top 10 favorite tools for DevOps. Here is a review of the top 5 in automation testing.
This open-source tool is the undisputed leading tool for web automation testing. It can run on multiple browsers and operating systems and supports many programming languages (although it cannot be used for desktop testing). In fact, Selenium has a 26% market share, and more than half of that volume is based in the U.S.
Selenium stands out for its practicality: creating complex and advanced automation scripts and performing parallel test execution, significantly reducing the time invested.
As with any open-source product, it offers many libraries and derived projects that help automate any technology. Because of its flexibility, Selenium not only has become an industry standard, but it has also served as a starting point for many other software testing tools out there.
WorkSoft offers the leading automation platform in the industry for Agile-plus-DevOps continuous testing applied to complex business applications. This tool is designed to address the most extreme difficulties that may arise: it is prepared to handle the needs of large companies, which have to test complex business processes across multiple applications and systems.
Katalon Studio is a very versatile tool, which is written on Selenium and Appium. It can be integrated with other platforms such as JIRA, qTest, Kobiton, Git, Slack, etc. It runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux, offering hundreds of built-in keywords to create test cases, and requires minimal programming skills to be implemented. It also supports testing of iOS and Android applications, web applications on every modern browser, and API services.
Also open source, Appium is mainly oriented to mobile applications. As it is easy to set up and use, it has gained enormous popularity in recent years. It is an optimal tool for automating any mobile application from any language and testing framework. It handles iOS, Android, and even Windows applications using the WebDriver protocol.
LambdaTest is the tool that has proven to have the best performance in both web and desktop application test automation. It can help reduce testing time by half, as it enables running parallel tests. Cloud-based and highly scalable, it is an ideal choice to run efficient live tests on web browsers. It offers the chance to customize the monitor size to keep the same window when the screen size changes, based on a smart function that ignores scrolling in iframes.
At Awkbit, we know that 100% automated test coverage is a myth. But we strive for better software making with the help of organized and automated testing. We value continuous testing and how it solves many of the roadblocks posed by performing testing in a single step. With a secure build, we can also take the risk of testing in production, a necessary step before a full release. Are you in need of automated testing? Would you like to include testing in an already existing CI/CD pipeline?