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Continuous Testing


Introduction to Continuous Testing:

Continuous testing
With the evolution of agile methodology and other similar types, it has become a tedious task to match the speed of testing with that of development. Testing performed at a later stage may result in defects and issues, but its complexity and severity would be much larger, compared to what might be found at an initial stage of development. This forces you to retrace the whole process to identify the exact issue, which results in a waste of time.As the development process progresses, the need for test execution activities arises. However, with the stipulated deadlines and the limited budget & resources, most of the organization unwillingly compromise, either with the software quality or with the testing time, thus affecting the smooth software delivery process. This brings Continuous Testing into the picture, as it enables the team to ensure the fastest delivery of a quality product.

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What is Continuous Testing?

Performed simultaneously with the development process, Continuous Testing, is an effective testing technique carried out to automate the testing process. It helps in attaining multiple objectives like:

  • Finding errors at the earliest.
  • Automatically executing the tests to reveal the issues.
  • Shorten the duration of release.
  • Earn customer confidence.
  • Reduce business risk associated with the release candidate.
  • Ensuring the continuous software delivery process.
  • Improves the software build release rate.

The scope of Continuous Testing is pretty huge, with the validation of the functional and non-functional requirements of the product. It involves API, integration, system, unit tests and acceptance tests of the software, all done under a simulated environment through automation. It also ensures that the release candidate is continuously moving from Development to Testing to Deployment.

What Constitutes Continuous Testing?

Continuous testing improves or enhances the quality of the software by nominating various factors such as:

  • Risk Valuation:

    It's an assessment that touches upon mitigation of risk factors and queries related to optimal test coverage, which ensures the readiness of the continuous build to pass through the next stage in the software development life cycle (SDLC).

  • Strategic Analysis:

    A holistic analysis to ensure that all the working processes are in perfect alignment with the rapidly evolving business demands. This includes tracking the most recent trends, which can potentially harm the internal codes because of their alien nature. This also includes the enhancement of defect prevention capabilities.

  • Requirement Segmentation:

    Employing automated testing for defect prevention, risk prioritization, test execution, and code analysis. The aim is to achieve more with each iteration.

  • Automated Tests:

    Employing automated testing for defect prevention, risk prioritization, test execution, and code analysis. The aim is to achieve more with each iteration.

  • Test Optimization:

    To ensure accuracy in yielding test outcomes and the maintenance of test information. It's also important to have the services of a good test data management tool during this process.

  • Simulated Environment:

    In order to save on testing time and cut the costs incurred in the establishment of test setups, continuous testing can enable simulation or virtualization of different test stages.

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Key Components of Continuous Testing:

Building blocks of continuous testing that help us improve the delivery of the software are:

  1. Continuous Integration (CI): Developing software is a big task, it contains various parts that are to build separately. Each developer works individually on different parts of the software, integrating this work at a later stage is time-consuming and creates a lot of bugs. So, here comes the need for continuous integration. This practice allows the developer to integrate their code (working on one project) into a source code repository, several times a day so that it can be tested continuously to find out the bugs at the earliest stage and to improve the quality of a software. Various CI phases in continuous testing are as follows:
    • Phase 1: No Build Server.
    • Phase 2: Nightly Builds.
    • Phase 3: Nightly Builds and Basic Automated Tests.
    • Phase 4: Enter the Metrics.
    • Phase 5: Getting more serious about testing.
    • Phase 6: Automated acceptance tests and more automated deployment.
    • Phase 7: Continuous Deployment.
  2. Continuous Delivery (CD): Implemented after the culmination of the CI process, it is also known as the CI/CD pipeline or delivery pipeline, which helps us in performing continuous testing. Continuous Delivery is the process of deploying the software at any time manually or whenever your team decides to do so. The goal of continuous delivery is to deliver the software in short cycles to reduce the risk and ensure that every change made into the code is releasable. It is useful for those organizations that release new features and versions frequently.
  3. Continuous Deployment: It is one step above from Continuous Delivery because it eliminates the manual process and makes it automatic. As it ensures that the changes in the code are deployed to the production automatically, it is useful for those organizations that release new features and versions on a daily basis.
  4. Note: In Continuous delivery, deployment of software to production is manual whereas in Continuous Deployment the deployment of software to production is automated.

  5. Test Automation: It is the process by which developer code is run through testing tools automatically, without any human interventions. It saves a lot of money, time, and effort required to build the software.

How to Implement Continuous Testing?

Continuous testing is performed throughout the software development processes to mitigate the risk and ensure that the software is delivered early and often, so it is important to know the ways to implement this process to best serve the organization’s needs.

  1. Defining Test: Ensure the tests are defined early.
  2. Optimizing Testing Process: Use tools to generate a test suite on the basis of the requirements.
  3. Shift-left Your Testing: It is performed early in the life cycle, which helps us in reducing the risk.
  4. Provide Complete Test Environment: The test environment should be configured according to the need of the application. Strategies should be adopted for increasing test environment stability.
  5. Get the Right Test Data: Ensure parallel performance testing to get the right test data.

Continuous Testing Frameworks and Tools:

Tools are the products that support testing activities to make the process faster. Choosing the right tool will benefit your testing and improve the delivery process. Some of the tools used to perform continuous testing are:

  1. Travis CI: It is a continuous integration service hosted on GitHub, which is used to develop and test the software. It is written in Ruby language.
  2. Jenkins: It is a continuous integration tool written in Java language, which enables developers to build, test, and deploy their software. It is configured via both GUI interface and console commands.
  3. Katalon Studio: It is developed by Katalon LLC. This software is built on top of the automation framework Selenium, which offers a platform to perform automation testing for Web UI, web services, mobile apps, etc.
  4. Selenium: It is an open-source software testing tool, used to automate web application testing. It is written in Java language. It contains 4 components:
    • Selenium Remote control.
    • Selenium WebDriver.
    • Selenium Grid.
    • Selenium Integrated Development Environment.
  5. Appium: It is a continuous testing platform, which allows a user to test different types of mobile applications. For eg. Native, hybrid, mobile web.

How Continuous Testing Differs from Test Automation?

Continuous Testing and Test Automation are two important testing techniques that are generally misunderstood or confused by beginners. This makes it important for us to specify the difference between the two.

Continuous Testing Test Automation
1. Continuous testing focuses on achieving continuous quality improvement. 1.Test automation is the process of automating the task by using some tool or software.
2. This testing cannot be implemented without using test automation. 2. Automation testing is possible without implementing Continuous testing.
3. Software release does not take too much time and is released on hourly or daily basis. 3. Software release may take up to months to years.
4. Here, the test failure indicates critical business risks associated with a software release candidate. 4. Test failure indicates a critical issue and a violation of the trivial naming standard.

Advantages of Continuous Testing:

Now that we have covered various aspects of Continuous Testing, let us consider some of its advantages:

  • Glitches can be found quickly in the development stage itself.
  • As QA is now part of the system, there is no need for the product to be pushed into a separate QA environment for cumbersome manual testing.
  • There is a lesser risk of the product going bad after release.
  • This kind of stage-wise testing results in a better quality of code.
  • With continuous testing, glitches of similar nature can be found at the same time, which helps in preventing their recurrence in the future.
  • Prioritizing defects helps in addressing critical issues first.
  • Fastens the delivery of the software by automating the test cases.
  • It delivers instant feedback in each stage of the continuous testing pipeline that is a CI/CD pipeline.
  • It ensures that the behavior of the software is consistent across the different test run.

Challenges of Continuous Testing:

Apart from the numerous benefits that Continuous Testing offers, there are a few challenges associated with it like:

  1. Code Integration: Integration is a common need in continuous testing, but some developers do not integrate their code on a systematic basis, which results in inappropriate as well as erroneous code.
  2. Update Testing Strategy: Testing strategy needs to be updated to attain full potential.
  3. Test Environment: It lacks resources and test environment as well as the skills and right tools for testing in Agile and DevOps.
  4. Application Architecture: The architecture of an application is complex which restricts the adoption of DevOps.

Conclusion:

Continuous testing is beneficial, as it helps us in enhancing the quality of the code and achieving customer satisfaction by fast and error-free delivery. It is not that easy to move with continuous testing if you are not aware of its basic flow. This testing technique helps remove communication bridges between teams and enables them to work together. This improves the quality of software development and speeds-up its delivery.



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