Types of automated testing explained
When it comes to implementing test automation in your QA department, it is extremely important to know what types of automated testing are out there. This can give you a clear picture of exactly how comprehensive a test automation program you can integrate into your current QA systems.
Additionally, knowing the different types of tests enables you to make informed decisions with regards to which types of testing would deliver optimal results for your organizational structure.
There are a wide variety of test automation types. Here is a detailed look at all the most common types of automation testing systems:
Functional testing assesses the software against the set functional requirements/specifications. It focuses on what the application does and mainly involves black box testing.
Black box testing is also known as behavioral testing and involves testing functionality of elements without delving into its inner workings. This means that the tester is completely unaware of the structure or design of the item being tested.
Functional testing focuses primarily on testing the main functions of the system, its basic usability, its accessibility to users, and the like. Unit testing, integration testing, smoke testing, and user acceptance testing are all examples of functional testing.
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Unit testing involves running tests on individual components or functions in isolation to verify that they are working as required. It is typically done in the development phase of the application and is therefore often the first type of automated testing done on an application.
Unit testing is usually performed by the developer and always comes before integration testing.
Unit tests are extremely beneficial because they help identify bugs early in the development phase, keeping the cost of fixing them as low as possible. Unit tests are a good way of helping developers understand the functionality of each unit in the application and also facilitate the reusability of code.
However, they will not always detect every single bug in the application and their relevance is limited to smaller units.
Unit-testing techniques can be broken down into three broad categories:
- Black box testing: This involves UI testing along with input and output.
- White box testing: This tests the functional behavior of the application
- Gray box testing: This testing involves executing test cases, test suites, and performing risk analysis.
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Integration testing involves testing all the various units of the application in unity. It focuses on evaluating whether the system as a whole complies with the functional requirements set for it.
Integration testing works by studying how the different modules interact with each other when brought together.
Integration testing typically follows unit testing and helps ensure seamless interaction between the various functions to facilitate a smooth functioning software as a whole.
There are various approaches to integration testing such as the Big Bang Approach, the Top-Down Approach, the Bottom-Up Approach, and the Sandwich Approach.
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Also known as “Build Verification Testing” and “Confidence Testing”, smoke testing comprises a minimal set of tests that are designed to assess the stability and viability of the deployed build of the software.
Smoke testing focuses on checking whether the major aspects of the application are functional or not and is used to verify whether the application should be shelved due to lack of functionality or continued to the other phases of testing.
Smoke testing is done once the developed software functions are integrated with the build of the software. Any failure in testing at this stage will generally send the application back to the development team for modification. QA engineers typically do smoke testing.
This testing encompasses testing all the various non-functional elements of an application such as performance, reliability, usability, etc.
It is different from functional testing in that it focuses on not what the product does but how well it does it.
Typically, non-functional testing follows functional testing because it is only logical to know that the product does what it is supposed to before investigating how well it does it.
Some of the most common types of non-functional testing include performance testing, reliability testing, security testing, load testing, scalability testing, compatibility testing, etc.
Performance testing involves testing a software’s speed, stability, and responsiveness under workload.
The main purpose of performance testing is to identify any possible performance hurdles and have them removed to optimize the software’s ability to deliver the best results to the end user.
Performance testing is an essential feature in ensuring a software’s success in the market because it helps identify potential issues users could face such as slow operation of software under a heavy workload.
Additionally, critical software and medical programs should be performance tested to ensure they can perform reliably under the most stressful of circumstances.
Regression testing is sometimes called the testing type that falls under the maintenance testing category.
Regression testing involves re-running of functional and non-functional tests to see if the software is performing the same way as before after some kind of code or program change has been made. If the performance is not the same, then the software is said to have regressed.
The main job of regression testing is to ensure that the existing functionalities have not been adversely affected in any by code changes made.
Keyword-driven testing involves using data files containing keywords related to the application being tested. Each keyword represents a set of actions required to carry out a step.
Keyword-driven testing involves identifying specific keywords and connecting them with specific actions. Thus, every time the keyword is used the related action will automatically be done.
Keyword-driven testing is concise, flexible, reusable, and easy-to-maintain, making it a popular choice for many businesses. It does not require programming expertise, allows functional testers to plan the testing even before the application is developed, and is compatible with almost any automation tool in the market.
Data-driven testing involves the use of data external to the system to extend your automated test cases. Data is usually stored separately in a spreadsheet format or a table and is fed into the test cases.
Data-driven testing is effective because often testers have multiple sets of data when testing and having to develop a new test for each set of data is time-consuming and a wastage of resources.
Data-driven testing allows for the same test to be used for multiple sets of data, offering consistency of results, and reduced investment of time and resources. Data-driven tests facilitate reusability of code, can be done in any phase of the software development phase, and changes to the script do not affect the test data.
Understanding the applicability and limitations of the various automated testing types will help you plan your test automation strategy much more effectively.
What is important to note, though, is that there is no single universally superior testing type. To truly benefit from test automation you need to use several of these testing types in coordination with one another.
Then and only then can you manage to raise the level and quality of service of your QA department.