How to write good Software Automated Tests?

Writing test cases is one of the testers’ core activities in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and is heavily dependent on the testers’ domain knowledge and expertise. Software automated testers need a crystal-clear set of test steps to proceed with automation. Writing excellent automated test cases is just one way to enhance team efficiency and efficacy in the CI/CD process.  Good automated tests make testing faster, more systematic and reduce human error. Test automation’s goal is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of testing. A well-written test script should be understandable, accurate, traceable, maintainable, and reusable. This blog covers the practical tips and tricks to write excellent automated test cases:

Importance of Documenting a Good Test Case

The primary objective of automated testing is to simplify manual testing efforts as much as possible with a compelling set of actions. The most important and exciting benefits of documenting good tests include: 

  1. Good software tests significantly increase the code coverage, which leads to faster time to market and an increase in business competitiveness.
  2. Integration of automated tests inside the development workflow enables testers and developers to act immediately based on received test results and quickly adapt to the changes. 
  3. Good automated tests help in improving the ROI by taking the redundant and repetitive tasks which require an enormous amount of testing resources.
  4. When good automated tests are in place, manual testers can concentrate on executing exploratory tests. 

Best practices During test case writing

1) Automated Tests Selection

It’s not possible to automate every test. The automated tests planning should begin with narrowing down the information about which tests are good candidates for Automation. This planning is imperative and will benefit in the long run to have stable and maintainable tests.

2) Tests Division

The team lead should assign the Tests based on individuals’ skillset and technical expertise. For example, if some commercial tool like Functionize is used to write the tests, team members with varying skill levels will create similar test scripts. However, if the team selects an open-source tool, then the services of a technical tester or developer become a necessity to write tests. 

3) Tests Ownership

The ownership of automated software tests should lie inside the whole team. It’s not an attractive approach to appoint a single engineer for the entire test automation project. To integrate Automation successfully into the merge workflow of CI/CD, the whole team has to be on board at all times. This accumulative test ownership thinking helps every team member be aware of the testing process, communicating more transparently, and making informed decisions about setting up and running the proper tests.

4) Remove Flaky Tests

The primary goal of Automation is to achieve consistent, accurate test results. Testers have to identify the root cause when a test fails. These false positives and tests’ flakiness increase the time required for analyzing errors. Therefore, one must eliminate uncertainty by removing unstable tests from regression test suites to prevent flaky tests. Some AI-based tools help remove the test maintenance by removing the flaky tests.

5) Obey “Green Tests Run” policy

Automated Tests should always be in the “Green” state. The basic idea is that no code is written before a failing test (RED). So first, the “Red” tests should be fixed to bring them in the “Green” state. This policy will not hinder the automated pipeline in CI/CD.

6) Continuous Test Analysis

Automated tests can ignore the updates in checking essential verifications if they are outdated—proper test planning before running any tests prevents the execution of these old tests. Therefore, priority should be to check the tests if they are up to date periodically.

7) Proper Tests Execution Reporting

Capturing screenshots and enough logging at the failed step assists in debugging and analysis. This information should be attached in the test execution reporting.

8) Use Test Data-Driven (TDD) Approach 

A manual test approach becomes hectic if it requires execution against multiple data points. Implementing TDD approach facilitates single test script execution against various data, thus simplifying the whole test process. This technique  also helps to avoid the typical copy-paste code issues in the form of repeated tests.

9) Test Case Categorization

Test case structuring and grouping helps to review and maintain the tests cases when there is a change in the functionality. Every test case can belong to a group of a feature. A one test case can belong to multiple groups. For example, it can be a part of Regression tests, Smoke Tests, End to End Tests. This grouping approach will make the test execution easier in the CI/CD process if a particular group of tests needs to be executed.

10) Independent Tests

Writing independent tests is necessary for long-lasting and efficient automated tests. An exception is when one test explicitly checks the results from the previous test. Automated tests should be small and understandable.

The complete testing process becomes more effective when proper time and efforts are invested in creating the automated test cases. The primary purpose of a test case is to check if the application is working as expected. Proper consideration and best practices described in this post will help the teams to create effective automated tests.

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