Gone are the days when enterprises relied solely on manual testing. Even though manual testing is an integral part of the testing process, there’s no denying its disadvantages. It’s tedious, time-consuming, and calls for hefty investment in human resources.
The debate about manual vs. automated testing has been going on for a long time. And many people are still ignorant about what automation means in testing.
This post provides a complete guide to test automation frameworks. Here, you will gain an insight into test automation frameworks and their components. You will also learn the importance of test automation frameworks and how to choose the best fit. Let’s dive into the details.
What Is Test Automation?
The term automation refers to the automatic handling of various industrial processes. It indicates that there is little to no human intervention.
When we define test automation in the IT sector, it means performing tests on applications via different automation tools to check how applications behave or respond to different actions. These tools can be both open-source and licensed. When the application is deployed, a variety of users perform a variety of actions on the application.
Test automation is the process of automating well-known or predictive actions of users to make sure the application behaves as expected.
What Is a Test Automation Framework?
Before we go on to discuss test automation frameworks, let’s first understand what a framework is.
To avail the benefits of any concept, there has a be a set of protocols and guidelines to abide by. In general, a framework is a combination of standards and rules which, when followed, can be used by an enterprise to make the best bang for their buck.
Similarly, a test automation framework is a platform that is a combination of programs, compilers, features, tools, etc. It provides an environment where you can execute automated test scripts.
In short, a test automation framework is a set of components that facilitate executing tests and comprehensive reporting of test results. The major components that implement a test automation framework successfully are equipment, testing tools, scripts, procedures, and most importantly, test automation engineers.
Components of Test Automation Frameworks
Test data management and testing libraries are some of the major components of test automation frameworks. Let’s take a look at each in detail.
Test Data Management
Harnessing data and extracting useful information is the biggest hassle during software testing automation. The availability of data to carry out tests is usually a major problem. To ensure the success of automation efforts, it’s necessary to have a strategic test data management approach.
Thus, a software company should equip their framework with resources like libraries or plugins for scavenging through test data and finding what can be used for positive testing. Your framework should also have a simulation tool to make the data more digestible and lucid. If the data is simplified, test data management becomes a lot easier.
The core of an application’s testing process comprises of managing and running the test cases. It’s ideal to get your test cases well-defined and organized so you can perform testing efficiently and effectively. A testing library is where you create and store the test cases. Testing libraries include unit testing, integration, and end-to-end testing, and behavior-driven development. Let’s see what each of them means.
Unit testing libraries are a must-have for shaping up a vital part of any test automation framework. This is something which is done not only by the testers but the developers as well. Testers use them to define test methods through specified formal annotations.
Unit testing is also used for running simplified and straightforward tests. Unit testing libraries support most of the programming languages. If you’re a developer, it’s a good practice to unit test your code as soon as you develop each module. This reduces the defect count during the later phases of testing.
Integration and End-to-End Testing
So unit testing is where you test each module or functionality of an application. But what happens when the application is completely developed? Integration or end-to-end testing is carried out. There are popular libraries like JUnit or TestNG for integration testing. This makes sure that a perfectly working functionality doesn’t impact any other module or functionality.
As important as they are to your testing library, unit and end-to-end testing have a problem. They rely a lot on the implementation of the functionality which is tested. So if you change the code, you’ll need to change the test case.
How do we address this issue? Behavior-driven development (BDD) is key. Don’t get confused by the name. BDD is not related to development. It’s a collection of best practices. When those practices are applied to automation testing, BDD enables you to write great test cases.
It’s written in an English-like language that’s understandable for the team. You can convert scenarios and features of expected behavior into code. BDD enables the alignment of code with the intent and scope of automated tests.
Types of Test Automation Frameworks
Now that you understand what a test automation framework is and what its components, let’s look at the different types of frameworks out there. Automated testing covers a range of test frameworks. Here, I’ll go over the most common types.
Linear Automation Test Framework
A linear automation test framework involves introductory level testing. Testers sequentially create test scripts and individually run them. There is no need to write custom code. So testers don’t have to be automation experts. It’s a one-at-a-time to the point testing approach. Pick one functionality, write a script, and test. Also, a speedy workflow is the biggest perk of linear automation framework.
- High Maintenance
Modular-Based Test Framework
Modular-based test frameworks break down test cases into small modules. Then, it follows a non-incremental and incremental approach. There, the modules are independently tested first and then the application is tested as a whole. This makes each test independent.
Moreover, once a tester is done writing a function library, you can also store a script in it. Since you can easily make changes in a single script, adjusting the entire application is not necessary. Thus, testing requires less time and efforts.
- Modular approach
- Less flexible
- Requires technical knowledge
Library Architecture Test Framework
With a library architecture test framework, the framework identifies tasks holding similarities within the test script. After that, testers carry out the grouping of similar tasks by function. Then, a library stores all the sorted functions. Hence, it facilitates reusability of code across different test scripts. This framework is useful when the application has similar functionalities across different parts of the application.
- High reusability
- High long time ROI
- More development time
- High technical knowledge required
Keyword-Driven Test Framework
A keyword-driven test framework separates script logic from test data. Then, it stores the data externally. After that, it stores the keywords in a different location. The keywords associated with actions testing GUI are a part of the test script. A keyword associates itself with an object or an action. Since testers can use the same keyword across different test scripts, it promotes reusability.
- Less Maintenance
- High development time
- Complexity increase over time
- High automation knowledge required
Data-Driven Test Framework
A data-driven test framework segregates test script logic and test data. After that, it stores the data externally. Here, the aim is to create reusable test scripts for testing different data sets. Testers can vary the data to change testing scenarios. This ensures reusability of code.
- Faster testing
- Fewer scripts required
- High setup time
- Excellent technical knowledge required
- Troubleshooting is difficult
Hybrid Test Framework
A hybrid test framework mitigates the weaknesses of different test frameworks. It provides flexibility by combining parts of different frameworks to harness the advantages. Hence, the efficiency of testing also improves.
Popular test automation frameworks include:
Benefits of Test Automation Frameworks
In the modern era, the entire world is moving toward automation. With this, the need for test automation is rising. Proper planning and execution of test automation frameworks have a lot of perks to offer.
1. Optimization of Resources
A test framework helps in the optimization of resources. It does this by facilitating the use of different resources according to organizational needs.
For instance, to achieve established goals, test automation frameworks provide a set of processes. These processes have to match resources to requirements. The higher the flexibility of adoption, the better your resource optimization will be.
2. Increased Volume of Testing
Test automation frameworks increase the volume of testing. For instance, new mobile devices emerge every other day. It’s impossible to perform manual testing on all. Even if a firm managed to do so, it would take forever. But automated testing enables testers to run tests on thousands of mobile devices at the same time.
3. Simultaneous Testing
Test automation frameworks enable simultaneous testing of different types of devices. When the test scripts are automated, all testers need to do is run them on different devices. Since the parameters are same, testers can quickly generate comparative test reports.
4. Enhanced Speed and Reliability
Writing and running tests can be time-consuming for any software company. Test automation frameworks reduce the time to carry out these activities. How? Suppose you’re testing the logout functionality of a website. If there are multiple testing scenarios, for each scenario you have to manually test whether the log out feature is working properly. But if you’re using a framework, you can simultaneously run all the scenarios and get the test results in very little time.
Moreover, automated testing is more reliable due to the use of automated tools. This reduces the chances of making mistakes.
5. More Output in Less Time
Test automation reduces challenges in synchronization, local configuration, error management, and report generation. An automation script minimizes the time taken to prepare and run tests. With increased efficiency and speed, a firm can gain more output in less time.
6. Fixing Bugs at an Early Stage
A test automation framework helps in fixing bugs at an early stage. You don’t need much manpower to carry it out for you, which means the working hours and expenses involved are also reduced. A test automation engineer can write scripts and automate tests.
7. Remote Testing
With a test automation framework, it’s not necessary to stay at the office premises 24/7. For instance, you can start running a test before leaving. When you come back after a few hours, the test results will be ready. Moreover, you don’t need to buy a lot of devices since you can test remotely.
8. Reusable Automation Code
You can reuse test automation scripts in a different application. Suppose the testers of your organization wrote some scripts for testing the login functionality. You can use the same script for another application that has a login functionality.
9. Increased ROI
The initial investment involved in test automation frameworks is off-putting for many. But the long-term return on investment is high.
As discussed earlier, a test automation framework saves time and facilitates speedy delivery. It also reduces the need for more staff.
For instance, a company doesn’t have to hire multiple testers if the testing framework is automated. A test automation engineer can carry out most of the tasks like configuring the framework or running the scripts.
How to Choose a Testing Framework
Now that you know the benefits of test automation frameworks, it’s time to choose one.
With a plethora of different testing frameworks, it can become overwhelming to know which one is right for you. And to find the best solution, you need to understand the requirement first. Before looking for which testing framework suits you best, learn the basics about your testing process:
- Code or no code: Understand how your testers test the application. Do they write codes for testing or they use something like record and playback testing? If testers using coding, then you would want something that’s flexible. You must seek one that supports different languages and applications, something like Selenium. If testing is codeless, you can choose from a wide range of smart tools that don’t need coding, something like Testim.
- Platform: What platform does the application run on? Is it a web application, an Android app, an iOS app? Different frameworks special in different platforms. So you have to choose one that offers the most for the platform of your choice. You also have to consider which platform your testers use – Windows, Mac, or Linux? You should choose a framework that works on the platform being used.
- Budget: There’s so much we’d have if money was out of the question. But we live in a practical world and money matters. When deciding which testing framework you’d finally use, consider your budget. Budget can be flexible at times but not out of the league. So, you can use the budget as one of the filters.
You can also start with a tool offering out-of-the-box solutions. Use our five step process to learn how to identify the best automation platform for your organization. Above all, you need to do what it takes to improve the testing process.
Summing It Up
Boosting a testing team’s velocity is no child’s play. Enterprises keep struggling to find a way to maximize efficiency. Testing is one of the most important phases in the software development process. Automation test frameworks are the way to go to increase test precision and make the product better. When you choose the best testing framework for you, the testing process becomes better, the quality of the application increases, optimum testing speed is achieved, and most importantly, your testers are happy.
In addition to these perks, they offer high ROI. Test automation frameworks are something every software company should deploy for skyrocketing revenue. Hunting for the right testing framework would take some time and effort. But it’s worth it.
The choice of a software testing framework is something that remains the same in the organization through time. And shifting from one framework to another mid-way is difficult for testers to adapt to, and it also slows down the application development process. The smart move is to spend enough time right in the beginning and choose the best possible framework for you.
This post was written by Arnab Roy Chowdhury. Arnab is a UI developer by profession and a blogging enthusiast. He has strong expertise in the latest UI/UX trends, project methodologies, testing, and scripting.