How to Audit & Improve Your Test Automation Framework

Automation is a term you may constantly encounter every time you read about technology. It generally means replacing manual human activities with technology to increase productivity. In software, development automation is used for validating the software using automation tools.

This process of validating software using automation tools is known as automation testing. It helps reduce the amount of time required to test code, thereby improving software development quality. This article discusses the test automation frameworks, their key components, types of automation frameworks, questions to ask when auditing a testing framework, and the benefits of test automation frameworks.

What Is Testing?

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Testing evaluates a proposed change to the software, the system under test, or other specifications to determine whether the change should be made. In other words, it is finding out how well a piece of software meets its design specifications. 

The software quality, or the state of being bug-free, is often a top concern for those developing and using computer programs. Ensuring good quality in software may be accomplished by testing, whose benefits include the identification of defects in a system and finding out how effectively these systems operate.

What Is Test Automation?

Test automation is a software engineering practice in which computer programs, or test scripts, are written to automate load and execute automated test cases on various software. Test automation is done by taking advantage of features already built into the software, such as when a test is automatically generated from source code. 

Test automation aims to reduce the overall time it takes to accomplish some tasks, such as executing tests repeatedly against a certain percentage of user-visible pages on an internet web application. Automated tests help you catch an error earlier and make your testing more efficient without having to manually input every single action required by your application’s functionalities.

What Is a Test Automation Framework?

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A test automation framework is a piece of software used to automate the process of creating, executing, and measuring test scenarios. Test automation frameworks simplify the complex task of writing functional scripts by abstracting common actions into reusable components that can be plugged into a design. 

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Key Components of a Testing Framework

  • Equipment and People – Equipment refers to the devices on which the tests are run. People involved in testing frameworks may include test administrators who aid the test engineers in writing test scripts, using test case libraries, and managing test case libraries, test platforms, and test tools.
  • Test scripts – Test Scripts test each page on your website using a series of automated tests. They automate repetitive tasks and save you time so that you can focus on analyzing results, identifying issues, and getting your project fixed.
  • Tools – For the creation of test scripts, various tools are required. Test automation tools, traffic generation tools, traffic monitoring tools, and support tools are examples of such tools. Support tools include defect tracking and requirement analysis tools. Defect tracking tools help automatically detect and report test cases that fail. Check out some of our tools, Ranking Top Automation Tools.
  • A data library – refers to a collection/library of reusable test steps of basic utilities used as the building blocks of the automated test scripts. Each of those utilities performs a specific task to assist in the overall automation.
  • Budget – Refers to the amount spent developing and using the testing framework. Well-planned automation testing should cost much lesser than manual testing.  

Types of Automation Frameworks

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Having covered what a test automation framework is and its components, this section will now cover the various types of test automation frameworks.

Linear Test Automation Framework

A linear test framework is an introductory-level automation framework that involves sequentially writing test scripts and running them. 

This type of framework is mainly used to test applications that are not large in size. The tester captures each test step involved, including user inputs, navigation across the application, and browsing. The testers pick one application functionality, write a script, and test it. The linear test automation framework is sometimes referred to as the “record and playback” framework.

Advantages of Linear Automation Test Framework

  • Simple and fast – can generate test scripts without consuming much time.
  • It does not require coding knowledge.

Disadvantages of Linear Automation Test Framework

  • Single-use – Does not allow the tester to run with multiple data sets as the data is hardcoded.
  • High maintenance – much effort is required to perform simple and minor changes.

Modular-Based Test Automation Framework

The application under test is divided into several modules in modular-based test frameworks, and a test script is created for each module. These individual test scripts can be combined to make a big test script that invokes individual modules to run end-to-end tests. This approach allows you to easily make changes in a single script; hence, adjusting the whole application is not required. This allows the tester to use less effort in testing and save time.

Advantages of Modular-Based Test Automation Framework

  • Allows easier scaling and maintenance due to breaking down the application into individual modules.
  • Changes done in one module have minimal or no effect on the other modules that are part of the application.
  • Test scripts can be written independently. 

Disadvantages of Modular-Based Test Automation Framework

  • Technical knowledge is required to set up the framework.
  • Analyzing test cases and identifying reusable flows is time-consuming.

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Library Architecture Test Automation Framework

The library architecture framework is based on the modular-based approach but with additional advantages. 

In the modular-based method, the application under test is divided into modules. In the library architecture-based approach, the common tasks in the application under test are identified and grouped into functions. The grouped functions are stored in a library that facilitates reusability across different scripts. This framework is mainly used in applications with similar functionalities across various parts.

Advantages of Library Architecture Test Automation Framework

  • Easy script maintenance.
  • Easily allows scaling.
  • Allows high reusability as functions library is reusable.

Disadvantages of Library Architecture Test Automation Framework

  • Preparing test scripts is time-consuming.
  • Requires high technical knowledge.

Keyword-Driven Test Automation Framework

This automation framework performs automation test scripts based on predefined keywords that are stored in an excel sheet. A keyword is associated with a specific keyword or action. This automation framework promotes reusability since the testers can use the same keyword across different scripts. It does not require much technical knowledge, which makes it friendly for testers with less programming language knowledge, but the initial setup requires more expertise.

Advantages of Keyword-Driven Test Automation Framework

  • It doesn’t require much technical knowledge to write the scripts.
  • Allows code reusability.
  • Change in the application does not require a modification in the test scripts.

Disadvantages of Keyword-Driven Test Automation Framework

  • Initial setup requires more expertise.
  • Design is time-consuming.

Data-Driven Test Automation Framework

The data-driven testing focuses on separating the logic of the test scripts and the data used in testing from each other. It allows a tester to create test automation scripts by passing data in different tests. The data used in testing is fetched from external sources such as XML files, Excel Sheets, and SQL databases. 

Advantages of Data-Driven Test Automation Framework

  •  Supports multiple data sets.
  • Change in test scripts does not require modification in test data.
  • Saves time by helping execute multiple tests in less amount of time.

Disadvantages of Data-Driven Test Automation Framework

  • Requires technical knowledge.
  • It is time-consuming to set up the test framework and test data.

Hybrid Driven Test Automation Framework

A hybrid test automation framework combines two or more different frameworks discussed above and mitigates their weaknesses. It provides efficiency by harnessing the strengths of the integrated frameworks.

This section has covered various types of test automation frameworks, but the most popular ones are data-driven, keyword-driven, and hybrid frameworks.

Questions to Ask When Auditing Your Testing Framework

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These are the key attributes that should be considered when auditing your test framework.

  1. Integration – How easy is integrating my testing framework with existing tools? Some testing tools/frameworks have APIs that can be easily integrated with other tools. This is extremely helpful if you work in an enterprise environment where your team might need to fix issues reported by other developers.
  2. User-friendly – How easy or difficult is it to write test cases or test functions with that testing framework. Some frameworks make it easy for developers to write test cases and test functions. Others may make things more difficult for them. Make sure that your next testing framework can handle any existing functionality you have in your project. Please find out how easy or difficult it is to handle additional functionality or features added to your current project with no change from other developers.
  3. Documentation – Does the Testing Framework include any documentation? If so, what documentation is included? This can help you learn how to use the tool right away, but there should also be comprehensive documentation on using it effectively and efficiently. The thorough guide should include information on where you can get updates or add new scripts or test cases and its API.
  4. Commonality – Is there a community around the Testing Framework? If so, what community is there? A community of users can assist in adding new features and testing each other’s code, but they are also subject to creating conflicts and errors within your project. However, if you post an issue on a community forum or mailing list, you have good chances of getting it fixed or asking for help for free which is always great.

Best Practices for Improving Your Test Automation Framework

To improve your test automation framework, you should:

  • Make sure that the test automation framework has user-friendly and functional reporting. It should be user-friendly to allow you to gauge the test results.
  • Design a working plan to be followed that is clear and concise.
  • Identify its strengths and weaknesses, typically done by performing a code review. This will help identify bugs and gaps in the framework and is likely to reveal areas that need improvement.
  • Use an established, uniform format for all your code reviews. A popular format will enable multiple people to effectively review the same code base. This will help identify areas that need improvement, but it’s possible that the existing process doesn’t fully exploit the tools at your disposal. If you’ve been using a standard coding style but aren’t achieving optimal efficiency with your current framework, you may need to consider making some changes.
  • Ensure effective communication and allow easy access and visibility to the release notes.

Benefits of Test Automation Framework

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The main benefit of the test automation frameworks is that they help reduce the defect rate due to poor QA testing. When testers are tied up with manual testing, they might not notice defects due to system behavior faults or faulty implementation in a complex system. With an automated tool, such defects can easily be spotted early on. Test automation frameworks have been shown to reduce errors effectively.

Test automation helps in reducing time-to-market and the cost of the software. With an automated testing framework, organizations use much less investment in human resources, which means that they can launch a product sooner by cutting down on the cost of software development.

Test automation frameworks also help better quality control by automating the testing process. The software product undergoes a rigorous round of continuous testing during and post-development. This helps identify bugs and errors at the earliest possible stage and allows for correction before the product goes live, minimizing customer complaints.

Why KMS?

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Software testing entails numerous steps:

  • Do you want to run tests with or without code?
  • What is the best platform for development?
  • How can I continue testing indefinitely?
  • What should I do about script/framework version control?

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Our experts can assess your current software architecture and testing processes and assist you in developing a plan to successfully implement a framework. We also provide test automation as a service, which allows our teams to run tests on your software.

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