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Top 5 test automation challenges and how to solve them

Articles News

Top 5 test automation challenges and how to solve them

Articles News

1. Scripting expertise—a high bar for testing talent

Companies can get stuck if their QA Teams don’t have the coding

skills to write test automation scripts. The test automation frameworks that enterprises employ require testers with the skills to compose test scripts using various scripting languages and frameworks.

Selenium, for example, supports different types of scripting languages such as Java, Python, and C#. And inside each scripting language, there are more testing frameworks available that also require expertise, such as TestNG for Java and pytest for Python. While this opens up a world of possibility for those with the skills, this complexity means test automation strategies can quickly become complicated. It’s easy to see why advanced programming skills are in such high demand.

One solution for testers that want to build their technical chops is to pick a broadly applicable language like Python and then learn the fundamentals, including command scripting and code reuse, which cross multiple scripting languages. Every testing team should have at least one or two individuals who is interested in learning new skills, and what they learn can benefit the whole team. Testers who have exposure to coding practices will be better equipped to communicate with the development team.

2. When you can’t find a trace of traceability

Running automated tests doesn’t fix software any more than starting a chainsaw clears a forest. Automated tests are tools you use to identify errors so you can correct them. If you stop at generating test results, what have you accomplished?

When you see a failed test result, you need to trace it back to get the full value of the test. Is the failed test linked to a particular software build? Is it tied to a particular business requirement or feature?

If you can’t trace it back to where the application’s business logic failed, you can’t fix it or meet business goals or customer expectations. Using behavior-driven development enables you to refer back to business-readable language that tells the business which requirement was tested by the automated script. Moreover, for teams using BDD, “the scenarios can be easily translated into automated test scripts, which saves significant time in the testing process,” Yackel wrote.

3. Quickly scaling test environments is a challenge

QA teams that don’t provision test environments in the cloud will face scalability challenges when they introduce test automation. It’s a challenge to rapidly provision the differing test environments that automated testing requires, scale them up, run the tests, tear them down, and do it all again just as fast if you’re not testing in the cloud. On-premises, teams typically have a limited number of environments they can use, which means fewer tests they can deploy at any given time. As a result, testing takes much longer.

Even if your organization does not plan to move applications that have traditionally been on-premises into cloud environments, you can make a case for moving test environments to the cloud. Not only will this make it possible to scale test automation, but it will also reduce the QA team’s operating costs. Deploying a test environment in the cloud means you can quickly build it, deploy the software, run the automated tests and then tear it down, paying only for the time the environment was used.

4. Too many UI tests can break testing

“You shouldn’t rely too heavily on testing the UI,” says Yackel. CSS and XPath locations in the UI change often. If you target attributes like these in automated tests, it can lead to false positives and continued maintenance when the changes weaken or break the tests.

“You need a bottom-up strategy that includes unit level testing for the API, as well as UI testing,” says Yackel. Because the API is not as subject to change as the UI, your overall testing will be more consistent.

5. A lack of transparency can inhibit automated software testing

“Test automation can lack visibility when different teams are using different, disconnected automation strategies,” says Yackel. If each team is using different test automation frameworks from Eggplant to homegrown solutions to Worksoft, it can be tough getting insights into total software quality because no central portal reports on it all.

“You need a centralized view to get a good cadence of tests that are running, tests that aren’t, and what you have delayed,” says Yackel. This transparency enables leaders to see across automated testing.

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