Time Waster Maintenance - How The Community Keeps It Low
In the fast-evolving world of software development, test automation stands as a cornerstone, ensuring reliability and efficiency. Yet, beneath its streamlined surface lies a less talked about challenge – maintenance.
Often perceived as a necessary evil, the maintenance of test automation can quickly escalate from a routine task to a time-consuming quagmire, draining resources and diverting attention from innovation.
But why is maintenance such a thorny issue in software test automation?
The answer lies in the dynamic nature of software projects. As applications grow and evolve, so must the tests that ensure their functionality. This constant need for updates and adjustments turns maintenance into a persistent hurdle, often overshadowing the benefits of automation itself.
However, it's not all doom and gloom.
Solutions do exist, and who better to shed light on them than industry leaders themselves?
In this blog post, we delve into the insights of five opinion leaders in the field of software testing.
Each brings a unique perspective to the table, addressing our burning question:
"Time waster maintenance! How can the maintenance effort for test automation be kept within limits? How do you ensure this? Which approaches or features help you?"
From streamlined processes to cutting-edge tools, these experts share their strategies and experiences, offering a beacon of hope for those navigating the maintenance maze:
Software Quality Assurance Engineer | Women in IT Awards Asia- 2023 (Next Generation Leader) Finalist | Blogger✍️ | Community contributor
When it comes to minimizing maintenance efforts in test automation, a few strategies help keep things in check. Firstly, creating robust test cases that are resistant to small changes in the application is key. It's also essential to regularly review and refactor test code to keep it clean and maintainable. Implementing smart automation frameworks that allow easy modifications and reusability of code across different tests helps save time and effort.
Moreover, prioritizing test cases based on their criticality and frequency of use can ensure that maintenance efforts focus on the most valuable tests. Regular monitoring and analyzing test results also help identify flaky tests or areas needing improvement, reducing maintenance needs.
In my experience, leveraging version control systems and continuous integration tools streamline the maintenance process by tracking changes and automating test runs. Additionally, fostering a culture of collaboration between developers, testers, and stakeholders ensures everyone understands the importance of maintaining test automation and actively contributes to its upkeep.
Jerry Weinberg Excellence Awardee | ifm 🧡 | Test Specialist ✌️ | Blogger ✒️ | Speaker🎙 | RST PA 💡
-Use modular and reusable code.
-Implement proper error handling.
-Regularly review and refactor the scripts.
-Maintainability should be a key factor in decision-making.
-Keep track of changes.
-Maintain proper logs.
-Have a clear history of the test automation code.
-Consider modularity, reusability, and design principles.
-Avoid creating a short-term mess that rots in the long run.
- No hard codes or reckless assumptions in the scripts.
-Keep things configurable.
-The code should not just work on your machine.
-Automation equals development.
-It's a separate project on its own.
-The next new engineer in your team doesn't know the "obvious" things.
-Document the work to avoid re-engineering the same thing.
-Old codes can be messy.
-Test before making a change in production.
- Be prepared for breaking changes.
- Be aware of library bugs.
- Be open to realities.
-Regularly review test results.
-Monitor system changes.
-Update test automation scripts accordingly.
SDET@Amazon Canada | Featured in TimeSquare | API-UI-Mobile Automation | AWS-DevOps | Technical Blogger & Trainer | LinkedIn Top Voice
To keep the maintenance effort for test automation within limits, I would follow these best practices:
Head of QA at Lodgify | Ex-Fave | Founder Synapse QA | QA Strategist | Blogger & Speaker | Community Builder | Mentor at The Mentoring Club
Automation in testing can be a double-edged sword if not properly maintained. However, it can become manageable if approached with the right strategies. Throughout my career, I have come across people who believe automated checks, once scripted, are done forever and do not require any modifications or maintenance. Yet, this is a misconception about automation that many individuals in our industry hold as a"Silver Bullet" solution.
Automated tests do not create, modify, or maintain themselves. Maintenance is necessary to ensure they serve their intended purpose. Test automation is a software development process that faces the same challenges as any other development activity. Creating and maintaining tests will be more costly and time-consuming if we intend to automate more tests.
Adopting a proactive approach is critical to reduce maintenance efforts. Regularly reviewing and updating your test scripts to ensure they align with the evolving application and its features is essential. Establishing a robust version control system to keep track of changes makes it easier to identify and rectify issues promptly. Breaking down the test scripts into smaller, independent modules enhances reusability and simplifies the process of updating or replacing specific components without disrupting the entire system.
Peer reviews and sessions to understand more about the features and get diversified opinions from a fresh perspective are also highly beneficial.Having continuous collaboration between developers and testers is crucial. A fresh set of eyes can often catch issues that have been overlooked, preventing potential maintenance headaches. By fostering open communication, you can stay informed about upcoming changes in the software, allowing engineers toproactively adjust your automated tests accordingly.
Maintaining test data is always a pain in automation. Data-driven testing and parameterization can significantly ease these maintenance challenges. It allows you to manage test data separately, making it easier to update and modify without altering the core test script. Documenting your test scripts and the reasoning behind certain design choices can also be a lifesaver during maintenance. It provides a clear idea for anyone updating or troubleshooting the automated tests.
Most importantly, test your tests quite often instead of waiting for a moment when you need to spend time maintaining them. Remember tobe smart and innovative. Realize that when you automate a mess, all you end up having is an automated mess!
I wrote a post a while ago on four simple steps for creating meaningful automated tests. Keeping these tips in mind while designing a test will highly benefit in reducing the maintenance effort later as well.
In short, remember these 4R3I's when you develop tests to reduce the maintenance effort later proactively: Revisit, Review, Revise, Reframe, Ideate, Innovate, and iterate the tests.
Managing Director | Founder of TestResults.io
I think in test automation most of the struggles come from an imperfect balance between abstraction and extremely specific implementations. For example, if you have automated test cases without any layer of abstraction, you’ll find yourself in trouble as soon as central functionality in the system under test changes. On the other side, too many abstract layers make the automation extremely complicated to maintain because you need to understand the interdependencies on these layers.
This is why I usually tell everyone: Abstract your application, abstract your controls. Done. No need for inheritance or any other technology that is typically used in development projects. If you think about it, you automate an application; it is not that you are building a library that is reused in different projects in different layers.
DON’T inherit controls from controls in your abstraction. It is not required. There are just a few controls, and most of the functionality cannot be overlapped from a usage point of view. Yes, from a developer’s point of view, a text field and a drop-down share a lot of common functionality. From an automation point-of-view, it is only the “enter text” part. But 90% of the functionality is different.
DON’T inherit application from applications. You are automating a single app with an abstraction. You might be tempted to say, “But they all share the same navigation frame”. Which might be true, but they might also be on a different release cadence in the future. Just abstract a single application with a single model without any dependency on any other application abstraction.
DON’T combine logic in abstractions. Workflows, like entering information in one application and checking in another for the result is functional testing in the test case. That is automation. Don’t put code that checks cross applications in either an application abstraction or in an “overall” application abstraction. One application -> one abstraction. Complex interactions -> automation.
We follow these guides on all projects, and it keeps the maintenance effort extremely low. Naturally, these rules are based on our experience with TestResults.io, which inherently includes things like self-healing, etc. thanks to the underlying approach to automation.
As we've journeyed through the insights of our esteemed experts, a clear narrative emerges: maintenance in software test automation, while challenging, is far from insurmountable. The experiences shared by Prachi Dahibhate, Rahul Parwal, Sidharth Shukla, Nithin S.S and Tobias Müller underscore the importance of adopting a proactive, strategic approach to maintenance.
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