How to implement a Continuous Testing strategy for DevOps?
By Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - December 17, 2020
What is Continuous Testing?
In a DevOps-aligned development ecosystem, all code by individual developers must be put through a gamut of automated tests before merging into the main branch. It basically verifies and cleans code from its smallest units so that minimal bugs appear in the later stages.
These tests are incorporated into the software delivery pipeline to drive faster feedback on the code being pushed to the repository. It reduces the time taken to provide the relevant feedback so that devs, at an individual level, can make their code as error-free as possible.
Continuous Testing in DevOps is an integral part of the CI/CD pipeline, which is responsible for accelerating the development of high-quality software in short timelines.
How to implement a Continuous Testing strategy?
- Market research is your friend: DevOps ultimately intends to mitigate business risk by rolling out good software at a fast pace. This requires optimization on every level of the pipeline.To start off, take the time to study which software workflows are most important to the target audience. Plan tests to cover these workflows foremost. Get a clear sense of the complexities of the current business landscape so that testers can get their priorities right. For example, what is more important – releasing the product fast or taking the time to test every single feature so that product health is uncompromised?Once the hierarchy of customer and business preferences has been established, QAs can design automated tests that cover certain features that customers or users will primarily focus on. Basically, map the requirements to software components and create tests to alleviate risk.
- Ask the Experts: Continuous Testing is about, well, testing – deciding what tests to run, writing test cases, testing manually, or creating automation test scripts, verifying test results. Who better to work on this than the people actually trained to do so?Once a team or organization has decided to go the CI/CD way, they should ask QA managers to get together their people and run the relevant risk assessments, adopt critical perspectives and figure out what tests can offer accelerated results with compromising quality.Hire the right people, and then ask them to take responsibility for crafting the right tests.
Read More: How to fit QA into a DevOps setup
- Adopt Shift Left Testing: Continuous Testing shouldn’t just come in at the end of integrating code to the repository. Instead, Shift Left Testing should be implemented across the development process so that code is verified from the creation of its first unit at the individual level.Shift Left Testing literally pushes testing to the “left,” i.e., to earlier stages in the pipeline. The Shift Left approach intends to identify and resolve bugs as early as possible in the development process. This improves software quality and reduces time spent in resolving issues (which usually magnify as development progress) later in the pipeline.In practical terms, this translates to more tests being run by developers themselves before they push their code unit to version control. There are a number of tests every developer should run to contribute to the success of Shift Left Testing and push better products.
- Get the Right Test Data: Robust and accurate test data is required to create test cases to implement Continuous Testing. To test a new function, put effort into gathering test data that resembles issues the software may encounter in production.It may not be possible to get production data in all cases due to privacy regulations and team silos, which constrain availability. Try using a tool that allows the copying of production data and masking it to protect sensitive information without keeping the necessary variables available.
- Pick the right tools: Any software being developed in the 21st century has to provide optimal functionality in various real-world conditions. Websites and apps are accessed via hundreds or thousands of device-browser-OS combinations. Each of these can be a combination of recent or earlier versions of said browser, device, or OS.
When the numbers add up, they can be quite overwhelming.There’s no point in using emulators or simulators to run tests. Since Continuous Testing assists with pushing software to market as fast as possible, running tests on emulators or simulators would just cause pointless delays. Virtual machines simply do not provide the real user conditions required to monitor a website or app accurately and evaluate their performance. In that case, why waste time using them at all?
Running tests directly on real devices removes all room for doubt. Whether manual testing or automated Selenium testing, real devices are non-negotiable in the testing equation. In the absence of an in-house device lab (regularly updated with new devices and maintains each of them at the highest levels of functionality), opt for cloud-based testing infrastructure. BrowserStack provides 2000+ real browsers and devices that can be accessed for testing from anywhere in the world at any time.Additionally, the BrowserStack is set up to facilitate a DevOps testing strategy. Its cloud provides integrations with popular CI/CD tools such as Jira, Jenkins, TeamCity, Travis CI, and much more. Additionally, there are in-built debugging tools that let testers identify and resolve bugs immediately.
Users can sign up, select a device-browser-OS combination, and start testing for free. They can simulate user conditions such as low network and battery, changes in location (both local and global changes), and viewport sizes and screen resolutions.
By running tests on a real device cloud, Continuous Testing can be conducted to ensure that they are getting accurate results every time. Comprehensive and error-free testing, starting at dev-level, prevents bugs from showing up (usually magnified) at later stages, which reduces the time and effort required to handle them.
- Conduct Multi-Layer Tests: With software becoming increasingly more complex by the day, a multi-layered testing approach is required to cover all functional areas. Devs and QAs must, in tandem, run a multitude of tests – unit tests, integration tests, GUI tests, database tests, security tests, load tests, performance tests, and the like. Test automation must accommodate a plethora of tests. Take the time to design extensive test cases that match the software’s complexity initially, so testers do not have to encounter bugs in the later phases or even post-production.
The Continuous Testing definition makes one thing up clear: it is an iterative process. Sitting at the heart of the Agile methodology, Continuous Testing prioritizes quality, and speed simultaneously. Use the steps outlined above to achieve this tenuous balance, which is key to keeping up with the modern website and app users’ demands.