What is Integration Testing
By Kitakabee, Community Contributor - March 10, 2023
With the demand for software releases and updates rising, developers are tempted to rush through the testing phase of a software development life cycle (SDLC).
But rolling out bug-ridden software can lead to nightmares and backlash from the end users. So, every phase in the testing process should be handled with finesse, especially integration testing.
The second level of software testing involves checking individual units or components of a software project to identify problems and track bugs & defects, fix those to ensure that they work together as intended.
That’s not it.
Let us learn about integration testing in detail.
- Purpose of Integration Testing
- Why Do Integration Testing and the Importance of Integration Testing in SDLC?
- Types of Integration Testing
- Example of Integration Test Case
- Best Practices for Integration Testing
- Strategies for Integration Testing
- Designing Integration Test Cases
- Tools for Integration Testing
- Challenges in Integration Testing
Purpose of Integration Testing
The main purpose of integration testing is to validate that different software components, subsystems, or applications work together as a system to achieve the desired functionality and performance.
Integration testing helps to identify and resolve any issues that may arise when components are combined, such as compatibility issues, performance problems, incorrect communication, or data corruption.
Here are some specific objectives of integration testing:
- Verify the interactions between components.
- Ensure compatibility.
- Detect problems early.
- Improve the overall reliability of the system.
- Improve the quality of the system by identifying and fixing issues before they become more difficult and expensive to resolve.
The purpose of integration testing is highly important in the overall software development life cycle.
Also read: How to run integration tests on Flutter apps
Why Do Integration Testing and the Importance of Integration Testing in SDLC?
Integration testing is an important step in the SDLC because it helps to ensure that the different components of a software system work together effectively and efficiently to deliver the desired functionality.
The following are some reasons why integration testing is important in the SDLC:
- Integration testing helps to verify that the system meets the functional requirements and works as expected.
- It helps to detect issues early in the development process before they become more difficult and expensive to resolve.
- You can improve the overall quality of the system by identifying and resolving compatibility issues, data flow problems, and communication problems between components.
- Integration testing helps to increase confidence in the system by verifying that the components are working together as a system and delivering the desired functionality.
Overall, integration testing is a critical part of delivering a high-quality, reliable software system to the customer.
But different integration types offer different benefits in SDLC.
Types of Integration Testing
There are several types of integration testing that can be performed to test the interactions between software components:
- Big-bang integration testing: This integration testing involves integrating all the components at once and testing them as a complete system. The method is typically used when the components are relatively independent and can be tested individually.
- Top-down integration testing: You can use top-down integration testing when the components are integrated and tested from the highest level to the lowest level. The approach is used when the higher-level components depend on the lower-level components.
- Bottom-up integration testing: The integration testing type involves integrating and testing the components from the lowest level to the highest level.
- Sandwich/hybrid integration testing: This integration testing involves combining elements of both top-down and bottom-up integration testing. The components are tested from both the top and bottom levels, with stubs and drivers used to simulate the missing components.
- Continuous integration testing: It involves continuously integrating and testing the components as they are developed. The method helps to catch and resolve problems early in the development process, improving the overall quality of the system.
The type of integration testing to be used depends on the specific requirements of the software system and the development process.
Also read: How to set goals for software quality?
Here’s an example of an integration test case to help you get more clarity.
Example of Integration Test Case
Here is an example of an integration test case for a retail website:
Test Case Title: Checkout Flow Integration Test
Objective: To test the integration of the shopping cart, payment gateway, and order management systems.
- A customer account must be created
- The customer must have at least one product in their shopping cart
- Log in to the retail website as a customer
- Navigate to the shopping cart and verify that the correct products are listed
- Select a payment method and enter payment information
- Click the “Place Order” button
- Verify that the payment is processed successfully
- Verify that the order is listed in the order management system
- Verify that the order details, such as the products, shipping address, and payment method, are correct
- The payment should be processed successfully
- The order should be listed in the order management system
- The order details should be correct
This integration test case verifies that the different components of the retail website, such as the shopping cart, payment gateway, and order management systems, are working together to process an order.
If all the steps are followed properly, that it ensures that the customer can complete a purchase successfully and the order is recorded correctly in the system.
But to achieve your desired testing results, you must follow the best practices for integration testing.
Best Practices for Integration Testing
Here are some best practices for conducting effective integration testing:
- Integration testing should be planned and designed early in the development process, along with the functional requirements, to ensure that the components are integrated and tested systematically and comprehensively.
- The results of the integration tests should be monitored and tracked to ensure that any issues are identified and resolved on time.
- Integration testing requires collaboration between different teams, such as development, testing, and operations.
- Integration testing should test all possible combinations and scenarios to ensure that the components work together correctly under different conditions.
By following these best practices, you can conduct effective integration testing that helps ensure that the components of a software system work together effectively and efficiently to deliver the desired functionality.
Apart from these best practices, there are multiple strategies related to integrating testing you must be aware of.
Strategies for Integration Testing
Each integration testing strategy has its benefits and limitations, so the goal is to choose a strategy that provides the best balance between efficiency, accuracy, and speed while ensuring that the components of the system work together effectively to deliver the desired functionality.
- Big-bang approach
This strategy involves integrating all the components at once and testing them as a complete system.
- Simple approach
- Saves time and effort compared to testing individual components
- High risk of bugs and defects
- Difficult to isolate problems and locate the source of issues
- Bottom-up approach
The approach focuses on integrating and testing the components from the lowest level to the highest level.
- Helps to build a stable foundation for higher-level components
- Lower-level components are usually more stable and easier to test
- May not identify issues with higher-level components until later in the development process
- More complex to test the interactions between components
- Top-down approach
In this approach, the components are integrated and tested from the highest level to the lowest level.
- Enables early testing of the highest-level components
- Identifies issues and resolves them early in the development process
- Requires the availability of stubs for lower-level components
- May result in longer testing times compared to other approaches
- Sandwich (Hybrid) approach
It combines elements of both top-down and bottom-up integration testing.
- Provides a comprehensive view of the system
- Identifies issues prior to the software development process
- More complex to set up and maintain the testing environment
- More time-consuming and resource-intensive compared to other approaches
Now that you know different integration testing strategies, it’s time to learn about designing integration test cases.
Designing Integration Test Cases
The goal is to design tests that are comprehensive, repeatable, and easy to maintain to improve the overall quality of the system. Designing effective integration test cases requires multiple steps, like:
- Identify the components to be tested
- Determine the test objectives
- Define the test data
- Design the test cases
- Develop test scripts
- Set up the testing environment
- Execute the tests
- Evaluate the results
By following these steps, you can design effective integration test cases that help to ensure that the components of a software system work together effectively and efficiently to deliver the desired functionality.
To simplify the process, you can also rely on multiple tools for integration testing.
Tools for Integration Testing
The choice of tool will depend on the specific requirements of your software system, the development process, and the resources available. Here are some of the most commonly used tools for integration testing:
- Jenkins: It is an open-source automation server that can be used for continuous integration and continuous delivery.
- Selenium: It is an open-source suite of tools for automating web browsers. BrowserStack provides a cloud selenium grid of 3000+ real browsers and devices for automated end-to-end testing of web applications, making it a useful tool for integration testing.
- JUnit: It is a popular open-source testing framework focused on Java applications. It provides a simple way to write and run automated tests, making it a useful tool for integration testing.
These tools can help you bypass multiple challenges that can occur during integration testing.
Challenges in Integration Testing
You can encounter multiple challenges while implementing integration testing. Here are a few major ones.
- Integration testing involves testing the interactions between multiple components, which can be complex and difficult to understand. This can make it challenging to identify and resolve any issues that arise during integration testing.
- Keeping the testing environment up-to-date and consistent across multiple test runs can be difficult, as new components and updates are added to the system.
- Integration testing can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, as it requires coordinating the efforts of multiple teams and ensuring that the testing environment is set up correctly.
- Debugging integration issues can be challenging, as the root cause of a problem may be difficult to identify. This can make it difficult to resolve issues and ensure that the system is working correctly.
- Integration testing requires a large amount of test data, which can be difficult to manage and maintain. Ensuring that the test data is consistent and accurate is essential to the success of integration testing.
Despite these challenges, integration testing is an important step in the SDLC, as it helps to ensure that the components of a software system work together effectively to deliver the desired functionality.
By addressing these challenges through careful planning, coordination, and testing, you can ensure that your integration testing process is effective and efficient and the system meets its requirements.
In order to get the most out of integration testing, you must run these tests on multiple real devices, platforms, and OS combinations.
You cannot accurately and comprehensively identify all possible bugs without performing tests in real user conditions, and that is where you can trust BrowserStack App Automate.
With BrowserStack’s real device cloud, you can access thousands of real mobile devices for manual and automated app testing. Each device is loaded with real OS to help you achieve the best possible testing results.
With BrowserStack, QAs can access multiple popular mobile device-OS combinations for testing apps and script automation cases without worrying about updating and buying devices and installing software.