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Jenkins for Test Automation

By Bharath Shrikanth, Community Contributor -

Table of Contents

An application’s stability and reliability depend on the depth of the testing carried out before its release. In the last couple of decades, automated testing, coupled with cloud-native technologies has paved the way for faster and extensive testing.

As an integral part of the Agile pipeline, automation testing is essential to all modern software development. In particular, CI/CD (Continuous Integration/ Continuous Deployment) is a practice employed by Agile devs and testers to speed up development and testing so that their products can remain competitive and quality-driven.

The implementation of CI/CD requires several tools, among which Jenkins is the most popular. This article will explore Jenkins, its features, and how it can facilitate test automation.

Why use Jenkins for Test Automation?

Jenkins is a popular CI orchestration tool. It provides numerous plugins for integration with multiple test automation tools and frameworks into the test pipeline. When it comes to test automation, Jenkins provides plugins that help run test suites, gather and dashboard results, and provide details on failures.

  • Runs Automated Test Suites: Jenkins provides plugins for various test frameworks like Selenium, Cucumber, Appium, Robot framework, etc. These can be integrated into CI pipelines to run automated tests for every build.
  • Summarizes the results: Most plugins also summarize the test results and display them as an HTML page.
  • Provides Trends: Jenkins keeps track of results and displays them as a trend graph. This offers a better view of how the tests have fared in the past.
  • Display details on Test Failures: Test results are tabulated, and failures are logged with the test results.

Adding a plugin to Jenkins

Listed below are the steps to add a plugin to Jenkins:

1. Go to Manage Jenkins and then click on Go to Plugin Manager.

Jenkins for Test Automation - Step 1

2. Navigate to the Available tab. This offers a list of all available plugins.

Jenkins for Test Automation - Step 2

3. Use the Filter bar on the right to find the tool that must be integrated.

Jenkins for Test Automation - Step 3

Based on the dependencies, any one of the following options can be selected:

a. Install without restart: This installs the plugin, but the plugin becomes active after a restart.


b. Download now and install after restart: This downloads the plugin package but installs when Jenkins is restarted.

Popular plugins for test automation:

  • Selenium Plugin: This plugin helps turn the Jenkins cluster into a Selenium Grid3 cluster and carry out tests on the heterogeneous Jenkins clusters.
  • Cucumber-reports: This plugin publishes the reports of Cucumber runs in pretty HTML format.
  • Browserstack Plugin: Test suites can be integrated and run from the CI server on the Browserstack real device cloud.
  • TestComplete: TestComplete tests can be integrated with Jenkins Freestyle jobs and pipelines with this plugin.
  • Kalaton TestOps: This plugin helps to run Kalaton Studio on Jenkins. It also automatically handles the download and deployment of Kalaton Studio.

Apart from these, many tools help with the analysis and reporting of tests. Some of these are Tests Analysis Plugin, Test Results Analyzer, bootstrapper-multi-test-reports-plugin, Junit publisher plugin, etc.

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When to use Jenkins for Test Automation?

With numerous plugins on offer, Jenkins meets all testing automation needs in most cases. Most popular testing tools can be easily integrated with Jenkins.

For simple workflows containing a streamlined CI process, Jenkins would be a perfect fit for test automation. Test scripts can be called, and reports can be generated from the runs.

It would be best to use Jenkins when the plugins are from a trusted source – preferably from the developers of the testing tool itself. This would avoid unruly behavior of the jobs and unexpected results. It would also make integrations much more seamless.

Limitations of using Jenkins for Test Automation

    • Jenkins, being a community-driven tool has a large number of contributors. Multiple plugins for a single tool integration can make the options unclear for users.
    • Although there are plugins supporting Docker integration, Jenkins still has a long way to go in this domain.
    • Jenkins does not itself host a cloud-based service. Users need to rely on Jenkins provided as a service by cloud service providers like AWS, GCP, Azure, Cloudbees etc.
    • Jenkins involves a steep learning curve as the configuration is not straight forward. Too many options and configurations can be complicated for newbies.
    • Lesser flexibility in using plugins as they are not customizable.
    • Lack of authentication and authorization rules and options.
    • Most community-driven plugins do not have clear documentation on how to use them.

Test Automation forms the crux of the CI/CD process. Despite its issue, Jenkins is the most effective tool for implementing automation testing in CI/CD pipelines. The plethora of plugins that Jenkins offers and the strong community support makes it a powerful ally in automation efforts, no matter the software being tested.

BrowserStack’s cloud Selenium grid of 2000+ real browsers and devices offers integrations with multiple CI/CD tools, including Jenkins. Sign up for free and start running automated tests on the latest devices and browsers on the cloud.
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