What is Test Infrastructure?
By Shreya Bose, Community Contributor - June 8, 2023
In the digital sphere, speed is king. Everything hinges on speed, from bounce rate to user reviews, revenues, etc. Users even expect updates for apps and sites to roll over every few weeks. Any inability to meet the expectations of speed and quality will almost invariably lead to dissatisfied users who either abandon the software or give it poor reviews.
Source: Frequency of App Updates
Naturally, speed is a significant factor in software development pipelines as well. Developers and testers must also work faster to cater to users’ expectations of new features and updates. They also require significant automation facilities to meet increasingly tight deadlines.
The lack of sufficiently fast infrastructure can slow development, QA efforts, and software deployment. This article will explore if and how inadequate test infrastructure can slow growth and offer solutions.
What is Test Infrastructure?
Test Infrastructure refers to tasks, events, activities, and processes that facilitate and support manual and automated testing. Better planned and implemented infrastructure provides stability, reliability, and testing continuity.
Is Manual Testing Infrastructure slowing you down?
In a word: yes.
- Anyone spending all day running manual tests will naturally be frustrated by the mundane, repetitive tasks. It isn’t surprising, in this case, for QAs to want to shift to development eventually.
- Results are prone to human error.
- Reproducing bugs is much harder because one must manually go through all the steps that led to the bug’s appearance.
- As the software and/or the company scales, so does the amount of code that needs to be tested. Manual testing cannot feasibly keep up with the pace in the modern internet marketplace, resulting in low code coverage levels and sub-par user experience.
- The silo-ed work dynamics also discourage individuals (developers, QAs, business stakeholders) from learning more about the whole project or how they fit into the development pipeline. As Agile principles have revealed, non-collaborative mindsets are bad for software quality.
- It cuts down on developer-QA collaboration because the former is not expected to play any role in QA operations. Devs generally push code to QAs and wash their hands off it. This adversely affects product quality, team dynamics, and organizational work culture.
Have you ever wondered about the difference: Code Coverage vs Test Coverage?
There are no two ways about it. A manual testing infrastructure must be upgraded to include automation at multiple levels. At the very least, automating mundane, repetitive tasks (login, filling details into a form, etc.) should be automated to eliminate human error and exhaustion.
Incorporating automation into the development pipeline is far more effective than hiring more testers to achieve more test coverage. Test automation offers the kind of accuracy humans cannot, simply because machines do not get exhausted or overlook tiny errors. Machines also work much faster, offering the holy grail of software development – speed + accuracy.
Some examples of tests to be automated are:
- Repetitive actions such as log-ins and OTP entries.
- Actions must be tested across multiple devices, browsers, operating systems, and configurations. Want to do a quick test across real devices and browsers? Try now.
- Tests that must run the same actions with multiple datasets, filling a form with different inputs, for example.
- Tests that need significant time to complete.
- Regression tests check if adding new code has destabilized already functioning features.
- Tests that require precise pass/fail results.
Every Tester needs this: Test Automation Standards Checklist
Make no mistake: the initial stages of setting up automation testing will require research, human effort, and financial investment. However, given the narrow timelines in which teams are expected to roll out top-notch software, automation is almost mandatory.
Consider using a cloud infrastructure testing platform that allows QAs to run automated tests on real browsers and devices. BrowserStack’s cloud Selenium grid offers 2000+ real devices and browsers for automated testing. Users can run tests on multiple real devices and browsers by signing up, logging in, and selecting the required combinations.
Is Automated Testing Infrastructure slowing you down?
As mentioned above, automated testing accelerates testing, offers accurate results, and makes life easier for human testers. It certainly does that, but inadequate planning or insufficient test infrastructure can slow down tests and, eventually, software deployment.
Here’s how automated testing is slowing you down:
1. Test Environments: Tests will be delayed if the test environments are not numerous enough to accommodate all testers’ and projects’ needs. Solving this will require:
- A transparent schedule so everyone knows who has booked environments and who is in line to do so. The schedule should be detailed and navigable enough to avoid conflicts, misconfiguration, and mismanagement of resources.
- With commercial expansion, businesses must scale environments up as required. They should also be able to create multiple copies of an environment with requisite data and components on demand. Without a significant financial war chest, this would be hard to accomplish in an on-premise device lab. The easy way to scale up is to sign up for Browserstack’s real device cloud. With 3000+ real browsers and devices on-demand (both latest and legacy versions), testers can choose to run as frequently as needed. Additionally, they can use parallel testing to speed up test results, thus freeing up environments faster for other projects/tests. Try now!
- Manually configuring environments is, like manual testing, unnecessarily time-consuming and effort-intensive. Teams must implement CI/CD pipelines with built-in Configuration Management to keep all settings usable.
2. Insufficient Automation: It is possible that even though some fundamental tests have been automated, automation has not been adopted across the pipeline. For example, if only regression tests were automated, it wouldn’t be enough to meet timelines or guarantee a high-end user experience. Ideally, the organization should implement a robust CI/CD pipeline to speed up tests, get accurate results and debug in time for a timely release.
Do you know how to implement a CI/CD Pipeline?
3. Non-Optimal Strategy: A team can have all the resources globally without a result-oriented, team-aligned automation strategy tailored to the particular industry and project requirements. For teams new to automation, shaping a strategy can be difficult without some expert advice/assistance.
Automation strategy determines the nature, progression, hierarchy, and resources involved in automated tests. It provides the blueprint by which to structure QA activities, choose tools and frameworks, and set benchmarks that tests have to meet to pass.
4. Outdated or improperly shaped Test Cases: While test cases should ideally be shaped to be as reusable as possible, it is wrong to assume that they will never have to be touched again, especially in other projects.
QAs must regularly update test cases to update previously crafted test cases with necessary data. This can be more often than expected – every time there is a change in requirements, device, browser, OS, automation libraries, updates to frameworks, etc.
QAs should also adhere to a few guidelines while creating test cases. Abandoning these fundamentals can make tests more vulnerable to mechanical errors, which are entirely avoidable.
Tips & Tricks: How to make your Selenium test cases run faster
5. Infrastructural Issues: Like manual testing, infrastructure inadequacies will slow automated testing. These issues could range from:
- High levels of downtime would pause tests and delay results.
- Insufficient access to real devices and browsers (especially the latest ones) would prevent software from being tested for cross browser compatibility and cross-device compatibility.
- Inefficient provision for reporting, analyzing results, and debugging. Without in-built tools to facilitate these, QAs will have to spend considerable time and effort in each sprint identifying, prioritizing, and fixing bugs.
Read More: Bug Severity vs Priority in Testing
Upgrade the automated test infrastructure. Look for cloud infrastructure testing that resolves the issues detailed above and more. BrowserStack Automate, as mentioned previously, offers a cloud of 3000+ real browsers and devices that is constantly updated with the latest models and versions of both. Additionally, Automate provides the following features to facilitate faster, smoother testing:
- Parallel testing allows QAs to run tests simultaneously on multiple devices. This cuts down the amount of time required to complete test suite execution.
- Integrations with leading CI/CD tools – Jenkins, Azure Pipelines, TeamCity, Bamboo, TravisCI, etc.
- Multiple debugging tools – video recordings, automated bug screenshots, text logs of Selenium commands, network logs browser console logs.
- Easier collaboration by adding unlimited users from an organization to one account so that the team has better visibility of every member’s progress.
- Local Testing allows testing in internal development environments by leveraging a secure and encrypted BrowserStack tunnel (Local binary).
To explore the many features offered by BrowserStack to make automated testing more accessible, faster, and more secure, look at BrowserStack Automate.
In a speed-obsessed world, development pipelines cannot afford to be slowed down by slow and inefficient infrastructure testing tools. Examining test infrastructure, identifying speed-related issues, and fixing them with necessary upgrades are mandatory for teams and organizations if they intend to keep pace with a market that expects better products faster than ever before.