Is your test infrastructure slowing you down?
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - March 8, 2021
In the digital sphere, speed is king. Everything hinges on speed, from bounce rate, 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 or both.
Source: Frequency of App Updates
Naturally, speed is a major factor in software development pipelines as well. To cater to users’ expectations of new features and updates, developers and testers have to work faster too. They also require significant automation facilities to meet increasingly tight deadlines.
The lack of sufficiently fast infrastructure can slow down development, QA efforts, and deployment of software. This article will explore if and how inadequate test infrastructure can slow down development, and offer solutions to the same.
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 continuity of testing.
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 would have to manually go through all the steps that led to the appearance of the bug.
- 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, which results in low levels of code coverage and sub-par user experience.
Have you ever wondered about the difference: Code Coverage vs Test Coverage?
- 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.
There are really no two ways about it. A manual testing infrastructure needs to be upgraded to include automation at multiple levels. At the very least, automating the mundane repetitive tasks (log in, filling details into a form, etc.) should be automated to eliminate human error and exhaustion.
It is also far more effective to incorporate automation into the development pipeline rather than hire 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. Needless to say, 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 that 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 that check if the addition of new code has destabilized already functioning features.
- Tests that require clear pass/fail results.
Every Tester needs this: Best Practices for Test Automation: 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 at this point.
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. That means users can run tests on multiple real devices and browsers by simply signing up, logging in, and selecting the required combinations.
Is Automated Testing Infrastructure slowing you down?
As mentioned above, automated testing is meant to accelerate testing, offering accurate results, and make 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: If the test environments are not numerous enough to accommodate all testers’ and projects’ needs, tests will be delayed. Solving this will require:
- A transparent schedule so that 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 the commercial expansion, businesses will have to 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 2000+ real browsers and devices on-demand (both latest and legacy versions), testers can simply choose to run as frequently as they need to. 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 will have to implement CI/CD pipelines with built-in Configuration Management to keep all environments ready for usage.
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 have been 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 in the world, but 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 essentially determines the nature, progression, hierarchy and resources involved in automated tests. It provides the blueprint by which to structure QA activities, choose tools, frameworks and set benchmarks that tests have to meet in order to pass.
The Right Approach: Key Elements of an Effective Test Automation Strategy
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 have to 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. Have a look at the Fundamentals of Writing Good Test Cases to get a sense of some foundational practices.
Tips & Tricks: How to make your Selenium test cases run faster
5. Infrastructural Issues: Like manual testing, automated testing will be slowed by inadequacies in infrastructures. These issues could range from:
- High levels of downtime which would pause tests and delay results.
- Insufficient access to real devices and browsers (especially the latest ones) which 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 2000+ real browsers and devices that is constantly updated with the latest models and versions of both. Additionally, Automate offers the following features to facilitate faster, smoother testing:
- Parallel testing which 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 which 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 easier, faster, and more secure, have a 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.