Every application in the development stage requires constant testing, this is to ensure the application behaves as expected. While testing is very important during the development of an application, manually testing the whole application over and over again can become boring, and repetitive, especially when a new feature is implemented or certain parts of the application have been altered, for this reason, we have test automation.
Test automation is the use of software separate from the software being tested to control the execution of tests and the comparison of actual outcomes with predicted outcomes
Before I discuss the benefits of test automation let us imagine a scenario. Imagine David works in a team as the sole backend engineer developing a school portal application, each developer in the team is given a different task to do in the development of the application. David’s task is to develop functionality that allows new students to select their courses for the semester. David performed his task, tested the functionality to ensure it works fine, and also tested other parts of the application to ensure they are not broken while he was implementing his task.
David is given another functionality to implement by the project manager, he implements the functionality, and again he has to test other parts of the application, to ensure the functionality he implemented has not broken other parts of the application.
Testing other parts of the applications when David implements a new functionality is becoming repetitive and tedious for him, he is no longer putting the same energy into testing as before. David starts reducing his test procedures and only tests the functionality he has implemented without checking for other parts of the application that could be broken, due to this David gets more bug fixes from the Quality Assurance (QA) team because whenever he implements a new feature something tends to get broken.
David eventually finalized the project and was free of bugs after a lot of back and forth from him and the QA team. The application was built and pushed to production. Later on, David could not continue the project, and Martins was brought into the team to take over from David. Martins inherits a large codebase with no test automation and he is not so confident in making changes to the application because there is no test automation written into the project. I could go on and on to illustrate why David not implementing test automation into the project has its adverse effect, but let’s stop here
While the above illustration might not be a perfect example, but we can understand the stress and time expenses that go into testing an application without automating the process.
Now let us discuss the benefits of test automation
- It saves time
- It increases efficiency
- Reliability in results
- Increased speed in testing the application
- Maximized test coverage
- The test can be run at any time
- Faster cross-browser testing.
- It enables you to write better code
1. It saves time
Test automation saves a lot of time. At first, automating your test could feel like it is time-consuming but once it becomes a part of your process you will realize how it saves your time. In the illustration given above, David can quickly smash bugs as they come before it compounds. Also, the time it takes for David to test each functionality is far greater than the time the computer will use to test the application if the process is automated. Writing tests for your project is like driving your car to very far distances instead of using your legs.
2. It increases efficiency
Test automation increases the efficiency of a developer. For example, David in our illustration could always focus on other functionalities of the project instead of using his energy in manually testing the application every time a change is made in the codebase.
3. Reliability in results
Repetitive testing is prone to errors because humans can make mistakes. Automating your test procedures ensures that whenever you run the test scripts on the application, you can always rely on the feedback of the test, because the test scripts are not prone to tiredness or mistakes, just ensure your test automation scripts are properly written.
4. Increased speed in testing the application
Automated testing can perform tests in milliseconds compared to humans. Manually testing a complex application is time-consuming but with automated testing, the application is tested thoroughly and with speed
5. Maximized test coverage
With proper test automation embedded in the application, you can run lots of tests at a very short period of time, this gives the flexibility to be able to test more parts of the application because you are not bogged down with manually testing the application.
6. The test can be run at any time
Test automation gives you the confidence of testing your application anytime. You can test your application from anywhere in the world and at any time. You can also schedule tests to run at a certain hour of the day and get notifications when the test procedure is complete.
7. Faster cross-browser testing
This is specific to front-end development, testing an application on multiple browsers is very strenuous and slow, but with the help of automated front-end testing tools, you can automate your test across multiple browsers at the same time. Besides testing across multiple browsers, these testing tools test for browser compatibility, responsiveness, etc.
8. It enables you to write better code
Automated testing makes you write better code. This is because you wouldn’t want to have difficulty testing the functionalities you have written in the codebase. While writing a new block of code into the codebase, you would be thinking of a better way to structure your code to ensure that all parts of the code can be easily tested.
Automating your test procedures is a valuable skill every software developer should have and cultivate. Writing quality tests in your codebase gives you confidence in the application that you have developed individually or in a team.
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