In the fast-paced world of software development, automated testing has emerged as the foundation for delivering robust, high-quality applications swiftly and efficiently. Gone are the days of labor-intensive manual tests that are not only time-consuming but also prone to human error. But what is automated testing, and how does it revolutionize the way we perfect our mobile apps? Let’s dive in.
Automated Testing vs. Manual Testing: The Core Differences
Automated testing is the process where software tools are used to execute pre-scripted tests on a mobile application before it is released into production. These tests run automatically, verifying the functionality, performance, and security of the app against expected outcomes with minimal human intervention.
In manual testing, a human tester acts as an end-user, executing tests one by one to validate all app features. It’s a hands-on process, requiring time to meticulously check each aspect of the app and work on everything from writing test scripts to executing tests. Manual testing can still be useful in scenarios where a test case only needs to be executed once or is too complex to automate.
For most testing needs, automated testing is hands down the most efficient option, saving QA and development teams time and money, crucial in such a fast-paced environment.
Why Use Automation Testing?
For most testing needs, automated testing is hands down the most efficient and invaluable option, saving testers time and money. Automated testing offers the following benefits:
- Repeatability: Tests can be run any number of times with consistent accuracy.
- Speed: Automated tests can execute complex scenarios much faster than a human tester.
- Parallel execution: Tests can be run simultaneously on multiple devices, platforms, and versions.
- Comprehensive coverage: Automation can cover thousands of test cases in each test run, providing extensive coverage that is often impossible with manual testing.
- Accuracy: Automation reduces the risk of human error that can occur during manual testing.
- Cost efficiency: While upfront costs are higher, the costs to manage automated testing overtime are less expensive than manual testing.
While automation testing is better overall for many aspects of mobile app testing, there are some areas that manual testing excels at, such as testing the UX/UI, user acceptance, and app behavior.
How Can You Use Automated Testing?
In the mobile app world, where users expect seamless performance and instant bug fixes, automated testing is invaluable. It is used for:
- Functional testing: Verifying that the app and its features function as intended.
- Regression testing: Ensuring new code changes do not adversely affect existing functionalities or introduce new bugs.
- Performance testing: Verifying the app’s behavior under various conditions and loads.
- Compatibility testing: Making sure the app works as intended across different devices and OS versions.
- Integration testing: Checks for defects in the app’s integration with third-party programs (APIs).
- Security testing: Identifying the app’s security vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
By automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, QA teams can focus on more complex test scenarios and high-value work, such as exploratory testing and user experience.
Best Practices for Automated Mobile App Testing
Embracing automated testing brings its set of challenges. However, adherence to certain best practices can ensure that your automated testing strategy delivers optimal results.
1. Choose the Right Tools
Select testing tools that align with your mobile app technology and testing needs. Consider testing tools that
- Support various types of testing, like functional testing, performance testing, and more.
- Offer device testing options, like a cloud device farm or emulators and simulators.
- Supports the programming languages and frameworks used to develop your app.
- Provide robust reporting features.
- Supports the operating systems and devices you plan to release your app on.
- Offers a user-friendly interface and codeless automation.
2. Start Small and Scale
Begin with a manageable number of test cases to automate, and gradually increase as you become more comfortable with the process and the tools you’re using. Integrate your CI/CD pipeline tests early on to help streamline the testing process. This helps in understanding the tool’s capabilities and fixing issues early on.
3. Design Test Cases for Reusability and Maintainability
Write test scripts that are modular and reusable across different test scenarios. Maintainability is critical as apps evolve, and scripts need to be updated.
Some best practices to design reusable test cases:
- Provide clear and concise descriptions of each test case, including what the test will do and the expected outcome.
- Design test cases to be independent that covers a single function or a small set of functions and not depend on the output of other tests.
- Prioritize automating test cases covering critical features or error-prone areas.
- Focus on creating reusable test cases for common functions and procedures.
- Automate both positive and negative test cases to ensure comprehensive coverage.
4. Prioritize Tests that Benefit Most From Automation
Focus on automating tests that are run frequently, are time-consuming, or are prone to human error. Manual testing can be reserved for exploratory testing and scenarios that are less structured.
As discussed earlier, automation testing is most helpful for regressions tests, smoke tests, load and performance tests, and integration tests. Basically, any test you’re executing frequently would benefit from automated testing.
5. Create a Robust Test Environment
Your test environment should mimic the production environment as closely as possible to catch environment-specific bugs.
Here are some practices to consider when setting up your test environment:
- Maintain a stable and controlled test environment. Any necessary changes should be documented and communicated to the entire team.
- Isolate your test environments from development and product environments.
- Store environment configurations and setup scripts in a version control system.
- Use realistic data that will mimic the actual data the app will handle in the live environment. Ensure sensitive data is anonymized to comply with privacy regulations.
6. Test Early and Often
Implement continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) pipelines to trigger automated tests early in the development cycle and with every change in the codebase. Run tests in parallel where possible to reduce the time taken for test suites to complete execution. Finally, you should regularly review test failures to determine their cause.
7. Keep Your Test Data Organized
Ensure your test data is well-structured and easily accessible. Good test data management helps in maintaining the effectiveness of your tests.
Some best practices for maintaining organized test data include:
- Keeping test data and test scripts separate, making it easier to manage and update data without altering the test scripts.
- Use data management tools that can help you create and manage your test data.
- Implement naming conventions to clearly indicate what your data is, and which tests it relates to.
- Implement data factories or generators in your test code to create test data dynamically.
8. Include End-to-End Tests
While unit tests are important, they should also include end-to-end (E2E) tests that simulate real user behaviors and scenarios. E2E tests are crucial for verifying the complete flow of an app. When setting up E2E testing, make sure that you define an objective that focuses on a specific user flow, and execute these tests across different environments to catch environment-specific issues.
9. Monitor and Update Test Suites Regularly
Regularly review and update your test cases to align with new features and changes in the app to avoid obsolescence. Implement dashboards to get at-a-glance reports of your test suite’s health, and be sure to set up real-time alerts for test failures so your team can respond quickly.
10. Balance is Key
While automation can significantly improve the testing process, it does not replace the need for manual testing entirely. A balanced approach often yields the best results. Manual tests are used best for one-off tests, complex tests, and testing an app’s UI/UX, website and app behavior, and user acceptance.
The Power of Automated Testing Using Sofy’s No-Code Platform
As the demand for high-quality mobile applications continues to rise, automated testing will undoubtedly remain an essential component of the mobile app development lifecycle. It’s not just about keeping up with the trends; it’s about staying ahead and delivering excellence with every update, every feature, and every app.
Sofy’s cloud-based, no-code platform provides automated and manual testing solutions for mobile applications. It offers an easy approach to test case development and execution, offering a real-device cloud farm so you can test your app on real, physical devices without leaving the Sofy interface.