Best Practices for Writing Maintainable Automated Test Scripts

Best Practices for Writing Maintainable Automated Test Scripts

The current software development practices heavily rely on automation testing.  This is because the proper implementation of automated test scripts helps boost the productivity of the testing environment and also increases the quality of the application that is currently being developed.

With the integration of automation testing, the developers can also improve the efficiency of certain testing instances like visual regression testing, cross-browser testing, regression testing, and performance testing. This is because the system can automatically initiate these test cases after every code change.

Maintainable automated test scripts are a crucial part of the modern application development life cycle. So, we will discuss some of the best practices related to creating and storing these test cases. We will also understand some of the useful tips that can help automation testers better utilize their resources.

Exploring Automation Testing

In this advanced testing process, the testers can use specialized tools and software to automatically perform the testing tasks involved in a software development process. This means that the execution of test automation does not rely on manual intervention. The major objective of this process is to elevate the test coverage, efficiency, and effectiveness of the entire test suite.

While using automation testing, the app developers will use a series of text files also known as automated test scripts for supplying all the data statistics and other information required for executing the test instances. Using this data, the test environment can mimic user interactions while interacting with the app.

Let us now understand some of the major components and benefits of integrating automation testing in the modern app development cycle:

●      Automated Test Scripts

Automation testing revolves around the creation of test scripts or test cases that are executed automatically by respective automation tools. Using the scripts, the developers can replicate various human interactions like entering data, clicking buttons, and verifying results.

●      Consistency and Repeatability

It is possible to repeat automated testing multiple times with consistent test results. It is a beneficial process for various test cases like regression testing where previously tested functionalities are retested to ensure that they are synchronized properly with the newly added elements or functions.

●      Faster Test Execution

The execution time for automation testing is shorter compared to manual testing. So, it allows the developers to receive quick feedback on the quality of the software. It is valuable in modern development technologies like Agile development or continuous deployment.

●      Parallel Test Execution

While using automation testing, the application developers can execute multiple testing instances on different environments and testing configurations simultaneously. Using this process, it is possible to wrap the entire test suite within just a few days.

●      Increased Test Coverage

While using automation testing, the testers can create comprehensive test cases covering a wide range of scenarios. It helps to easily identify issues at the earliest stages of the development cycle and ensure that all the critical components of the application are properly tested.

●      Regression Testing

Modern apps go through frequent updating processes where new features are added to the application infrastructure. By using automation testing, the developers can ensure that all the previously tested functionalities are working smoothly with newly added elements and have no side effects.

●      Data-Driven Testing

While using automation testing, the developers can use a data-driven testing approach. In this process, the test cases can be executed with different sets of input data. It helps to identify the behavior of the software infrastructure under multiple use case scenarios.

What are Maintainable Automated Test Scripts

In the core, maintainable automation test scripts refer to test cases that are designed and written in a way that they can be easily maintained, updated, and scaled. The primary goal of this process is to create certain test scripts that can adapt to changes in the application, evolving testing requirements, and software updates without significant effort or introducing errors.

Maintaining the automation test scripts becomes vital as modern apps are frequently updated and so the testing code needs to be aligned with all these changes. Let us now go through some of the major characteristics of modern maintainable automation test scripts:

●      Readability

Maintainable automation test scripts focus on the core concept that the code should be easy to read and understand. It achieves this goal through meaningful variable and function names. It also deploys proper code indentation and clear structure.

●      Modularity

The test scripts should be modular with functionalities separated into reusable and smaller components. This approach will make it easy to update and maintain specific areas of the code without affecting all the other components in a test script.

●      Abstraction

By abstracting unnecessary details and focusing on the essential parts of the test logic, the developers can enhance the maintainability of the automation test script. For instance, they can use the Page Object Model(POM) to separate the user interface structure from the test logic.

●      Parameterization

the developers must parameterize the test configurations and test data to allow easy modification without altering the code testing logic. This approach becomes even more important when dealing with different testing scenarios in a complex app development project.

●      Isolation of Test Data

By keeping the test data separate from test scripts, the developers can easily update and change this information without modifying the actual code of the automation test script. It also helps to avoid unintentional errors like false positives and false negatives.

●      Explicit Waits

By using explicit waits instead of hard-coded sleep statements, the developers can effectively handle the dynamic elements of modern applications. This approach also ensures that the scripts for the application reach the desired state before proceeding with the next phase of the testing process. The final goal of this approach is to improve the reliability of the test reports.

●      Error Handling

Another step towards making the test scripts more maintainable and resilient to unexpected situations is to implement robust error-handling mechanisms. The testers can use clear error messages and logging systems to diagnose issues quickly during the maintenance process.

●      Version Control

By utilizing version control systems like Git, the automation testers can manage changes to the automation test code. This approach also helps enable collaboration, easy rollback to previous versions, and tracking of modifications to the application infrastructure.

●      Documentation

It is advisable to maintain updated documentation for the automation test suite which includes information on how to run the test cases, all the prerequisites, and any known issues in the application infrastructure. Using this documentation, the team members can understand and contribute to the testing suite.

Best Practices for Developing Maintainable Automated Scripts

As we discussed earlier, writing maintainable automation test scripts is a crucial part of the long-term success of any testing effort. Moreover, maintaining the test scripts becomes challenging as apps continue to evolve. Changes in the application code can also impact the functioning of the automation test script.

Let us now go through some of the best practices to ensure that the automation test cases are maintainable:

1.    Modularizing the Test Code

  • It is important to break down the automation test code into smaller, modular functions or methods. Each function must have a specific purpose in the testing process.
  • The developers can also use a modular approach for creating reusable components that can be easily updated and maintained.

2.    Following A Page Object Model (POM)

  • The implementation of the Page Object Model will help separate the test script logic from the user interface structure. This process makes the test scripts more reusable and also removes redundancy in the testing process.
  • Thus, the developers can isolate the changes in the application UI with the corresponding page objects and minimize the impact on the test script.

3.    Implementation of Descriptive and Meaningful Names

  • It is crucial to name the functions, variables, and classes descriptively. This improves code readability and also makes the maintenance process easier.
  • We advise the testers to avoid generic names and instead rely on clear expressive names that convey the purpose of the function and the target elements.

4.    Using Comments and Documentation

  • It is advisable to use comments for explaining assumptions, complex logic, or any important details in the test code.
  • The developers should also maintain updated documentation for the entire automation suite which must include the test descriptions, prerequisites, and any known issues.

5.    Properly Handling the Waits

  • Modern applications use elements that rely on other elements for proper functioning or execution. So, by implementing intelligent waiting mechanisms, the developers can easily handle these dynamic elements. In this segment, we would also advise the testers to avoid using hard-coded sleep statements.
  • Using explicit waits in the test data, it is possible to specify customized conditions before proceeding with the testing phase. This approach also helps reduce the chances of false positives and improves the overall stability of the testing process.

6.    Using Modern Tools and Platforms

  • Using modern cloud platforms, the developers can store all the test data on remote servers and also use these servers for executing the test cases on thousands of real devices.
  • Moreover, certain cloud platforms like LambdaTest allow the testers to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically create and maintain the test scripts. Some of the additional features include comprehensive test reports and live activity logs.

7.    Regular Code Review

  • By regularly reviewing the automation test code, the testers can share knowledge and identify potential areas for improvement.
  • The code review process will also ensure adherence to coding structures and best practices within the app development life cycle.

8.    Cross-Browser and Cross-Platform Testing

  • It is vital to ensure that automation scripts are capable of running on different browsers and platforms at the same time. This approach helps improve the coverage and adaptability of the test data.
  • By implementing cross-browser testing, the developers can also ensure the functionality of their application on outdated devices or browser versions.

Using the above practices, the automation testers can create test scripts that are not only effective but also maintainable in the long run. This entire process will help contribute to the success of the overall testing strategy for the app-developing company.

The Bottom Line

Conclusively, we would like to remind the developers exact strategies for creating maintainable automated test scripts will massively vary depending on the application development project, the target audience, and the intended usage for the application. So, we recommend the developers have a clear idea about the application that they are currently working on.

This analysis will also help them to add various features that will customize the application according to the target audience and expand the market. Finally, the app-developing companies must spread proper information through seminars and workshops regarding healthy automation testing practices.

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