Test Automation in Agile and DevOps — Agile, Quick, Flexible

November 16 2022

What is Agile test automation?

The name says it all — Agile methodology proves to be more flexible and smoother than its traditional counterparts. Previously, Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) greatly relied on the Waterfall method, which includes the following rigid steps:

Requirements —> Design —> Development —> Testing —> Deployment —> Maintenance

As we can see, testing proudly sits at the very end of the development cycle. Pretty conservative, right?

In Agile concept it’s all different. It makes all stakeholders — developers, testers, business representatives, marketing execs, sometimes even regular users — collaborate as one, well-coordinated team. This way it’s just easier to spot potential flaws, receive feedback, leave commentaries, make suggestions, exchange ideas, and so on.

Perhaps, the primary advantage of Agile concept is its speed. Testers can focus on the continuous quality assurance — work never stops. And the greatest benefit of them all is that if the target audience finds certain aspects of an app dissatisfying, these issues can be fixed right away.

There’s another reason why testing in Agile is still popular today, 20 years after its debut. We are talking about its famous Manifesto. It includes 12 principles of developing excellent software:

  1. The reason why it’s done. All software is made to satisfy customer’s needs.
  2. Flexibility. The team must be open to changes at every developing stage.
  3. Consistent submissions. Portions of working software should be delivered systematically.
  4. Team’s unity. Business and IT teams should work side by side until the product is finalized.
  5. Correct personnel selection. The project and its resources must be run by motivated and enthusiastic specialists.
  6. Conversation. Direct conversation is the best communication channel there is.
  7. Measuring progress correctly. Development progress is measured by how much a product improves at every stage of development.
  8. Sticking to the schedule. The entire software development process must go at a consistent pace, no slow-downs.
  9. Perfection and agility. Agility is boosted when attention is paid to both technical and design details simultaneously.
  10. Keeping it simple. Simplicity is the key to smart development and great user experience.
  11. Discipline. Self-organization is essential for every team involved.
  12. Self-control. From time to time every team should assess their effectiveness and take steps to maintain or increase it.

Even though these Agile ‘commandments’ were formulated eons ago, they are still amazingly relevant today. While welcoming a flexible approach and openness, they also set a reasonable amount of control to maintain necessary discipline.

Among all else, Agile also includes a few main methodologies:

  • Extreme programming

Customer satisfaction is the #1 priority. At the same time, development is focused on delivering a simpler product — long-term development is usually postponed for later.

  • Kanban

Meaning in Japanese “in time”, Kanban breaks down the development process into columns on a special board of the same name. As the work advances, every separate column gets filled out. Columns can be added or removed at any time if necessary.

  • Scrum

Topping the popularity charts among QA methodologies, Scrum offers developing cycles known as sprints. Every day of the development process starts with a 15-minute planning session to synchronize work and set the objectives.

So, in other words applying Agile concept is like building a house. Only, whenever a new element is complete — foundation, walls, plumbing — their quality is scrupulously investigated before the work resumes. 

Is automated testing part of DevOps?

Test automation (TA) is crucial within both Agile and DevOps. It enables the QA team to find and eliminate bugs in the software sooner than they can do any systematic harm. This way QA costs, time, and human resources are economized. Risks are mitigated. And further maintenance becomes easier and cheaper. At the same time, manual testing should not be rejected either — it helps detect and fix issues that stay ‘invisible to TA.”

Test automation works wonders. It helps dodge a sway of negativity coming from dissatisfied clientele, avoid losing your game to the competitors, and build a loyal following among customers, old and new. The trick behind this magic is accelerated testing. 

Naturally, you want to roll out your product asap, especially if there’s a vacant niche. But your application or platform can be feature rich. And be it a massive online game, dating platform, or a digital superstore, people expect it to work seamlessly.

In this case we’re facing time constraints. They make manual testing obsolete in such a scenario, as it’s impossible to test every single button, chat window, or encryption algorithm by hand. Depending on the size of your project, this can literally take months!

Test automation tools are what we need. They allow creating testing scripts to examine functionality with a cheetah’s speed. Here are the perks:

  • Faster product release. Time required for QA reduces dramatically. You can enter the market faster than your rivals, not worrying that something goes off script.
  • Reduced errors. The human factor also plays a significant role in QA. Even the top-notch engineers can miss a glitch once in a while. But even a small error in the code can become a pebble in a shoe and ruin the user experience.
  • Simplify maintenance. A well-made product is easier to support. Even though it’s impossible to make it 100% error-free. So, should any new glitches occur, you can easily adapt the existing test cases or create new ones to remove them. Rolling out updates also becomes easier.
  • Increase customer satisfaction. Perhaps, it’s the most valuable asset. By giving people a service they enjoy using, you a) strengthen your reputation b) generate buzz c) attract new clientele at no extra expense.

Sounds alluring. However, before launching a test automation campaign, there are several nuances to consider.

  • Tools

Right tools are half the work. The first thing to pay attention to is whether the dedicated test tool is compatible with Continuous Integration (CI) and DevOps principles. Among them are Jenkins, Jira, Bamboo, Kobiton, Selenium, and others.

  • Test reporting

Test reporting is a key to success. Reports should contain explicit info on detected bugs and raise alerts. It’s also a great thing to have a dashboard for keeping track of the requirements, and a communication channel where coders and testers can consult. Functionize, Katalon Test Ops, SpiraTest are among good options. 

  • Pricing 

Big licensing fees mean bigger production costs and longer a Return of Investment period. So, consider the scale of your project, target audience’s solvency, and other factors before choosing a test tool. Some are open-source costing $0: Gradle, GitLab, CodeShip, Buddy, and so forth. 

Some of them have plenty of tutorials and learning materials online and offer a stable user community. Others stay in the obscure zone. Plus, deploying a freebie can take some time, while subscription-based packages are ready-made.

  • Automation overkill

A common problem in QA and development is overly extensive automating. Too much automation can kill a product, by making it unusable and even ‘inhuman’. The key to prosperity is balance. And in this case it can be achieved through breaking down the QA process and selecting only those bits that go well with TA leaving the rest to the human talent.

  • Manual testing

Manual testing (MT) cannot be discarded. While automation allows to sift through gargantuan volumes of data quickly, it may skip some subtle issues. For example, MT allows testing smaller changes in code and visual design, potential ‘false negatives’, understanding the product from the user’s point of view, and correcting the so-called user errors. In other words, exploratory testing is inescapable. 

How is test automation done in DevOps?

“Test automation in DevOps requires integration of a specific infrastructure or environment. It includes such elements as Synthetic transaction monitoring (STM), CI/CD pipeline, software maturity, frequency release strategy, and so on. To set it up, a correct strategy and suitable tools must be selected first.”

So, DevOps unifies IT development and operations and testing like magic glue. What is left unseen behind the curtains? Which technical aspects are there to consider?

The best bet for integrating DevOps is employing the pipeline where Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment act in unison: CI/CD pipeline. It means we can both develop and smoothly update the existing software with patches, fixes, and upgrades.

Among all else, CI/CD pipeline includes these components:

  • CI/CD infrastructure

It’s essential to set up an adequate infrastructure to successfully orchestrate TA. It may include such elements as easily accessible test user accounts, cloud repositories with reports, communication channels, various test data, and so on.

Creation of this infrastructure should be the first step. Discuss the idea with your team, select a testing structure that fits your project best, commit resources, and architect the biome for CI/CD approach. This will pay off handsomely in faster and better releases. 

  • Synthetic transaction monitoring (STM)

Also known as Proactive monitoring or Testing in production, it helps to understand whether the software is healthy for the clients or not. It implies usability, quality, and usefulness. In case it leaves a lot to be desired, we’ll deal with customer frustration resulting in page abandonment. 

To perform STM, we create behavioral scripts, a.k.a. paths. They allow simulating a user's behavior when they interact with a software and understand potential issues with functionality, availability, responsiveness, and other important aspects.

Stats show that 67% of clients tend to abandon a website/app completely if they feel unsatisfied with the user experience (UX). This is caused by a software/service being unhealthy. So, STM is a significant prospect in DevOps.

  • Release frequency

Depending on how frequently you’re planning to roll out updates, you will need an appropriate automation test strategy. If the service requires consistent updates, then such techniques as User Interface (UI) smoke tests and unit testing are required. 

UI smoke screens are great for examining the build for some obvious errors lying on the surface and which can be quite disastrous for the UX. Unit testing can be used for reviewing isolated features and improving the code with every following attestation.

  • Software maturity

When your product evolves, a stable customer base and consistent release schedules enter the stage. At this maturity point, it’s important to maintain test automation, as it helps to deliver new batches of content to your customers right on time. When the CI/CD pipeline is established, it will be much easier to launch a new product within its efficient environment.

How is test automation done in Agile?

“Test automation in Agile requires a number of specialized components. Among them are regression testing for examining new pieces of code, cross-platform compatibility testing, parallel testing that allows checking various components at the same time, and so on. DevOps is also a vital element in the Agile concept, as it brings together development, testing, and operational teams.” 

The following components are suggested for successful integration of Agile:

  • Regression testing

Agile is surely great because of its adaptability. At the same time, the biggest benefit of the method can also be its Achilles’ heel. After all, the code will be changed frequently to introduce new features. Our greatest ally in this situation is regression testing.

Regression testing serves to examine the ever-changing code. So, it guarantees stability and certain predictability of how it functions. It’s like a glaze on cake, as it’s a finishing touch in quality assurance after all other tests are complete.

There are conditions when regression testing is unavoidable:

  • Configuration has been changed.
  • New features are added to the feature palette.
  • Extra options were added to an already existing feature.
  • The initial code has been optimized to fix bugs/boost performance.

Apart from examining the altered source code, regression testing checks another vital parameter: compatibility. It investigates how well old and new features work ‘as one team’ and spotlights potential drawbacks and conflicts. 

  • Cross-platform compatibility testing

The next crucial step is to ensure that your product works on multiple platforms like a charm. There’s a cavalcade of test tools designed for that task: MonkeyTalk, Appium, Eggplant, Browsershots, Selendroid, and others. They support all major platforms — Android and iOS included — and some are even open-source. (Again, $0 price.) 

While compatibility checks performed at a large scale should be script-automated, manual testing of the most popular browsers and platforms wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Communication

Conversation among teams is the key to success in Agile's environment. As we have mentioned, some automation testing tools offer built-in communication channels: dashboards, and so on. It is necessary to exchange feedback until the work is done.

  • Case selection

Not every single case should be automated. The main candidates are regression, APT, and non-functional testing — they are stable enough for automation. Meanwhile, less stable components should definitely undergo manual testing. For example, it’s justifiable to manually test new features meant for a new build. (And polish them with regression testing afterwards.)

  • Parallel testing

And this technique is a real time-saver. Parallel testing allows orchestrating multiple tests concurrently, sometimes both manual and automated. It’s a smart alternative to the traditional consequential tests, where software components were examined one after another. Needless to say, such a ‘dilly-dally’ approach was inefficient.

With parallel testing, we can run checks on various platforms: top popular browsers, Android and its numerous iterations, desktop, and even obscure platforms like Blackberry. This know-how is especially useful at the later, pre-release developing stages, saving lots of time.

Celebration for Automation

As you can see, Agile isn’t called so for nothing. This methodology brings a high degree of flexibility into your IT biome. It takes collaboration to the next level. And it delivers a caboodle of benefits for your product: from faster initial release to increased cost-efficiency.

Contact us now, and we’ll help you integrate both Agile and DevOps into your enterprise. Stay one step ahead and deliver only quality products with us!


Benefits of API testing — Business without headache

“API testing offers a wealth of benefits for your project: from saving time to economizing money that you’d have to spend on fixing flaws of an already launched online project. It supports business logic, quality maintenance and, most importantly, provides smooth user experience to your clientele”. 

API testing has some neat advantages. First, it will help your company avoid downtimes online, which always cause money loss. Second, it provides a longer longevity to your online ecosystem and protects it from technical mishaps.

Here are the key API testing advantages:

  1. It’s quick

    If an API test doesn’t involve GUI testing, it can be completed in a wink. As a result, you can gain a time advantage, enter the market earlier than your competitors, receive feedback quicker, run tests time-efficiently, and solve problems in advance.

  2. It covers more issues

    It’s impossible to say how long a house will stand by judging the condition of its roof. Instead, we take a very close look at the foundation. API testing does the same, checking the deeper layers of your ecosystem: databases, internal communication channels, etc.

  3. It’s cheaper

    API testing makes maintenance cheaper. It’s imperative to resolve issues and detect bugs early before the system goes live. Otherwise, without proper testing you may be forced to re-architect the existing API layers, which translates into money and time loss. It’s almost like tearing down and building a house anew just because its sockets malfunction.

    Plus, it’s a fast process, which reduces the test costs tremendously. Instead, you can free up the unspent resources — time, money and workforce — on other vital needs.

  4. It’s effective

    The procedure also helps to squash bugs and recognize other problems early on.

  5. It’s reassuring

    No exaggeration: API testing is a key to security. Its comprehensive examination exposes potential attack points that can be exploited by hackers. Immunity to cyberattacks, in turn, positively affects your company’s image and reputation.

Without a hitch, without a glitch

Even if API testing seems a bit sophisticated, don’t be discouraged by the technical gobbledygook. We at Kvan specialize in quality assurance and will take all necessary action.

We’ll review your existing infrastructure, set goals and deadlines, and sketch out a plan of the best API testing. We can guarantee that your business logic will stay intact, your online security will be reinforced, and your customers will enjoy a great user experience.

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