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Test maintenance best practices
Test maintenance is an important part of the software development lifecycle. It helps to ensure that your tests are accurate and effective, and that they continue to provide value as the software evolves.
But let’s be real, test maintenance is not a walk in the park.
Our Founder and CEO, Vasudevan Swaminthan, has eloquently captured the challenges associated with test maintenance based on his wealth of experience in the field.
In this post, you’ll read:
Why is test maintenance usually a problem?
Test maintenance in general is not a pressing issue if your automated test suite is relatively small. However, if your application has a large user base and is continually evolving, the cost and resources associated with test maintenance can be challenging. Sometimes the effort spent on maintenance can be higher than designing test automation.
Here are a few main challenges:
- Keeping up with the latest change in the application
- Managing test data
- Maintaining test environments
- Constantly updating test scripts and tools
- Balancing test coverage and efficiency
- Handling flaky test suites
Test maintenance best practices
In this section, I want to share some insider knowledge about our test automation team here at Zuci. They follow some best practices that not only make our clients’ lives easier but also save us from countless rework in the future.
Meet the source:
Let’s dive into them!
When it comes to test automation, code reusability is key! Make sure to store all your reusable methods in the common library, even for basic actions like “click” using Selenium. This way, you’ll save time and effort in the long run. Another pro tip is to use proper locators from the start. By incorporating robust locator techniques while building the test automation framework, you’ll future-proof your scripts for cross-browser execution. This avoids the need to revisit and modify locators later on.
Maintaining the test scripts in small modules helps us in maintenance by providing the scalability. Take, for example, using Cucumber BDD, where features can be split into small, manageable pieces.
For example, consider a finance application where user is taking these steps:
- Login into the app
- Apply for loan
- Check personal information
- Check credit score
- Check previous loan history
So, instead of creating a single test script to first — apply for loan, then check personal info and finally check credit score, it’s much more beneficial to write separate scripts for each module. This modular approach brings flexibility to handle changes efficiently. For instance, if there’s a modification in the personal information module, there’s no need to execute the loan application and credit score checks. This ensures better maintenance and flexibility.
Follow clean coding standards. These practices make it easier for both current and future team members to understand and update the code.
Here are some specific ways in which clean code can help with test maintenance:
- Use descriptive names for variables and functions. This makes it easier to understand what the code is doing, which makes it easier to identify changes that need to be made to the tests.
- Use comments to explain what the code is doing. This can be especially helpful for complex code or code that is not well-organized.
- Break the code into small, manageable chunks. This makes it easier to understand and modify the code, which makes it easier to update the tests.
- Use consistent formatting. This makes the code easier to read and understand, which makes it easier to identify changes that need to be made to the tests.
- Avoid using magic numbers. Magic numbers are numbers that are used in the code without being explained. This can make it difficult to understand what the code is doing, which can make it difficult to identify changes that need to be made to the tests.
- Avoid using global variables. Global variables are variables that are accessible from anywhere in the code. This can make it difficult to track changes to the code, which can make it difficult to update the tests.
Here’s a casual exchange with our CTO on coding standards, clean code, technical debt etc…
Avoid using Implicit wait wherever possible in the automation framework. Employing both Implicit and Explicit waits can lead to unnecessary delays, impacting application performance. Additionally, removing Implicit waits from test scripts after they have been designed can be time-consuming.
Integration with test management tool
Integration of the automation framework with any test management tool aids in maintenance. For example, imagine a scenario where there is a change in the test data for a specific test script. If the test data is stored and managed within a test management tool that is integrated with your automation framework, such a change won’t affect automation testers directly. This integration ensures that the automation team can easily update and manage the test data within the test management tool without making changes to the automation scripts themselves. Consequently, the maintenance process becomes significantly smoother and less time-consuming.
Use version control
Version control tools like Git can help you track changes to your test cases over time, allowing you to easily roll back to previous versions if needed. This can help simplify test maintenance and reduce the risk of errors or issues arising from updates.
Establish clear documentation and communication processes
Clear documentation and communication processes can help ensure that everyone on the team is aware of changes to the application and the impact on testing. This can help reduce the likelihood of issues arising from miscommunication and ensure that test maintenance efforts are coordinated and effective.
Keep a check on the performance during execution of test scripts to see whether they are of acceptable standards. Poor performance will lead to higher effort in fixing the scripts in the maintenance phase.
Overall, Test maintenance is a must-do in the software development journey. By keeping these tips in mind, you can make test maintenance less of a hassle and more of a breeze. The rewards? Better software quality, shorter development cycles, and a whole lot more confidence in your releases.
Dealing with test maintenance problems? Well, why waste time? Let’s team up and take your software to the next level!
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