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Ways to improve test coverage
Everyone might have seen or heard about the famous series named “Money Heist”. The Protagonist, who calls himself as The Professor, manages to predict all the future events that might occur in his mission and formulates a plan well before the heist. The reason for him to pull of the heist was his insight into all the possible scenarios and covering them even before the actual problem arises. Without a proper understanding of the heist and the dangers involved, it would have had a big negative impact. By doing so, he was able to complete a certain quantity of tasks that meets the minimum criteria for his exit strategy.
Now connect this with the Software Industry. An application is being developed and is ready to be deployed into the real world. The testing team will take up the role of Professor to measure how much of their application is to be tested before the code is released. Measurements are built based on the determined requirements which can be compared to Heist’s expected outcome. By understanding the requirements, test cases can be formed in such a way that bugs are identified before release which can be compared to the Negative impact of the heist. These measurements are often captured as percentages that can be compared to the quantity of task. By covering the maximum percentage, the team ensures the quality is met for release that relates to the exit strategy of the heist. This ultimately defines the term Test Coverage that can be related to the Heist.
The terminology Test Coverage differs from the actual code coverage itself. We as a testing team are more concerned about this benchmark of a software product. The entire application is considered as One and quality testing is applied.
How to approach test coverage?
The important thing to keep in mind is that the approaches for test coverage differ from software to software. There is no fixed approach due to the agile nature of the market in recent years. Test coverage can be approached by considering the following two factors:
As a tester, the foremost objective should be to have enough information about all the business functionalities and their requirements. What the customer has and what he/she intended to achieve plays the biggest impact in formulating the test coverage.
With the Agile methodology booming up in the present software era, it has become a bare minimum criterion for the QA to stay updated with the current business process and to frequently stay in touch with the end users. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, the tester should take cognizance of the user experience and be able to adapt to these changes quickly and put themselves into the user’s shoes to effectively come up with a good amount of test coverage.
The traditional method of test coverage using manual testing has its own boon and bane. Test automation can be an exponential factor that provides us with the luxury of test coverage in such a way that testing can be done any time with less, even sometimes no human intervention.
Finding the right testing tool for the right software makes your work lighter and saves a lot of time. In recent years, many open/paid tools have been made available in the market to each target audience. These tools provide a wide range of features that help the testers as well as the company for quality assurance. These software testing tools can vary based on the requirements.
For example, when testing a web application, Selenium is the best open-source application widely considered. For mobile testing, Appium comes into play. Additionally, there are tools like Katalon, Cucumber, Tosca, Cypress that are gaining popularity in recent times. The point to be noted here is that this tool selection also depends on the project budget and availability of resources with the appropriate skills.
By considering the above factors and with my experience, I have listed a few notable ways that can be implemented in the testing process which has potentials to enhance the test coverage.
One of the major drawbacks in the real time scenario is that the QA team gets to know the functionality of the application only after the development. This limits the QA to formulate the test coverage based on the inputs from developers. But ideally the requirement gathering should happen directly from the BA or sometimes even from the end users to understand the full scope of the user stories. By doing so, precise functionalities can be concentrated for the testing, and increase the test coverage without writing any additional steps.
With the incorporation of BDD framework, the test scenarios that were once accessible only to the tech team are made aware to the entire business users. This is possible because rather than going for a usual, programming language we use Gherkin, plain English-like language to convey the test scenarios in a form of feature file.
These scenarios are then shared with the BA/ end users for review and based on their feedback, additional scenarios can also be included. These reviewed feature files can then be used as a reference for writing the automation test cases. Once these features are stable and automated, then regression test suite can be run with minimal/no human intervention.
Suppose we have a large pool of automated cases available, and the time taken to execute all those cases daily becomes a state of concern, we can introduce multiple thread counts. Using this, instead of running a single test case at a time, multiple test cases can be run in parallel thereby effectively reducing the overall execution time and utilize the excess time for additional test coverage.
Parallel testing can also be helpful for cross browser testing by verifying the application over a wide range of web browsers. For example, a test suite that would take two minutes for 15 browser combinations, (30 mins in total) can be executed in just 10 mins if we run it on three parallels simultaneously.
Automation tools can be introduced into the CI/CD pipeline for practically eliminating the human intervention of testing. Instead of taking snapshots manually and trying to edge out false positives, these tools can help capture screenshots, compare them against a baseline and highlight any changes. The pipelines can also be integrated with defect management tools to effectively track the bugs and raise a red flag whenever required.
Removing unused codes:
Over a period of time in a project, some of the functionalities might have been removed from the application. However, the automation codes that are written for those set of functionalities still continues to run unless it has been found and removed. These dead codes should be removed after ensuring that the functionalities will still continue to work as per the business requirements. This increases the test coverage by reducing the overall size of the package and also avoiding additional testing.
Maintaining a product backlog for automation:
Product backlogs in agile provide us with an overview of all the developmental work that is derived from the business requirements. In addition to the developmental tasks, automation testing backlogs can also be added with the knowledge of product owner. These backlogs should be created in such a way that all the possible scenarios are covered as individual tasks and are then ready to be picked up into the sprint.
The sprint team can then pick up the tasks from the backlogs based on priority and start with the automation. This collaborative process involving the product owner and scrum team increases the scope of precise scenarios being covered, paving a way to improved test coverage through automation.
Regression around leaked bug:
In case of a leaked bug into production, the first step is to include those tasks in the automation product backlog. Then ensure those are taken as the high priority tasks in the next sprint thereby eliminating the bug anytime in the future. In order to further strengthen the test coverage, it is always advisable to create automation cases around those leaked bugs as well to further expand the test coverage revolving the production bug.
Delivering a product with high quality is the QA Consulting team’s utmost important value. In order to make sure that the testing is at par, it is believed that a structured approach towards test coverage is a major factor in ensuring the software’s quality.
Our team at Zuci utilize these factors to the maximum extent in the early stage of the test plan and design the test coverage in such a way that it meets business standards and is on par with the market. These simple but effective techniques most likely provide an increased quality and a smoother delivery of the product.
We hope you found this blog post informative and useful. It was a collaborative effort, co-authored with Prithvi Raj
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