The significance of availing test automation services to build robust software and enable “quality at speed” has increased with a decrease in the delivery timelines. Additionally, the deployment of the Agile, CI/CD and DevOps methodologies require the adoption of efficient, accurate and fast software testing methods.
Today, the focus of automated software testing has changed. It is no longer used just to shorten the testing time or increase its accuracy. Most companies incorporate automated testing to ensure better test coverage and enhance the effectiveness of the test cases used. This is where test automation frameworks play a crucial role.
What is a Test Automation Framework?
Generally, a framework refers to certain set guidelines that when followed, ensure beneficial results. A test automation framework also refers to set guidelines like test data handling, object repository treatment, coding standards etc.
However, this conceptual framework exclusively deals with the design and creation of test cases to produce beneficial results like:
- Enhanced code reuse
- Reduced script maintenance
- Higher portability etc.
These guidelines are not mandatory for testers to follow. Nevertheless, those that do, make better use of their resources. Thus, the benefits ensure their use in test automation services.
The test automation framework is neither a single tool nor one single process but rather a collection of several tools and processes working together to ensure:
- Efficient designing and development of test scripts required to enable automated testing
- Increased accuracy of bug or error detection in the AUT
- Enhanced test execution speed
- Delivery of quality products
- Higher ROI
To perform the above, a test automation framework integrates a variety of hardware and software resources like test data, reusable modules, libraries etc.
Importance of Test Automation Framework
Test automation framework is now an integral part of all Agile and DevOps practices. Their incorporation stems from their ability to create and configure test suites. This is done by using different combinations of automated tests and ensuring their proper execution.
Effectively this framework supports rigorous functional testing by shortening the design time. They bring consistency of automation that ultimately results in increased developmental activity across organisations.
Some of the important benefits that make the test automation framework an indispensable part of the testing process are:
- Enhances efficiency by reusing codes and components to design and develop automated test suites
- By providing a concrete development methodology, it ensures design uniformity across test scripts thereby reducing individual test case dependency
- Keeps human intervention to the minimum for the AUT yet ensures uninterrupted test automation services
- Ensures accurate bug and issue detection and delivery of proper RCA
- Automatically selects the execution test based on the available team scenario thereby reducing team dependence
- Can refine test scope dynamically based on changes occurring in the test strategy or the condition of the AUT
Different Types of Automation Testing Framework
While test automation frameworks have undergone significant evolution over the past few years, the ones that are actively in use are:
1. Linear Scripting Framework
Also known as the record and playback mode, it is popularly used for testing small applications. No custom codes need to be written; hence test automation expertise is not required. It is characterised by individual test-script creation and execution.
This automated scripting is incremental and, thus, each new iteration is added to the automated tests. However, since the data is hardcoded within the test script, it is impossible to re-run test cases with multiple sets. Hence, every time data is altered, changes in test scripts need to be made.
This is more of an obsolete solution now, except for in some very primitive instances of automating small and minimal use applications.
2. Modular Testing Framework
This framework is conceptualised on abstraction. Software testing is done by developing independent test scripts. Components that need to be hidden from the AUT are concealed by building an abstraction layer. Thus, if any other part of the app is changed, the underlying components remain unaffected.
Additionally, as the name implies, a tester creates module-wise test scripts. Thus, based on the client’s requirements, the whole app is broken down into smaller modules and tests scripts are individually written for each module.
This test automation framework makes test scripts easy to maintain and scalable. However, additional time is required to analyse individual test cases and identify reusable flows.
3. Data-driven Testing Framework
The input and expected output get stored in a tabular format in a separate file. The biggest advantage of this framework is that one single driver script executes all test cases using multiple data sets. Both reading of the data files and logging of information regarding test status is done by the navigation contained within the driver script.
This navigation spreads out to cover the whole program. However, this is one of the more advanced test automation frameworks and hence requires testers proficient in multiple programming languages to implement properly.
4. Keyword-driven Testing Framework
Also called the table-driven testing, the suitability of this test framework is restricted to small apps or projects. It is an app-independent framework and utilises keywords and data tables to explain actions that the AUT has to undergo.
Thus in this framework, the code can be reused as a single keyword works with multiple test scripts. However, this test automation framework has a high initial set-up cost and is quite complex and time-consuming.
5. Hybrid Testing Framework
As the name suggests, this framework is a fusion of the data-driven and keyword-driven test automation frameworks. The tests are scripted and combine a variety of end-to-end testing approaches.
It is also considered the ideal framework as it increases productivity and has a relatively better success rate. Over time and after executing test scripts for multiple projects, most frameworks evolve to become a hybrid testing framework.
6. Test-driven Development Framework or TDD
This technique uses automated unit tests to create and design the software, thereby separating it from discrepancies. Traditional testing methods could only find defects but TDD:
- Increases test speed
- Ensures that the system is working properly
- Instills confidence that the system meets the required criteria and shifts quality left in the engineering cycle
7. Behaviour-driven Development Framework or BDD
This is a derivation of the TDD framework approach. Herein tests are driven by system behaviour and hence more focused. The fact that testers can even use simple English to create test cases is its biggest advantage. Thus, even non-technical people can analyse and understand them.
The choice of the best automation framework for executing superlative test automation services has to be appropriately done so that automation benefits can be maximised. In fact, when the right automation testing tools are used, quality products are delivered at speed.
Popular Test Automation Tools
As more software developers understand the importance of automation testing tools in the SDLC, they start looking for the ideal choice of tools. Some important and popular test automation tools set to create an impact in the year 2021 are:
This most popular and widely used automation framework tool improves test productivity by increasing code readability. Made for automating web app testing, Selenium is open-sourced, can be executed using multiple OS and browsers and supports a wide array of programming languages.
It is the best available tool for creating advanced complex automation scripts. By supporting parallel test execution, it helps to reduce test execution time.
This open-source automation-testing tool is primarily used for mobile apps. It supports the automation of all hybrid, mobile and native web apps built for both the Android and iOS operating systems.
- It can be easily set-up and used
- It tests all mobile apps irrespective of its language and framework
- Native apps can be tested without SDK or recompiling
- Uses a WebDriver protocol to drive Windows, Android and iOS apps
3. Katalon Studio
This is touted as a complete test automation solution since it supports test automation services for the development of both web and mobile apps. Working on top of Appium and Selenium, it also enables integration with varied tools like Git, Slack, qTest, JIRA etc.
Katalon Studio is a robust, stable, popular and versatile test automation tool that runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows. It boasts of hundreds of keywords built-in to create test cases. It is easy to use and testers with even the minimum programming skills can use this automation tool.
Another open-source automation tool, Cucumber is based on the BDD framework and offers support for several languages. Supporting only web app development, this automation tool aims to deliver a superlative end-user experience.
It uses Gherkin, a simple English font, to write its test codes, which, are then, executed using different frameworks. It also provides support for languages like Java, Ruby, Scala etc.
5. HPE UFT
This automation-testing tool from Hewlett Packard is undoubtedly the best cross-platform multi-platform supporting tool available. By bringing developers and testers on the same platform, it helps to provide excellent testing solutions. This, in turn, reduces the complexity of functional testing and makes it cost-effective.
It can automate an immense variety of development environments and is compatible with varied software testing types. Regression and functional testing can also be performed using the HPE UFT provided a user interface like a web interface, or native GUI is present.
A plethora of test application tools is available, apart from the ones mentioned above. However, the ultimate choice of the test automation services framework depends on the business requirement. However, irrespective of the test automation framework or tool used, the aim is always to deliver bug and issue-free quality products at speed.