Repairing a Broken Test Automation Solution: Part One – Audit trail, Technical and Scalability

If something is broken, we fix it. If we don’t know how, then we take the time to learn and develop our skills. That’s the exact mindset every developer, QA, or tester should have when it comes to repairing a broken test automation solution, as maintenance and consistency needs to be at the forefront of everything we do.

Our previous blogs have looked at how test automation adds value to your business, and the importance of regular health checks to keep test automation solutions running smoothly.

In our next two articles, we’ll look at the necessary ingredients for a good test automation solution health check, to keep your solutions truly enterprise-strength.

What does ‘good’ look like?

Well, there are many different tools on the test automation market these days and they all work in different ways – but it’s still possible to create a picture of what ‘good’ looks like based on some general principles.

Test Automation Maintenance

No matter what tools and technology you work with, these fundamentals stay the same and make sure you have everything necessary in place.

Today we’ll look at the first three of six major areas to work on, in order to improve the automation solutions you have in place…

1. Audit Trail

First up, let’s start with naming conventions for your test cases. It’s good practice to use a simple, intuitive naming convention for all your test cases, and make sure anyone can understand, follow and use it.

Naming your test case ensures traceability through from design to execution. This also applies to the tags you use in tools like Cucumber to group tests together – be sensible and consistent, and auditing will be easier later.

2. Technical

Treat your test automation code as equal in importance to the application code it’s proving. Bad code creates more problems than it solves:

• Poor code fails regularly
• Complex code is hard to maintain
• Code quality can affect whether a solution is fit for purpose at all

Follow best practice in design principles and patterns to make sure code is consistent and correct. Simple, clean and modular code is much easier to maintain.

Where to execute code

Where will you run your tests once they are developed? Consider virtual machines, remote machines and Selenium grids where you can execute tests without tying up valuable time on your main development machines.
Make sure your test automation is portable, so you can execute it against different test environments and on different servers and machines. Think about the specifics of certain environments, such as users, passwords and URLs, along with local performance when running the test.

Streamlining code with global methods

Using global methods can optimise your test code. This kind of modular programming means that if a method needs to change, it is a relatively simple task to edit one section of code.

In contrast, if you duplicate methods to multiple locations in your codebase, you create several potential future problems:

• Large increase in future maintenance and editing time
• Multiple identical methods that must be edited to make a single change
• Easy to miss a minor edit when making future changes

Anyone who works in programming knows it’s easier to write good code than it is to edit bad code – so keep to the principles of clean, clear and modular test code to save on future headaches.

3. Scalability

Scalability is not one issue, but several, from design right through to implementation. During development, it’s important to make sure multiple people can work on your codebase at the same time without undoing each other’s work.

You can achieve this again by sticking to some basic principles:
• Implement version control to prevent work being erased and to allow rollbacks
• Avoid vast files and classes containing hundreds of thousands of lines of code
• Keep your codebase modular and organised so teams can work concurrently
• Write generic, flexible code that can be used across different parts of the framework
• Prevent and remove duplicated code to preserve scalability

This last point not only optimises and accelerates your codebase, it also helps to make sure your development team understand it, so that every person working on your code knows what every class and method is supposed to do.

Next Steps

With the three areas we’ve covered above, you should have clean, scalable code that adheres to best practice in technical terms and reduces your future admin, auditing and maintenance burden.

In Part Two, we’ll look at three more areas where people often make mistakes in test automation solutions, the impact they can have, and how to avoid them – giving you a complete overview of the six most important guiding principles for effective test code development.

Are you in need of repairing a broken test automation solution? Then talk to the experts at Spike95 where we can get your business back on track with our quick start automation solutions to deliver the results you expect.

Drop your details below or book a time slot via our contact us page for a chat to see how automation can take your business to new heights!