Add From the Start: Software Test Automation
November 17, 2021

Rob Mason

In today's digitally driven work environment, leveraging technology to improve efficiencies is an essential component of any modern business. This is especially true for those in the business of software.

As a business's software development life cycle (SDLC) continues to speed up, and more code is developed and deployed at a faster rate, testing that code for quality to ensure optimal user experience is critical. The SDLC is also only growing more complex, so finding ways to simplify and automate wherever possible are critical too.

That's why a modern SDLC should start with software test automation.

Inclusive Automation

Software engineers are well-versed in inclusive or universal design, creating a product that is usable by as many people as possible. This should be applied to software test automation too.

Traditionally, a software developer uses code to script automation. Problems can arise with this approach when testers don't have the technical understanding to maintain these tests or grow the scale of these tests as the software pipeline expands. Starting with inclusive codeless automation solves this challenge by removing the complicated coding part of the process.

Facilitating Automation

Validating software on both web and mobile applications can create unique challenges for software test automation. To avoid issues, it's important to create applications with inclusive automation in mind, including details baked into your code.

■ Every element has a unique identifier. Software test automation should act on these IDs, not something else, such as position on a page in mobile vs. web. Unique identifiers enable automation to act and do its job.

■ Content descriptions are used to explain an element's purpose. This helps distinguish between UI elements. This also needs to be part of standard automation testing.

Identifiers and content descriptions are not optional for developers looking to implement functional and advanced testing automation that doesn't break.

Limits to Software Test Automation

Codeless automation can handle complex situations, but it has its limits. Some tests are still better to be done manually. For example, any tests that involve data from two separate sources (like from APIs, which are very common for apps today), make it difficult to automatically validate. This is because individual apps behave differently. Synchronizing two systems into one for testing is challenging for any type of automation, not just codeless testing.

The Potential of Software Test Automation

Software test automation can empower organizations and their software development. But it isn't always easily embraced or added. One big reason behind this is that developers don't want to stop developing new features to pay down existing technical debt. So areas like refactoring or desiloing are put off.

Performance will eventually suffer if technical debt isn't paid down. In the long run, pausing development progress to implement automation will be worthwhile. Advanced automation planning and strategy should go directly into your SDLC and be a consistent effort to identify app elements and improve automation around them.

Rob Mason is CTO of Applause
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