3 Methods for Hands-free Continuous Testing

    Alex McPeak
    Alex McPeak

    This article was originally published on CrossBrowserTesting. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

    In order to strike the perfect balance between speed and quality, teams that hope to achieve Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery must also implement Continuous Testing.

    This is often easier said than done. It’s virtually impossible to have your team running tests at every moment — they do have lives outside of work after all, and it can be difficult to put dinner on the table while running a Selenium script at the same time. So how do you run your scripts, even if you aren’t at your desk?

    Fortunately, there are various hands-free options for continuous testing that you can implement, which will keep tests running for you while you eat, sleep, or maybe even get some exploratory testing done.

    Why Continuous Testing

    What’s the point of continuous testing? There are a few major advantages that will enable you to achieve more in your day-to-day.

    • Test while you sleep – With continuous testing, you can literally test in your sleep. By setting tests to run overnight, you can experience the luxury of coming in the next morning to have your test results waiting for you and knowing with a glance whether they passed. Just ask America’s Test Kitchen about how convenient it is.
    • Keep up with Agile, DevOps and CI/CD – When software development teams are constantly integrating, you need a testing strategy to ensure those new features, fixes, and changes are put through the quality process, no matter how frequently they’re implemented. Continuous Testing is the only way QA teams can keep up with constantly changing features, frequent integrations, and fast workflows.
    • Catch bugs in each regression – When there are constantly small changes to an application’s code, it can break something that was previously functioning. And you don’t want your customers to be the one to catch it. Continuous Testing will help you be first to spot new bugs, so you can quickly debug and release to users with confidence.
    • Level up your automation game – Automate your automation with continuous testing, and set your tests to run as often as you need. Then come back to test results or screenshots that tell you exactly what you need to know about the health of your applications. Plus, testing in parallel allows you to further accelerate Continous Testing to increase browser coverage without compromising runtime.

    Continuous Testing With a CI Server

    Selenium WebDriver has long provided teams with the ability to automate tests across browsers. But in order to run those tests continuously, a Continuous Integration tool such as Jenkins, VS Team Services, Buildbot, Bamboo, CircleCI, TravisCI, Codeship, or TeamCity is needed.

    By far, the most popular option is Jenkins, an open source automation server written in Java. In fact, according to the SmartBear 2018 State of Testing Survey, 66 percent of participants choose Jenkins to be their CI server. For development teams adopting Agile and DevOps workflows, Jenkins is a reliable tool for continuous integration and delivery.

    But what about testing teams that want to leverage Jenkins for Continuous Testing with Selenium? The CrossBrowserTesting integration with Jenkins lets you run automated functional tests with Selenium, Appium, and visual screenshot tests, which means that every time you run your build process, you can simultaneously run your testing suite across thousands of browsers.

    This is ideal for teams that already work with Selenium and a CI tool for deployment to start testing on a continuous basis. While Jenkins tends to be the most popular choice for CI and automated test scheduling, CrossBrowserTesting also integrates with TeamCity and VS Team Services, so no matter what tools you’re already using, it’s easy to integrate CrossBrowserTesting into your current workflow.

    Continuous Testing With a Record and Playback Tool

    For teams that may be less familiar with Selenium but still wish to automate, a record and playback tool might be a more practical option.

    Record & Replay enables teams to achieve automation across browsers, just like they would with Selenium, without requiring knowledge of scripting and frameworks. This has provided teams with a more accessible option for less technical team members, or those who are just getting started with automation, to create automated tests. As tools like Selenium IDE and its alternatives are brought back into the spotlight, these options are becoming more and more attractive to modern testing teams.

    But where record and playback tools will normally only run the test once to check if the test passes, how can testers implement Continuous Testing?

    With new Scheduling in CrossBrowserTesting, you can schedule a Record & Replay suite to run as often as you need them. For organizations that have less technical testers, this allows you to achieve continuous testing without requiring the skills to run Selenium and Jenkins or another automation server.

    Continuous Screenshot Testing

    Teams that solely focus on functional testing without incorporating visual testing will be disappointed when all their tests pass and users are still pointing out visual bugs.

    When visual elements can change from browser to browser or device to device and make the user’s experience difficult or impossible while still functioning correctly, it’s important to run compare screenshots in regression. Comparing these pages side by side and with their historical versions means you can be more aware of changes that break the application in order to debug before they reach the end user.

    While you could always run automated screenshots in CrossBrowserTesting, it required a manual motion to rerun those tests on a certain cadence. You can now set those screenshot tests to run with the new Scheduling feature, just like you can with Record & Replay.

    Continuous Testing for Every Team

    No matter what tools you’re already using, what technical level you’re at, or how far your team is in their test automation journey, there are options to help every team achieve continuous testing in CrossBrowserTesting.

    With options to schedule tests with Selenium, Record & Replay, and automated screenshots, you can take your automation to the next level and receive test results through email or Slack on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis that you decide.

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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Hands-Free Continuous Testing

    What is hands-free continuous testing?

    Hands-free continuous testing is a method of software testing that allows for constant, automated testing of a software product. This method is designed to provide immediate feedback on the functionality and performance of a software product, without the need for manual intervention. It involves the use of automated testing tools and frameworks that can execute test cases and report results in real-time. This approach helps in identifying and fixing bugs early in the development cycle, thereby improving the quality of the software product.

    How does hands-free continuous testing differ from traditional testing methods?

    Traditional testing methods often involve manual processes where testers write and execute test cases. This can be time-consuming and prone to human error. On the other hand, hands-free continuous testing automates these processes, allowing for more frequent and accurate testing. It provides immediate feedback, enabling developers to quickly identify and fix issues. This not only saves time but also ensures a higher level of software quality.

    What tools are commonly used for hands-free continuous testing?

    There are several tools available for hands-free continuous testing. Selenium is a popular tool for automating web applications for testing purposes. Azure DevOps is another tool that provides a set of development, testing, and deployment tools that can be used for continuous testing. Other tools include Jenkins, JUnit, and TestNG. The choice of tool depends on the specific requirements of the project.

    How does hands-free continuous testing improve software quality?

    Hands-free continuous testing improves software quality by enabling early detection and resolution of issues. By running tests continuously, it provides immediate feedback on the functionality and performance of the software. This allows developers to quickly identify and fix bugs, resulting in a more stable and reliable software product.

    What are the challenges of implementing hands-free continuous testing?

    Implementing hands-free continuous testing can be challenging. It requires a significant investment in terms of time and resources to set up the necessary tools and frameworks. Additionally, it requires a shift in mindset from traditional testing methods to a more proactive, continuous approach. However, the benefits of improved software quality and faster development cycles often outweigh these challenges.

    Can hands-free continuous testing be used for all types of software?

    While hands-free continuous testing can be beneficial for many types of software, it may not be suitable for all. It is most effective for software that is frequently updated or has a high level of complexity. For simpler software or software that is not frequently updated, traditional testing methods may be more appropriate.

    How does hands-free continuous testing fit into the DevOps approach?

    Hands-free continuous testing is a key component of the DevOps approach. DevOps emphasizes the integration of development and operations teams, and continuous testing plays a crucial role in this. By providing immediate feedback on the functionality and performance of the software, continuous testing allows for faster development cycles and improved collaboration between teams.

    What skills are required for hands-free continuous testing?

    Hands-free continuous testing requires a strong understanding of software development and testing principles. It also requires proficiency in using automated testing tools and frameworks. Additionally, it requires the ability to analyze test results and identify issues. A background in software development or testing is often beneficial.

    How can I get started with hands-free continuous testing?

    To get started with hands-free continuous testing, you will first need to choose the appropriate tools and frameworks for your project. You will then need to set up these tools and create automated test cases. It may be helpful to seek guidance from experts or use online resources to learn more about the process.

    What are the future trends in hands-free continuous testing?

    The future of hands-free continuous testing is likely to be shaped by advancements in technology. This could include the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate more complex testing tasks. Additionally, there is likely to be a greater emphasis on integrating continuous testing into the entire software development lifecycle, rather than just the testing phase.