Automated Software Testing Types, Tools and Best Practices

Automated Software Testing Tools and Best Practices
Automated Software Testing: Types, Tools and Best Practices

According to estimates by International Data Corporation, there are 18.5 million software developers in the world (as of 2014). These professionals develop a large number of programs on a daily, monthly and annual basis, and consequently there is constant need of testing these programs.

Software Testing is the process of validating and verifying that the application or software program performs the technical and business requirements that guided its design and development. It can also be considered as an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the product or service under test.

Software Testing Types:

Software applications are subjected to different types of tests to achieve various objectives:

  • White box testing
  • Black box testing
  • Functional Testing
  • Unit Testing
  • Integration Testing
  • System Testing
  • Stress Testing
  • Regression Testing
  • Performance Testing
  • Usability Testing
  • Acceptance Testing
  • Beta Testing

Software Testing Methods:

These above types of tests can be performed by two methods:

  • Manual testing
  • Automated testing

Manual testing is a testing procedure where the human tester manually checks software for defects. Here the tester plays the role of end user and uses all features of the application to confirm correct behavior. There is often a written test plan followed by checking of important test cases.

Automated testing, on the other hand, employs software tools to execute pre-scripted tests on a software application. Here automated tools run tests that repeat predefined actions and confirm the developed program’s probable and real results.

Difference between Manual Testing and Automated Testing

Manual Testing

Automated Testing

Manual testing serves the purpose when test needs to run only once or twice Automated testing serves the purpose there is need to execute the set of test cases repeatedly
Manual testing is useful in executing test cases the first time When code changes frequently, automated testing is useful in catching regressions in a timely manner
The reliability and repeatability of manual testing are less Automated tests perform same operation precisely each time and ensure high repeatability, thus offering high reliability
Separate testers are required for simultaneously testing on different machines with different OS combinations, which increases cost Automated testing can be carried out simultaneously on different machines with different OS platform combinations

The testing technique employed for a particular application depends on multiple factors including cost, time, quality and reliability. For tests that have to be swift, transparent and repeatable, automated testing becomes the natural choice.

Automated Software Testing Applications

Automated testing can be applied for different types of programs:

Automated Web Testing

Automated web testing tools are software that focus on testing web applications. Complete testing of web based system is required to address concerns such as user data security and performance based on traffic before actually going live. Following are some testing softwares –

  • Selenium
  • Watir
  • Webload
  • Windmill
  • Ranorex
  • Sahi
  • Tellurium
  • QF-Test
  • SoapUI

Automated GUI Testing

Since 2010, the most popular GUIs that people are familiar with are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, and Firefox OS. GUI testing tools help in automated testing of the user flows and journeys in software and applications that are meant for these platforms. These software tools ensure that the application meets its specification through use of test cases. To generate a set of test cases, test designers attempt to cover the entire functionality of the system.

Following tools have been found to serve the purpose of building and executing automated GUI tests effectively:

  • Squish
  • TestComplete
  • Telerik Test Studio
  • eggPlant
  • HP WinRunner
  • Unified Functional Testing (UFT) previously named HP QuickTest Professional (QTP)
  • AutoIt

Automated Unit Testing

Unit testing frameworks are software applications that can be used by programmers to test any specific functionality in application and libraries. Accurate unit testing enables code to be changed more easily, with confidence of outcome and fewer risks. The following are popular unit testing tools that are used by enterprises:

  • NUnit
  • JUnit
  • TestNG
  • PHPUnit
  • Symfony Lime
  • Test::Unit
  • Rspec

Automated Integration Testing

While Unit testing deals with testing cases in isolation, integration testing or API testing combines individual software modules and tests as a group. The purpose is to ensure that a set of functions and classes can work together, with data being successfully passed from one to the other.

The following are popular automated integration testing tools:

  • Jbehave
  • Ciitrus

Best Practices of Automated Software Testing

Automated testing is beneficial for multiple reasons but in order to get maximum benefits out of automated testing, one needs to follow certain best practices. A few of them are listed below:

1. Decide what cases to automate

There are certain tests that are better done manually. Before going for automated testing, check that the test is suitable for automated testing. A risk-based approach can be used to identify the most important business cases and scenarios.

2. Design tests before automating

Good test design helps in identification of maximum defects and so designing of tests should be done with utmost care and diligence.

3. Test early and regularly

Start testing as soon as possible. Early testing allows for early identification of bugs, which is both easier and more cost-effective to fix in the long run. Further, in order to have best results, testing needs to be repeated regularly.

4. Select the appropriate automated testing tool

There are a number of automated testing tools available in the market, and so it becomes important to choose the appropriate automated testing tool that best suits your overall requirements.

5. Create good quality test data

For effective use of an automated testing tool, it is essential that the testing tool is able to interpret and iterate the contents of the data files. Creating test data for automated tests is tedious, but one needs to invest time and effort into creating well-structured data. This will ease the process of writing automated tests.

6. Use test techniques: Testing techniques, such as equivalence partitioning, state transition testing, pairwise testing, decision-tables, boundary value analysis, can be leveraged for automated testing.

7. Automate only stable functionality: If a feature is subject to change or rendered inapplicable due to changing business decisions, the effort of implementing test automation will go waste. It is best to automate the functionality once it has been stabilized.

Through automated testing tools and methods, businesses can derive a number of benefits, including improved test speed and efficiency, enhanced software application quality, reduced costs, and shorter time to market.


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