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March 10, 2022 · 5 min read

Software Automation Testing

The goal of any test is to make sure that the software meets the user’s needs. When it comes to building and implementing software, engineers and architects at any level must take care to ensure that the characteristics of the system have been taken into consideration based on the needs of the client.

Before jumping into automation testing, we need to understand all types of testing. First, we need to understand the purpose of specification requirements. Specification requirements are included in a system to  describe the software characteristics that the client needs. To deliver the right software or product to the client, verification and validation (V&V) are essentials during the software development cycle.

Why do we test? 

Note that many organizations have failed with their information systems management for the sole reason that the software or product does not test enough of the specifications (black box) or the code (white box). Maybe the technical requirements are not well-defined enough to imply that the code failed on the User Acceptance Test (UAT), because the code does something different. Based on sequential or parallelism programming, some tests always fail, or their likelihood of occurring is extremely low. Today, software leaders must focus on this critical phase at a higher level.

Any software engineer or architect should understand and master these two terms:

  • Verification: building software or a product that conforms to its specifications
  • Validation: the software meets user requirements

Software development is a demanding task. There are many factors that the software team should consider during the development process. Of course, there are many positions in the software development process, starting with the product owner, passing from business analyst to tech lead, or a solutions architect via engineers and developers. Each of them has a specific role during the software process. The business defines its needs, and the business analyst tries to understand these needs and define the specification for approval by the product owner. This process is called requirements specification, and it is a crucial step. If the specification is not aligned with the client’s needs, it is a failed product. For this reason, developers need to have a clear specification requirements document translated by experienced architects that may be implemented in a specific language (i.e. Java, C#, C++, Angular, React, etc.). If specifications are made entirely by junior developers and young engineers, the risk of losing the entire project is high. Who is qualified to define this specification with the client or product owner? An experienced tech lead serves as a strong facilitator, advocator, and motivator that can land this and make it available to the engineers and developers to serve in the implementation stage.

Why focus on testing?

To detect software defects, we need to apply techniques that can check the whole system (the code, in this context): compiler, processor, network devices, and loader. This is the best way to accordingly assess a system behavior. Still, a test is always incomplete, in my opinion. Depending on system complexity, we need to see testing at different levels. For example: 

  • Unit test: testing individual classes and functions
  • Integration Test: testing packages/subsystems
  • System test: testing the entire system with all components

Now, how can we ensure that the coding is a copy of the specification as-is in another format?

Until fairly recently, the Software Automation Test was the way to detect bugs in programming. Once developers completed the implementation of classes or packages, they usually made a primary test to see if they worked or not. However, there are a lot of things to take into consideration regarding the code they produced to make sure that it’s strong enough to operate in the real world.

Why do we need software to test other software that is under construction?

The answer to this question is critical: The software tester itself could generate unreliable results that could potentially diminish the software or product procured for the client.

How might we avoid bias during this automated process?  

This answer is hard to confirm, because testing is a little bit tricky. When we use a plan for UAT, we’re dealing with humans to see if all functions work properly from the client’s perspective. When we use automation testing, the system validation–the software built for that purpose—should be trusted not only by vendors or programmers, but also through experience, such as when using JUnit or unittest. Let’s look at a scenario that describes an automation test. We select a class or package to test via a well-designed plan and specify the input to test the methods and objects of this class–let’s say we use Python’s introspection. We then import a module based on a string input that we obtain from Lambda function definition. Similarly, after we import the module, we confirm that the function is callable and has the appropriate arguments for a Lambda function. At this point, we have confirmed that we’ve correctly “wired in” a function handler. Separately, we would expect another set of unit-tests that verifies the correctness of the handler itself. A flaky test may result in something totally inadmissible and generate a crazy result that should not be acceptable as a string input.

In conclusion

Administering an effective test automation is much easier said than done. Automation testing can only show the presence of errors in a program. It cannot demonstrate that there are no remaining faults, even with a well-designed approach. Test-first development is an approach to development in which tests are written before the code to be tested. Small code changes are made, and the code is refactored until all tests execute successfully. With the right investments, you can overcome these challenges and avoid the costly expense of testing.

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