The term CI/CD has firmly entered the world of engineering, leaving no doubt about its crucial importance for the smooth and agile development process. But what considers continuous testing, it’s still a new approach for many companies. Why continuous testing is better and how to implement it in the QA process? Read our new article right now.
What is Continuous Testing?
To be short, it is a form of automation testing, when you run your scripts continuously right in the process of coding an application, e.g. after every new build is added to the source code. Thus, when the new piece of code becomes available, such tests can check in several clicks whether the whole app is working as it should. And, if the test finds any troubles, you have an opportunity to fix them immediately.
This also means that continuous testing is a part of the CI/CD process, serving as a “quality gate” that makes sure the app meets the needed specifications and can pause the process before it comes to the deployment stage via DevOps if something goes wrong. If you don’t use this approach and immediately push your builds to the delivery process, then you could be deploying bugs into production, and both QA and development teams will have much more work to be done later.
Continuous testing was created as a way to reduce wait time on feedback about possible bugs and vulnerabilities and eliminate potential business risks at the release stage. It continues to move forward and advance as developers meet the challenges of creating more sophisticated programs in shorter delivery cycles. For example, DogQ is an automatic testing tool that checks at the release candidate stage (or staging in other words) whether the app is working properly in the given environment before the final release.
Benefits of Continuous Testing
In general, with continuous testing, you can easily detect and fix early-stage regressions, bugs, and potential vulnerabilities. Thanks to the continuous testing process you have your functional and unit tests running automatically after every piece of code, so you can focus on non-functional app requirements, such as security and overall app performance. If to talk about the list of benefits of continuous testing, here are the most prominent of them:
a) Build a complete test scenario in several clicks
CI/CD testing helps QA engineers quickly create scripts at every layer of the testing pyramid, from level unit tests to functional API and UI tests. As test scripts are built and run very fast, the engineering team gets almost immediate feedback and can identify regressions early in the development cycle.
b) Make testing stable, maintainable, and compatible with virtual environments
Continuous testing is agile and allows checking your code while running your test cases in parallel. This becomes extremely important now, when modern agile development processes demand shorter iterations and sprints, as well as adapting to the continuous updates in your application.
c) Ability to combine continuous testing with the CI/CD pipeline
One of the main benefits of agile continuous testing is the possibility of the testing integration right into the delivery pipeline and DevOps toolset. This can greatly optimize environmental and API tests execution and short release time of the application.
d) Quickly get valuable insights
To optimize the process of QA, you need to know what are your quality and security risks and where to focus your team. Continuous testing can quickly provide you with the analytics you need in all your scenarios, such as unit, functional, manual testing, and even code reviews, thus you receive the most valuable feedback in a short time. Plus, by using the analytics gained in your continuous integration and continuous testing pipeline and management systems like JIRA or Slack, you can monitor the progress at all stages of the development.
e) Optimize your QA process
The continuous testing approach allows the QA team to optimize the whole testing strategy via creating a dedicated library of tests that can cover the full application testing with a minimal span, giving a better understanding of the big picture.
How to Implement it?
The main goal of CI/CD testing is to complete all the testing scripts during the development stage, collecting as many relevant insights as possible. Below we present a common scheme that will help you to implement a continuous testing framework into your project:
- To get the best result and minimize the possible risks, your DevOps team should create and organize scripts and environments for running automatic unit tests. For this purpose, they use service virtualization to isolate the needed system component, and to remove performance bottlenecks in the infrastructure, so that developers and testers could analyze the insights gained;
- Then QA engineers write the needed test scripts for the engineering team to run;
- After that comes the unit testing itself, which is done by the developers. After the developer finishes the code, he or she is guided through the test scenario that was created by testers in the previous phase and runs all the needed tests;
- Next, we proceed to the service testing, which consists of API testing, load testing, and stress testing, also performed by developers. They use the group of created API tests to load the needed section of the system;
- Then, your team needs to integrate running the performance tests into the agile continuous integration pipeline and make tests to implement continuously;
- The last stage is UI testing, which includes functional and integration testing. These tests usually run after the code is developed and released at some staging environment to make sure the app meets the SLA and continuous testing CPA requirements.
All the tests described in these 6 stages should be automated to decrease the wait time and make sure that the scripts can be easily repeated in multiple instances. In this process, you should strive for such a continuous testing framework, where the bottom is unit testing, and the top is your end-to-end UI testing optimization and not vice versa:
Strategies of Continuous Testing
Continuous testing falls into several interesting strategies that QA teams can adopt to perform continuous testing. Individually, each of these testing techniques and processes is quite valuable. Below we collected the most valuable of them, which allow quickly recognize and address any possible issues and bugs, so the application meets the SLA (service level agreement) and continuous testing CPA requirements. Choose one or two approaches and concentrate on them, incorporating these approaches end to end for a better result:
a) Requirements management (shift-left approach)
When engineers build an application, they do it according to the technical requirements and business expectations, and testing should follow the same approach: it’s better to build tests that are connected with the initial requirements. This will allow you to check if the app working as it should and, what’s important, see which parts of the app are malfunctioning, and realize which tests to focus on.
b) Automated code scanning
This is also called a static code analysis, which allows you to run spell-check on your code as soon as it’s written, economizing your time. In this agile continuous testing strategy, an automatic tool looks for bad patterns in the code, which can lead to bugs and defects, and engines them. Thus, you can see and correct all the problems before the code will be deployed.
c) Automated test running
When your application is built, its code is hidden, so the best way to test it is to validate its user inputs and interfaces. It means the use of UI, API, database, performance, and security testing types to be able to run all regression tests across the UIs. You can do it with the use of the functional tests, as they make it possible to validate that the whole app functions as it should according to SLA and continuous testing CPA requirements.
Why Continuous Testing is Important to DevOps
Speaking about continuous integration vs. continuous testing as separate processes, they have much more in common than different, so here we have additionally collected not strategies, but rather best practices on how to use continuous testing in the DevOps pipeline more effectively:
a) Simulation of the test environment
After your app is built, it should be deployed into a certain kind of environment and tested in it. Considering the recent rise of service-oriented architecture and especially microservices, distributed systems have now become a collection of small separate apps and endpoints that should work with each other, and you need a stable test environment with the needed dependencies to test an app. That’s why an environment simulation DevOps tool for continuous testing can drastically economize your time at this stage. With simulation, you can for example create digital twins of endpoints that are currently unavailable at the time you want to run your tests. What’s more, you can combine service virtualization with a DevOps pipeline, removing environmental bottlenecks to arrange dynamic test environments. Thus, you’re able to deploy a containerized environment, which has by and large simulated components, and focus on the app validation.
b) Well-set change management
Continuous testing allows to speed up all the development processes. But if moving faster, there’s a possibility of rapid changes that we don’t expect, and our CI/CD pipeline could break easily. If some app feature changes, we should quickly adapt our automated testing approaches and tools to prevent false-positive or, what’s worse, false-negative results. What’s why implementing change management tactics into the continuous integration and continuous testing is so important: it ensures that the results you’ve gained are valid.
c) Precise test data
Access to usable and safe test data is a critical enabler of continuous testing for DevOps. To build a scalable DevOps pipeline, you need to have a combination of realistic and/or synthetically generated test data that can be injected into your test automation so that you have enough data to perform the agile continuous testing that you want to achieve.
d) Getting continuous feedback
Getting valuable feedback is the last but not least meaningful puzzle of integrating continuous testing in the DevOps pipeline. Having continuous feedback, you combine the results from your automated testing with other quality-related metrics-requirements, API, and code coverage, and evaluate everything automatically. If the application works fine, then it is deployed to the next stage automatically, if it’s not, you can stop the process and fix all the issues. It saves tons of time and helps to make sure you follow the SLA agreement.
Continuous Testing Tools
Plus the mentioned methods, the continuous testing market is full of tools that can help development teams to implement and tune continuous testing into their workflow. Some of the more widely used tools for continuous testing include:
It is a free open-source server, which helps to automate the building, testing, and deploying stages of development. This continuous integration tool can do numerous tasks connected with completing testing automatically using the code that has already been created.
It’s a QA automation DevOps tool for continuous testing that doesn’t need coding. DogQ enables you to build automated testing scripts without a single line of code at the release candidate stage in the given environment before the final release. It helps to eliminate manual testing routine, increasing the speed and quality of the software development processes.
GitHub is a hosting service in a Git repository, handily storing test code, which allows testers, developers, and the rest of the team to collaborate and share insights in an agile manner.
A bit of Advice
In this article we described what continuous testing is, presented its types, and advised on possible strategies and tools for its implementation into your CI/CD pipeline, showing the possible advantages and differences between them. Although it’s a high-level view on the topic, we hope that it will help you to decide what fits you best and help to optimize your testing approach. You will succeed much more in this if you go deeper into one or two of the described strategies and implement them on your project, than if you try to implement everything at once.
Our expert team is always ready to consult you on any testing-related questions. Feel free to get a trial of DogQ automation testing tool. And if you want to read more articles like this, stay with us, and let’s plunge into the fascinating world of testing together!