24 September, 2018

Are you fed up re-running regression tests?... Why not try automation?

Automation#The Question

So, you're fed up re-running your regression suite every week. What are you going to do about it?

We could have passed this to our automation colleagues but since we had some time available we instead decided to take on the task of learning the fundamentals of automation and apply it to web based applications that we would be testing using everyday windows OS workstations. Sometimes working things out for yourself is the best way to learn.

Our first question was... what's out there, where do we start?

Initially our expectations were to install a single self-contained application, however in our case the reality was we required a core application supported by a selection of 3rd party tools/libraries. 

#The Investigation

On investigation, we discovered there are a myriad of freely available tools that would be suitable for automating web based applications. So, which ones were best for us? We opted to go with a selection of popular applications that have rapidly become accepted across the industry, small and large businesses alike. Our aim was to learn automation from the ground up using a coding language rather than from a recording tool. On this basis we opted for Selenium, Eclipse, JUnit and Java. Not only are they popular but each of the tools are cross platform compatible & widely supported.

#The Installation

We found the installation of the apps to be a bit like receiving a new mobile phone, minimal instructions provided and fair bit of head scratching to figure it out. Eventually it fell into place with a helping hand from the internet.

Installation and configuration complete, we set about our first task, “Login to a web app”... or so we thought.

Our actual first task ended up being establishing which web browser(s) we would be testing with. We discovered that each browser requires a different WebDriver to allow it to function within the Selenium framework. Only after downloading and making references to the appropriate drivers could we then launch our desired browser with an URL.

#The Java Coding

Having successfully compiled our Java code to login to the web page, there was an obvious sense of anticipation to see if our code would perform the actions we wanted.

Happily, we watched our workstation perform the login without a hitch... to see your code execute successfully is immensely satisfying, even for the most basic of tasks. The more complicated our automated tasks became the greater the sense of achievement.

#The Conclusion

So, what have we learned?

Initial set up was more involved than first expected but still within the capabilities of a competent user.

Does it save time? In our opinion, yes it can! Where you are running a regular regression pack that is time/resource intensive, then the initial setup and coding time are outweighed by the long-term time saving benefits.

Would we recommend it? Yes, from this experience we can see that automation is well suited to regression testing, in particular, within an agile development lifecycle.


By James Stone and Bruce Russell, Test Consultants, Edge Testing

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