Continuous delivery introduces new features into production on a continual flow, unlike the traditional methods, when pushing a change into the system could be spread over weeks or months.
The continuous delivery model requires a faster method of working, as well as improved quality, and to make this possible, continuous testing is also required.
How does Continuous Testing fit in?
Continuous testing is a combination of manual and automation testing which begins in the early stages of the project, and continues throughout the CI/CD pipeline. In continuous testing, all the testing activities run continuously in an integrated manner. A common misconception with continuous testing is that it requires a lot of automation skills, so manual testers falsely believe that adapting to continuous testing is difficult. Continuous testing involves a cultural shift where, although automation is used, it is not required for one-hundred per cent of the time and where it is used, it’s more about automating the process to obtain quicker feedback. Moving to continuous testing involves a mind shift where testers need to be involved right from the beginning and through every stage of the project.
The objective of continuous testing is to provide actionable feedback at the right time to the right stakeholders so ongoing decisions can be quickly made and releases can be delivered according to timescale.
Benefits to Continuous Testing
Continuous testing is useful for detecting bugs early in the development lifecycle, which reduces the risk of failure towards the end. The process supports the management of risks, improving the testing efficiency and overall implementing an effective testing process.
Challenges faced by Testers
Continuous testing offers enormous benefits to the overall application development, but at the same time brings extra challenges for testers. The traditional but less iterative waterfall model offers testers ample time to think, prepare and execute tests, but with the continuous delivery model, the expectations for delivering quality remains intact, but the total testing window is tighter and the requirement for the tester to be available throughout the project increases. Quick deployment, a swift review, and continuous feedback are what defines the continuous testing cycle.
Quick tips on how to define your Continuous Testing strategy
Even though many people understand the concept of continuous testing, what needs to be done to achieve continuous testing in a project can still be confusing to others. Some may already be using continuous testing in projects where Dev and QA work in parallel, but still have questions that need answering. Here are some quick tips that can ease in your transition.
Requirements Categorization – Not all business requirements have the same level of priority; some are important to the business, and are features that are simply good to have. Categorizing requirements into different categories helps testers to prioritize their test plan and helps them to give critical requirements a high priority.
Test Optimization – When tests are properly understood and optimized, unnecessary testing artefacts can be reduced, such as the creation of extensive test plans and test cases. This effect of this is that the scope of a regression test suite planned to be run each time a change is released is reduced. In continuous testing, testers receive frequent updates for review, so it is essential to know which set of test cases to run because the new, reduced time is not long enough to be able to run all the usual test suites.
Automated Testing – Continuous testing without automation is not possible, but knowing what and when to automate holds importance. Automation itself requires a certain level of effort to develop a useful state, so if the project is vast and has the bandwidth, then automating is justified. Basically, as part of continuous testing where testing needs to start early and often, API testing is the primary focus for all testers. Testing API takes prevalence over GUI testing, which helps testers in providing feedback to the developers at the right time.
Scalable Test Infrastructure – The need to test on multiple browsers and devices has become a fundamental requirement for all test methods, thus maintaining a test infrastructure which can scale up or down based on the coverage required, always provides a benefit and helps in achieving the objective of continuous testing. It is also recommended that continuous testing is conducted on data closest in similarity to the production. This is to isolate data issues which may occur when the same changes are pushed to production.
Using Tools – Demand creates supply, which is the same case when we talk of the tools available on the market for continuous testing. Each tool offers a varying set of features but the choice of tool for continuous testing must be based on the individual project requirement and compatibility.
Learning about continuous testing and being up to speed isn’t easy, but because continuous testing is the basis for continuous delivery, no one wants to be left behind in the skills race. The skills possessed by manual testers are never in vain but skills enhanced to support continuous testing will help sustain your career and help you to be more competitive in the jobs market.