Everyone can use a little help now and then, even software engineers. Automation has not left the Information Technology sector unaffected. In software development, test automation is used for authenticating the software using automation tools. The process of using automation tools to validate software is known as automation testing. Automation testing increases the development speed of your team. It improves productivity and software quality. 

After the software is developed or during the development phase, people in different teams have to test the software for bugs and then remove the bugs. This process used to be done by individual engineers, but now it is automated. Test automation helps you identify the bugs without having to do anything manually. However, you need a solid framework for the process to be completely automated. 

What is a test automation framework?

Test automation is a software engineering practice in which computer programs are written to execute automated test cases on various software. An automated test makes your testing process more efficient, which helps you catch an error earlier in software development. You do not have to manually test every software function because of automation. A test automation framework is a software used to automate the process of creating, executing, and measuring test scenarios. A test automation framework makes it easy for you to write computer scripts by abstracting common actions into reusable components that can be plugged into a design. 

Key components of a test automation framework

  • Systems and Teams- Systems here refer to the computer devices involved in the testing process. In any organization, testing is done in teams, and many people are involved in the framework
  • Test Scripts- Test scripts test each function of your code using a sequence of automated tests.
  • Tools- You need various tools to be able to create test scripts. A few examples are test automation tools, traffic generation tools, traffic monitoring tools, and support tools. Support tools include defect tracking and requirement analysis tools. Defect tracking tools automatically detect and report test cases that fail.
  • Data library- A data library is needed to be the building block of automated test scripts.
  • Budget- It refers to the total amount spent on developing the automation framework. It is usually best for teams to know the budget before developing an automation framework.

Types of Automation Frameworks

There is more than one type of test automation framework. The truth is that each project is different, which is why different frameworks suit the different projects. 

  • Linear Test Automation Framework- A linear test framework is an introductory-level automation framework that involved sequentially writing test scripts and running them. This type of framework is used to test applications that are not large in size.
  • Modular-Based Test Automation Framework- The application under this test is divided into multiple different modules and a test script is created for each module. 
  • Library Architecture  Test Automation Framework- The library architecture framework is similar to a modular-based framework but with additional advantages. In the library architecture-based approach, the common tasks in the application are grouped and recognized as functions. The grouped functions are stored in a library that facilitates their reusability across different scripts. If the application that you are making has similar functionality across parts then using this framework is going to have some great advantages. 
  • Keyword-Driven Test Automation Framework

This automation framework performs automation test scripts based on keywords that can be predefined in an excel sheet. Each action in the app has a keyword related to it. This automation framework makes it reusable since testers can use the same keyword in multiple scripts. This framework is suited if your team does not have much programming knowledge. On a regular basis you will need less programming knowledge but setting up the framework requires great expertise. 

  • Data-Driven Test Automation Framework 

Data-Driven Test Automation Framework allows a tester to create test automation scripts by passing the data in different tests. The data that you use in testing is fetched by XML files, excel sheets, and SQL databases. There is no better way to test your application other than by testing the functions with actual data. You will be able to execute a lot of tests in a short amount of time. The only shortcoming of this framework is that it requires a lot of technical expertise to set up. 

  • Hybrid Driven Test Automation Framework 

A hybrid test framework combines two or more of the available frameworks to get rid of the weaknesses of a framework and combine the strengths. 

Out of all the automation frameworks, the most popular ones are data-driven, keyword-driven, and hybrid driven. Before you choose the automation framework, that suits your assignment you should know the details of each type of framework. The type of framework that is best for you totally depends on the type of application that you are testing. 

How to audit your testing framework?

No team can audit the test automation framework without asking critical questions. When the answers to these questions are clear, you will have a clear picture of how to audit your testing framework. 

  • How easy is it to integrate your testing framework with existing tools? 

Some testing frameworks have APIs you can easily integrate with other tools. Your team may have to fix issues which another developer reports. In such situations, integration between the testing framework and other tools is useful. 

  • Is it easy to write test cases with the framework

Some frameworks make it easy for users to write test cases, while others make it a bit more difficult. Kindly ensure that your framework can handle any existing functionality you have in your project. Please find out how easy or difficult it will be to handle additional functionality without any external help from developers. 

  • Does the automation framework include any documentation? 

Before using the test automation framework, you should check out the documentation. The documentation is more like a guide on how to use it effectively to get the best results. It includes information like where to get updates from or add new scripts and its API. 

  • Does your testing framework have a community present? 

A community of users can be useful as users can test each other’s code and add new features. If you ever face an issue, your biggest chance of getting a solution is the community forum. Many users post their problems online, and others who have faced similar issues post the possible solution.

Practices for improving your test automation framework

You can follow a few steps to optimize your test automation framework. 

  • Ensure that the test automation has a highly functional reporting system. The user should be able to measure the test results properly. You will know how effective the framework is if you can gauge the test results. If the results are not what you expected, you can make the changes accordingly. 
  • When it is clear that you need to improve the framework, you should make a working plan that will be followed to do the same. Kindly associate tasks with each team member and prepare a process flow chart.
  • Perform a code review and identify the strengths of the test automation framework. After this, you can identify bugs in the framework and work on specific parts that need your attention. 
  • Use a consistent format for all your code reviews. A good format will help multiple people to review the same code base. You will be able to identify the parts that need improvement, but it is usually observed that teams do not effectively utilize the tools they have at their disposal. If you have been using a standard coding style, but have not achieved high efficiency with your current test framework, then it is time to consider making some changes. 
  • Kindly ensure effective communication between your team. If someone observes a need for improvement in the framework, they should be able to communicate it with other team members. 

Benefits of test automation framework

The main use of the test automation framework is to reduce the defect rate due to poor QA testing. When testers perform testing manually, they may be unable to identify defects due to system behaviour faults or wrong implementation. Such defects are easily identified when test automation is done. You can reduce errors by a large number when you automate most of the testing process. 

Testing Automation reduces the time it takes to launch your software in the market. Besides that, keeping the budget in control is also beneficial. While many people think that automation can increase the budget. However, it is always financially sensible to automate such processes in the big picture. If your testing process has been largely automated, your company does not have to invest money in hiring people who have to do it manually. 

You do not create great software by working hard, but you must work smart. When automating the testing process, you do not have to work hard regularly but work smartly once. When someone uses your software, they will not tolerate it if the experience is buggy. That’s why it is smart to identify the maximum number of bugs before launching your software. It is financially beneficial to release optimized software. Your team or organization should not hesitate to allocate funds for a test automation framework. 

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