Why You Should Use Test Automation in Web Applications

The majority of applications are created with the ability to be accessed through a standard Internet browser. Throughout the past several years, the growth of Web applications in almost every industry has led to a substantial increase in the need for powerful and effective testing solutions. The testing industry is filled with various tools and programs designed to review the code-level operation of an application. While important, it’s essential that an application is tested in a manner that closely replicates user interaction. Because of this need, many developers are turning to automation software as a means of testing application functionality and performance.

The advantages of testing automation through browser automation software are many. Perhaps the most important reason why a developer would turn to such a resource is its ability to execute a vast number of tasks without variation. In order to gain a full understanding of the functionality of an application, it’s essential the application is tested in a regular, uniform manner. For many years, developers had to rely on manual testing, which features a high error rate. Moreover, it’s nearly impossible for a human to go through hundreds of identical steps without making a mistake. In the realm of browser automation testing, this fear of variations is removed.

The exact benefits and advantages of browser automation testing solutions vary according to the user. This being noted, there are several universal reasons why you should consider adopting this testing method, these include:

  • Frequent, unwavering testing environments. Once a task is created, it may be implemented thousands of times without changing its steps. Therefore, developers are given a clear indication on how the application interacts on a large scale, and not in just localized tests.
  • Instant feedback regarding performance and reliability of the application. Because browser automation software is capable of executing a task thousands of times within a single day, developers are given near-instant feedback regarding application functionality and consistency.
  • Flexibility in test executions. Traditional automated testing requires a programmer to manually create test scripts. When the developer wishes to alter how an application is tested, the programmer was required to adjust script coding, which is time consuming and costly. Browser automation software provides an extreme level of flexibility in how tests and various tasks are executed.
  • Defect Identification. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy advantages of browser automation software testing for applications is its ability to catch various defects and errors that would otherwise be missed in manual testing. Because this software is capable of executing a massive amount of tasks in a repetitive manner, small defects in the operation of an application are highlighted as developers are given a broad scope of data, rather than a small snippet into application functionality.

Necessary Features of Browser Automation Software

Are you interested in streamlining your daily tasks and various testing approaches through browser automation software? While there are many software versions available to the general public, some are better suited for specific uses than others. Because of this, it’s imperative that you understand the purpose of this software and the tasks you’ll expect it to perform. However, there are several universal features you should look for when deciding which browser automation software is best for you.

Multiple Browser Support

In order to run functional tests or perform various tasks on multiple platforms, it’s imperative your browser automation software is compatible with the most popular browsers, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. This is especially imperative if you plan on using automation software to run functional tests based upon the user’s browser and operating system.

Automated Task Scheduling

While the actual tasks are automated, the ability for tests schedules to be automatically activated will save you even more time. When searching for a browser automation software, look for one that supports automatic task scheduling and the ability to run multiple tasks at the same time. This automated workflow will do wonders for the productivity of your staff – regardless of its purpose.

Automatic Task Creation

Traditionally, to run automated tasks, one must program specific scripts to be executed. Not only does this require a knowledgeable programmer, but since each task requires its own script, the script library can soon become dauntingly large and overwhelming. To remedy this situation, many of the latest browser automation software tools offer automation task creation. This feature typically involves activating a “record” function, which then records and stores all on-screen actions. At the completion of manually “walking through” the task, the recording is turned off and a task is created. Now, all system administrators have to do is activate this task and it can be ran according to the parameters you established. This is far easier than hard-programming scripts, and allows tasks to be easily manipulated as websites or applications change.

Diagnostic Reports

 Although browser automation software is not traditionally used as a means of testing the performance and functionality of a site – as there are many other tools available for such a job – it is an excellent way to test the user interface of a website. Because of this, it’s imperative that your software features diagnostic reports after each, or selected, tasks. Such reports allow administrators and QA testers to effectively identify issues within the functionality or the flow of a page. This increase in efficiency leads to faster bug-reports, and subsequent fixes.

Functional Testing with Browser Automation Software

Within the realm of website and application development, there is a wide array of testing that must be done. Although some of this testing is completed using specific software and tools, browser automation software has become one of the most effective ways to carry out a specific type of test known as functional testing. Also referred to as GUI testing, functional testing determines whether or not a website or application is performing as it should. While there are many techniques and methods one may utilize to carry out functional testing on their platform, the following is considered an effective way to utilize browser automation software as a means of testing website or application functionality.

Purpose of Functional Testing

 In order to understand how to carry out this test, it’s imperative administrator’s understand its primary purpose. In general, functional testing is used to ensure:

  • Dialog boxes are displayed and transmitting information in an accurate manner.
  • Icons and various toolbars consistently display in proper formats based upon browser and operating system.
  • Screen elements, such as text, images and videos, are properly displayed. Tests are done on multiple browsers, and hopefully, on multiple devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
  • Data is transferred in a complete manner. This form of testing ensures the UI is functioning properly, but also the underlining code and database communications are functional.

Tip #1 – Record Tasks and Review for Confirmation

It’s essential that all tasks and test are recorded for review. While many browser automation tools offer a reporting capability, it’s important to visually review the functionality and performance of specific page elements and applications. By reviewing recorded tasks, making necessary adjustments and modifications to task procedures is far simpler. Therefore, if you plan on using your browser automation software in this manner, make sure automated test scripts, keyword tests and low-level tasks can be recorded and stored for review.

Tip #2 – Utilize Object-Based Tasks

The primary goal of using browser automation software as a means of functional testing is to review the functionality of page elements in the same manner as actual users. Because of this, it’s imperative functional tasks are deployed using object-based actions. Traditionally, automation software relies on exact screen coordinates to begin a task. However, if the page or application changes, these coordinates are no longer applicable. Moreover, users interact with the pages via objects, not coordinates. Therefore, assigning specific objects, such as buttons or drop-down menus, helps create a more realistic insight into the actual functionality of your website or application.

How to Select the Best Browser Automation Software for Testing

Perhaps one of the most important steps when it comes to the development of a website or Web application is the testing phase. It’s throughout this phase issues, errors and bugs are identified, and subsequently corrected. While there are literally hundreds of different techniques and methods one may perform to test their website or application, browser automation solutions are quickly becoming some of the most in-demand and effective ways to continually test and monitor websites and applications. Because of its growing popularity within the IT world, selecting the best software can be difficult. However, the following tips are designed to help point you in the right direction, which may simplify this often daunting task.

Essential Browser Automation Features

Instead of creating a scenario-based list, uncovering the best browser automation software is accomplished by ensuring it has several features. While your specific needs when it comes to testing is the primary determining factor, the following features are considered universally valuable within this industry.

  • Multi-Platform Support - There are many browser automation tools that only support one type of platform or application. As a general rule of thumb, it’s essential to purchase a software that supports all the platforms your infrastructure currently utilizes or will utilize int he future. The software should support all major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Opera, Internet Explore, etc.) as well as multi-application codes (PHP, HTML5, ASP, AJAX, .NET, etc.).
  • Operating System Versatility - The most effective browser automation tools are those that are supported by a wide array of computer operating systems. Even if you’re not running the latest OS, make sure the software is compatible in case you upgrade in the future. Ensure the software features regular updates when newer operating systems are released.
  • Simple Automation Creation - The best browser automation software is one that’s designed to provide users with advanced-level capabilities without having to hold advanced-level knowledge. Therefore, it’s essential that the software be able to create automated tasks and tests without having to program its actions by hands. Before purchasing a software, ensure the user interface is easy-to-understand. This is essential if staff members with limited education on browser automation are involved with its utilization.
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility - When testing websites or applications, it’s vital to review how the platform interacts with different Web browsers. Instead of having to manually open each browser and create an automation for it, the best browser automation software is able to unify all tests and automations across all installed browsers. This is essential when dealing with dynamic websites that feature a myriad of applications and complex page elements.