Java IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Automation Puts the 'A' in Agile Testing

Test automation delivers agile's promises

In the agile community there are many different opinions about the value of automated testing. While many argue about automation's place in agile, the business realities of geographic separation, multiple teams, and limited resources dictate a more pragmatic approach. The process of software delivery has always centered on the idea that teams must manage quality if they are to avoid operational risk. Since nothing about agile is pre-determined or dictated, it comes as no surprise that businesses are hesitant to implement it as a trusted business process. Using tools to automate a newly adopted agile process becomes yet another variable that can complicate business decisions around software delivery.

These fears need to be overcome - automated testing, when integrated into the development process in a practical manner, plays a critical role in helping companies support both new and existing processes. When investigating agile testing methods, guidelines and first-hand experience can help to ease concerns around automated testing methods in environments of all sizes. Test automation allows for increased flexibility and repeatability, delivering on agile's promise of increasing the efficiency and quality of software delivery - through it all, automation puts the ‘A' in Agile testing.

Automation & Agile Software Delivery
In the world of agile software delivery, requirements are raised, changed, and reprioritized in much shorter timescales, meaning the functionality must be delivered in less time, but must still be fully tested to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of end users and the business. In an agile process, testing is continuous and imperative, since features aren't "done" until all associated test cases pass. As software volume and complexity increases, it's clear that manual processes will fail to deliver the fast and repeatable results necessary to keep the promises of an agile proposition. Without the ability to automate and quickly repeat tests, quality will inevitably suffer as testing is marginalized to achieve on-time delivery.

Regardless of whether your development team is considering going agile, making the transition, or already operating in an agile mode, it's essential to consider how technology can support this new way of working - particularly in the area of testing. There's room for improvement in all major test processes including: test automation, test management, and requirements management.

In terms of challenges, those interested in implementing agile testing automation are facing a number, such as operating agile and traditional testing methods side-by-side, identifying tools that are usable and flexible enough for an agile approach, allowing specific non-technical and non-testing members to actively contribute to the testing process, enabling open source integration, and enabling test-driven (or model-driven) development. Overwhelming? Yes. Insurmountable? Definitely not!

Why Automated Testing for Agile Development?
Let's dive a little deeper into the reasons why testing needs to be automated in an agile delivery environment. The people involved in testing are part of the delivery team - not an isolated group that developers give the code to as a final step to release. Ideally, testers sit side-by-side with the developers, who, as they create code, pass it to testers early and continually throughout the process for evaluation against acceptance criteria. Since capability is built iteratively and the team needs to maintain velocity, the code assets have to be verified quickly. For agile to truly succeed, functional testing has to be quick, iterative, and responsive.

  • The Need for Speed: Accelerating the Code-and-Test Process - Automation enables testers to create simple, reusable scripts that they can deploy to save time and increase the consistency of testing across similar user stories, story points, or requirements in and across projects. Tests can be developed from the user story to drive the functional capabilities and then run rapidly and iteratively. The speed of automation significantly lightens the workload of testers and eliminates the need for late night and weekend testing marathons that can burn teams out.
  • The Need for Repeatability: Doing the Same Tests and Scripting Tests against the Right Acceptance Criteria - With agile development, regression testing should be done at the close of every new iteration - in some cases this means daily. Regression testing requires that 1) you do the same tests every time you test a particular piece of code and 2) that the test is scripted against the acceptance criteria of each respective user story. Whenever code changes (or is extended to include new capability), you need to rerun all functional tests for all user stories up to the latest change to ensure other user stories weren't impacted inadvertently.

Repeatability is nearly impossible to achieve with manual testing due to human error, variability, and inconsistency. People simply can't remember exactly which tests they ran for each piece of code for the last iterative cycle - and even one oversight can cause problems in the final code. Not to mention the fact that with large code bases the time needed to manually test usually exceeds the time allotted for the iteration. But with automated, repeatable functional and regression testing, one can execute tests consistently whenever necessary.

The automation element adds key benefits that can't be achieved with manual testing. For example, it can greatly accelerate the code-and-test process by supporting fast automated test scripts. Automation also ensures the repeatability of tests to maintain regression testing from sprint-to-sprint, iteration-to-iteration. It can also enhance test efficiency with robust yet flexible test management processes, helping customers avoid the inherent inaccuracies that manual processes inject in to the process.

Choosing the Right Test Automation Tools
Agile software delivery relies on the right mix of people, processes, and tools. The choice of testing tools becomes critical for reaping the efficiency and quality benefits of agile. One side of the coin shows that the manual testing processes popular with most businesses today can make it difficult - if not impossible - to implement and scale agile delivery methods. On the other side of the coin are those automated testing tools designed solely for use in traditional environments that force testers to work within a certain development practice to ensure test accuracy. With such choices, it's no wonder many companies fear adopting automated testing tools!

Time to trade in that outdated "coin" for real change: an agile delivery process requires a shift to truly agile testing tools. When researching tools for implementing automated testing, watch out for those that can only be initiated at defined points in the development process, require specific QA knowledge, or require that specific development practices be used to guarantee precision. Automated testing puts the ‘A' in agile, but only if the tools can deliver both flexibility and accuracy.

As an increasing number of enterprises embrace agile software delivery approaches they realize a new set of challenges. The realities of the enterprise - geographic separation of teams, cost reductions, diminishing timelines, and limited resources - require that organizations take a practical approach to agile software delivery. Modern automated testing solutions play a vital role in supporting this evolution by enabling agile teams to implement test strategies that are flexible, repeatable, and accurate. In the end, businesses can reduce the risk of releasing applications of unknown quality or reliability with agile test automation.

More Stories By Stephen Walters

Stephen Walters is product marketing manager at Borland, bringing Borland’s LQM solutions and products to market. He has been working within the IT industry for 16 years. Stephen started out as a programmer of Pseudo computer systems, followed by programming using Basic, Pascal and C for three tier client server systems. He then spent some time working in a testing arena before his first work in Configuration Management 13 years ago.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Atmosera delivers modern cloud services that maximize the advantages of cloud-based infrastructures. Offering private, hybrid, and public cloud solutions, Atmosera works closely with customers to engineer, deploy, and operate cloud architectures with advanced services that deliver strategic business outcomes. Atmosera's expertise simplifies the process of cloud transformation and our 20+ years of experience managing complex IT environments provides our customers with the confidence and trust tha...
Where many organizations get into trouble, however, is that they try to have a broad and deep knowledge in each of these areas. This is a huge blow to an organization's productivity. By automating or outsourcing some of these pieces, such as databases, infrastructure, and networks, your team can instead focus on development, testing, and deployment. Further, organizations that focus their attention on these areas can eventually move to a test-driven development structure that condenses several l...
The graph represents a network of 1,329 Twitter users whose recent tweets contained "#DevOps", or who were replied to or mentioned in those tweets, taken from a data set limited to a maximum of 18,000 tweets. The network was obtained from Twitter on Thursday, 10 January 2019 at 23:50 UTC. The tweets in the network were tweeted over the 7-hour, 6-minute period from Thursday, 10 January 2019 at 16:29 UTC to Thursday, 10 January 2019 at 23:36 UTC. Additional tweets that were mentioned in this...
Over the course of two days, in addition to insightful conversations and presentations delving into the industry's current pressing challenges, there was considerable buzz about digital transformation and how it is enabling global enterprises to accelerate business growth. Blockchain has been a term that people hear but don't quite understand. The most common myths about blockchain include the assumption that it is private, or that there is only one blockchain, and the idea that blockchain is...
Never mind that we might not know what the future holds for cryptocurrencies and how much values will fluctuate or even how the process of mining a coin could cost as much as the value of the coin itself - cryptocurrency mining is a hot industry and shows no signs of slowing down. However, energy consumption to mine cryptocurrency is one of the biggest issues facing this industry. Burning huge amounts of electricity isn't incidental to cryptocurrency, it's basically embedded in the core of "mini...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
The term "digital transformation" (DX) is being used by everyone for just about any company initiative that involves technology, the web, ecommerce, software, or even customer experience. While the term has certainly turned into a buzzword with a lot of hype, the transition to a more connected, digital world is real and comes with real challenges. In his opening keynote, Four Essentials To Become DX Hero Status Now, Jonathan Hoppe, Co-Founder and CTO of Total Uptime Technologies, shared that ...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.