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Test automation recommendations – part 1

Most QA engineers today are already following the standard of implementing test automation solutions on their projects. But are we assessing our AT solution to ensure that we are getting the most out of it? Do we use AT recommendations and best practices, and how crucial is that? Is it even possible to apply best practices to every project? 

Let's find out together. 

Before we begin the analysis, it is important to understand whether we are starting the AT project from scratch or inheriting someone else's solution. In the first scenario, when we are creating a project from scratch, we have the opportunity to establish as many best practices as possible from the start, and then just follow the method and maintain the solution properly. When joining a project with an existing automation solution, implementing extra capabilities can be tricky (or impossible). In this blog, we will only discuss some of the most significant best practices that are strongly advised to be followed.  

This section will cover the initial half, while you can learn more about it in the upcoming second part. 
•    Page object model for UI tests 

Do you know if you use a page object model in your solution? What does the page object model actually represent? 
In test automation, a page object model is a method of structuring code for UI tests so that each page of the application represents a separate class. So, we're categorizing page attributes and page tests based on how they appear on the UI. 
This way, the code is well-organized and structured, with no repetition, making it easy to read and maintain. If you begin working on the project with an AT solution that does not include a page object, you can just set aside time for refactoring. 
•     Running tests in parallel  

Running tests in parallel is one of the major advantages that AT solutions offer. Test parallelization speeds up execution while also making it easier to conduct tests many times, making it ideal for regression testing and re-testing. 

Tests can be run in parallel on multiple levels. To decide what approach works best for you, you have to analyze your application and its limitations.  Depending on the application context and nature, parallelization may not be practical at all levels. Anyway, you can usually achieve some level of parallelization. 

The most commonly used approaches for parallelization are at the test and class levels. On the test level, running in parallel involves running several tests within the same class (for example, all LoginTest tests) at the same time. Running tests on the class level allows you to run several test classes at the same time, but the tests within the classes run sequentially. For example, you can run the LoginTest and SignUpTest classes simultaneously. 

What type of parallelization will be applied depends on the application context but also performance of your test machines used for the execution.  
Parallelization has the benefit of saving time, which is our most precious asset. 
•     Test isolation 

Each test should be independent and not rely on the outcomes of other tests. This ensures that one test failure doesn't affect others. Tests can be very flaky and unreliable if they are not independent.  
This recommendation is frequently broken when we use tests to prepare data for other tests. And this is something we should always avoid. 
It is important to highlight that test independence and isolation are prerequisites for achieving test parallelization. 
•    Test data preparation and cleanup  
Many automation tests rely on specific test data, particularly in complex E2E scenarios. In such cases, test data should always be prepared before the test execution, using separate setup methods, jobs, or database queries and procedures. Test data should never be prepared within other tests.  
Test cleanup is equally crucial as test data preparation. Each test run should be followed by a cleanup of the data generated and used during the test execution. Test cleanup should be performed in separate, designed Test cleanup methods, which are often called at the end of the execution. One of the reasons why test cleanup is necessary is to keep test environments clean and free of redundant data collected and used in test scripts. With this approach, the environment will be more similar to the upper environment, making it more reliable. 
•     Logging 
Logging in the test automation scripts can provide numerous benefits.  
One of the primary advantages is troubleshooting. If you experience test failures and struggle to identify and analyze the issues, good logging will allow you to troubleshoot test errors quickly and easily. 
Aside from that, if you use advanced and extensive logs for each step, you can turn logs into valuable test documentation. 
Logging should include test steps, assertions, and test data.  
Logging test data used in scripts is extremely useful for troubleshooting and when we want to perform specific scenarios manually, as well as comparing test data and results across executions. 
•    Helper methods 
Code organization and structure are essential for a successful and robust test automation solution. One of the key recommendations is to keep tests simple and clear. We should always avoid complex logic when writing tests. Also, very important recommendation is to follow the DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) approach.  
Code should be reused by creating helper methods and utilities for common tasks. 
Test helper methods, particularly for UI tests, will improve the readability and maintainability of your solution while also reducing code duplication. Helper methods are extremely useful for UI tests as well as steps utilized in practically all actions and steps, such as clicking buttons, entering text, and similar.

Eager to learn more? Continue on the part two of the blog.

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