Introduction to Continuous Testing | Definition, Tools & How to Perform
Customers nowadays expect top-notch software for their businesses or personal use. To accommodate that need, software companies are incorporating Continuous Testing practices to ensure the software they release to market can outshine the competition.
What is Continuous Testing?
Continuous Testing is a software testing type in which the product is evaluated early, often, and throughout the entire Continuous Delivery (CD) process. Continuous testing uses automated tests to ensure teams receive immediate feedback to quickly mitigate as many risks as possible throughout the software development lifecycle. Moreover, team members are able to continuously learn about their product and what can be done to increase quality and reliability.
Incorporating continuous testing into your organization is not a simple procedure, however, as you need to build out a test strategy to ensure a smooth transition.
You also asked why is it so valuable? Imagine this: Traditionally, testing software is only done after code is written and sent to the Quality Assurance department to be independently tested. After bugs are found, the code is then sent back to developers to be fixed. This testing model is relatively functional. However, it is risky, disrupted, and time-consuming. Instead, businesses nowadays require fast delivery of high-quality products.
But what if there was a different avenue for testing? A faster and more efficient way that eliminated bottlenecking between different departments?
That is where continuous testing becomes valuable. Testing code directly after submitting it to the repository helps detect bugs before any additional code is written. That extra code would then not have to be adjusted to incorporate bug fixes. Talk about saving time!
Benefits of Continuous Testing
- Find errors: Ensure as many errors are found before being released to production
- Test early and often: Tested throughout the development, delivery, testing, and deployment cycles
- Accelerate testing: Run parallel performance tests to increase testing execution speed
- Earn customer loyalty: Accomplish continuous improvement and quality
- Automation: Automate your test cases to decrease time spent testing
- Increase release rate: Speed up delivery to production and release faster
- Reduce business risks: Assess potential problems before they become an actual problem
- DevOps: Incorporates into your DevOps processes smoothly
- Communication transparency: Eliminate silos between the development, testing, and operations teams
- Available testing tools: Available tools that support continuous testing to make the testing process easier, faster, and more reliable
Main Challenges of Continuous Testing
While continuous testing has a myriad of key benefits, there are several challenges that software development teams must take into consideration:
- Adjust to DevOps: Professionals don’t process the right tools and training for continuous testing within Agile and DevOps environments
- Change in culture: Cultural shifts among your development and testing teams may happen if traditional processes are maintained
- Update testing strategy: Maintaining only traditional testing methods and test data management that is not clearly defined keeps continuous testing from reaching its full potential
- Code integration: Developers who don’t integration their code on a regular basis (recommended several times daily) create defect issues with duplicated coding efforts and non-compatible code
- Test environments: Make sure your test environments work within your code repository base for seamless testing of the newest available code
- Production environments: Also, make sure your production environments reflect the test environment to ensure every area was properly tested
Key Components of Continuous Testing
Let’s break down the key components of continuous testing and determine if it would work for your organization.
Manual testing is laborious and time-intensive. Automation gives time back to your engineers to actually fix the bugs found during testing. Now, not everything should be automated. Exploratory testing does play a crucial role to creatively find ways to test. And those test scenarios found through exploratory testing? Automate them!
Continuous testing cannot be done without test automation. The best part about test automation is the quick feedback the team receives. Continuous testing allows early and often feedback so that changes can be made far before releasing features to the market.
Do you see the connection? The ideal aspect of continuous testing is to have it triggered and executed without human intervention. This is the ultimate goal of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery.
The CI/CD pipeline is an essential part of continuous testing. Let’s talk about continuous integration (CI). This practice gathers code from developers working on one project and placing it into a code repository. Integrating different developer’s code into one project can generate a lot of bugs. This is where continuous testing comes into play. Automating your test executions each time the code is integrated will allow you to find bugs as early as possible and fix them faster. Find bugs before they’re released to production and you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and effort to fix at a later date.
Continuous Delivery (CD) can often be confused with continuous deployment. A great way to think about the difference is continuous delivery is having any code version ready to deploy to production. Both practices require you to work on small, frequent changes. But we believe continuous delivery is an integral part of continuous testing because you should test code before it is deployed. Having code ready to go without thoroughly testing it is a waste of resources and should be acted upon immediately. Continuously test your code!
Want to dive deeper into CI/CD? Check out our previous blog for Complete CI/CD Introduction.
How to Perform Continuous Testing
Now that you know what continuous testing is, let’s talk about how you use it. Continuous testing should be implemented at every stage of your CI/CD pipeline. You can set up test suites at every point code changes, merges, or releases. That way, you can run tests at a specific point rather than every test at once. This will help reduce time and effort on testing but still reap quality rewards.
Continuous testing works best by using the most recent build in an isolated environment. Containerization is a great method to help with replicating code outside of the main code repository.
To accelerate the continuous testing efforts, QA teams can leverage popular continuous testing tools available on the market. Below is a list for you to have a quick look at the top tools out there.
Continuous Testing Tools for Agile Teams
Katalon Studio is built on top of Selenium. This tool offers a comprehensive platform to perform automated testing for Web UI, API, desktop and mobile. Get Started Free
Travis CI is a continuous testing tool hosted on GitHub offering hosted and on-premise variants.
Selenium is an open-source software testing tool. It supports most mainstream browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Selenium WebDriver is used to automate web application testing.
Jenkins is a continuous integration tool using Java language and is configurable via both GUI interface and console commands.
Read full Top 10 Continuous Testing Tools for 2023
Continuous testing is beneficial in so many ways, but it can also be very challenging. Make sure you have a solid plan in place before incorporating this testing procedure into your organization.
Additionally, take this free self-assessment as a strategic initiative to level up your continuous testing. You will learn where your team is in the continuous testing maturity roadmap and get customized advice for your team’s biggest challenges and how to level up.