Continuous testing in DevOps is a modern approach to software testing and app development. As the term would suggest, this approach involves performing testing during every stage of the software development life cycle. Typically, the continuous testing approach is part of a broader continuous delivery model of software development.
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The driving philosophy behind continuous testing is, test early, often, and everywhere. Test automation is also a part of the continuous testing model, but continuous testing does not rely on executing automated tests alone.
Let’s take an in-depth look at what continuous testing is, how it differs from test automation, the benefits of continuous testing, and best practices to ensure continuous testing success for your organization.
What is Continuous Testing?
Increased competition, especially with mobile apps, and increasingly impatient consumers have led to shorter and shorter release cycles. This, in turn, has led to the adoption of continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) models.
However, it makes no sense to quickly release an app that functions poorly or has bad product design. Continuous testing is the crucial support that CI/CD pipelines rely on to ensure that new code and product releases maintain a high level of quality. Continuous testing gives development teams and stakeholders immediate feedback on the risks associated with the release of a newly developed app, code update, etc.
Development teams no longer have the luxury of waiting to do software testing at a single stage in the development life cycle. Testing needs to be done at every stage of the software development life cycle. The continuous testing philosophy is a drastic departure from the traditional way organizations test software.
However, continuous testing is essential if you want to adopt continuous integration and continuous delivery models, which is all but necessary if your organization wants to remain competitive.
While your organization might be hesitant to adopt continuous testing, the important thing to understand is that continuous testing ensures that quality is addressed at every stage of the DevOps pipeline. Whether your teams are focusing on web development or mobile app development, you can never have too much quality.
What Is the Difference Between Continuous Testing and Test Automation?
Many people erroneously equate continuous testing and test automation. In fact, if you do a Google search on continuous testing, you will find there are a lot of different sources that even define continuous testing as the execution of automated tests to provide immediate feedback on the risks associated with a software release.
This common definition is partially true, but that makes it more difficult and confusing for organizations to determine what actually goes into continuous testing. Is test automation an important part of continuous testing? Absolutely.
However, there is more to continuous testing than just test automation. Continuous testing also utilizes testing tools, testing teams, and the overarching philosophy of continuous integration and delivery.
Much like the CI/CD pipelines, continuous testing is an approach to software development that rejects the traditional linear model of software development and implements testing as a crucial component of every step of the development life cycle.
Obviously, continuous testing in this rigorous manner will include test automation, but it is important to remember that there is so much more to continuous testing than executing automated tests.
The Benefits of Continuous Testing
Now that you know more about continuous testing, some of the benefits of this approach may seem apparent. Still, it will be beneficial for your project management team to understand the following benefits of continuous testing:
- Quicker software release
- Improved code quality
- Increased collaboration between teams
- Minimized risk
Quicker Software Release
In the fast-paced, consumer-centric world we live in, timing is very important. Traditional development models place software testing in its own stage near the end of the development life cycle.
One of the major issues with this approach is that it can create a bottleneck and slow down the overall process of deployment and release. Continuous testing, on the other hand, ensures that every feature, function, and UI element is thoroughly tested as it is being created.
Once the initial build is completed, it has already been thoroughly tested and is ready for release. Being the first product to market can have a large impact on long-term success, but you don’t want to cut corners and release a shoddy product. That is why continuous testing is such an important part of app development.
Improved Code Quality
Another major benefit of continuous testing is that the overall quality of your code will be much better. The reason behind this is pretty simple. During every stage of the development process, you are thoroughly testing everything. Little mistakes in the code are practically caught as they are made.
Instead of trying to identify and fix all errors or mistakes at one time at the end of the development life cycle, continuous testing allows you to make ongoing improvements as you continue to develop your app.
The end result of a continuous testing strategy is better code.
Increased Collaboration Between Teams
Since continuous testing is such a departure from the traditional development life cycle, it forces teams that, likely, previously had very little interaction to actively collaborate with one another. Now that software testing is being actively performed at every stage of development, the development, testing, and operations teams will be actively working together on a daily basis to create an application.
Collaboration and integrated teams lead to higher quality products and greater potential for innovation. Plus, when teams are working more closely together, it is far easier to keep everyone on the same page and working towards a common goal.
Besides improved code quality, continuous testing also effectively minimizes an organization’s risk. This software testing model ensures that every aspect of an application is checked, re-checked, and then checked again. Every step of the development life cycle is thoroughly tested, which greatly reduces the risk potential of any project.
Continuous Testing Best Practices
Continuous testing is a great tool to use, but things can still go awry if you’re not focused. Here are some continuous testing best practices that will help ensure your success:
- Keep accurate records
- Encourage collaboration
- Utilize test automation
- Provide quick feedback
Keep Accurate Records
Your testing team should be utilizing metrics to set benchmarks and basic levels for pass-fail criteria. Every test should be well documented, and all reporting should be easy to find and share among team members and other key stakeholders.
Your testing, development, and operations teams should be encouraged to work and collaborate actively. This will improve the accuracy and efficiency of your continuous testing efforts. This will be greatly aided by accurate records that are easily accessible and shareable between team members.
Utilize Test Automation
Test automation is an important tool to take advantage of when adopting a continuous testing model. Automated tests can regularly run and check for basic issues that pop up regularly. Take the time to identify areas that can benefit the most from automation. Remember, test automation will not do away with manual testing. Rather, automated tests will supplement and aid manual testing efforts.
Provide Quick Feedback
The great thing about continuous testing is that it quickly identifies issues in the development process. However, any and all feedback needs to be quickly communicated to the appropriate team members so that issues can be addressed in a timely fashion. If feedback is not being provided quickly, the benefits of continuous testing are basically neutralized.
Efficiency has never been more important in the development life cycle than it is now, and if past trends are any indication of what we can expect in the future, efficiency will continue to be of critical importance.
Continuous testing helps organizations release software faster without having to worry about the overall quality of the code or other important facets. If your business works on app development projects, you should consider adopting a continuous testing approach.