Continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) techniques are two main strategies in contemporary software development. They facilitate an ongoing process of making incremental alterations to the code. The aim behind setting the sights on CI/CD cum automation testing is to ensure that the software development is headed in the right direction by providing regular testing and high-caliber release.
This article discusses most of the best practices that can be adapted to navigate through the intricacies in the realm of the software development process, along with the effects they have on various software properties like adaptability, efficiency, reliance, and security.
Why CI/CD In Automation Testing?
There are numerous justifications for why CI/CD methods must be integrated with automation testing techniques.
Consistent behavior across environments- CI/CD pipelines automate creating software from the source code provided, with a uniform construction procedure in settings and environments. The differences and chaos caused by ad hoc and manual methods are mitigated using the same set of scripts and configurations. It ensures that the application works well under various conditions and situations.
Continuous monitoring and performance testing- At regular intervals, test coverage reports, which represent the automation testing percentage of code that has been put under automation testing, are produced by CI/CD design techniques. These reports contain insights on performance measures, including scalability, resource usage, and response times. They often serve as metrics that help identify the parts of the code with low coverage, and developers can use this information to improve testing in these parts and the testing quality.
Production of early-to-market products- CI/CD pipeline automates the generation, testing, and deployment of code modifications that can be easily integrated into the main source. This approach helps in reducing the time-to-market by accelerating the software development process. Moreover, it also permits the rollback features that aid in restoring the non-problematic and user-friendly versions of the software.
Integration Of Automation Testing With CI/CD: best practices
Know your objective and build a strategy
A robust test strategy is crucial when integrating CI/CD pipelines with automation testing. To design a strategy, understanding the objectives is mandatory. The objective must focus on parameters like
- Faster release cycles are needed to enhance rapid deployment and maintain the company’s competitive edge in the market.
- Reduced manual intervention that comes along with efficient error reduction techniques.
- A constant feedback loop and early defect discovery improve overall program quality.
- Excellent scalability
- Stable releases and faster delivery of features will increase customer satisfaction.
A test strategy that perfectly aligns with the above objectives can be designed to ensure a highly effective and optimal integration of CI/CD with automation testing.
Automate frequently and early
Automating the development process immediately is crucial to identifying and mitigating defects to ensure proper CI/CD pipeline functioning.
- Firstly, the code is partitioned into the smallest units, and the tests are performed on them. This type of test approach is called a unit test. It is done by selecting a unit testing framework compatible with the programming language in which the code is written. This is achieved by running unit tests on every code commit.
- Next, integration tests are added to the CI/CD pipeline to verify interactions between different components or modules in the application that is under test. An appropriate tool must be chosen to achieve this.
- After performing unit and integration tests, end-to-end (E2E) tests are performed to verify the entire application workflow from the user’s perspective before deploying the application to the staging environment. Testing tools such as Selenium, Playwright, and Appium can enable E2E tests on a dedicated stage of the CI pipeline.
- Performing tests frequently can consume a large amount of time. Parallelization can be done to reduce the test execution time. To achieve this, the CI pipeline must be configured with the necessary features to speed up the testing process.
Use containerization technology
- One of the major best practices is using containerization technology such as Docker to create lightweight and portable containers to provide consistency across testing, development, and production environments.
- “Containerization” is virtualization on an operating system or application level in which all the components are packed together and put into a container image that acts as a lightweight, standalone, and executable package. In this way, the software applications are made to run in a separate user space on the same shared operating system.
- Docker, Google Cloud Run, OpenShift, and Kubernetes provide tools and services for generating, distributing, and overseeing containerized applications.
- Many benefits come along while using containerization. They include excellent portability and scalability, efficient usage of resources leading to faster startup times, and a consistent containerized environment.
Effective management of test data
- The first step to managing your test data effectively is to store it in version control alongside the main code. Keeping the test data version in sync with the code changes allows specific test scenarios to be replicated easily.
- To test the application under several conditions, test data generation must be made random. This creates diverse test scenarios that help in identifying unknown defects.
- Isolate the test data and test scripts so that the test scripts will not be disturbed whenever there is a modification in the test data.
- Keep up the practice of securing your test data and documenting. Data Masking and anonymization techniques can prevent any breaching of test data. Frequent updates should be made in the test data to ensure the data complies with real-world conditions.
Parallelization is one of the crucial best practices to reduce the overall test execution time.
The test suite can be partitioned into smaller subsets, and then they can be executed concurrently. Configure the CI/CD server and the automation framework in such a way that they support parallel execution.
The parallel execution technique aids in distributing the workload across multiple threads and processes and makes the whole process simple. Scalability and flexibility are the main benefits of using a cloud-based testing platform that permits the parallel execution of tasks. Hence, cloud-based platforms like LambdaTest can be used to achieve parallelization.
LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform to run manual and automated tests at scale. The platform allows you to perform real-time and automation testing across 3000+ environments and real mobile devices.
The integration of automation testing with Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines using LambdaTest streamlines the testing process and ensures that applications are thoroughly validated before deployment. LambdaTest offers seamless integration capabilities with popular CI/CD tools, enabling teams to automate testing workflows and achieve faster, more reliable releases.
By integrating LambdaTest with CI/CD pipelines, development teams can establish a robust testing framework that ensures application reliability, compatibility, and quality throughout the software development lifecycle. This integration promotes a DevOps culture by automating testing and providing rapid feedback, ultimately contributing to the successful and efficient delivery of high-quality software.
Artifacts are said to be reports, documents, or by-products resulting from software testing. They may be binaries, test reports, data models, scripts, etc. While using a CI/CD pipeline in automation testing, these artifacts must be stored and managed in a centralized repository. This is done so that it becomes easy to trace it when necessary. It comes in handy when there is a need for collaboration, reproduction of builds, testing, and the deployment process.
Choose an appropriate artifact to store and manage your set of artifacts. Always give them meaningful names that may include information like version number, date, testing state, and build numbers. However, tagging them with version numbers will help the tester distinguish and trace different releases easily. Keep track of the access history by integrating the repository with the organization’s centralized logging system.
Automate deployment scripts
The automated deployment scripts must be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline for a consistent application deployment. Firstly, a deployment tool that goes well with the infrastructure and deployment requirements of the software application must be chosen. Later, it must be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline to trigger the deployment scripts’ execution after every build and test.
Mistakes To Avoid While Integrating CI/CD Into Automation Testing
Software testing is all about being aware of what needs to be done and what must not be done at any cost. Here are some of the don’ts that must be considered to ensure a satisfactory implementation of automation testing with the CI/CD pipeline.
- Don’t avoid the documentation process of the CI/CD pipeline, as the lack of documentation can cause severe confusion among the newly onboarded team members and hinder the software development process.
- Never avoid feedback loops. As feedback loops are highly helpful in detecting and rectifying errors, neglecting them may delay the testing process. The feedback mechanism may include alerts, messages, and notifications that inform the authorized party about any system failure or error.
- CI/CD pipelines can become complex at times. This will lead to increased maintenance, longer feedback loops, etc. So, keeping it simple and executable as much as possible is advised.
- Don’t expect everything from automation. Human judgments must be highly prioritized, as not all the issues can be identified by automated tests. Incorporate manual testing whenever needed, and let human intervention be made to improve the efficiency of the software.
- Never avoid security concerns in CI/CD pipelines. Security negligence can allow unauthorized access to sensitive data or code. Data masking and anonymization are some practices that must be followed to ensure high-security testing processes.
- Don’t ignore continuous monitoring of the CI/CD pipeline, as potential issues that may cause serious disruptions to the system may go unnoticed. Monitoring tools can be implemented as well.
Summing It Up
Following the best practices will give elevated results, including high test coverage, an efficient test process, accurate outputs, low energy consumption, and products with excellent scalability. To achieve the best results, suitable test designs, methodologies, appropriate test scripts, and data must be employed.
Automation testing tools that support the integration of CI/CD pipelines are Selenium Webdriver with Selenium Grid, an open-source framework; Jenkins with Selenium and plugins; AWS Device Farm; Browser Stack; and many more. Selecting the right tools means knowing the objective of your product, the technology stack, and your testing needs and then choosing the right framework for it to be tested.
It is always advised to follow the best practices to have an efficient test process that meets the quality needs and requirements of the user for whom the product is made.