In today’s fast-paced software development landscape, time is of the essence. So here are 10 Tips to Reduce Test Automation Execution Times. Executing tests quickly and efficiently is crucial for delivering high-quality software.
If you’re tired of waiting for tests to complete and are eager to level up your automation game, here are ten ways to improve based on a recent conversation with Geetha Achutuni.
Read on to discover:
Ten practical tips that can significantly reduce test execution times
Why use teams to check code for validity
One piece of advice to help you with your automation tests
Get ready to say goodbye to waiting and hello to accelerated testing!
These days, most of us develop products and applications using Agile methodologies. This means that they need to be released frequently to meet user expectations.
Many are adopting test automation to ensure that these releases are high quality.
However, test automation can be time-consuming, so it’s crucial to find ways to reduce test execution times.
The ten tips are:
1. Identify and interact with page elements efficiently
One of the most important things to consider when writing automation code is how you will identify the elements on the page. You need a reliable and efficient way to do this so your tests don’t fail.
One strategy that Geetha’s team has used successfully is to add unique attributes to the elements on the page. This makes it much easier for the automation code to find the elements and helps prevent flakiness.
In addition to using unique attributes, you can do two other things to improve your locator strategy.
- First, use standard locators like ID, name, CSS selector, and link text. These locators are more reliable than other locators, such as XPath.
- Second, you should avoid using link text as a locator. The link text can change, which can cause your multiple tests to fail. Instead, you should use the full text of the link or the href attribute.
How to convince the developers to create an auto tag?
Not all developers were initially open to the idea of implementing auto tags. Geetha’s approach involved these three steps:
- exploring the application
- identifying test cases suitable for automation
- determining specific fields that required auto tags
In the absence of auto tags, certain elements posed difficulties for automation, particularly in technologies. However, convincing developers to create auto tags for all elements is challenging. They would only create auto tags for those specific elements deemed necessary for automation.
2. Use smart waits
Smart waits are a way to tell the automation tool to wait until a specific condition is met before proceeding. This can help avoid errors when an element is not yet loaded or enabled.
Some tips for using smart waits:
- Use a predefined set of smart waits.
- Monitor the performance of your tests to ensure that smart waits are not causing them to run too slowly.
- Use a code review process to ensure all new automation tests use smart waits.
- Go code repository.
3. Optimize your code
Here’s how to optimize your automation code:
- Use proper data structures. Many data structures are available in all programming languages, such as Java, Python, and others. That’s why choosing the right one for the job is important.
- Minimize HTTP calls and DB calls. Whenever you make an HTTP or DB call, it adds overhead to your code. So, try to minimize the number of calls you make by caching data that can store multiple values.
- Use else conditions. If you have an if condition, you should also have another condition. This will help you to capture failures at the same state instead of moving to further steps and creating a failure at a different point.
- Use break conditions for loops. A break condition will allow you to exit a loop early, which can improve the performance of your code.
4. Utilize the cache memory provided by the browser itself
Instead of fetching data from the data server every time, you can create a cache in the browser itself. This will store the data locally so that you can access it more quickly.
You can also set expiration times for the cache, so it will be refreshed automatically when new data is available. This can help to improve the performance of your web automation tests.
In Selenium, Geetha suggests searching for “cache memory” in the Selenium documentation.
5. Avoid creating new browser sessions for every scenario
Yes, avoiding creating new browser sessions or launching new browsers for every other test scenario is important. One key is to create independent scenarios initially.
For a group of scenarios, using the same browser session is beneficial to avoid the overhead of setting browser capabilities, clearing cookies, and creating cache data. This can consume more time than the actual test execution.
Geetha also explains that it’s important not to use the same browser session for multiple scripts. This would consume memory due to the presence of variables and other resources. However, they clarify that launching a new browser for every script is unnecessary. Instead, grouping related test scripts together and executing them within a single browser session is viable.
6. Use API instead of UI interactions
While UI interactions are still necessary for some scripts, they can be replaced by API calls in other cases. For example, when working with an e-commerce application, items can be added to the cart using API tests. Geetha emphasizes that UI interactions can be avoided for prerequisite steps, such as adding items for checkout scripts.
REST Assured is also mentioned as the API testing library used in Selenium.
Some companies use UI tests to gather user feedback, but APIs simplify the process. Geetha explains that they have integrated Functional and API testing, utilizing predefined functions. This integration streamlines the end-to-end flow and allows for skipping unnecessary UI interactions.
7. Block the inconsistent images and pop-ups
Geetha explains that in certain applications, such as e-commerce sites, loading numerous images and pop-ups can significantly slow down the process. She suggests a solution to improve efficiency by blocking image loading since validation focuses on the properties of the products rather than the actual images.
In modern browsers, the majority have the capability to block images. This saves a significant amount of time during testing.
Regarding pop-ups, there are often unpredictable promotional pop-ups that cannot be anticipated or handled in advance. To avoid waiting for the appearance of these pop-ups during testing, you need to create a URL parameter that disables all pop-ups. This way, you can ensure a smoother testing process without interrupting unexpected pop-ups.
8. Enable the parallel testing
Teams can use Docker to spin up multiple machines on a local laptop. This allows them to run parallel tests and quickly check scenarios. However, it is important to ensure that other tests are independent and do not have any dependencies.
To handle data in parallel, teams can use APIs to pull data from a database server. This ensures that all of the Docker is using the same data.
Benefits of parallel testing
- Reduced test execution time
- Increased test coverage
- Improved test stability
9. Remove obsolete code
Teams often overlook irrelevant code when dealing with a large number of scripts. To address this, they periodically review the scripts after a quarter or at regular intervals to validate the functionality and remove obsolete code. This practice saves time and ensures that the codebase remains relevant.
Some tips for cleaning up obsolete code:
- Review your scripts regularly.
- Identify any code that is no longer used.
- Comment out or delete the obsolete code.
- Back up your scripts before making any changes.
People may hesitate to delete code, but it’s important to do so safely.
10. Use headless execution
Headless execution is a technique that can be used to speed up automated tests by disabling the graphical user interface (GUI). By utilizing headless mode, teams can leverage features like Chrome emulation to visualize how the application appears on various devices. This approach contributes to faster execution times.
If a test fails, you can notify the team through the following:
- Using a notification system like Slack or email.
- Including the test name, the failure message, and the steps to reproduce the failure.
- Categorizing the failures so that the team can quickly identify the root cause.
Geetha mentions that with approximately 400 scripts and 15 parallel execution infrastructure setups, the tests currently take around 3 hours. Without the optimizations, the runtime would likely be longer.
The Best Advice for Automating Your Tests
Each new release has advancements, updated data structures, and improved techniques. Therefore, staying updated with the latest trends with the test suite is essential. Continuous learning is crucial to staying proficient in the field of testing.
If you want to maintain a strong foundation in programming knowledge, it’s best to check out my book Automation Awesomeness: 260 actionable affirmations to improve your QA and automation testing skills.
I share insights from interviews over nine years on the Test Guild podcasts in this book.
The objective is to provide inspiration by sharing the perspectives of highly knowledgeable testers. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced tester, you’ll find something in this book to help you improve your automation testing skills.
Reducing waiting time in automation testing is critical to achieving faster and more efficient test data execution. By implementing various techniques, teams can minimize unnecessary delays and optimize their testing workflows. These strategies enable testers to maximize their productivity.
Ultimately, enhance the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your test automation strategy!