Automation Testing

Top 10 Reasons for Flaky Tests Automation

By Test Guild
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If you're like most software professionals, you're always looking for ways to improve the quality of your code and tests. But even with the best purpose, it's easy to let your automated tests fail by the wayside. Maybe you don't have enough time, or your tests are too flaky to be worth running.

In automated testing, flaky tests are the bane in automation. They're unreliable and frustrating, making it difficult to know whether our tests provide value.

Armed with a guide, you'll be able to create reliable, consistent test scripts that will help ensure the quality of your software products.

So, let’s begin.


Top Reasons for Flaky Automated Tests
Not having a framework
Using hardcoded test data
Using X, Y coordinates or XPath for element recognition
Using shared test environments
Having tests that are dependent on one another
Test not starting in a known state
Test no managing their own test data
Not treating automation like any other software development effort
Failure to use proper synchronization
Badly written tests
In a Nutshell

Top Reasons for Flaky Automated Tests

There could be more reasons why your automated tests are flaky, but here are the top 10 that we see most often.

By understanding these issues, you can have more reliable and stable tests automation.

1. Not having a framework

In the software industry, flaky test automation is a common occurrence that can be frustrating for testers. So, how can we prevent it?

The test fails because of not having the proper framework in the first place. It's best to consider putting the process ahead. So, what is needed, how to do it right, and how long would the test automation be done.

2. Using hardcoded test data

There are many benefits to automating your tests, but if you use hardcoded, you may be undermining those benefits. Hardcoded data is explicitly written into the code as part of the automated test instead of being provided by an external source. Almost any test automation engineer will tell you that this can create flaky results. 

3. Using X, Y coordinates or XPath for element recognition

Have you ever written a test automation script that relied on specific coordinates or XPath to identify an element on the page? And then, when you ran the script, it failed because the element wasn’t where you thought it was supposed to be?

We're all looking for steps to speed up test runs and make them more reliable. But sometimes, using X or Y coordinates or XPath to identify specific elements on a web page can be flaky and unreliable.

4. Using shared test environments

By having a defined and consistent environment to run your tests, you can ensure that the results are accurate and reproducible. However, what happens when this stable environment starts to become unreliable?

Definitely, you can’t get back on track as it will result in failed tests.

5. Having tests that are dependent on one another

One way to achieve a great result is by ensuring that your tests are dependent on one another. This way, if one test fails, they all fail, and you know where to start investigating. However, if your tests are too dependent on each other, then your automation can become flaky.

6. Test not starting in a known state

When creating tests, the initial state of the system must be known. This means that all variables are set to a specific value. As such, no unexpected changes have occurred since the last time the test was run. If this isn't done, your tests may be unreliable and produce inaccurate results.

7. Test no managing their own test data

When it comes to testing data management, many organizations think they can manage it independently. This often leads to inconsistency and flaky automation. By outsourcing test data management, you can avoid these inconsistencies and ensure accuracy in all the tests.

8. Not treating automation like any other software development effort

You can't just automate everything, assuming that the automation will work as expected. Automation needs to be treated with care and consistency because it can quickly become flaky and unreliable if not done correctly.

9. Failure to use proper synchronization

Tests are run to ensure that the code works as intended and meets the requirements. It is no secret that proper synchronization is key to a successful automated test suite.

10. Badly written tests

One of the many ways to cause and detect flaky tests is having a poorly written test. Tests that are not well written can produce inaccurate results, and they can be a real pain to maintain. 

In a Nutshell

In automated testing, there are good and wrong reasons why something exists. Test flakiness can be a huge productivity killer in your software development process. Fixing these issues will help you produce reliable, accurate test results. It allows you to ship high-quality software that confidently meets your customers' needs.

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