Test Automation Framework

Any application or software needs to be tested before getting released or deployed in the market. Any company will prefer an exhaustive testing process to yield the best results. This is why many companies are leaning towards automation testing.

The first step in any automation process is to select a tool that suits you best. The next step is to make the process standardized and easy for anyone who is going to operate. This is where the term test automation framework comes in.

To increase efficiency, speed up the process, create standardized test cases, and increase the ROI testing frameworks are used. These are an important yet not compulsory part of the automated testing process.

Before diving deep into the article let us first understand what the term- testing framework actually means.

What is a Test Framework?

A test automation framework can be defined as a set of rules, guidelines, or tools that help in creating and designing test cases. With the combination of these rules and tools, a QA professional can automate the test cases easily, with minimal effort, and yet give great results. However, these are just guidelines and not some mandatory rules. One can do the whole process even without the framework but they will be missing out on the benefits that framework has to offer. 

These benefits can be anything from code re-usability to fewer scripts maintenance to integrating various libraries. The whole point is to facilitate the test scripting process. 

But if it is not necessary then why the whole hassle of creating the framework? Are there different types of frameworks as well? To answer these and more such questions keep reading the article.


Need of a Framework

As explained above, a framework brings out the best from the process and helps the QA process immensely. Let us look at some more benefits of the testing framework.

  • Keeps the process organized and manageable
  • Helps in the maintenance of test script and test cases
  • Reduce the resources required
  • Improves the overall speed and efficiency of the test suite
  • Continuous testing process can be set
  • More test coverage within budget


Types of Testing Framework

There are six main frameworks one can choose from. All these six frameworks have different architecture and come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let us look at them one by one. 

1. Linear automation framework

The linear automation framework or more popularly known as the ‘record and playback’ framework is one of the simplest frameworks out there. This is for those who are just getting started in automation testing. The name derives from its process. The tester records the process of user input and checkpoints and then plays back the whole script to automate the test case. 

Advantages

  • Simple to use and handle
  • Test scripts can be generated faster
  • Scripts are laid sequentially therefore can be understood by anyone outside the testing team.

Disadvantages

  • Code reusability feature is not available 
  • High maintenance is required as any change in data will require the whole change in the script.

2. Modular based framework

The application is divided into smaller fragments called the modules, and test scripts are created for each module. These test scripts are created to keep the client’s requirements in check.

All the modules are tested individually in isolation, and once all the modules are checked they are included in a more extensive test script. The purpose of this framework is to achieve abstraction- changes in one part do not affect the other modules of the application. 

Advantages

  • Test scripts for different modules can be reused
  • Cost effective maintenance

Disadvantage

  • Programming knowledge is required.

3. Library architecture testing framework

Based on the modular-based testing architecture, the library architecture testing framework is an upgraded version of the former. Instead of the modules, similar tasks within the scripts are grouped together under a function.

All these functions are then stored in a common library. This library can then be called upon to create different test cases. 

Advantages 

  • Allows easy and cost effective maintenance and  scalability.
  • It is easier to maintain the script.  
  • There is higher code reuse.

Disadvantages

  • Test data is hard coded into the script. Therefore, it is difficult to apply changes to the data.
  • Takes a lot of time to create test scripts.

4. Data driven framework 

In Scenarios where multiple data sets are required to run Test cases again and again the data-driven framework comes handy.

This is because, in a data-driven framework, the test data is not hardcoded into the script. Instead, test data is stored externally which means the test is separated from the script logic.

Advantages

  • Tests can be run multiple times as  there are multiple data sets.
  • Various test cases can be run in the shortest period of time.
  • Changes made to the test data do not alter the  test script code.
  • The code is reusable.

Disadvantages

  • Highly experienced tester is required.
  •  Knowledge of programming languages is required.
  • Data driven testing process is quite complex.

Download Selenium with Java automation framework with sample test cases.

5. Keyword driven framework

In a keyword-driven framework, we can write test cases in plain text. For example, we can write test cases in an excel sheet in the below form-

keyword driven framework

The framework will already have the methods defined for each keyword used, like – there will be automation code for OpenBrowser keyword, NavigateTo keyword, etc. In this way, once the framework is set up even a non-technical user can create automation test scripts in plain text.

Advantages

  • Once set up with all the necessary keywords, no or less scripting knowledge is needed to create test cases.
  • A single keyword allows access to multiple test scripts
  • No definite requirement of an AUT to create test cases.

Disadvantages

  • Testers with good automation skills are required.
  • Initial cost of setting up the framework is quite high.
  • The knowledge of creating keywords is required.
  • With the addition of new keywords each time, remembering each of them becomes quite difficult.

6. Hybrid testing framework

As the name suggests this framework can be a combination of any of the above-mentioned frameworks. The purpose is to gain multiple benefits by combining two or more frameworks.

This framework helps in leveraging the advantages of all the frameworks involved.  The components in the hybrid framework include-

  • Function library
  • Driver script
  • Excel sheet to store keywords
  • Test case template, etc.

The only drawback is that, due to the inclusion of multiple frameworks, the automation process becomes complicated.


Advantages of a Test Automation Framework

The benefits of an automation framework are not limited to just speed, cost reduction, and code-reusability. Let us look at some of the many advantages of using an automation framework. 

  1. Using framework improves efficiency as test suites are organized thus avoiding all the hassle.
  2. Multiple data sets can be created and executed easily.
  3. Reduction in cost maintenance also means lowering the unnecessary risks.
  4. Scaling and maintenance is easier.
  5. There is minimal manual intervention, this leads to less pressure on the developer/tester.
  6. With smart designing and programming early detection of bugs and issues can be achieved.
  7. Despite high initial costs the later on maintenance is quite low.
  8. Cloud automation frameworks facilitate accessing data from anywhere anytime.
  9. Automated test scripts maintain quality and efficiency.
  10. Products can be delivered within the time frame.


Steps to Achieve Effective Automation

  1. Define your goals and priorities before starting with the process.
  2. Create an effective test suite.
  3. Prioritize the test cases of the test suite.
  4. Create robust test data.
  5. Plan a strategy for the whole process.
  6. Adopt continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pattern.
  7. Maintenance of the test script is a must. This will benefit future automation.
  8. Create such test cases so that changes in UI remain ineffective to the rest of the AUT.

Conclusion

The key to the whole automation testing process is to choose the right tool. All the mentioned frameworks have their advantages and disadvantages however, it is up to the QA professional to choose one that suits AUT the best. Only then the automation tool being used will help in enhancing the speed of the process and reduce maintenance costs. By taking such measures risks of the process also get eliminated.


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