A Comprehensive Guide to End to End (E2E) Testing

August 15, 2023

End to End testing is a software testing approach, used to test the system workflow from beginning to the end. Learn about e2e testing in our latest guide.

End to End testing is a software testing approach, used to test the system workflow from beginning to the end. Learn about e2e testing in our latest guide.

End to End testing is a software testing approach used to test the system workflow from beginning to end. Learn about e2e testing in our latest guide.

End-to-end testing, also referred to as E2E testing, is a technique to test out the completeness of the software product from beginning to end from the users’ perspective. It ensures that all the software pieces work together.

The E2E testing process starts when the development has reached the stage that is known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). E2E testing also differs from integration, unit, and UI testing, and testers might cover slight overlaps in the ground during tests.

Benefits of End-to-End Testing

Since end-to-end testing employs a full-stack testing methodology, there are several benefits that organizations can expect in terms of overall software quality, workflow optimization, and efficient operation.

First, end-to-end testing is responsible for uncovering issues and defects with the application that are not apparent in unit testing. Since end-to-end testing is carried out with the users’ perspective in mind, problems present in the application are highlighted. In contrast, unit testing only tests out single, isolated components. E2E testing also acts as a verification step for the software’s overall business logic and workflow.

Another significant benefit is increased efficiency in terms of time and costs. End-to-end testing can ensure that you do not need to run repeated tests, decreasing the time and costs spent on testing.

Finally, end-to-end testing is a great way to ensure that application dependencies work correctly and cohabit without issues, including any third-party codes. This has the effect of quickly and effectively increasing your test coverage, which increases confidence in the product before launch.

End-to-End Testing Challenges

Successfully carrying out end-to-end testing can be challenging. Here are some common challenges that come with E2E testing:

  • Test Speed: Since end-to-end tests cover every component in the software and go through the entire software stack, tests can run slower than other testing techniques that only test isolated parts of the software. 
  • Test Complexity: End-to-end testing is incredibly complex as the entire software stack, all dependencies, and mimicking actual user interactions are involved. Test cases that replicate real user scenarios can become unstable due to the complex nature of basic usage scenarios.
  • Test Maintenance: The most crucial challenge with E2E testing is dealing with test maintenance demands. The extended test flows, the high number of test steps, and the need to keep up with many potential UI changes can make long-term maintenance a time-consuming and effort-heavy responsibility. 

How End-to-End Testing Works

Generally, end-to-end tests are designed to scope outbreaks in this flow, which would indicate an error.

Creating end-to-end tests involves planning and design of the tests according to the requirements of the software. Testers can use different testing platforms or frameworks for this purpose.

The tests are then executed, usually with the help of different devices. Any failed tests are then examined, and the relevant areas of the code are debugged. The tests are rerun multiple times if needed until they pass entirely.


In this stage, the team plans and specifies the resources for testing, the critical testing tasks to cover, and all relevant testing schedules.


The test design phase is a crucial phase that involves creating test specifications, generating the appropriate test cases, carrying out usage and risk analysis, and finally, creating a test schedule.


The tests follow the plans and schedules in this phase, and testing results are appropriately documented.


Finally, the test results are analyzed in detail. Depending on the analysis, the team can evaluate the success of the testing or carry out more tests if needed.

End-to-End Testing Methods

To design E2E testing, teams often use one of two approaches: the vertical and the horizontal methods.

Vertical Method

In the vertical method, testing typically occurs in layers. This involves creating a hierarchical order of importance, and the tests are then carried out in the order of the hierarchy sequence. Component-level testing is carried out to ensure optimum quality. This approach is less focused on the user experience and more involved with testing the parts of the software in detail.

Horizontal Method

This involves parallel testing of multiple software components simultaneously. In the same testing run, tests are carried out horizontally over numerous application components, usually with the help of an ERP solution.

End-to-End Testing Metrics to Use

E2E testing can make use of quite a few metrics, including:

  • Defect Status – Expressed as a percentage or ratio of open vs. closed defects over a defined period. These are then arranged according to their priority and assessed based on severity and consequence.
  • Progress Tracking – Tracking of test completion, expressed by a percentage, gathered over a defined period. Details of test completion can include data regarding complete and incomplete tests, passed or failed tests, executed or unexecuted tests, and valid or invalid test cases.
  • Test Case Design –  This tracks the progress of the actual completion of test case preparation against the planned preparation rate.
  • Environment Availability – This tracks the actual amount of operational testing hours over a while against the planned number of hours for testing.

Automated End-to-End Testing

As in most other areas of software testing, end-to-end testing can also benefit significantly from test automation. With that said, due to the complex nature of end-to-end tests, it can often be challenging to automate them successfully. This is one situation where choosing a capable, modern test automation tools can help.

You need a test automation platform resistant to fragile tests for an efficiently automated end-to-end testing workflow to ensure that tests are automatically healed and maintained. A platform that allows for easy and intuitive test creation and one that provides specific, detailed data.

How to Do End-to-End testing: Step-by-Step Instructions

A step-by-step breakdown of end-to-end testing involves identifying critical test scenarios, mapping each step, and creating the tests. Once this is done, you can automate and integrate the tests into your CI pipeline.

To identify test scenarios, consider actual use cases that need testing before release. This can be a group effort of brainstorming with the participation of testers, developers, and other stakeholders. 

With each scenario, you can map out the different steps and actions associated with them and the expected outcome.

These can then be converted into actual test cases. You can run them manually or proceed with automated testing. While not all tests can be automated, using the right test automation platform will allow you to automate most tests and extract maximum performance and efficiency.

Finally, you can add automated end-to-end tests to your CI pipeline. This will provide meaningful feedback to the development team and help standardize creating and running end-to-end tests.

End-to-End Test Example

A typical instance of end-to-end testing for ticketing system software for trains, for example, would involve:

  1. Entering the software URL and logging in with valid user credentials.
  2. Entering the source and destination locations of the journey, the date of the trip, and the class of travel
  3. Selecting the preferred transport option,
  4. Selecting the number of tickets,
  5. Completing payment for the same using their preferred digital payment option
  6. Getting a copy of the ticket on the screen with the option to get a printout and another copy automatically sent to the user’s email address.

E2E Testing Checklist

A checklist for E2E testing can look at the following:

  • Test the software’s functionality, considering the expected workflow during user interaction.
  • Test the software system’s performance to ensure a uniform, seamless user experience while navigating.
  • Test the data storage of the software to ensure that data can be appropriately stored, organized, retrieved, and updated as and when necessary.
  • Perform usability tests that ensure the degree of usability and ease of use of all the software system components as part of a typical user flow.
  • Perform security and vulnerability testing.


While other testing techniques are primarily technical and at the component level,like regression testing, E2E testing deals with the actual user experience. For this reason, organizations should choose the right testing tools and devote resources to end-to-end testing to deliver a consistent, high-quality user experience.

About the author

author photo: Tamas Cser

Tamas Cser


Tamas Cser is the founder, CTO, and Chief Evangelist at Functionize, the leading provider of AI-powered test automation. With over 15 years in the software industry, he launched Functionize after experiencing the painstaking bottlenecks with software testing at his previous consulting company. Tamas is a former child violin prodigy turned AI-powered software testing guru. He grew up under a communist regime in Hungary, and after studying the violin at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, toured the world playing violin. He was bitten by the tech bug and decided to shift his talents to coding, eventually starting a consulting company before Functionize. Tamas and his family live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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