Test Automation Series – Part 2: Guide to Test Automation Frameworks

December 21, 2015

In part one of our two-part series, we discussed with you the basics of test automation and why it’s a great help to your organization, but not a cure-all. To take it a step further and broaden your understanding, we will focus part two on test automation frameworks.

In today’s business environment, software development teams are expected to produce and execute applications at a quicker rate. Consumers expect it and organizations demand it. With less time available and sometimes an also tighter budget, projects require test automation to help with the shorter iterations.

Though this can prove to be beneficial, oftentimes, test automation is misused or misinterpreted. Because of this, projects are in need of a set of guidelines before test automation is rolled out. Successful implementation the first time around means less complications for your team later on.

What Is a Test Automation Framework?

Before we dive into what exactly a test automation framework is, let's discuss the meaning of a framework itself. If you recall, there has probably been a time in your academic or professional life when you had to draft a research paper or perhaps a business proposal.

It’s unlikely that either of these types of projects were something you could just improvise. Both call for a bit planning and preparation. Most importantly, both demand a framework for which you would base your project on. A framework provides a guideline that when used results in a more favorable outcome for yourself. This is also true for test automation frameworks.

A test automation framework is a set of protocols, or guidelines, that support the automation testing process throughout the product lifecycle. It is a system that brings meaning to the code and defines the expectations for the project from development and maintenance to execution. Additionally, it also helps with the overall structure and management of the project such as documentation procedures and test data management.

What’s the Big Deal?

Though test automation has the potential to shorten test cycles, there is no particular automation solution that works for every software team and every organization across the board. As a result, team members may create their own solutions for automation that cripple the test cycle rather than optimize it.

By taking the time to successfully implement a test automation framework, teams can have maximum coverage with less maintenance needed. This means lowered costs, minimal manual intervention and overall greater team efficiency.

Test Automation Frameworks Available

Ultimately, it’s best to choose a test automation framework that works best for your organization, software team and application. However, to give you a jumpstart, the most commonly known test automation frameworks out there today include data-driven frameworks, keyword-driven frameworks, module-based frameworks, structured scripting frameworks and hybrid frameworks.

This concludes our two-part test automation series. Remember that while test automation is not the be-all and end-all to your software development lifecycle, it can prove to be quite useful when carried out correctly and thoughtfully the first go-round.

To gain a more in-depth understanding of test automation, check out our upcoming (SUBJECT TO CHANGE) interview with long-time software tester John Stevenson on why test automation helps a project, but doesn’t always get the job done.