A test automation framework is the scaffolding that provides an execution environment for automation test scripts. It allows the user to develop, execute and report on the automation test scripts in an efficient manner. In general, these frameworks combine guidelines, coding standards, concepts, processes, practices, project hierarchies, modularity, reporting mechanisms, test data injections and more, Software testing help says. Users benefit because they are able to easily follow standards while automating the application. While there are many advantages to the use of test automation frameworks, some of the most valuable are ease of scripting, scalability, modularity, process definition, reusability and low maintenance requirements. Usually, developers use one or more frameworks to maximize these benefits.
When a team of developers is working on different modules of the same application, it is important to avoid using a hodgepodge of approaches. This creates confusion and increases the likelihood of errors. Instead, organizations should choose the ideal framework for their specific requirements and apply it to each module. Other benefits of using test automation frameworks include:
- Maximum coverage
- Recovery scenario
- Minimal manual intervention
- Easy reporting
Note that cloud-based frameworks allow you to run automated tests anywhere there is a connection to the cloud. You do not have to own the actual device you are testing on. This is more cost-effective than lab-based frameworks, which require the device to be on-premise, in a test lab or closed environment.
Types of Test Automation Frameworks
There are a variety of test automation frameworks to choose from. Based on your needs, you can evaluate each type and decide which framework(s) work best for your organization and testing.
- Module Based Testing: This type of testing framework divides the application under test into isolated modules. Each module receives a dedicated test script and, when taken together, these scripts create a large-scale test that represents each one. They are separated by an abstraction layer so that the changes made in the application don’t yield effects on the entire module. The benefits of this approach include a high level of modularization, which can lead to easier and cheaper maintenance. This framework is scalable as well, and when changes are implemented only the affected test script must be adjusted. One drawback is that the test data is embedded into the test scripts, so when testing with a different set of data, changes must be made to the test scripts themselves.
- Library Architecture Testing: This framework is built on module based testing, with some modifications. Rather than separating the application into test scripts, the library architecture approach divides the application into functions that can be used by other parts of the application as well. A ‘common library’ is created that includes common functions for the application under test, and these libraries can be used whenever required. The benefits of this framework are similar to those of module based testing, in that it allows for a high level of modularization, easier maintenance, and lower costs. In addition, the library approach makes reusability easy. This creates a complicated framework, however, and changes in the test data require changes in the test script.
- Data Driven Testing: This framework allows you to segregate both the test script logic and data, storing it in an external database. This database can be files like XML, Excel, text, CSV and more. And because data is typically stored in “Key-Value” pairs, you can use the key to access the data within the test scrips. The defining feature of this framework is that it reduces the number of scripts required to cover all test scenarios. This means that your team will need less code to complete a set of scenarios. In addition, changes to the test data matrix won’t affect the test script code. Data-driven testing is flexible and maintainable. However, the process is rather complex, requiring you to create test data sources and reading mechanisms. And because you’ll be developing test scripts, this approach requires a skilled understanding of the coding language in use.
- Keyword Driven Testing: This framework is actually an extension of data-driven testing because it segregates the test data from the scripts as well as keeping test script code in an external data file. This code is called keywords, and the keywords are self-guiding. In keyword driven testing, all required keywords are created and placed in the base code. Note that keywords and test data are both independent of the specific tool in use. This framework provides the same benefits that apply to data-driven testing, but it doesn’t require the user to have extensive coding knowledge. This is because one keyword can be used across more than one test script. However, team members will have to be comfortable with the keyword creation method and this framework can become more complex as the number of keywords grows.
- Hybrid Testing: As the name suggests, this is a combination of more than one of the frameworks covered here. It, therefore, combines benefits from all its associated frameworks.
- Behavior Driven Development: This type of framework is done using a “table of conditions directly as test inputs and verifiable outputs as well as the process where test environment settings and control are not coded.” In behavior-driven development, the tester provides inputs from a row in the table and expects outputs from the same row. It does not require the user to understand programming languages.
To help determine which framework is right for your organization, ask yourself the following helpful questions:
- Consider the application and the technology involved. How was the application built? What is the user experience like?
- Think about testing requirements. Does the application have a very complex workflow?
- Determine license cost of the tool. What costs are associated with each framework?
- Evaluate the skill sets available within your organization. What skills does your team already have? Is there a team that could plug into one of the frameworks?
While evaluating multiple tools, it is helpful to create a scorecard to assess various parameters such as ease of scripting, integration, usage, reports generated. This will help you choose the right tool for you.
View our infographic on how to choose the right test automation framework.