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End-to-end Testing Frameworks: Do They Work?

Maria Homann

Maria Homann

End-to-end tests help ensure that users can navigate through an application and complete their errands without running into any bugs. Automating end-to-end tests will help teams speed up this area of testing and become more agile. The question is how to approach automation. For many, the answer starts with a framework.

Test automation frameworks are a common starting point for teams looking to automate part of their testing suite, including end-to-end tests. A search on Google will reveal the many options available to testers, often leading to more questions; which framework should we choose? Should we build our own framework? Or should we invest in a tool that can do the work for us?

The answers to these questions will depend on your business’ and team’s needs and capabilities. But there is a list of items to consider regardless, which we’ll cover in this blog post.

End-to-end testing frameworks: what and why?

Frameworks are guidelines or libraries of code built for testers to grab and use for their testing requirements. They’re built with the purpose of providing some structure to test automation that will ensure that the tests built are stable and maintainable.

Many choose a licensed or open-source framework over creating their own. The reason for this is that it can save teams time upfront, by following predefined guidelines with a proven record, rather than having to reinvent the wheel. They also avoid having to write their own code.

The downside of pre-defined frameworks is that they aren’t as flexible. They are typically built with a certain set of needs in mind, and have capabilities based on those needs - and not a whole lot more.

Another downside of frameworks is that they still require significant coding skills. Even though you don’t have to write the code, you still have to be able to navigate and understand it. Searching through lines of code you haven’t written is not only challenging, but it’s also incredibly time-consuming - a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.

An example of such a framework is Selenium. Selenium is perhaps the most popular open-source framework and has a large user community. It’s designed for web automation, however, and workarounds or additional tools are therefore necessary for automating other types of technologies, such as desktop.

The problem with frameworks for end-to-end testing

The problem with test automation frameworks such as Selenium is that they limit the testers from doing end-to-end tests. Here’s why.

End-to-end tests are designed with the purpose of simulating a user journey through, for example, a webshop. A user will enter a webshop, perhaps log in, add items to a basket, checkout, pay, and receive confirmation of payment. These steps provide a holistic user experience, and being able to get from A to Z is crucial for providing a good user experience.

As you can see, however, this end-to-end process doesn’t just involve a web application. It involves accessing a customer database, payment transactions, and email confirmation. To test the process end to end would therefore require accessing all these platforms from one tool.

What’s the solution?

So what can a tester do to solve this problem?

One option is to cobble together testing frameworks to achieve the coverage desired. This could be one tool for web testing, one for mobile, another for desktop, and so on. This solution, however, isn’t scalable. Once tests run into the hundreds or even thousands (which they will for large businesses) tests built in this way become impossible to maintain.

Another solution is to build your own framework. This too, however, has its disadvantages. It takes time and highly skilled developers to create a framework that is robust enough to provide real benefits. Once built, testers will likely find that they become dependent on those developers for using the framework, and if the developers have other priorities, bottlenecks emerge.

A third solution is to choose a test automation platform that will help teams avoid these common pitfalls.

The ideal end-to-end testing tool: what capabilities should I look for?

Must-haves for an end-to-end platform are cross-technology testing capabilities, as well as a user interface that will let everyone on the team - testers, developers, QA managers, and any additional stakeholders - collaborate and create automation with ease.

These two capabilities will ensure that end-to-end tests can be created, maintained, and scaled, without the need for additional tools or workarounds, and that teams can flow through bottlenecks and save valuable resources.

The platform should also allow easy, seamless integration into your existing CI/CD pipeline. It should be compatible with your existing toolset to avoid adding complexity to your pipeline. This will keep the development cycle as agile as possible, securing quality delivery at speed.

Because end-to-end processes are, as the name implies, quite long, complex processes with various sub-processes (logging in, entering data, submitting forms, etc), the tool should ideally also let you do data-driven testing.

Why? Because if you have any hopes of maintaining and scaling your flows, you will want to avoid hardcoding data into your automated process. If, for example, you want to test a login feature, you cannot rely on a test that uses only one set of login credentials. You would ideally want to test it with multiple sets of credentials to ensure that it is in fact functioning as intended.

Leapwork for end-to-end testing

Leapwork offers a series of benefits in software delivery that will let you test end to end and assure quality delivery at speed:

  • 100% no-code: Leapwork’s intuitive user interface removes unnecessary complexity for the users and gives a clear overview of all test cases in a flow chart view - similar to how most people would depict an end-to-end test if asked to draw it.
  • Cross-technology capabilities: Leapwork lets you access all the technologies you need in your end-to-end process - whether it’s on a desktop application, in the browser, or on mobile.
  • Integrates into your existing CI/CD pipeline: Leapwork integrates with an array of tools, helping to make your pipeline more agile and less complex.
  • Allows cross-team collaboration: Leapwork promotes agility by letting everyone on the team - whether they are technical experts or business experts - contribute to automation efforts.

Watch the video below to see how Investec, an international banking, investments, and wealth management services provider, has used Leapwork to achieve automate end-to-end testing and increase productivity, lower costs, and reduce risk.

Learn more about Leapwork's test automation platform in our webinar on no-code automation.

Watch the no-code test automation webinar