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How to Automate Testing in the DevOps Lifecycle

Maria Homann

Maria Homann

Building a DevOps pipeline is no simple task. There are many things to consider and many decisions to make in the process. Automation is a key ingredient for a successful DevOps lifecycle, particularly test automation, which is why we’ll take a closer look at it in this blog post.

Test automation is only one part of the DevOps lifecycle, but critical for fast and high-quality delivery. With automated testing, it’s possible to achieve continuous testing - an essential part of delivering quality software at high speed, and an important driver for increasing productivity, lowering costs, and lowering risk.

In this blog post, we answer the following questions:

  • Why automate testing in the DevOps lifecycle?
  • How to choose your test cases and build your test automation flows
  • How to find the right test automation tool for DevOps

Watch on-demand webinar: Continuous Testing in Agile and Continuous Delivery Environments

Why automate testing in the DevOps lifecycle?

If you’ve read our blog post Why Test Automation is Critical in DevOps, you’ll probably have a good overview already of why test automation plays a key role in DevOps. If you haven’t, here’s a recap:

DevOps goes hand in hand with agile practices and CI/CD. These concepts all have in common that they aim for increased flexibility and speed to allow a better flow through the release pipeline with fewer bottlenecks and faster feedback loops.

Overall, the aim of these approaches is to deliver a high quality in product releases and updates, but at a much higher speed than more traditional models, such as the waterfall approach.

If performed manually, many steps in the release pipeline are slowed down, and errors are more likely to occur. Automation introduces speed and accuracy, making quality delivery at speed possible.

Testing is just one part of the release pipeline, but nonetheless an obvious candidate for automation. Particularly regression testing, which is highly repetitive and time-consuming, can with benefit be automated to free up tester resources, so that they can focus on work that requires their human expertise, instead of doing robotic work.

How to choose your test cases and build your test automation flows

Now that we’ve covered the nuts and bolts of test automation and DevOps, we’re ready to take a look at implementation.

In order to implement automated testing into your DevOps lifecycle, you must first map out your release pipeline. This can be done by following four steps:

  1. Identify all the stages of your release
  2. Identify the gates and requirements necessary in a build’s journey to production
  3. Identify the feedback mechanism required for quick error detection and solving
  4. List all the operational procedures, services, and actions involved with a release cycle

The next step is building your automation flows. The ease and speed at which you can do this, as well as the approach you will need to take, depends completely on the tool you choose, which is why we’ll take a closer look at this last in this blog post.

In addition to the right test automation tool, it’s ideal to have a test automation strategy in place, as well as to familiarize yourself with some best practices.

Best practices for getting started with test automation are:

  • Build your automation flows gradually and increase coverage over time: Start out with flows that are easy to automate, and that are both predictable and repetitive in nature. In most cases, you will find that it’s the relatively simple and very repetitive flows that, by far, take up most of your testing time.
  • Start by testing one thing at a time: By limiting the complexity of a single test flow, it’s easier to detect what goes wrong when a test case fails.This is not only a best practice for beginners, but in general. Instead of bundling up multiple tests in one test case, it is best practice to build reusable components with your test automation tool. This way, it is easy to reuse the logic contained in other test cases, and the time required to create a new test case is minimized.
  • Build automated test cases that are independent and self-contained: You can reuse the structure of flows across test cases, but it’s a good idea to keep tests separate. This way, they can all be scheduled at once to be executed anytime and in parallel, i.e. across different environments.
  • Ensure collective ownership of test automation: Remember that success with automation is dependent on a team’s collective knowledge. Adopt a test automation platform that all testers can work with, so that automation becomes a natural part of the daily work of all team members.

How to find the right test automation tool for DevOps

The last step in automating testing in the DevOps lifecycle is to find the right tool.

There are a vast number of options when it comes to test automation tools. The one you choose will impact how agile your DevOps lifecycle is. Only with the right tool for your team can you achieve quality delivery at speed, which is the goal for DevOps.

Popular tools include open-source options such as Selenium. It’s a good idea, however, to understand how these tools work before you invest your time and effort.

To provide you with some guidance, we’ve put together a list of features and capabilities that are ideal to have in a test automation tool for DevOps. If you’re considering Selenium, make sure to check out our whitepaper on Selenium automation.

A DevOps test automation tool must:

  • Be usable by testers, developers, operations personnel, and management
  • Integrate seamlessly into your CI/CD pipeline/with CI/CD tools
  • Be able to run in any kind of infrastructure
  • Keep maintenance of automation cases at an absolute minimum
  • Not rely on users to write code, no matter how complex their automation needs are
  • Not take time away from testers’ primary responsibility; challenging the end-product
  • Have a very short learning curve to not disrupt release cycles
  • Make it very easy to collaborate on automation cases

Get started with test automation for DevOps today

No-code test automation is ideal for DevOps as it allows teams to move fast and easily through the release pipeline.

Leapwork offers an ideal solution for DevOps with a no-code test automation platform that provides full functionality and is easy and fast to get started with.

The Leapwork Automation Platform is designed to allow any user to automate software and business processes across technologies and platforms, so they can deliver on their business objectives with lower risk, lower cost and higher quality.

Leapwork fits seamlessly into your CI/CD pipeline.

CI/CD pipeline

Leapwork is made specifically with DevOps in mind:

  • Leapwork's open REST API enables DevOps to easily script any part of Leapwork in their language of choice (eg. Powershell, C#, Python, Java, Bash, Javascript, etc.) and thereby integrate seamlessly with other systems of any kind. This can include triggering automation to run with external events and performing advanced analysis in external tools. Leapwork also provides data support for advanced data visualization within Power BI and Tableau. Out of the box template dashboards are available, which can be enhanced or modified as required.
  • Inside Leapwork, scheduled actions can be used to trigger simple actions whenever certain conditions are met, such as sending emails with links to video recordings whenever more than a certain number of automation flows fail during execution.
  • The C# code, Database, Command-line, Http request and Javascript building blocks in Leapwork enables DevOps to create custom building blocks that run code inside an automation flow, for instance interfacing with company internal systems on-premise or triggering workflows in cloud services such as ServiceNow and Salesforce.
  • The Leapwork community has built open-source connectors and integration plugins for the most popular Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools such as TFS, JIRA, Jenkins, Bamboo and others. Read more about the native plugins here: Native plugins
  • Read the whitepaper DevOps and Test Automation to understand how to use Leapwork in a DevOps context.

Want to learn more about test automation in DevOps? Watch our on-demand webinar about the importance of continuous testing in continuous delivery, and learn how businesses can achieve continuous testing and overcome common barriers by following the right approach and implementing the right tools.

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