Role of Automation Testing in CI CD Pipeline

Posted by Hamid Akhtar | June 7, 2019
Cross Browser Testing • Selenium Tutorial • Testing Strategies •

50445 Views | 16 Min Read

Role of Automation Testing in CI CD Pipeline

The industry widely adopted software development practices: Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment ensure delivering the product well and delivering often. Regular code commits require regular/continuous testing and was it to be neglected can lead to a non-resilient infrastructure. How to deliver a sturdy CI CD pipeline? It is a question for many companies unless they approach DevOps consulting. And even if you go to a DevOps consulting firm, there could be a high chance that they may not suggest anything around automation tools, platforms to help you automate your workflow.

I personally believe that the benefits of automation testing are often neglected when we think of best practices in CI/CD pipeline. In my opinion, skipping the automation testing in CI CD pipeline or abandoning the broken tests (never rewritten) could be a clear threat to quality or speedy delivery.

Automation of tests is important when organizations plan to maximize the value of (CI/CD). It is why I am going to discuss with you why you can’t have a robust CI/CD pipeline without automation testing. I will also be taking a real-time example to help you relate to why automation testing is a must for CI CD pipeline.

Skipping Automation Testing Pitfall

Can you assess the pitfall when automated testing is ignored in the continuous delivery pipeline?

Despite the fact, the overall software delivery chain is agile, the undercut automation testing will stop the CD pipeline to derive the core value from the agility.

Developments teams will remain dependent and can’t change the frameworks intuitively as they would not know if the testing team would be compatible with the adaptation.

It prevents the scalability of a software delivery because software tests can’t scale but only when integrated with the continuous delivery chain.

Why Manual Testing Fails To Suffice The CI CD Pipeline?

Running unit tests cases, basic code quality, security-related test, coverage test cases, etc, and sharing the testing information across the operation team dictates the use of test-driven infrastructure. Although, you might need manual testing occasionally. To use automation testing is the de facto standard for a robust CI/CD pipeline and has been widely co-opted by a large number of organizations.

Along with automation, sometimes manual testing is sensible and straightforward. However, in CI CD pipeline, developers have to handle the small integration of code or updates, thereby not consuming as much time as in manual testing tedium.

Analyzing the pros and cons in making a technical approach let you decide which tests should be automated and which one as manual. It is obvious, repeated and labor-intensive tasks should be pushed to automation. Various types of tests that come in the context of automation are:

Units tests are conducted quickly leading to integration tests which will add the next level of complexity. Afterward system-wide tests and at last acceptance test(where some level of human interaction may involve).

It is profitable to distinguish and prioritize tests based on which are faster than the others.

Keeping that in mind, it becomes necessary to incorporate automation testing into your CI CD pipeline.

Importance Of Automation Testing In CI CD pipeline

Code generation in DevOps kick starts the automation. When the code is out to the production, the automation is carried out to the testing solutions in the CI /CD pipeline along with other toolsets. Let’s consider the key factors that make automation testing in CI CD pipeline an absolute necessity.

Gives A Boost To Shift Left Testing

CI CD pipeline comes into existence with a steady stream of changes with minimal delays that ensures the shortening of overall testing duration. It helps to progress on SDLC with shift-left testing which emphasizes the importance of finding bugs as soon as the requirement gathering phase of SDLC.

Shift-left testing methodology conveys that a bug which was discovered in the early stages of SDLC requires less cost & resource bandwidth to be dealt with, as a comparison to a bug that is found in later stages of SDLC. Interesting, isn’t it? Read our blog on how shift-left testing can help your product quality.

Faster DevOps Means Faster CI CD Pipeline, But What Makes Them Faster?

If you guessed automation testing, then you guessed it right! Integrating automated testing into continuous delivery pipelines covers a crucial component and being without that means things will fall short or an organization may not be able to reap the full benefits of DevOps.

Automated testing is the way by which you can make quality assurance as continuous, reliable, and agile as the rest of the operation in DevOps.

Should the development teams realize the transition to CI/CD, it will expose some challenges which arises off and on in path tracking; and will strengthen testing suites with automation.

Automation Testing In CI CD Pipeline Is An Efficient Move For Releasing Software Updates

Frequent software updates may barely fail to process a staggering number of bugs in a continuous delivery pipeline. The things can get off because consistent and speedy efforts are required by the testing team to address the issues. It increases the risk of a polluted build with problematic code; likely affecting the readability and maintainability of the code.

Skipping Automated Testing may further cause a delay in production and updating the build at regular intervals of time. When DevOps is not standardized with automated testing, a way around to avoid irregular and ad hoc can’t be developed.

The unplanned and random testings without any automated process, or planning eventually fail to streamline the software delivery processes.

Version Control, Roll-back, & Automated Regression Testing

One of the CI/CD pipeline best practice entails code in the central repository where developers can push the code and pull a request for the latest code available for a feature implementation or bug fixes. Using central repository, the code remains up-to-date and all the records of changes to identify differences in versions keep the builds in a maintainable form.

Developers render a kind of experience when they come across an issue which was not accidentally fixed in an earlier version of a software release, or while preparing or fixing the latest build; an unwanted issue pops out.

Latest build turns out to be different from what was actually planned. Now, the option left to save the limited time is roll-back rather than tracking the actual reasons, rather than figuring what actually went wrong? As that could be more deteriorating and time-consuming sometimes.

If bugs keep on popping up, they break the sanity, hinder the continuity. and a challenge to the quality of the application. The roll-back also brings presentations, documents, flow diagrams, etc. under the hood. So the version control system offers you a seamless roll-back feature to save time, effort, and pacify an uncontrolled situation which could arise during the production or release of a build.

To make the most of any CI CD pipeline, prevention of likelihood of rollbacks should be intended, which can be attained by fully automated software testing along with other well-designed components of the pipeline. Because even if you do roll back in a hurry to minimize the damage over customer’s user-experience, brand reputation, you need to evaluate the entire web application is working as it was before you pushed any code changes. For that quick evaluation automation testing in CI CD pipeline works like a magic.

Not convinced yet? Let us evaluate an example scenario related to automated cross browser testing.

What Is Cross Browser Testing?

Cross browser testing is a process of rendering a website over different browser to evaluate any UI anomalies. It can be done manually as well as automatically using open source frameworks such as Selenium.

When we practice cross browser testing manually, we may have to sit and run through our website on over hundreds of browsers, & OS combinations based on our target audience.

Now, if your website goes south due to a recent migrated code change into production & as a result, your website’s content, typography, images, icons, padding, company logo, etc. end up looking abrupt then it can cause havoc for your business. Especially, if that gets noticed by your competitors. They can take a screenshot and post a meme on you which won’t take long to go viral. To come out of such a crisis you haphazardly went for a roll-back. But what next?

Now, you need to make sure that the web application is working as good as it was before you pushed changes. If you start evaluating that by manual cross browser testing then I am afraid it can be very troublesome & time-consuming. But if you were incorporating automation testing in CI CD then all you need to do is run an already configured and tested cross browser test suite.

What makes it even better is a cloud-based cross browser testing platforn such as LambdaTest which allows you to test your website on 2000+ browsers and browser versions using an online Selenium Grid.

Going Parallel With Automation Testing In CI CD Pipeline

The ability to run multiple test cases in parallel is powerful indeed. If we consider our previous outage example then roll-back with automation testing can provide you a sense of relief. However, if the tests are run sequentially then the time taken could be significantly longer when compared with parallel testing. Parallel testing with Selenium can cut short your test cycles ten folds, assuring maximum test coverage with a shorter time period.

Going parallel with automation testing for CI CD pipeline is a key and boon in performing large test scripts at scale. LambdaTest Selenium Grid offers parallel testing for Selenium automation scripts.

Pro-tip: More time-consuming tests should wait for their turn till last, hence use them just before code enters production.

Maintaining Ephemeral Testing Environments Or Staging Environments

Using ephemeral testing environments in containers with the minimal state can forestall the side effects that can slip into subsequent runs of the test suite. Containerized testing environments are portable in which developers can easily replicate the configuration to be used later on in the CI CD pipeline. Also, there is no harm to environmental fidelity as you easily spin up the containers and destroy them.

Unlike ephemeral testing environments, Staging environments are supposed to be durable, long-lasting replica of production environments. Staging environments are pivotal for testing every change prior pushing it to the live web-application. But how do we go about testing a website locally on different browsers?

LambdaTest provides you with an SSH tunnel for Selenium automation testing which connects your local machine to our cloud servers. Ensure your website is up to the mark on more than 2000+ browsers before you make it live.

CI CD pipeline is crucial for migrating chances from one staging environment to another, also responsible for final migration to production post sign-off. Performing local automation testing in CI CD pipeline can help you come up with lesser outages, along with a seamless UI & UX, as you know how well your website may look once it goes live.

Development and Testing Goes Hand In Hand

IT Operation when integrated with the development team construct a DevOps. Although, programmers broadcast a message to system admins to deploy the software in production and similarly, the constant communication leads to the faster software delivery with maximum visibility. Nonetheless, it can’t wipe out the role of automation testing.

Automation testing is a prerequisite in DevOps without which a software delivery can’t be optimized through which a development and operation teams become able to work in tandem.

That means that automation testing needs to be introduced to achieve the true essence of CI/CD. It further makes the coordination easy among the development and IT Ops teams.

Eliminating Roadblocks

As all the changes are going to pass through CI/CD systems, it will eliminate or minimize the problematic resources. Complex running tests should be followed after the build gets validated by quick-running tests.

Splitting testing efforts can effectively undermine the effects of size and complexity of larger tests which create a deployment risk in larger products. Hence, smaller versions are recommended for a quick release of the build.

Once you split these tests, putting them in the queue and running them in parallel using automation testing for CI CD pipeline will help you with a robust mechanism, allowing you to find & eliminate tiny roadblocks.

Better Product Visibility & Feedback

Automated tests such as unit or interface testing provide greater visibility on the product’s state at any point of the time. Test automation for CI CD is a way to retrieve the feedback for developers so that a quick fix can take place to always manage a build in a releasable stage.

Easy Reconfiguration With Automation Testing In CI CD Pipeline

Test automation implies most of the reconfiguration can be enabled automatically. A tendency to adjust configurations or framework with the advent of new technology or when the requirement might change, at any given point of time, makes the CI/CD pipeline robust.

CI/CD Best Practices for DevOps Journey

You can find potential benefits by incorporating a set of practices which will define how a CI/CD system can be maintained and implemented efficiently.

Cutting-down Tests of Low Values

In CI/CD, comprehensive testing pipeline ensures nothing unexpected happens during the changes into the production deployment.

Changes have to move through the process so a dependable and fast pipeline can stop hindering the development velocity.

The much better idea is to scale out the CI/CD infrastructure with optimizing tests. On the other hand, the passage of time can reinforce some critical decisions with respect to the relative value of tests.

It is also logical to filter your test suites by cutting down some of the tests with low values so that you can increase the speed of your heavily used pipelines.

Reliable Performance Validation With Automation Testing In CI CD Pipeline

Performance testing remains out of the scope due to the complexity and sometimes scenario is so exceedingly onerous that only manual testing is able to move things forward. Nevertheless, most of the times companies make few tweaks and changes in approach to scale the breadth of automated performance testing.

After understanding the difference between performance and functional testing, companies need to tailor a level based test plan which determines the layers for automated performance testing.

Contributors and stakeholders understand the limitation of performance testing, and when a realistic understanding allows the changes in behavior around the way, positive results start appearing!

In automation testing, the code moves from test to production via staging environment.

In functional testing, logic is checked to decide pass or fail. Unlike Functional testing, performance tests put a limit. It is particularly sensitive in terms of the details of the runtime environment.

Performance testing depends on infrastructure that must be consistently appropriate.

It is antithetical if a runtime environment is not provisioned to support the purpose of the tests. In performance testing, execution time counts. Depending on virtual test nodes in parallel execution, time can vary and can take a lot of time indeed.

Waiting around for a long time in CI/CD is an impediment as CI/CD is all about moving code fast from the development environment. Therefore, performance testing can’t take place within the CI/CD pipeline and is processed before the code moves to the production.

That means large-scale performance testing is moved out of the CI/CD pipeline. And, performance testing requires an environment that is identical to the production environment.

For most of the CI/CD environments, it is not feasible to support a production like a runtime environment. It is expensive and companies approach the cloud-based testing services that allow mission-critical performance testing.

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p class=”text-cta”>Curious for more? You can check these Top 16 Best Practices Of CI/CD Pipeline To Speed Test Automation

Automation Testing In CI CD Pipeline Is Only As Good As Your Automation Tool

Continuous Integration, a cornerstone technique of DevOps merges the code updates into the code repositories but what if code repositories or integration servers make a transformation in the future. When the organization decides to change a web app into a hybrid app, similarly many development changes will take place that will ask for a broad array of frameworks. An adaptation into a kind of testing solutions that can support the changing needs and maintain the agility of continuous delivery pipeline will become inevitable.

CI/CD, when augmented by robust tooling, reduces the time to integrate changes, minimizes errors during integration, and increases project velocity. A plethora of tools exist, ranging from free, open-source to commercial. They all are designed to support different testing types and technologies.

You can make a decision based on your experience, budget, and requirements. Keep on looking at the pros and cons of the tool you plan to select such as how many concurrent builds you require or how much time is needed for your data retention.

If you are looking for a web testing solution that provides automation testing for CI CD then LambdaTest is your go-to platform. It provides a scalable, online Selenium Grid for automated cross browser testing, along with integrations to multiple CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, Travis CI, CircleCI, etc.

That is not all, with LambdaTest, you can even perform automated cross browser testing with Selenium on locally hosted web pages or web-app. Plus, you can execute multiple test scripts in parallel. You also get integrations with project management tools such as JIRA, asana, Trello, etc. for easy bug logging & better collaboration among colleagues.

Along with Selenium automation, LambdaTest provides a complete browser compatibility testing solution by offering responsive testing, bulk screenshot testing, visual regression testing and more.

Conclusion

By adopting or arming your developers with CI CD pipeline you can keep up with the rapid demands of modern SDLC methodologies such as Agile, Kanban, etc. A CI CD pipeline would empower you to push code changes live from your Staging environment to Production environment on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis. Splitting your tests on the basis of complexity and efforts is always a wise move. Automation testing in CI CD will help you push your code changes from staging environments to production, along with organized version control for roll-back scenarios. If you are running an exhaustive test suite then parallel testing can help you save a considerable amount of time. Adios!

Written by Hamid Akhtar

Hamid belongs to the technical background. He is consistent in distributing valuable content to the target audience — with the objective of tightening the relationship with readers.

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