11 Actionable Insights To Write Better Code Automation

Akash Agarwal

Posted On: March 4, 2024

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Read time17 Min Read

Code automation accelerates processes and enhances reliability through the automated execution of tasks. We constantly need improvement and optimization to create top-notch code automation.

Automated scripts not only perform tasks efficiently, but they also help you to develop and maintain your codebase efficiently and sustainably. Whether it’s reducing manual effort, speeding up test execution time, or improving overall performance, the insights discussed in the blog will help you transform your coding experience.

Let’s explore some strategies to write a better automation code. This article discusses valuable insights to ensure your code functions correctly and enhances its efficiency and readability.

What Is Code Automation?

Code automation uses automated tools, scripts, or software to perform software development or other IT operations tasks without manual input. The aim is to automate and speed up repetitive or time-consuming tasks, increase productivity, and minimize the risk of mistakes.

Code automation can be used at different software development life cycle levels and other IT processes. Here are some common areas where code automation can be employed:

Why Is Code Automation Important?

Code automation is important as it benefits the software development process and overall business operations. Here are some key reasons why code automation is considered important:

  • Efficiency: Code automation eliminates manual effort, which reduces the time and resources required for repetitive tasks.
  • Quality Assurance: Automated processes ensure consistency in testing and deployment, reducing the likelihood of human errors and enhancing overall software quality.
  • Consistency: Automated processes enforce coding standards and uniform task execution, mitigating human error and ensuring a consistent and maintainable codebase.
  • Reliability: Automated tests covering unit, integration, and regression aspects, providing consistent and early feedback, enhancing confidence in software functionality and stability.
  • Scalability: Through parallel testing and adaptable workflows, code automation scales to meet the demands of growing software projects and expanding development teams.
  • Cost Saving: By automating repetitive tasks, development teams can optimize resources and focus on more complex and creative aspects of software development.
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There is a big difference between writing code and well-structured and optimized code.
By including certain practices, it is possible to transform an average and unoptimized code into one that is well-structured, fully optimized, and efficient. Let’s discuss a few best practices to write better automation code:

Structure Your Codes Well

Establishing a robust foundation for your code automation tests is pivotal for creating a structured, organized, and maintainable test code. This involves adopting various practices and techniques to ensure clarity, efficiency, and scalability in your test automation framework. Let’s discuss a few below:

  • Project Structure with Maven or Gradle: Consider structuring your test projects using build automation tools like Maven or Gradle. These tools provide predefined project structures with directories such as src and test and configuration files like pom.xml or build.gradle, and runner files. This standardized structure facilitates project organization and management.
  • Design Patterns: Implement design patterns like the Page Object Model (POM) or Page Factory to enhance test structure and maintainability. These patterns promote the separation of test logic from UI elements, resulting in more modular and reusable tests. By encapsulating page-specific interactions and elements within dedicated page classes, tests become more resilient to UI changes and easier to maintain. Let us know more about these design patterns.
    • Page Factory: Page Factory is a design pattern introduced by the Selenium WebDriver framework to enhance the efficiency and maintainability of code automation. It serves as a factory for creating page objects, which represent the web pages or sections of a web application.

      The key concept of Page Factory is to centralize the initialization of web elements on a page to reduce code duplication and improve code readability instead of locating elements individually in each test case or page object.

    • Page Object Model: Page Object Model is another popular design pattern used in automation testing to represent web pages as objects in code. In POM, each web page is represented as a separate class that encapsulates the page’s elements and actions that can be performed on them.

      The primary goal of POM is to create a separation of concerns by abstracting the interaction with web elements from test logic. Methods that perform specific actions, such as clicking buttons or entering text into input fields, are used in test cases to interact with page objects.

  • Locator Management: Maintain a separate class file for managing locators (e.g., XPath, CSS selectors) used in test automation. Centralizing locator definitions in a dedicated class allows you to easily update locators without modifying test code, improving maintainability and reducing duplication.
  • Environment Configuration: Set up preconditions and environment configurations according to the specific environment in which you intend to run your tests. This may include configuring test data, initializing test environments, and handling dependencies to ensure consistent and reliable test execution across different environments (e.g., development, staging, production).
  • Avoiding Multi-Level Inheritance: Minimize reliance on multilevel inheritance and use a Page Object Manager instead. While inheritance can lead to complex and tightly coupled test code, a Page Object Manager simplifies test structure by managing instances of page objects and their interactions. This approach promotes code reuse, enhances maintainability, and mitigates the risks associated with deep inheritance hierarchies.

Use Explicit/Fluent Waits

Effective automation testing code necessitates strategic pauses to await specific elements before proceeding with operations or events. These waiting periods should be purposeful and flexible, as rigid delays can detrimentally affect script performance.

Rather than relying on hardcoded sleep statements that can slow down tests and make them more susceptible to fragility, employing explicit waits ensures a synchronized flow of events, enhancing the robustness and reliability of the code automation.

Explicit waits promote a dynamic and responsive automation suite, enhancing the overall reliability of tests. On the other hand, not employing explicit waits may result in fragile tests, increased maintenance efforts, delayed test execution, and unreliable test results, compromising the effectiveness and efficiency of the code automation.

Explicit and Fluent Waits vs. Implicit Waits and Thread.sleep

  • Explicit and fluent wait offers more granular control over the waiting conditions and can be applied selectively to specific elements or actions.
  • Unlike implicit waits, explicit waits allow waiting for specific conditions (such as element visibility, presence, or clickability) using the Selenium WebDriverWait class combined with an interface provided in Selenium WebDriver called ExpectedConditions.
  • Explicit and fluent waits provide dynamic synchronization, allowing the WebDriver to wait only as long as necessary for the expected conditions to be met, leading to faster test execution times.

Explore Selenium waits for a comprehensive understanding of how they optimize web automation processes. Dive deep into their functionality to enhance your scripting precision.

Parameterize Test Data

In the quest for flexible and repeatable Java automation testing, parameterizing test data is a key strategy. By parameterizing test data, you increase the extensibility of your tests. You move away from the monolithic nature of the hardcoded data inside the test code.

Consider a common scenario in software testing where applications are deployed across multiple environments, such as development, staging, and production. Each environment may have its own set of credentials for accessing the application. Hardcoding these credentials directly into test scripts leads to inflexible tests tied to specific environments.

To address this challenge, parameterizing test data allows testers to define credentials dynamically based on the target environment. Testers can easily switch between environments without modifying the test code by leveraging a configuration file or an external data source, such as properties files or environment-specific profiles.

In this example, the test data (i.e., username and password) is parameterized based on the specified environment and retrieved from system properties. By maintaining separate configurations for each environment in the configuration file (ConfigReader), testers can seamlessly switch between environments by specifying the desired environment during test execution.

Parameterizing test data not only streamlines updates but also contributes to the scalability of your code automation, accommodating changes in test conditions without requiring modifications to the test logic.

Use of Test DataProvider

TestNG DataProvider is a powerful tool for implementing data driven testing. It adds a layer of versatility and efficiency to your test suite. By harnessing TestNG DataProvider, testers can execute the same test logic with different input data sets, enhancing test coverage and promoting reusability.

The @DataProvider annotation marks the getLoginData() method as a DataProvider, specifying that it returns a two-dimensional array of objects. Each object in the array contains the login data — the first one being the username and the second being the password.

The @Test annotation on the testLogin() method indicates that it is a test method accepting the test data from loginData which is the DataProvider. The test data is fed one by one as the arguments to the testLogin() which then can be used to test and validate the user authentication API with different username and password combinations. However, in this case, we just printed the array of username and password.

Data-driven testing with TestNG DataProvider allows testers to execute the same test logic with various combinations of input data, facilitating thorough testing of different scenarios without duplicating test code. This approach promotes code reuse, simplifies test maintenance, and enhances test coverage by enabling the testing of multiple scenarios with minimal effort.

In addition to TestNG DataProvider, similar data-driven use cases can be achieved in behavior driven testing frameworks like Cucumber using scenario outlines and examples. This allows testers to define scenarios with placeholder values and provide examples with specific data sets, enabling data-driven testing in a BDD context.

Modularization

The practice of modularization in code automation offers multiple advantages crucial for building robust and maintainable test suites. Modularization involves breaking down complex test scenarios into smaller, self-contained modules or functions. This approach enhances code organization and makes it easier to understand, update, and rectify. Each module can represent a specific functionality or feature, promoting code reuse and reducing redundancy.

Modularization facilitates collaboration among team members. The individual modules can be developed and tested independently. Moreover, when changes or updates are necessary, developers can focus on specific modules, minimizing the risk of unintended side effects across the entire codebase. Apart from improving the efficiency of test development, this approach also contributes to the scalability and maintainability of the test suite.

Choosing Appropriate Log Levels

When implementing logging in your code automation, it is essential to use different log levels appropriately. Log levels allow you to categorize messages based on their importance and relevance, helping you tailor the visibility of information depending on the context.

Let’s look at an example of how an appropriate choice of log levels can make automation code more readable.

The Java Logger example above shows the log level for both the test start and completion messages. However, consider using different log levels based on the significance of the message. For instance:

In this revised example, the “debug” log level is employed for informative messages during debugging sessions but may not be necessary in a production environment. This practice allows you to control the verbosity of your logs, ensuring that detailed information is available when needed without messing with the logs during regular execution.

Use Scenario Context in BDD

Behavior-driven development (BDD) is a software development methodology that emphasizes collaboration between stakeholders to define and verify the behavior of a system. One essential feature of BDD frameworks is the ability to share context or state across multiple-step definitions within a scenario. This is where the concept of ScenarioContext comes into play.

ScenarioContext refers to the context or state which includes data and objects that are shared among different steps while running a scenario in a BDD framework. It acts as a container or storage mechanism for passing information between steps within the same scenario.

Explore SpecFlow ScenerioContext to understand more about ScenarioContext and its importance in BDD.

Create Utility Files

Test automation involves executing repetitive tasks to validate the functionality and behavior of software applications. Utility files can be used to simplify this process. These files contain commonly used methods and functions to perform specific actions or operations. These utility files are a repository of reusable code snippets that can be leveraged across multiple test scripts, promoting code reusability, readability, and maintainability.

Maintain Documentation

Maintaining comprehensive documentation is crucial to ensuring the efficiency, reliability, and scalability of automation efforts. Documentation is a guiding light for developers and testers, offering valuable insights into the codebase, its functionality, and its intended use. Let’s understand why documentation is vital in the world of code automation.

Key benefits of maintaining documentation

  • Knowledge Transfer: Well-maintained documentation is a valuable resource for facilitating knowledge transfer.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Documentation fosters collaboration and communication among team members by establishing a shared understanding of project requirements, design principles, and implementation details.
  • Code Understanding and Maintenance: Documentation enhances code comprehension by providing context, explanations, and usage examples.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Auditing: In regulated industries, maintaining thorough documentation is essential to comply with regulatory standards and facilitate auditing processes.

Use Listeners

Listeners are event-driven components that monitor test execution and respond to specific events, enabling customized actions and behaviors during test execution. In test automation frameworks such as TestNG and JUnit, listeners offer a powerful mechanism to augment test execution with additional functionalities, including logging, reporting, and error handling.

Key Benefits of Listeners:

  • Customized Reporting: Listeners facilitate the generation of customized test reports by capturing test execution events and aggregating relevant data. This enables stakeholders to gain insights into test execution progress, results, and failures in a format tailored to their requirements.
  • Error Handling and Recovery: Listeners can intercept test failures and exceptions, allowing for proactive error handling and recovery strategies. By implementing listeners to handle unexpected errors, testers can gracefully manage test failures and execute recovery actions, such as retrying failed tests or logging diagnostic information.
  • Integration with External Systems: Listeners seamlessly integrate with external systems and tools, enabling real-time data synchronization, notification, and feedback mechanisms. This fosters collaboration and automation across testing environments, continuous integration pipelines, and reporting platforms.

Take Screenshots Whenever Step Fails

Capturing screenshots of test step failures emerges as a valuable practice to augment test reporting and facilitate effective debugging. Screenshots provide visual evidence of the application’s state at the moment of failure, offering insights into potential issues and aiding in root cause analysis.

Key benefits of Taking Screenshots

  • Visual Verification: Screenshots serve as visual documentation of the application’s UI at the time of test failure, enabling testers to verify the expected and actual states of the application. This visual confirmation enhances the accuracy of bug reports and ensures clear communication between developers and testers.
  • Debugging Aid: Screenshots provide valuable context for debugging by capturing the UI elements, error messages, and unexpected behaviors encountered during test execution. Developers can use these screenshots for root cause analysis more efficiently and make targeted fixes, thereby accelerating the debugging process.
  • Historical References: Screenshots act as historical reference points for test failures, allowing testers to compare current failures with previous instances and track the evolution of issues over time. This historical context facilitates trend analysis, identifies recurring patterns, and informs long-term quality improvement strategies.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, with these 11 actionable tips, you’re all set to improve your code automation. Remember, code automation is not just about functionality but efficiency and elegance. These insights serve as valuable guidelines to craft code automation that impacts your development projects.

So, implement these insights in your coding journey, and watch as your code automation becomes robust and a powerful asset in your software development journey.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is low code automation?

Low code automation refers to using platforms or tools that enable the creation of software applications with minimal hand-coding and manual intervention. These platforms typically offer visual development interfaces and pre-built components, allowing users to build applications through configuration rather than traditional coding.

What is no code automation?

No code automation, or no-code development, is a method of building software applications without writing any code. Instead, users leverage visual development environments and intuitive interfaces to design, develop, and deploy applications using pre-built components and drag-and-drop functionality.

Is Python good for automation?

Yes, Python is widely regarded as an excellent programming language for automation due to its simplicity, readability, and extensive library support. Python’s rich ecosystem offers various libraries and frameworks tailored for automation tasks. It is a popular choice among developers and testers for scripting automated tests, web scraping, task automation, and more.

What is coded UI automation?

Coded UI automation, or UI automation testing, is a technique used to automate the testing of graphical user interfaces (GUIs). In this approach, testers write scripts or code to interact with the application’s user interface elements (such as buttons, text fields, and menus) and simulate user actions (such as clicks and keystrokes) to validate the behavior and functionality of the application under test. Coded UI automation helps ensure the reliability and quality of software applications by automating repetitive UI testing tasks.

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Akash Agarwal

Akash Kumar Agarwal is a skilled software engineer with a focus on web development and technical content writing. Committed to expanding his skill set and embracing new challenges, Akash is driven by a desire to make a positive impact in the tech industry. With excellent blogging and writing skills, he effectively communicates his insights to a wider audience, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in the field.

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