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Streamline Your Integration Testing Process with Continuous Integration

Streamline Your Integration Testing Process with Continuous Integration

April 19, 2023
 / 
by 
Sohaib Zaidi

In this era of Agile and DevOps, code changes are taking place more than ever. Rather than waiting for long periods of time or until a major release, developers are integrating their code changes into the shared repository several times a day to deliver applications at speed. However, to ensure that changes in the code don’t have a negative impact on existing functionality or stability of the application, testing needs to be done.  This is where continuous integration testing comes in.

In this blog, we’ll cover what continuous integration testing is, how it differs from conventional testing, its challenges, and the best practices to follow to ensure adequate risk coverage at speed. 

What is continuous integration testing?

The term continuous integration testing is derived by combining “continuous integration” practice with “testing”. Continuous integration (CI) is often used in combination with other Agile and DevOps practices to facilitate rapid and frequent delivery of software applications with higher quality and fewer defects. 

This is a software development practice in which developers integrate their code changes into the shared repository several times a day, rather than waiting for long periods of time or until a major release.

However, to ensure the quality of application, testing is of paramount importance. However, traditional testing approaches don’t stand with continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment process since it is performed at the end of the development cycle, after all the code has been written and integrated. 

This necessitates continuous integration testing as it automates build, test, and deployment process. Continuous integration testing is focused on detecting and addressing issues early in the development cycle, rather than waiting until the end of the cycle to perform comprehensive testing.

Read: Master the Art of Integration Testing: Techniques and Best Practices

Traditional Testing Vs. Continuous Integration Testing    

Continuous Integration Testing Traditional Testing
The focus is on detecting and addressing issues early in the development cycle. Testing is performed at the end of the development cycle, after all the code has been written and integrated.
It involves a set of automated testing activities, including unit testing, integration testing, and acceptance testing. It involves a comprehensive set of manual testing and automated testing activities.
It ensures that code changes are thoroughly tested before being integrated into the software application in a timely and efficient manner, lowering the risk of defects and conflicts. It validates that the software application meets the required specifications and quality standards.
As it is performed continuously and rapidly as code changes are integrated, it saves a lot of time and effort. Since it takes place at the end of development, it consumes a lot of time due to much rework.
It requires test automation as is enabled by a set of tools and technologies that automate the integration, testing, and deployment processes. It can be done manually. However, the downsides are it is slow, expensive, and has very limited coverage.

As it has already been discussed that continuous integration involves a set of processes and activities that lead to software applications to be automatically built, tested, and deployed. Thus, the most important step for continuous integration is setting up automated testing.

Getting started with test automation

Understanding the different types of tests

Automated tests need to be run for every change that is made to the main repository. Some of the tests that need to be covered include Unit tests, Integration tests, Acceptance tests, and UI tests. It is recommended that you should focus on every branch of your repository to capture issues early and minimize disruptions for your team.

Run your tests automatically

Continuous integration can only be achieved if you run tests on every change that gets pushed back to the main branch. Thus, you need a test automation platform that can be used to run tests in parallel in order to provide quick feedback to developers so that a fast software delivery can be achieved.

Use code coverage to find untested code

It is a good idea to use automated testing in conjunction with a test coverage tool to determine how much of your software is covered by your test suite once you have adopted automated testing. You can discover untested code with the aid of a code coverage tool, but in the end, the effectiveness of your tests will be what counts.

Best practices for Continuous Integration Testing

Automate tests: Test automation is critical for continuous integration testing. Automate as many tests as possible, including unit tests, integration tests, and acceptance tests. It would be great if you use an automated testing tool to run the tests automatically after every code change.

Run tests in parallel: To reduce the overall testing time, you need to run tests in parallel. It is recommended that you should use tools and frameworks that support parallel test execution.

Maintain a clean codebase: Maintain a clean and well-organized codebase to reduce the likelihood of conflicts and defects. 

Monitor test results: Always use a test automation tool that can perform change impact assessment to offer you detailed reports and analytics. 

Integrate early and often: Integrate code changes early and often to reduce the risk of conflicts and defects. Use version control tools to manage code changes and ensure that all team members are working with the same codebase.

Prioritize testing: Prioritize testing in the development process and ensure that it is integrated into the overall development workflow. Use testing metrics to measure the effectiveness of testing and identify areas for improvement.

Collaborate effectively: Collaborate effectively with team members to ensure that everyone is aware of the testing process and understands their role. Use communication tools to share test results, reports, and feedback.

Read: Integration Testing in DevOps: Best Practices and Key Considerations

What are the benefits of test automation and continuous integration?

Improved efficiency: Leveraging test automation and continuous integration, software development teams work more efficiently as it saves time and reduces effort required for testing, enabling faster feedback, and speeding up the overall development process.

Increased accuracy: When test automation is used in the continuous integration process, it improves the accuracy and reliability of testing. Furthermore, it also reduces the likelihood of human errors and inconsistencies.

Read: Efficiency at its Best: Automated Integration Testing

Improved collaboration: Test automation and continuous integration help to promote collaboration and communication between team members by providing a shared understanding of the testing process and results.

Reduced costs: Since test automation enables continuous testing, it ensures quick feedback on the build. Thus, defects can be rectified during the development phase, reducing the overall costs on bug fixing.  

Faster time-to-market: Test automation and continuous integration enable teams to deliver software applications more quickly by enabling faster feedback, reducing the time required for testing, while maintaining the quality of the software.

As you’re now aware of the benefits of continuous integration testing, there are also certain challenges that you may encounter.

Challenges in continuous integration testing

Test suite maintenance: There are numerous enterprise applications that come packed with dynamic elements, dynamic tables, and iframes. Some of the common examples include Oracle Cloud Apps, Salesforce, SAP, and Dynamic 365. Thus, it is recommended that you should opt for a test automation tool that autonomously heals the test scripts so that they can be used effortlessly. 

Test data management: Test data management can be a significant challenge in continuous integration testing, especially when dealing with large and complex data sets. Teams need to ensure that the test data is up-to-date, relevant, and accurate. 

Read: The Top Integration Testing Tools for Effortless Software Integration

Continuous integration infrastructure: Setting up and maintaining a continuous integration infrastructure can be complex and time-consuming. Furthermore, you need to ensure that the infrastructure is reliable, scalable, and secure.

Test automation: Implementing automated testing can be very challenging if you don’t select the right test automation tool. For instance, writing effective and maintainable automated tests can be daunting with code based test automation platforms as you need resources with specialized skills and knowledge. Opt for a no code test automation platform that can be operated with minimum training without programming knowledge. 

Read: Find Your Perfect Fit: A Guide to Integration Testing Frameworks

Integration testing: Integration testing can be a challenge, especially when dealing with complex systems that involve multiple components and dependencies. Teams need to ensure that they have the test automation platform that perfectly covers their technology stack. 

Read: Accelerate Integration Process with Automated Integration Testing in Agile

Opkey is one such test automation platform that supports 14+ ERPs and 100+ enterprise applications. Furthermore, Opkey is a zero code platform with self-healing capabilities that can be integrated seamlessly with continuous integration tools.

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