What is Test Maintenance?
February 23, 2022

What Is Test Maintenance? A Guide To Keeping Tests Healthy

Automation

When companies grow, they usually turn to automated testing as a way to save time and money. However, the initial task of creating automated tests is only part of the job.

Test maintenance is an integral aspect of test automation. Furthermore, it’s important to consider that test maintenance will continuously take time, as there are always changes to code, framework, integration, and other components of your application.

Related Resources >> Automated Regression Testing: A Comprehensive Guide

This blog will give an overview of test maintenance, including what it is, how to keep tests healthy, and how to save time on this important testing task.

What is Test Maintenance?

Test maintenance is the process of repairing tests so they stay up to date with code changes. It is also important to update your automation framework infrastructure if there are any changes to the tools or third-party libraries that you use.

Code changes can happen often in agile companies, even several times a day. Therefore, test maintenance is critical to keeping your tests up to date with the code changes.

Staying aware of these changes is also a big part of test maintenance, particularly when you consider the need for regression testing.

Regression Test Maintenance

If you add new features to your web or mobile apps, then you need regression testing in place to assure that these new features did not break any existing functionality.

Regression testing has become a crucial part of the software development life cycle, and often get automated to save time on tests that are repeatable and more tedious when done manually. 

An automated regression testing suite usually contains a large number of tests that require test maintenance to ensure that the application is being validated properly. The hard part is that it can be difficult to balance the time spent on test maintenance while also creating and executing many high-quality tests within each sprint cycle. 

Test Maintenance in the CI/CD Pipeline

To help test faster to meet the demands of each sprint, many companies run their automated tests through continuous integration and continuous delivery. It’s important to include testing after each commit as part of your CI/CD pipeline to help your team identify and resolve issues more quickly.

When you have CI in place, it’s also important that your tests are always up to date. In this case, test maintenance is a priority, as builds won’t be completed if tests fail.

In addition, tests that are not maintained or updated will leave applications vulnerable to bugs that may leak to production. Luckily, reporting can help you with test maintenance by helping QA engineers determine if there’s a broken test that the team needs to update.

So, How Can You Keep Tests Healthy?

Following best practices in keeping tests healthy will help you reduce maintenance time for mobile apps. It will also help you to keep code clean and readable.

Below are some best practices you should follow to decrease the time and effort spent maintaining tests while increasing code quality.

Design Before Automating

Before you start to write test scripts, it’s important to understand what tests need to be written.

As we all know, it’s impossible to automate everything. That being said, when designing tests for automation, you should consider factors that include:

  • Which features are used the most.
  • Different input values.
  • How much time is spent on manual testing.

That’s why proper planning and test design can play an important role in test maintenance.

Update All Tests From One Place 

Each app has several screens. And each of these screens contains different elements. These elements can be reused in different tests. When one element locator is changed, it needs to be updated in all the tests that use it.

Maintenance time will take a while in this case because you need to manually go through every test that uses a locator and update it. Imagine the manual workload if you had thousands of tests!

By using a page object model, you update the locator in one place. Once done, tests will automatically use the updated locator. The same applies to methods. You can write one method and reuse it on different test classes. Using a page object model can save you a lot of time on daily test maintenance.

Another point of making tests healthy is to use variables in your code instead of hard-coding values. This can also save time during test creation because you create one method to cover different scenarios.

As with a page object model, if a variable is changed, you can update it in one place instead of manually changing multiple classes where the method is used.

Collaborate With Developers Regarding Locators

When talking about mobile testing, it’s important to have identifiers for the locators that you’ll use in your tests. For iOS apps, and sometimes for Android, XPath is used to identify the element instead of an ID.

QA engineers can still use XPath in their tests; however, a recommended best practice is to have IDs such as a class name for the element.

Why is an ID preferred to XPath?

First of all, using XPath increases test runtime. When using XPath, the system goes through the entire DOM tree to find the element. But with an ID, the system finds the element much faster.

Second, tests will break more often if there’s any change to the DOM tree, even when the locator itself isn’t changed. Having IDs is a better way to locate the element. That’s why it’s important to collaborate with developers—so that they can provide IDs for elements in use. Doing so will help reduce precious time on test execution as well.

Catch False Failures by Handling Waits

Another way to have tests without false failures is to wait on elements before doing any action.

It is very common to see false errors as a result of some timeout issue where the element didn’t appear when the action was being performed. By handling waits properly, this problem will go away and tests will be more stable.

Do Sanity Checks on Code

Even following best practices, it’s still important to have code checked by another person. With the help of a reviewer, inconsistencies, missing scenarios, or simply suggestions to improve code can be addressed.

Optimize for Different Screen Resolutions

In today’s mobile world, there are thousands of types of devices people use every day. If you have a mobile app, it should work on any device and any screen resolution.

Usually, tests run on multiple devices to cover large, standard, and small screens to support different resolutions. Some elements are visible on a large screen, but not on a small screen.

It becomes challenging to get the necessary coverage in tests. However, it’s important to cover different sizes so that end users won’t face any issues while using the app.

By testing in the cloud, you can achieve proper test coverage without having to set up the whole infrastructure in-house. Cloud testing platforms also provide easy integrations that you need to do only once, which will also save time. As such, you won’t need to maintain your device farm all the time to have devices up to date.

Consider Maintenance in Your Process

Test maintenance takes time, so it’s important to consider it when planning projects. If there are significant changes to the code, it might take most of your time just to maintain your tests. It is better to plan for it in advance to avoid any surprises on the way.

Bottom Line

As you can see, only writing automated tests is not enough. Test maintenance is a mandatory task in the day-to-day responsibilities of a QA engineer. 

While test maintenance is an important part of the test automation process, it can also be very time-consuming.

Perfecto Scriptless significantly reduces overall time spent on test maintenance with a smart locators algorithm that chooses the best match for the element locator regardless of its position on the screen. These smart locators are a huge time-saver. You do not need to manage locators or plug in unique IDs.

Another advantage Perfecto Scriptless provides is automated. With AI technology, Perfecto can analyze your tests, learn your application, and then adjust tests in case of changes. 

Watch Perfecto in Action

Join an upcoming product demo to learn more about Perfecto's test maintenance capabilities. 

Join a Demo