CI/CD Pipeline: 15 Best Practices for Successful Test Automation

By Veritis

CI/CD Pipeline: 15 Best Practices for Successful Test Automation

Changing consumer preferences and growing market demands have impacted the software development life cycle on a larger scale. This translated into the rise in demand for faster innovation, followed by early product development, release, and time to market. Different SDLC phases had to accelerate their delivery mechanisms to meet the speeds.

And here is where automation arrived as an advantage in accelerating and streamlining internal processes. The role of automation is much spoken about in software testing, referred to as ‘Test Automation’ and ‘Automation Testing.’

While ‘Automation Testing’ is a software technique that tests and compares the actual outcome with the expected outcome, Test Automation automates repetitive and other testing tasks that are tough to perform manually.

The continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) market is experiencing significant growth, with projections indicating it will surge to USD 45.8 billion by 2027, boasting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.7%. According to the State of DevOps Report, this remarkable expansion is fueled by the widespread adoption of CI/CD pipelines, as evidenced by reports suggesting that 86% of organizations are either utilizing or planning to implement such pipelines.

Moreover, the advantages of CI/CD implementation are evident, particularly among high-performing organizations, where 75% have fully embraced CI/CD pipelines compared to only 42% of low-performing counterparts. These high-performing entities report notable benefits, including 50% faster code deployment, 20% higher developer productivity, and a significant 70% failure reduction, as outlined in the XebiaLabs CI/CD Benchmark Report.

Test Automation best practices have a crucial role in detecting bugs, automating repetitive tasks, improving execution speeds, etc., with the sole intention of reducing the time to test software. However, a successful testing CI CD process is a combination of automation and an effective testing strategy.

Determining Essential Testing Requirements

Determining Essential Testing Requirements

Determining what to test and how to approach automation in CI/CD pipelines is crucial for efficiency without compromising quality. While automating every test is impractical due to increased execution time, identifying critical unit and integration testing scenarios helps optimize testing efforts. Unit testing, typically integrated into the CI portion of the continuous delivery pipeline, focuses on specific aspects of code functionality:

1) Entry and Exit Points

Unit tests validate the input and output of code, ensuring correct functionality. By testing individual code components, failures are minimized when integrated.

2) Isolated Functionality

Functions operating independently, such as authentication or calculators in microservice architectures, can achieve 100% unit test coverage. They require no external dependencies, facilitating thorough testing.

3) Boundary Value Validations

Unit tests can comprehensively test code behavior with valid or invalid inputs. This approach avoids exhaustive manual testing by covering various scenarios efficiently.

4) Clear Data Permutations

Code handling precise data inputs and outputs is ideal for unit testing. Complex data scenarios are better addressed at the integration level due to potential mocking and performance impact challenges.

5) Security and Performance

While primarily tested at the integration level, unit tests can validate security and performance. Code should handle invalid authentication and injections and perform efficiently. Unit tests help ensure individual code-level robustness, contributing to overall system integrity. In essence, strategic unit testing targets specific code components, enhancing reliability while minimizing redundancy in testing efforts.

In essence, strategic unit testing targets specific code components, enhancing reliability while minimizing redundancy in testing efforts.


Also Read: CI/CD Service Provider 


15 CI/CD Practices That Enhance Test Automation Capabilities

15 CI/CD Practices That Enhance Test Automation Capabilities

1) Identify and Categorize Tests

All tests cannot be automated every time, while some test cases work well with the manual CI CD process. It is important to identify and categorize the test cases that can be automated by frequency and skillset.

  • By Frequency

Test cases with high frequency consume time, personnel, and resources and are prone to human errors. So, automating them improves efficiency and eliminates possible errors.

  • By Skillset

This set of test cases demands a high skillset and additional resources. This involves reliance on specific test experts and will be challenging in emergencies. Automating them eliminates the dependency challenge and makes it easy for anyone to run them once automated.

2) Automate as Many Tests Possible

Develop an effective testing strategy with a detailed understanding of all CI CD processes. Categorize the test cases by manual and automation testing requirements. Test cases that are frequent and require special skills are ideal for automation. Automate the maximum possible.

3) Run Multiple Tests in Parallel

Running multiple tests in parallel increases the testing speeds and shortens testing turnaround time. If you have a limited infrastructure, try a cloud-based testing infrastructure to run multiple tests.

4) Start with Simple Tests

Tests are often considered lightweight and heavyweight, each requiring different timelines and resources. So, it’s recommended to run lightweight tests first, as they can run faster, and then go for the heavyweight tests that are often complex and time-consuming.

5) Prefer a Clean Testing Environment

Make sure to use a clean testing environment that is not impacted by the residual effects of the previous tests. This can often be a temporary environment that can be discarded for every new test. It is recommended to use containers to avoid this concern of residual effects on new tests. Containers minimize the effect of different host environments and integrate components through standard APIs.

6) Version Control

Issues/flaws that should have been included in previous releases often arise while executing app tests. This situation naturally demands root cause analysis, which can often consume more time and result in missing features in the production environment. This is where it is recommended to roll back the changes developers implemented to fix issues in the previous releases. To do so, you need a version control system.

7) Single-click Code Migration

Migrating code changes between environments is challenging and usually consumes time and effort. Automated procedures like single-click code migration can do this for you without much effort, alongside reducing conflicts between operations. Embedding such a procedure into infrastructure boosts operational and production capabilities.

8) CI/CD Pipeline is Key

The CI/CD automation pipeline plays a significant role in ensuring the successful movement of code changes through automated testing cycles and further to staging and production. Establish comprehensive testing practices along the pipeline and ensure the pipeline is clean, efficient, fast, and reliable.

9) Isolate and Secure CI/CD Environment

Considering the access that a CI/CD testing infrastructure has to critical components such as credentials, data, apps, etc., it’s essential to safeguard the CI/CD platform from cyberattacks to avoid any significant loss or CI CD process shutdown. To keep it secured, isolating the CI/CD testing environment and controlling access (exempting developers) to certain assets is recommended.

10) Central Code Repository

Experts recommend the usage of a central repository when dealing with code in a software development environment. This repository is the location where developers place the source code. Establishing a central repository for code ensures timely updates and sync with the latest source code.

11) Continuous Learning

Given that SDLC involves different phases, learning from previous projects can help you avoid similar instances in the future. This requires deep analysis, evaluation, and documentation of techniques used, best practices, gaps, and everything about earlier cases to streamline and improvise future processes.

12) One-way Mechanism

Ensure the CI/CD platform pipeline is the only mechanism to run your process chain. Continuous integration testing involves implementing best practices for the entire CI CD process chain. Any changes to internal processes adhere to the standards and policies set for the continuous delivery pipeline. Any failure prevents the process from moving to further stages until it’s rectified. The result would be the clean code pushed to production.

13) Continuous Feedback

A continuous feedback system is essential to check the automation tools’ functioning and ensure they generate desired results. Feedback will help understand bugs and rectify test scripts to ensure the perfect code enters the production phase. Unclear reports often demand the rewriting of test scripts. Continuous feedback helps identify bugs, rewrite code, and improve test processes.

14) Transparency

Perfect sync among teams is critical to ensure success. Giving regular status about test cases, the continuous integration tools boost transparency in the process chain. This naturally results in increased team collaboration and enhances testing quality and efficiency.

15) Right Tooling

While the above factors show the path for successful test automation best practices through the CI/CD pipeline, proper tooling plays a crucial role in this journey. Choosing the CI/CD tools that can perform any testing function is essential. Looking for such practical tools avoids deviation in the middle of product development.

Understanding the DevOps CI/CD Pipeline Model

Understanding the DevOps CI/CD Pipeline Model

Conclusion

Implementing these CI/CD best practices for successful test automation can significantly enhance development, testing, and deployment cycle capabilities. By prioritizing automation, collaboration, and continuous improvement, teams can streamline workflows, accelerate delivery, and deliver high-quality software consistently. Get your Development and QA teams on board to embrace these best practices and unlock the full potential of CI/CD automation for your organization’s success.

Veritis, the Stevie and Globee Business Awards winner, offers comprehensive solutions and expertise in implementing CI/CD pipelines tailored to your needs. With our proven track record in delivering innovative IT solutions, we help organizations optimize their software delivery CI CD processes and achieve their business objectives efficiently. Partner with Veritis to embark on your journey towards seamless automation and accelerated software delivery.

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