Each software project has a set of ‘processes & practices’ necessary for the successful implementation & deployment. The complexity of a project grows exponentially as it gets bigger and larger. The leadership team must try to test, develop, and incrementally release software to have minimal or no impact on existing software.
The success of mobile app developers is dependent on the seamless integration of code changes. Continuous Integration (CI), which automates mobile app testing and integration process, has become a vital practice in streamlining the development processes.
Mobile app development presents unique challenges due to the wide variety of devices and operating systems. A robust mobile device lab is a key component of effective Continuous Integration.
A Mobile Device Lab is a comprehensive testing platform that includes a variety of smartphones and tablet devices to simulate real-world scenarios.
This dedicated lab is the core of mobile CI, allowing developers to test their applications on various devices and ensure compatibility, functionality, or performance.
This article we will explore key strategies, tools, and methodologies to help illuminate the path toward optimal mobile CI that will not only improve development speed but also enhance the quality and reliability of mobile apps.
Strategies To Make The Best Out Of Test Automation In CI Pipeline
1) Gradual Modifications and Timely Dissemination of Information
The developers can use a “big-bang” approach to create a new feature or fix a problem reported by the testing team.
The developer can choose to implement the new feature in one go. This approach has some issues, even though the implementation is complete. It is difficult to isolate a problem (if the implementation is flawed).
It is better to use flags for unique features and break the feature down into sub-features. This technique is useful for isolating issues and can also be used to make incremental feature builds whenever needed.
This technique reduces the likelihood of integration issues when the final feature, a combination of many sub-features, is pushed into the main-line/production branches.
There could be interdependencies between different features, i.e., If feature A is dependent on feature B, then either developer will have to wait until 100% completion of that feature.
Both feature developers can avoid a deadlock by using stubs and feature flags. Stubs are used to implement features that are planned or in progress.
Once the feature is complete, the developer must remove the dummy/stub implementation. This was just a placeholder to implement a known interface.
To get the most from test automation, it is important to plan carefully and have timely communication between development teams. This approach can be affected by any lack of discipline.
2) Identify Tests That Are Automated
It is unlikely that all tests can be automated, as there will be some tests for which manual testing is better than automation tests. Test automation is a core component of the CI pipeline. Identifying those test cases that can be automated is a critical best practice.
Two broad categories of tests that can be automated are:
Frequent tests: When such tests are performed manually,’ they may lead to errors as testers may have to achieve the same test several times a day.
Consider a case where a web application needs to be tested on browser compatibility. Some test cases involve capturing the screenshot of your web app while it is being tested on different combinations of browsers/devices/operating systems.
It can be tedious to take screenshots of every combination. Automated cross-browser testing can free up your testers to focus on creating effective test cases.
Tests requiring knowledge and a specific group of testers are risky when the resource (developer/tester) is unavailable during a critical project phase.
They know the requirements and procedures for testing. Their absence can have a negative impact on the project’s deliverables.
Test automation can help avoid such situations by integrating it into the CI pipeline. This will not affect project deadlines.
It is possible to automate testing in many other situations. The goal should be to use scalable tools and scalable test platforms to help you achieve this audacious objective.
3) Migration Through a Single Click
One-click migration is a feature that should be included in a well-designed CI pipeline. This will reduce friction between operations (in code migration). This feature is available on good cloud infrastructure.
It can be used in conjunction with efficient and elegant test automation to optimize development & operations. As a best practice, CI should push your development with a single click.
4) Exploiting Parallel Testing
Parallel test execution is another best practice in CI. After identifying the tests that require automation, you should incorporate the ‘parallel’ execution factor into your test approach.
Automated testing is a good practice in CI pipelines, but it can be improved by adding parallel testing. You can run several automated tests simultaneously to get results faster.
Parallel testing cannot be performed on a single machine. This scenario would use up all the important resources of the machine, e.g. CPU, GPU, etc. This can slow down the performance of other tests.
The infrastructure in which tests are run is very important. In terms of cost and scalability, there are better solutions than an in-house test execution & deployment infrastructure for testing a website/web app.
LambdaTest an AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform can help you perform parallel tests with automated frameworks, such as Pytest, TestNG, etc.This is done over an on-cloud Selenium grid containing over 3000 browsers and browser versions.
5) Seek Help From Previous Project
Each software project is divided into phases, i.e. project planning, requirements gathering, implementation testing, product deployment, etc. Every phase has a learning component, and this can be used to improve the planning & implementation for the next project.
You can use some of the best practices of past projects to accelerate the phases of your current project, even if the projects are different. You can also avoid making the same mistakes in future projects.
As a best practice for CI, you should note the test automation techniques used to accelerate the process. Your team members, e.g., You should involve your team members i.e., It could be that they used certain test frameworks, which allowed me to achieve better results in less time. These learnings can be used to develop a test strategy.
In some cases, project requirements can change or evolve as the project is executed. Similarly, you should plan your test automation strategy in a way that considers both short-term and long-term goals.
The team should standardize some processes, even if the test strategy or plan may change over time.
Standardizing can mean selecting a test framework that meets your needs and budget or identifying the best cloud infrastructure.
It could also be a matter of assembling a team of automation experts who work on Python, C#, Java test scripts, etc. Plan B is a good backup in case the business or schedule changes.
These things should be documented to make it easy to refer back at any time. The document should include a section highlighting the ‘Risks and assumptions” associated with the execution of the testing strategy.
The test strategy/plan would have been developed with four automation engineers, but you may be forced to reduce the number of testers due to unforeseen circumstances.
Create a foolproof test strategy by examining all the parameters of the project. The document that highlights the test strategy must be free-flowing, i.e., Updated with important milestones & timelines, the document should be version controlled so that you can revisit it to track progress.
7) Central Repository For Code Development & Maintenance
There will be developers on any team that will push code. This could be for a feature or bug fix. Developers would also execute a pull request to obtain the latest changes made by the server.
It is important to maintain the source code in a central repository. This is one of the best practices of CI pipeline. The developers will be able to keep up with the latest version of the source code on the production server.
It is important to have revision/version control to help track changes, identify differences, and maintain an environment that makes it easier to keep track of application builds.
8) Rollback With Version Control
The test team may encounter issues not present in a previous software release. This could be due to a side effect from a software fix pushed into the software under test. While time-consuming, RCA (Root Cause Analysis) is necessary to avoid losing a feature in production.
In these cases, the developer should be able roll back the changes he made so the release doesn’t get stalled. He also has more time to review his implementation. A seamless rollback is impossible without version control. Rollbacks are not restricted to source code. They can also be applied to documents, presentations, and flow diagrams.
9) Choosing The Right Tool for the CI Process
The tool you use to pace your CI pipeline will determine how well it works. You can choose from various CI tools, but the best tool for you will depend on your budget and requirements. Jenkins, Travis CI, and Gitlab are some of the most commonly used CI tools.
We recommend you carefully consider the pros and cons of each tool before deciding on one. Any changes to the CI tool could affect your deadlines & deliverables.
As we are talking about CI, here’s a bonus tip: LambdaTest provides a Selenium Grid compatible with any CI tool you might be using. This will help you to speed up your cross-browser testing efforts.
10) Transparency Should Be The Key
Many projects have teams of development and QA located in different parts of the world. Transparency can improve things, in addition to the intense coordination required to ensure that all team members are on-sync.
This is when CI is extremely effective, as it provides the needed level of transparency among the key stakeholders within the team.
The team can now better understand the status of tests and how to improve their efficiency. It is in this way that collective intelligence can be used to improve the team and project. Everyone must be on the same page – especially when working remotely.
As a best practice, project management tools can be very effective for CI processes. Project management tools allow everyone to see the tasks other team members are performing and the deadlines by which they must be completed.
Test automation is a key component of the overall testing strategy. However, it must be carefully planned and executed.
You can use your existing resources to automate many test aspects (especially those related to infrastructure) without requiring an in-house testing environment.
Cloud-based test automation could simplify your strategy for overall test automation due to its reliability and scalability. These improvements motivate team members and allow you to get the most out of the CI pipeline best practices.