In the software engineering world, testers have long followed the test pyramid as a guideline for what types of tests to automate and when. The idea is that you should automate the most important and frequent tests first, then move on to less important tests. This ensures that your most important tests are always run and that you’re not wasting time automating trivial or redundant tests.
In this article, we’ll discuss what the test pyramid is and how you can use it in your own projects!
What Is A Test Pyramid?
A test pyramid is a testing strategy that prioritizes different types of tests based on their frequency and importance. The most important and frequent tests are at the bottom of the pyramid, while the least important and least frequent tests are at the top. This approach is intended to help testers focus their efforts on automating the most important tests first.
The software testing pyramid is often represented as a graphical pyramid and it is not a rule. Instead, it represents a good guideline to follow when deciding which tests to automate first. In addition, the test pyramid does not only consider test automation but also other testing activities such as manual exploratory testing, performance testing, and security testing.
How To Use The Test Pyramid?
Now that you know what the test pyramid is, let’s discuss how you can use it in your own projects. The first step is to prioritize your tests based on their frequency and importance. To do this, you need to answer two questions:
- How often will the test be run?
- How important is the test?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can prioritize your tests accordingly. For example, if a test is important but not frequently run, it would be placed at the top of the pyramid. On the other hand, if a test is unimportant and rarely run, it would be placed at the bottom of the pyramid.
By prioritizing your tests in this way, you can ensure that your most important tests are always run and that you’re not wasting time automating trivial or redundant tests.
The base of the pyramid is usually the unit testing which is the most frequent type of test. A unit test is a piece of code that exercises a small, well-defined functionality in your code. Unit tests are typically written by developers as they are working on new features or bug fixes. These tests are relatively easy to write and can be run very quickly.
As a result, they can be run often, giving you immediate feedback on the behavior of your code. For example, if you’re working on a new feature and you write a unit test for it, you can run the test immediately to make sure that the feature works as expected.
The next level up is integration testing. Integration tests exercise the interactions between different modules or components in your code. These tests are typically written by developers or testers and can be run manually or automatically. Integration tests are important because they can catch errors that unit tests cannot.
For example, if you have two modules that interact with each other, a unit test for each module will not reveal an error in the interaction between the two modules. However, an integration test that exercises the interaction between the two modules will reveal such an error.
UI & Exploratory Tests
The top of the pyramid is typically reserved for UI and exploratory tests. UI tests exercise the graphical user interface of your application. These tests are typically written by testers and can be run manually or automatically. UI tests are important because they can catch errors that unit and integration tests cannot.
For example, if you have an application with a complex user interface, a unit test for the code that generates the user interface will not reveal an error in the graphical representation of the user interface. However, a UI test that exercises the graphical representation of the user interface will reveal such an error.
Exploratory testing is a type of manual testing where testers are given a general goal or task and are free to explore the application to find errors. This type of testing is important because it can catch errors that these previous three cannot. For example, if you have an application with a complex user interface, an exploratory tester might discover an error that a UI test would not.
Why Is Test Automation Crucial?
Now that you know what the test pyramid is and how to use it, let’s discuss why test automation is crucial. As you can see from the previous section, manually running all of the tests in the pyramid would be very time-consuming and error-prone.
Moreover, as your application grows in complexity, it becomes increasingly difficult to manually test all of the functionality. Automating your tests allows you to run them quickly and easily, without having to worry about human error. In addition, automating your tests gives you the ability to run them more frequently, which is important for catching errors early.
How To Apply The Testing Pyramid Strategy?
Lastly, let’s see how to apply the testing pyramid strategy. The first step is to prioritize your tests. You should start by writing unit tests for your most important functionality. Once you have a solid suite of unit tests, you can move on to integration testing and UI testing. Finally, you can add exploratory testing to your repertoire.
The next step is to choose the right tool for the job. There are many different types of testing tools available, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. So, do your research to find the best one.
And lastly, don’t forget to automate your tests! Automating your tests is the only way to ensure that they are run quickly and accurately.
Now that you know what the test pyramid is and how to use it, you’re well on your way to becoming a better tester! Just remember to prioritize your tests, choose the right tool for the job, and automate your tests. With these tips, you’ll be testing like a pro in no time!