For engineering teams to ensure that the software they put out is reliable, free of bugs, and meets user/client demands, the software must be tested. These tests may either be in the form of unit tests, integration tests, end-to-end tests, or UI tests. I’ve been learning a lot about UI testing, and that’s what my focus will be on in this article because it deals directly with how users will experience the software.
UI testing is an aspect of software testing that deals with verifying that an application’s user interface works as intended, meets design specifications, and is usable. During UI testing, the app is tested to ensure that:
- The user interface is displayed as intended across a range of browsers, devices, and operating systems
- Visual elements such as buttons, inputs, menus, etc., are displayed correctly and work as intended, e.g., buttons performing the right action, navigational elements redirecting to the right page, inputs produce or cause an expected action
- UI flow and logic proceed as intended. An example of a UI flow is the login process. UI tests will be done to ensure that the login process is seamless and behaves as expected. For example, when the user types in the correct login information, the user should be logged in successfully; else, an error message should be shown
Originally, UI tests were and are still being done manually within some teams. The QA tester or engineer manually uses all features of the app to check for discrepancies.
Automated UI testing is very similar to manual testing. However, there is one key difference. In manual testing, a QA engineer manually clicks through application screens to verify that everything is working as it should. In automated UI testing, you create a script that automatically runs each test case you define with UI testing automation tools.
There is nothing wrong with manual testing; in fact, not everything about UI testing can or should be automated. But in these modern days, where more teams are beginning to adopt agile software development methodology, employing continuous integration and delivery, manual testing is no longer ideal. This is because it is inefficient, time-consuming, and prone to human errors, especially for repetitive tests such as regression tests. Since applications have to be tested alongside every code release to ensure quality and that nothing breaks, UI testing should be automated as much as possible.
As a famous saying goes: “Anything that can be automated should be automated.” As I mentioned, not every UI testing aspect should be automated like visual and usability tests, but UI logic/flow tests like the login example should be. Automated UI testing is also ideal for regression tests, end-to-end tests, screenshot comparison, and testing of stable UI versions. For more guidance on when to automate and what to automate, consider reading up on manual vs. automated testing.
In case you still don’t see the need for automated testing, let me give you some:
Save time: Especially for regression tests, running the same UI flow tests manually every time something is changed, or an update is pushed is wasteful. Automating this process ensures that QA testers or engineers are given back time to focus on other unique activities
Accuracy: Humans are prone to errors when performing repetitive tasks. Automating tests reduces the chance of these errors, even allowing for things like pixel-perfect visual testing
Faster feedback time: Automating UI tests gives test teams the ability to execute tests on multiple devices in just hours. This ensures that the tests' feedback gets to developers faster so that they can also make corrections or updates faster and return the code quickly to the testing team. This won’t be possible with manual testing
Increased Coverage: With manual testing, each tester can only test on one platform at a time and carry out only one single test. Automating UI tests increases test coverage by carrying out different tests (e.g., functional tests, performance and stress tests, unit tests e.t.c) simultaneously on real devices and various platforms at a faster rate than manual testing ever could
Faster Bug Discovery: Automating UI tests means that bugs are discovered on time before they become too challenging to resolve. Automated tests are usually built into the continuous integration pipeline and run before, during, and after builds, depending on the configuration
In conclusion, by following an automated testing approach, the team will not only save time and money but also deliver quality products. In summary, users won’t care about how clean your code is; they only care about what they can see and touch.