How to Successfully Transition from Manual Testing to Full-Stack Automation

Transitioning from manual testing to full-stack automation is a noble, yet laborious journey. Below is a guide to aid in a successful transition from manual testing to full-stack automation.

Test Design

The first step is designing tests and writing them in any text or spreadsheet editor. You cannot automate a test if you don’t know the details of it.

A test case should only tackle a limited number of predefined objectives with clear descriptions on achieving them. Typically, a test case consists of interaction steps and verification steps (also called assertions).

test case

The output of test design is a set of test cases containing test steps that can then be automated.

Element Identification

Consider some low-level test steps of the test case below.

test steps

In order to implement the ‘enter’ and ‘click’ keywords, determine how to identify ‘username field’ and ‘login button’. This is called ‘element identification’ and is the core of your automation task, regardless of the type of automation framework or technology.

While identifying elements, it’s important to understand how the app is built (HTML, Java, WPF, etc.), especially its user interface hierarchy, to be able to choose non-volatile properties to reliably identify the app’s user interface elements.

The output of element identification is a set of ‘element definitions’ stored in a structured format for easy access.

Implement Keywords

The implementation of a keyword includes two steps: 1) Element Matching: Retrieve the ‘element definitions’ of the user interface controls with which the keyword wants to interact. Match the ‘element definition’ with a run-time user interface object; 2) Invoke the Interaction: Depending on the platform, use the corresponding techniques to manipulate the matched run-time user interface objects.

To automate verification steps in a test case, make an assertion statement. The outcome of each interaction and verification step should be printed out to a test result for easy debugging.

While automating tests, try wrapping repetitive chunks of test steps into a keyword to reuse it in different tests. This enables faster scaling while maintaining the test assets easily.

Some tests need to be executed repeatedly with different data combinations. Find them and design good test data for them.

Test Execution & Result Debugging

After developing tests, set up test runs, and debug failed test results. Unraveling the failure of tests requires the thorough understanding of the above-mentioned end-to-end flow. Issues like insufficient wait time, unexpected popup dialogs, or failed event triggering are not easy to find and fix.

Integrate with the Larger Ecosystem

An automation engineer should integrate automated tests into an application lifecycle management process where software is written, tested, released, and deployed continuously. Automation engineers don’t just automate tests, they automate the testing flow as well.

The transition from manual testing to automation is a spectrum, where you can acquire certain skills and start being effective right away.

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