This blog, co-written with Jeff Pigatto, (Vice President and Global Head, Salesforce Practice, Apexon), draws on their joint experience optimizing Salesforce environments.
Marc Andreessen’s oft-cited claim that software was eating the world was only a decade ago, but it continues to have thousands of developers and coders nodding in agreement.
Part of an essay in the Wall Street Journal, the point that Andreesen made was that every company needed to focus on how it adapts to both the changing competitive environment and new digital frontiers. In fact, there was already a growing awareness in 2011 of how and why digital transformation was a prudent business optimization strategy.
The underlying factor was the acknowledgment that efficient and effective software was the platform for success. On a veery basic level, there was a need to ensure that the written code worked as it was supposed to, a significant concern and challenge for companies that wanted to succeed in the brave new digital world.
Code, Not Software, Eats the World
Fast forward to today and it is fair to say that the status quo is (to the average person) unchanged. The difference is that software is not eating the world, it is code.
Code runs through every digital product, application or service, becoming the invisible glue that holds our virtual world together. As a result, it needs to go through the same level of quality testing that you would expect a physical item to undergo. This is even more important when you factor in the ubiquitous delivery mechanism for digital experience that is cloud.
The challenge for companies that have neither the time nor available QA (Quality Assurance) workforce is to make sure that the code actually works. QA testers are rarely programmers, for the amazingly simple reason that they have not been taught to code. The solution, in many cases, is to implement an automated system that can both run code tests without extensive human input and deliver the results in a timely fashion.
This scenario means that companies need codeless test automation to identify any demonstrated quality or functionality choke points. In addition, there is a need to factor in how to do this effectively in a virtual, rigid and cloud-based environment such as Salesforce, while ensuring that we have the best tools for the job.
Let’s take a few minutes to explore the integration, benefits, challenges and requirements of not only a codeless automation testing solution but also one that runs in cloud.
Codeless Test Automation: An Introduction
Common barriers to test automation are a lack of resources and an inability to identify the tools that can support this quality requirement. In recent years, codeless options have become more prevalent with companies integrating tests that do not require coding.
Throughout the QA stage, the practice of creating codeless automation tests gives everyone the chance to interact with the application through a defined user interface.
Automated tests are an effective way to understand how the digital product works, and the consensus is that the more tests that you can create the better. One caveat is that hard-coded test automation comes with a workforce skillset that is not always available to small or medium-size companies.
Codeless testing thereby alleviates the pressure that comes with learning code specifically directed at test scripts.
What this means in a real-world setting is that QA testers can focus on the tasks that relate to application functionality and user experience. There is an argument that QA teams have limited scripting knowledge and coding expertise, so going codeless hands over the burden of automated testing in the development lifecycle altogether and, as a result, streamlines the process.
Codeless Test Automation: The Benefits
The main benefit of a codeless testing solution is that it saves valuable time and resources.
By integrating a codeless ethic into your QA processes, test cases can be built and executed with minimal human time spent on the action itself. This approach allows the company to allocate resources that would have been focused on testing to other important parts of the product lifecycle.
As a bonus, the knock-on effect is that codeless test automation accelerates time to market and allows testers to focus on the outcome of the tests and not the mundane action of repeating the tests to get to the required deployment.
In fact, codeless test automation also makes it easy to create test cases. This simplification is increasingly relevant when you factor in the limited coding skills that QA testers will have. The tools required then become approachable for testers and negate the need for an intimidating script development environment.
In addition, it becomes simple to maintain, manage and update test scripts when required, while the integration of a codeless solution allows the end user to generate test reports and collect data. The latter is a critical part of the product development lifecycle and the customized reporting generated by codeless test automation will make it easier to spot problems at every stage.
Naturally, there are some urban myths associated with codeless test automation.
Codeless, for example, does not mean zero code, just that the tester is not expected to create code to run the test. Codeless tools might make it easy to build test cases, but that doesn’t mean that custom code can’t be integrated into the script. And implying that testers don’t need coding skills isn’t entirely true – there will always be some situations where some level of knowledge will help to both tweak the test and ensure that it proceeds as planned.
Picking a Test Automation Tool
Naturally, there are numerous options and vendors available, but a prudent approach is to seek out a tool that has the following capabilities:
Making the right decision as to which codeless testing solution will work best with the tests and product under development is just the start of the process, but you need to understand your existing QA test landscape. Underlying technology that the tests will run on plays a large part in any decision, even more so when you look at your existing DevOps requirements.
Futureproofing is also something to think about, and there is an argument that a codeless testing platform should take full advantage of evolving AI capabilities and the inevitable use of analytics to drive successful business outcomes. On the flip side, just acknowledging that the tech landscape might change doesn’t mean that all challenges will be met but knowing what features you might need can ensure that the integration of a codeless test solution is as seamless as possible.
Selenium Automation vs Codeless Automation
A constant debate in the QA testing cycle is whether you should choose Selenium automation or codeless automation.
The benefits (and challenges) of Selenium were discussed in a previous blog post – you can read that here – but the questions are often directed more to the skills of the testers themselves and the specific testing goals you have for a digital project. Selenium has become indispensable for automated cross-platform testing, but it does have some limiting factors.
For example, a code-based solution like Selenium requires manual test scenarios, script creation in Java, page-based test creation and a time allocation of around six hours per test. In addition, the testers must demonstrate strong coding skills and a technical understanding of any test case under review.
Codeless testing, by contrast, is test creation without code, incorporates codeless UI tools, allows for exploratory test scenarios and takes about 60 minutes per test. And we know that QA testers don’t need to exhibit high-level coding skills and can easily run the tests or conduct system maintenance with basic knowledge of HTML, CCS or xpath.
Cloud-based Test Automation: The Challenges
While there are obvious benefits to codeless testing, there are certain challenges that come with the cloud-based nature of the tool.
Firstly, codeless test automation is not a replacement for script-based automation. Testing must tick as many QA boxes as it can, even more so when it comes to scalability, speed, internal collaboration between development teams, security and the quality journey itself.
Second, an assessment of both the cloud maturity of your organization and its commitment to automated testing should be undertaken. Automation is still evolving in terms of how it can be applied to QA functions, and there can be times when complex automated test cases are simply not designed for a codeless approach.
Finally, digital products that are either unpredictable or not able to be validated by a codeless test automation tool can throw a spanner in the works. An app that is dependent on a third-party app to run might provide the tester with a tricky workflow, for example, while apps with dynamic content or subjective outcomes – media streaming platforms are notorious for having moving parts that need to all work together for validation – can present their own set of problems.
Cloud-based Testing: Getting Started
The key question to ask at this point is how one goes down the path to codeless test automation.
A quick answer, according to numerous sources, is to begin with tests that are not only easy to script but also simple to automate. These would include smoke tests or regression testing that validate simple app or product functionality – logins, item selection, required data input fields, whether a feature works as expected, for example.
Automating any time-consuming tests that are simple to run but which take up significant workforce time is also a prudent path to take. One element that is good to remember is that once you have reliable data on the easy tests, then you can move onto more complex use cases – regression testing on a new build, whether failed login attempts lock an account, end user confusion or incorrect data input, new code or required updates, to name but a few.
Ultimately, the level of testing required will depend on what you want the tool to do.
Most codeless test automation has been done on-premises via SDKs to date, but the availability of cloud solutions allows companies to run tests that are not limited to legacy infrastructure, internal maintenance, security and defined storage capabilities or scalability. The demands of the connected society have encouraged companies to deliver experiences that gel with the lifestyles that end users lead, so it is imperative that any codeless automation tool meets the robust needs of the product itself.
Overcome Salesforce Challenges with AI-driven Test Automation
To provide a complete picture, we need to talk about Salesforce. The platform has had an astonishing impact on how businesses operate, and it rightly deserves the plaudits that it gets from its community.
However, test automation within Salesforce is not as easy as it could be. Rather, the integration throws up its own set of challenges and choke points. For instance, the platform has been designed in such a way as to make the underlying software difficult to navigate in terms of testing – frequent system updates, complex DOM (Document Object Model) structure, shadow DOMs, hidden element identifiers – and that can make it harder for script-based tools like Selenium to complete the testing effectively.
The alternative is to use a codeless automation tool that is driven by AI, cloud-based and which can navigate the complex architectures that are the bedrock of Salesforce-based apps.
As developer or IT dependency is removed from the testing process, it makes it easier for the QA functions to take place in a virtual setting. This scenario (again) alleviates the pressure on testers and makes their role more aligned to monitoring or assessing.
In addition, taking this approach ensures that a company can thrive in what is often called the age of Intelligent Enterprise, improving customer loyalty and providing the level of digital transformation required.
Efficiency by Design
Codeless test automation will not replace manual testing capabilities, but there is little doubt that it can augment those processes. In the same way that a human workforce is unlikely to ever rely purely on robots to complete allocated tasks, automating tests is geared to reducing the time taken to write the test scripts, run the tests and review the results.
Where codeless test automation makes a difference is by identifying those manual tests that are hard to implement, and which require advanced in-house skills to perform effectively. Testers need to have a 360-degree view of what works (and what doesn’t), so the combination of coded and codeless tests can reduce the prospect of inconsistent results.
We are all aware that time to market remains a business priority in a connected society and the companies that can effectively design, test and launch a product in an efficient and timely manner will always be the ones that others seek to emulate. And, if codeless test automation can be a factor in that workflow, then it has done the job it was designed for.
Apexon and Apexon’s test automation and Salesforce experience is a key factor in why our clients trust us to deliver digital experiences right first time. Together, we put it to work for our customers, developing intelligent test automation solutions that cut test times and increase business agility.
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