If you are familiar with microservices architecture, you must be hearing contract testing as a buzzword within your organization’s discussion boards.
Unfortunately, several businesses are yet to come to terms with the need for contract testing. It is mainly because they are unaware of the benefits of contract testing and cannot initiate investments in that direction for a lack of knowledge about ROI.
What is contract testing?
Contract testing is done to validate the compatibility of two separate systems or microservices to interoperate seamlessly. Such applications are integrated based on the pre-defined context for their integration.
In simple terms, it validates the integrated interface between two microservices and ensures that they can flawlessly communicate to serve the interest of more extensive application under which the microservices are a part.
The interactions between the microservices are captured and archived as a contract. This contract is then validated periodically to ensure that the terms of integration are seamlessly met or adhered to by the participating services. Over time, both the systems have to agree mutually to evolve the contract and reach a consensus on the allowed interactions based on upgrades as per the application’s growth roadmap.
The perils of integration testing in a microservices architecture
It is pretty natural to assume that contract testing is, in many ways, similar to integration testing in its principles.
The assumption is valid to a great extent as well. But what about digital assurance in the world of cloud and microservices? It is virtually impossible to have a flawless end-to-end integration testing methodology for an application with a microservices architecture.
When all components are deployed together and tested, it will be tough to capture miscommunication or flaws between specific inter-dependent microservices. Besides, end-to-end integration testing takes time because of the multiverse of systems that have to run in parallel and in serial order depending on dependencies. To add to the complexity, each test iteration requires data preparation and other prerequisites. They can prove unreliable in the long run due to their slow scalability, especially when a cascade of microservices or systems must be covered under its scope. The defects become hard to diagnose and fix.
The beginnings of contract testing
Contract testing evolves from the end-to-end integration approach and leverages a contract to capture all interactions between microservices as necessitated by the application.
The code itself generates the contract. Thus, it assures continuous monitoring and upgrades depending on the application’s real-time enhancements and customization requirements to keep pace with market or customer demands. It also ensures that each microservice or system is individually tested from the other for validation of the interaction contract.
Benefits of contract testing in the world of microservices
Let’s take a look at the various benefits it offers –
Faster execution with easier maintenance
The success of any software testing also greatly depends on how fast the approach can be completed.
In today’s digital economy, enterprises need to roll out applications or custom features faster to the market owing to competition. In addition, they need to embrace automation testing to streamline the effort.
Contract testing offers two strong capabilities:
- There isn’t the involvement of multiple systems in the testing phase.
- There isn’t a need to know the entire end-to-end integration journey to create test cases for validation as only dependent interactions are verified by contract.
Combined, these two capabilities make contract testing a fast and low-maintenance testing approach.
The point of failure or bug lies only in the vicinity of the component being tested with contract testing. Furthermore, it is easier to identify a specific API call or code line number because of the lower number of interfaces that the approach handles. This allows faster and easier debugging, thereby making contract testing a highly recommended model for microservices architecture-based applications.
Test artifacts and scripts used for contract testing are repeatable or reusable. This adds to the faster execution timeline for future test scenarios. And creates more efficient and cost-effective testing strategies for upcoming applications upgrades or modifications.
One of the significant advantages is that it is scalable with a low level of complexity. Since every modular component or microservice is independently tested against each other, there is no question or concern regarding the build pipelines facing exponential volume or a need to increase linearly over time. In addition, with minimal communication and effort, it is easier to scale up testing efforts considerably.
Catch bugs earlier
With contract testing, it is easier to discover defects and bugs on local developer machines. Since the scope of testing is lower when compared to the huge number of artifacts needed in end-to-end integration testing, the effort and time involved are significantly lower.
Thus, it can and should be accomplished within the local test environment on a developer machine. With bugs being caught and rectified in the developer machine, the final code pushed to deployment is cleaner and more reliable. Catching bugs earlier is always a competitive advantage that contract testing brings into the picture.
Contract testing is a must-have enterprise strategy
Software testing is one of the key pillars of enabling a seamless digital experience for any business today. However, as much as the focus on speed, performance, and versatility of digital applications is essential, it is critical to ensure that these traits are sustainable and legitimate over the long term. This is where testing finds its mettle.
With contract testing, it is easier to assure better and seamless interoperability between systems. This makes contract testing a worthy choice and a must-have enterprise strategy. This is especially true for applications with microservices architecture, like in the case of modern SaaS product offerings.
It is, however, important to have a seamless end-to-end automated test management practice in place. This will help your business can truly leverage the power of test approaches like contract testing. Get in touch with us to experience ACCELQ, an innovative, codeless test automation platform that helps your business in achieving industry-leading quality goals.