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What Is Self Healing Test Automation? Brief Guide

self-healing test automation-ACCELQ
Posted On: 30 March 2024

Application testing has progressed from a stand-alone activity (usually performed at the conclusion of the application development cycle) to a more integrated and continuous process. We are entering the age of quality engineering, which blends test automation, DevOps, and Agile techniques. Despite its benefits, test automation is coupled with the problem of "fragile" test scripts, known to fail regularly.

So, without further ado, let's look at how self healing test automation overcomes the limitations of standard test automation.

What Is Self-Healing Test Automation?

What It Is: Self healing test automation utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automatically adjust tests in response to application interface or environment changes. This innovative approach ensures that test automation remains effective and up-to-date without manual intervention.

The Need: Traditional test automation relies on static definitions of application components, requiring frequent manual updates whenever the application changes. This process is time-consuming and a bottleneck in rapid development cycles.

The Solution: Self healing test automation addresses this challenge head-on. By automatically adapting to changes in the application, it significantly reduces the need for manual test maintenance. Whether a new feature or an update to existing functionality, self-healing mechanisms ensure that test scripts are always in sync with the application.

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Self Healing Test Automation Example

Scenario Overview:

  • Context: A web-based e-commerce platform
  • Challenge: Frequent UI changes leading to automated test failures
  • Solution: Implementing self healing test automation

Before Self-Healing Implementation:

  • Problem: Automated tests for the platform were brittle. Minor changes in the UI, such as renaming a button from “Buy Now” to “Purchase,” would cause tests to fail, necessitating manual updates to test scripts.
  • Impact: High test maintenance costs, delayed releases, and reduced test coverage.

After Self-Healing Implementation:

  • Action: The self healing automation framework was enhanced with self-healing capabilities. It was now equipped to adjust self healing automated tests when UI changes were detected.
  • Process:
    • Detection: The self healing automation framework detects a failure to locate the “Buy Now” button.
    • Analysis: It analyzes the page, considering various attributes of elements.
    • Adaptation: Identifies the “Purchase” button as the correct element based on attributes like location, functionality, and surrounding text.
    • Correction: Automatically update the test script to reflect this change.
  • Outcome: Tests became more resilient to changes, significantly reducing the need for manual maintenance. The development team could now focus more on feature development than fixing tests, accelerating the product’s time to market.

What is Self Healing Mechanism

The self healing mechanism in test automation is a sophisticated feature designed to automatically correct and adapt test scripts when they encounter changes in the application under test. This mechanism operates on several key principles:

Detection

The first step involves detecting discrepancies between the UI element's expected and the actual state. This is typically triggered during test execution when an element cannot be found or interacted with as defined in the test script.

Analysis

Once a discrepancy is detected, the self-healing mechanism analyzes the current state of the application's UI. It leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to understand the failure's context and search for the most likely candidates for the missing element.

Correction

After identifying the most probable matches, the mechanism attempts to correct the script by replacing the outdated locator with a new, functional one. This process may involve selecting the best match based on predefined criteria, such as similarity scores or historical data.

Validation

The corrected action is validated to ensure it performs as intended. If the correction succeeds, the test continues; otherwise, the mechanism may attempt alternative corrections or flag the issue for manual review.

Learning

Over time, self-healing mechanisms can learn from each correction, continuously improving their accuracy and efficiency. By analyzing patterns in changes and corrections, the system becomes more adept at predicting and resolving issues.

How Does Self Healing Test Automation Work

Self healing test automation represents a significant advancement in software testing. It is designed to tackle the challenges of maintaining test automation scripts amidst frequent changes to application interfaces. This innovative approach minimizes the need for continuous manual script updates, leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance the resilience and efficiency of automated testing processes.

Determining the Status of Application Testing

The process begins with continuously monitoring the application under test to ascertain its current status. This ensures that deviations or errors are promptly identified, facilitating immediate corrective actions.

Detecting Code Errors in the Application

A pivotal aspect of self healing test automation is its adeptness at detecting code errors within the application. Early identification of these errors streamlines the testing process and reduces the time spent troubleshooting.

Automatically Fixing Broken Test Cases

At its core, self healing automation tools excels in automatically repairing broken test cases. Through sophisticated algorithms that adapt to changes in the application's interface, it ensures that tests remain valid and effective over time, thereby significantly reducing the maintenance burden on testing teams.

Benefits of Self Healing Test Automation

Self-healing is a crucial element when it comes to maintaining a test automation process. Here are some of the key benefits of self healing test automation:

1. Saves Time and Effort in Test Maintenance

Be it manual or automation testing, QA teams spend significant time and money in performing software testing. Each time there is any change in the application, they need to adapt to new test scenarios, use cases, and features. However, self healing test automation eliminates these overheads associated with traditional test automation.

2. Reduces the Number of Failed Tests

Failed tests occur during the application testing process. Most of the failed tests are a result of poor test maintenance. This means QA teams spend more time fixing testing flaws than fixing application bugs. Manual test maintenance can also delay product development and release to the market.

Self healing test automation reduces (or even eliminates) the manual task of test maintenance, reducing the number of failed tests.

3. Prevents Object Flakiness

Object flakiness makes it challenging for QA teams to measure how stable (or not) are their test cases. Among the many reported errors, the "NoSuchElementException" error causes flakiness in the test design. QA professionals have little control over their test design.

With self healing test automation, organizations can automatically update the test design for the application under test. This means smoother test executions and lower possibility of failure when it does not detect a particular object.

4. Improves Test Coverage

Test coverage is quite limited in manual testing. However, with test automation, QA teams can improve test coverage by building an efficient test suite (instead of recreating it). In addition, with improved test coverage, organizations can improve their application quality by testing most of its new (or enhanced) features.

Self-healing automation further improves test coverage by 5-10% by reducing the testing of any redundant application code. This leads to on-time product deliveries and improved ROI.

But how exactly does self healing test automation work? Let's discuss.

Self healing Testing Automation with ACCELQ

With its AI-powered codeless test automation platform, ACCELQ is one of the best self healing test automation tools for organizations to implement a comprehensive test automation process. Here are the top reasons to choose ACCELQ as your test automation platform:

  • Cloud-powered test automation at the enterprise level
  • AI-powered self-healing capabilities
  • Seamless integration with Agile and DevOps environments
  • Visually intuitive user interface along with easy element identification
  • A design-first approach that promotes reusability and modularity

At ACCELQ, we can help you improve the quality and efficiency of your software testing process. Connect with our QA consultants today to learn more. Or, sign up for a 14-day free trial.

Geosley Andrades

Director, Product Evangelist at ACCELQ

Geosley is a Test Automation Evangelist and Community builder at ACCELQ. Being passionate about continuous learning, Geosley helps ACCELQ with innovative solutions to transform test automation to be simpler, more reliable, and sustainable for the real world.

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