Testability is a critical yet often the most ignored and undiscussed aspect of software development. At a recent meetup on testing, I asked testers to rate the amount of time they spend discussing software testability in their teams. Interestingly, most test engineers hadn't discussed it with their developers or even within their testing teams. My experience as a student of software testing has taught me that software testability is crucial to doing excellent testing. Good testability can directly boost your testing process and allow you to test complex products in a simple and efficient manner.
In this article, we will explore the concept of testability in more detail, examining the factors that can impact testability and the ways in which testability can be improved. We will discuss these topics using the 5W1H approach, discussing What, Why, Where, When, Who, and How of Software Testability.
What is Testability
To simplify the topic, I will share my own mental model of testability. To me, Testability is the ability to test a product in a:
- Faster way when compared to other similar products.
- Cheaper time and effort.
- At Ease
- With Support for Good Debugging
- In a Repeatable Manner to save time.
One thing that is often hidden behind every good testing solution is its testability. Basically, it's the secret ingredient to good testing. This determines how thoroughly a system or component can be tested.
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Why do we need Testability?
By now, you must already know the benefits of learning and asking for testability. Nevertheless, I would like to highlight some of the major reasons why you should learn about this topic and what you can gain from it:
- Enables better testing
- Promotes depth in testing
- Helps to find deep bugs
- Saves time
- Enables quality
- Reduces cost
- Enable agility – To test quick, build quick, and debug quick.
Where to look for Testability?
There are many ways to improve your testability and make your testing process more efficient. In general, there are three main areas:
The environment around us has a direct effect on us. Testability is no different. A project's dynamics and variables directly affect its testability. The following are some important factors for testability:
- a. Available developer time
- b. Information Access: To Wiki, Code, Design Diagrams, UX Guidelines, etc.
- c. Total time for testing
- d. Team’s understanding of testing
- e. Domain awareness and knowledge of the team
- f. Availability of testing infrastructure and tools
Good testability comes with great product design. A product's design and development directly affect its testability. Factors related to products include
- a. Level of unit testing already done before releasing to testing
- b. Observability of the product. Observability means the ability to see the product transparently.
- c. Algorithms used
- d. Product technology and community support
We all use tools in our day-to-day life. The problem is that not everyone thinks beyond traditional automation tools like Selenium, Appium, Cypress, etc. The testing market has a huge selection of tools, from small to large.
- a. General Test Tools: There are a lot of readily available tools in the market that can help you with your testing. Some aspects where readily available tools are a great idea are Data parsers, Format Converters (Ex: JSON to CSV), Random Data Generators, Logging & Reporting Libraries, etc.
- b. Custom Test Tools: Most products are unique to some degree. Generally available tools cannot directly fit such contexts. Start thinking of tools in terms of small utilities or features that can enable you to do better testing or save your time while doing testing. Talk to your test team, as well as your developers about these tool ideas.
When should you start thinking about Testability?
Testability is like health, the earlier you start focusing on it, the more you gain from it in the long run. Once appropriate testability measures, processes, and tools are set up, they are useful throughout the project lifecycle.
“Whether you are agile, or waterfall, you need testability, Whether you release periodically, or continuously, you need testability” – James Bach
Who should care about Testability?
Whether you are a designer, developer, tester, or manager, understanding testability is essential for creating high-quality systems that are easier to scale, maintain, and modify. It is a crucial aspect of efficient testing.
How to increase Testability: Personal Tips
Once you get to know about testability and its benefits, the next step is to talk and look for areas to improve at it. Here are some tips I'm sharing from my experience about how you can start:
1. Educate the team about Testability
This will help build the consciousness in your team about testability. Most people will never know if you don’t tell them about it. Testability coaching is an important part of your job as a tester. Make sure they understand the long-term benefits and how it can enhance testing efficiency and depth.
2. Design for Testability
Your software design will be the first stage to gain intrinsic testability from your application.
3. Talk about it
It is important to talk & ask for it from your developers. It is possible that they may not be able to accommodate it immediately. However, if you talk about it, it is highly likely that they will design for better testability in future releases. It is crucial to advocate for testability.
4. Adequate Documentation
It seems untrue; however, most code and APIs are still poorly documented, and the gap between the tacit knowledge of developers and the explicit knowledge that is available in the form of documentation is huge.
5. Testable Code
Writing code is easy, but writing clean and understandable code at scale is the hard part. It is important that the team writes testable code.
6. Leverage tools
Tools add power to testing. Apart from the custom tools, here are some of the general-purpose tools that I have used in my context and got benefitted from:
- Chrome Dev Tools: Chrome DevTools is a set of web developer tools built into the Google Chrome browser. It can be used to improve the testability of a web application by providing a range of features that allow you to inspect, debug, and optimize the performance of the application.
- JQ: JQ allows you to slice, filter, map, and transform structured data with ease. Good for working with huge sets of test data.
- Lighthouse: Web Testing tool by Google that offer insights on basic compliances, standards, and core web vitals.
- Axe: For quick insights on accessibility testing.
- JSON Crack: JSON Visualizer & Formatter for quick data modeling.
- Exploratory Testing Extension: Note-taking assistant for exploratory testing.
- Bug Magnet
- Product Flow Modelling by ACCELQ: It shows a graphical flow of the product to boost your test design.
For all our visual readers, I have summarized this entire article in form of this mind map. Check this out:
I hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of the importance and necessity of testability in your testing process. Until next time, adios.