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What is Unit Testing? 6 Best Practices to Do it Right

What is Unit Testing-ACCELQ
Posted On: 26 January 2023

Unit testing is a crucial aspect of automated testing for digital applications. It ensures stability and resilience by validating the performance of individual modules. However, choosing a unit testing strategy can be challenging due to different approaches used by testing teams. It is important to establish a shared understanding among stakeholders and agree on best practices before diving into unit testing.

What is Unit Testing?

Unit testing can be described as the process of testing modular or functional units of a software application in isolation from other modules.

It focuses on evaluating the resilience, performance, and functionality of individual units under real-life conditions. The primary goal of unit testing is to ensure that the actual behavior of these units aligns with the expected behavior.

During unit testing, QA teams test each module as a standalone entity without integrating it with external components such as databases, libraries, or file systems. Essentially, each module is treated as a small program capable of running independently and exhibiting various behaviors based on different operational scenarios. Through unit testing, developers gain insights into the performance of their code blocks and can quickly make adjustments in case of unexpected behavior.

Why is Unit Testing Important?

In today's digital economy, achieving the best customer experience requires a shift in the traditional approach to software testing and quality assurance. It is essential to allocate resources, including manpower and tools, to give due importance to every strategic aspect of software testing.

While some may emphasize prioritizing areas such as acceptance testing, the truth is that every test approach deserves equal attention, as any shortcomings can have a significant impact on overall application quality.

As businesses increasingly adopt cloud-based microservices architecture for their applications, ensuring granular stability becomes crucial. Unit testing plays a vital role in testing cloud-based applications with microservices architecture.

By conducting unit testing, developers gain greater control over the quality of their individual code blocks before integrating different components and proceeding with regression testing. It also facilitates the early identification and resolution of mistakes or defects at the code level.

This proactive approach significantly reduces costs compared to discovering defects later in the development cycle.

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Automating Unit Testing for Efficient Code Quality

Automated unit testing solutions play a crucial role in software development by ensuring code safety, security, and reliability. These solutions enable developers to generate and execute robust unit test cases efficiently, guaranteeing high-quality code across various platforms, hosts, virtual environments, and hardware targets.

Key features of unit testing include:

  1. AI-infused unit test generation: Leveraging artificial intelligence, unit testing tools can automatically generate effective test cases.
  2. Multi-metric code coverage analysis: Comprehensive code coverage analysis is provided, including statement, line, branch, block, call, decision, single condition, and MC/DC coverage metrics.
  3. Powerful stub and mock framework: A robust stub and mock framework enables developers to simulate dependencies and test components in isolation.
  4. Automated cross-platform execution: Unit tests can be executed seamlessly across different platforms, ensuring consistent results regardless of the target environment.

Unit testing is an integral part of the software development process. Automated testing tools, similar to those used in system testing, greatly benefit developers and anyone involved in code execution.

In embedded development environments, where hardware and software systems must work harmoniously and comply with stringent functional safety standards, unit testing proves exceptionally valuable.

By quickly delivering reliable regression test suites, automated unit testing frameworks become essential during later stages of the software life cycle, especially when implementing software updates, patches, or accommodating new requirements.

What Are the Best Practices for ServiceNow Test Management?

6 Best Practices for Unit Testing-ACCELQ

Now that you have a clear idea of what is unit testing and why enterprises need to focus on implementation, it is time to learn about the best practices.

We have outlined six major best practices for unit testing that will guarantee better results and ensure profitable and sustainable testing coverage for your application development projects.

Create reliable and clear unit tests

The first step to building a great unit testing practice is to write reliable unit tests. The test suite must be able to report the unexpected or suspicious behavior observed during testing. It should not be considered to simply report the stage at which the these test succeeds in delivering an expected output or outcome.

Mandate automation in unit testing

Manual bias may often create unsatisfactory test results. It can lead to future complications if defects detection isn’t in the early stages. It is important to mandate automated testing strategies in your technology operations to prevent this situation. Automated unit testing delivers faster feedback and provides significantly higher code coverage and controlled parallel processing of test cases. It allows test engineers to work more efficiently with less time.

Prioritize attention to use cases

One of the critical aims of unit testing is to ensure that the code is easily maintainable. Moreover, ensure that new developers can understand it without any issues. By focusing on a single use case at a time and prioritizing the rest in sequence, it is easier to validate outcomes against expected results.

Speed up tests with better isolation

You should carry out Unit tests should in isolation without depending on other tests and mocking external dependencies. Making them simpler and independent modules can help in faster code coverage. Automation can boost it further. All these measures help to speed up the test activity. This is a critical factor that makes unit testing more appealing for developers. If it consume too much time, it will be tough to convince developers to wait long to push their code into the next stage.

Integrate unit testing into the build process

While developers following a Test Driven Development (TDD) model will provide sufficient coverage for unit testing, it is always best to make it a part of the build process for additional safety. While going in for end-to-end test automation,the build process will ensure that all unit tests are executed. And will also notify the respective stakeholders about any failure when any test fails.

Follow distinguishable and simple test nomenclature

Test activities are also a stage for documentation of process workflows. If every unit test is named in a standard convention that explains the scenario being tested, it will be easier to document. The further use of these cases across the organization when different stakeholders are trained on applications also becomes easy. The naming convention also enables better identification of defect causes for other test approaches like integration testing, acceptance testing, etc.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Unit Testing

Advantages of Unit Testing:

  1. Quality Issue Identification: Unit testing helps identify defects related to safety, security, and reliability, ensuring higher code quality.
  2. Validation of Functional Requirements: Unit testing ensures that the functional requirements of individual code units are met, promoting accurate functionality.
  3. Structural Code Coverage: Unit testing aids in achieving comprehensive code coverage, ensuring that different code paths are tested.
  4. Compliance Requirements: Unit testing helps satisfy compliance requirements, ensuring that the code adheres to regulatory standards.
  5. Regression Testing: Unit tests can be reused to detect code regressions, providing assurance that changes or updates do not break existing functionality.
  6. Simplified Debugging: By testing individual units in isolation, unit testing simplifies the debugging process, making it easier to locate and fix issues.
  7. Application Metrics: Unit testing provides valuable metrics on the health of the application and highlights areas of concern or potential bottlenecks.

Disadvantages of Unit Testing:

  1. Limited Application Flaw Detection: While unit testing is effective at catching certain flaws, it does not cover all possible issues that may arise in the application, such as integration or system-level defects.
  2. Time and Labor Intensive: Manual unit testing can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially when dealing with complex codebases or a large number of units to test.
  3. Limited Suitability for GUI Testing: Unit testing is not particularly suitable for graphical user interface (GUI) testing, as it primarily focuses on individual code units rather than user interactions and visual elements.
  4. Test Management Complexity: Managing a large number of unit tests can become challenging without proper automation and test management tools, making it difficult to track and maintain the tests effectively.

Overall, unit testing offers significant advantages in terms of code quality, functional validation, and defect identification. However, it also has limitations when it comes to certain types of testing and can be resource-intensive without automation and proper test management practices.


Unit testing will be a critical component of modern application quality assurance initiatives. Facilitating a seamless execution of unit testing is what many enterprises will find hard to achieve. This is where automation of test activities can be a lifesaver.

Book a demo to know how ACCELQ can help you automate your end-to-end test initiatives.


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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