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Automated Regression Testing: Definition & Examples

Aug 26, 2019
9 min read

Many development and testing teams tend to misrepresent or underestimate the time and effort regression testing will take. Most often, it’s confused with retesting, when in fact there’s more to it than checking the performance of just one chunk of code. 

If done right, regression testing gives developers the ability to ensure that the entire system (not just a selected component) works flawlessly after any code change.

Should regression testing be automated? How does it improve the team’s productivity? Which tools and practices should a tester use for writing and executing regression testing sprints? Let’s take a deeper look at automated regression testing.

What is Automation Regression Testing?

Before getting into all the benefits of automation, make sure you have a clear idea of what ‘regression testing’ means. 

Regression testing is usually conducted after a code change

Unfortunately, after adding a new feature or fixing a bug in a component, a developer might influence the other parts of the system up to the point where one or several features don’t work properly. 

To ensure this doesn’t happen, testers have to re-evaluate the performance of the entire project after any code change. Otherwise, many bugs might pass unnoticed and a ton of tech debt will pile up. 

Retesting the entire system any time a new feature or a fix are implemented is a tedious, resource-wasteful, and time-consuming process, so to speed this up testers use automation regression testing tools. Automation means that series of pre-written scripts will be executed after a code change with little or no human supervision

Convenience is the main benefit of regression testing automation. The approach has a few more advantages as well — we’ll cover all of them in detail. 

What is Automated Regression Testing in Software?

The value of regression testing to product performance is remarkable. For one, it has a huge scope of activity as all the layers of the project are involved. Regression testing is capable of providing teams with insights that could be easily ignored otherwise, improves the quality of problem-solving, and helps the team be proactive during the project maintenance. 

Regression tests require a lot of time to be executed in an adequate way. A comprehensive testing session requires developers to:

  • Examine all aspects of the system;
  • Define how a code change have triggered certain behaviors;
  • Fix the root of the problem;
  • Reiterate system evaluation;
  • Monitor the project over an extended time frame.

As there’s no reason to neglect regression testing, teams are forced to put up with the challenges it presents. To be able to integrate regression testing into the general project management framework and not have to engage the entire team in running it, companies use automation. 

Setting up and executing automated scripts requires a high level of skills. 

Yet, in the long run, it has a ton of benefits to offer — it simplifies iterations, creates unified standards across all projects, saves time, and prevents the team from having to fix human error-based issues.

Who Needs Automated Regression Testing?

Due to their repeatability, regression tests make excellent automation candidates. There are very few QA teams that run regression tests manually as such an approach is ultimately inefficient and highly expensive. To answer the question ‘does my team need automated regression testing’ check the points below to decide whether you need them to be implemented in your project in the first place or not: 

  • Repeatability
    Automated tests are highly repeatable due to their consistent and predictable performance. Also, there’s no need for a QA team to run new regression tests anytime a new release is out. For companies with regular updates, manual regression testing would be a nightmare as it would occupy the majority of the testing team. With automation, no workforce is needed to run continuous test iterations.
  • Stability
    By conducting tests manually, a QA team has to rely on the expertise of each specialist involved. The approach a tester chooses, his knowledge, and concentration level can all impact the outcome of manual regression testing. Introducing automation offers more reliability. A QA manager can ensure tests across all system components will be conducted with the same level of expertise and focus.
  • No human supervision
    Automated regression testing helps QA managers allocate responsibilities to team members efficiently. Moreover, as no humans are needed for automated sessions, testing can go on continuously 24/7. Such an approach will cut the overall time needed to test the system and provide the team with more insights as the testing session was uninterrupted.
  • Increased coverage
    Automated testing allows QA engineers to run more tests and assess the system more thoroughly. An increased number of sessions allows them to examine the system across its every facet over an extended period of time — as a result, the coverage far exceeds the one provided by a team of manual testers.

Automated Regression Testing Tools

To automate regression testing efficiently, QA teams use complementary technology — such as third-party automation tools. These can increase the pace of writing scripts and improve the overall efficiency of the session. 

There are dozens of tools designed to run an automated regression test. Here’s a brief rundown of some of our favorites at PFLB. 

1. TestComplete

TestComplete is an all-in-one automation regression testing platform designed for web, software, and mobile testing. Using the tool, you will be able to create and execute tests in a myriad of languages — Python, JavaScript, VB Script, DelphiScript, C++Script, and C#Script. A tester can record the process of test creation and play it back any time. 

Main features:

  • Scripted testing;
  • Keyword testing;
  • Built-in bug tracking;
  • Tools for data-driven testing;
  • Open architecture.

TestComplete has versatile documentation as well as a library of learning materials. Integrations with GitHub and other source control systems are supported as well. 

2. IBM Rational Functional Tester

IBM Rational Functional Tester offers a wide variety of supported languages. With this software, a QA specialist can test apps based on Java, Net., Siebel, SAP Ajax, Powerbuilder, and so on. You will also be able to automate the testing of emulator-based projects. 

IBM’s tool for testing automation supports various datasets, making regression testing as data-driven as possible. A tool can record custom user behavior and drive insights out of it. Also, the good news is, IBM Rational Functional Tester allows UI regression testing automation. 

Main features:

  • Dynamic data validation;
  • Increased script reusability;
  • Keyword testing;
  • Enables parallel development with test script version control;
  • Linux test execution and editing is supported;
  • Adobe Flex applications.

3. Selenium

Selenium is a portable open-source tool for browser management. The tool supports all common operating systems and browsers. All popular scripting languages are supported as well: PHP, Ruby, C++, Java, JS, Perl, Python, and C#. Selenium offers integrations with other frameworks — Maven, Ant, and others, for automated testing streamlining. 

Main features:

  • No server installation required;
  • Command categorization by classes;
  • WebDriver API support;
  • Selenium Remote Control.

Among QA specialists, Selenium is reputed as a leading tool used for automated testing. 

4. Appium

There are two versions of the Appium tools, and both are used for mobile regression test automation. The first is a Node.js-based tool run by the command line. The second is a desktop tool for Windows and Mac OS. 

With an array of features, the command-line-based version is superior to the desktop client. Appium Studio is highly praised among QA specialists for its robust execution system that tailors the needs of mobile testing on a high level. 

Main features:

  • Quick program installation;
  • Connection to remote and local mobile devices;
  • Visual interface;
  • Dynamic device reflection support;
  • Object spy;
  • Recording tests;
  • Parallel execution support.

The code export feature supports numerous programming languages — Python, Java, C#, and more. 

5. REST Assured

REST Assured is a framework build for REST service validation in Java. The tool provides developers with a domain-specific language that improves the quality and maintainability of tests. 

Main features:

  • Integrations with existing frameworks;
  • Given/When/Then syntax support;
  • Tools to check if the response data is correct;
  • Query and pass parameter support;
  • Four types of authentication supported.

All in all, REST Assured is a niche framework rather than a full-fledged testing automation suite. Nevertheless, it offers dozens of unique features that facilitate and streamline the flow of tests. 

6. MicroFocus UFT

MicroFocus Unified Functional Testing is a powerhouse for automating of all assets of functional testing. The list of supported environments includes AWS, Java, Oracle, Salesforce, and many more. Developers can combine UFT with ALM as well as LoadRunner. 

Main features:

  • Integration with open-source and third-party tools — including Bamboo, TFS, and Jenkins;
  • Service Marketing Automation X and Operation Orchestration support;
  • Create SOAP, HTTP, and web requests from a network capture file;
  • Keyword-driven test creation;
  • Cross-browser coverage.

In the long run, MicroFocus UFT reduces the amount of time needed for test automation, improves the quality of the product, and helps match the test suite against business requirements. 

How to Do Automation Regression Testing

Due to its high coverage and technical complexity, regression testing is a multi-layered process. Here’s a step-by-step guide on approaching regression testing and integrating automation into the workflow. 

  • 01 Software change analysis
    At this stage a developer estimates which system component will be changed as well as the extent of the change.
  • 02 Software change impact analysis
    This stage includes outlining all the possible implications of the code change across the system, identifying all systems that would be affected by a new fix or a feature, estimating potential damage to the system and the ways of handling it.
  • 03 Building a regression testing strategy
    At this stage, the testing team outlines the workflow step-by-step. A regression testing strategy could look like this:
    1) gather test data;
    2) estimate the time for test cases execution;
    3) automate test cases;
    4) execute tests;
    5) report;
    6) iteration.
  • 04 Creating a test suite
    At this stage, a QA specialist writes tests that’ll be automated. Later, the regression testing automation engineer creates scripts for execution in a scripted language chosen beforehand by the team.
  • 05 Executing regression tests
    When running automated tests, be sure to prioritize cases and assess the reusability of test modules. Make sure to maintain a high frequency of testing and set up a flexible reporting system.
  • 06 Reporting
    At this stage, QA specialists need to explain the outcome of the testing to stakeholders — a project manager, the end client, and anyone else involved. To write an effective summary report, a developer has to develop the metrics of analysis, the scope of testing, and elaborate on how the testing session helped the team achieve a goal set during the planning stage.

Best Practices

To ensure regression testing will cover all facets of the system and provide a detailed, objective outlook on a project’s functionality, it’s crucial to have a fixed set of practices to be followed during each session. 

At PFLB, we ensure that the testing workflow includes the following principles: 

  • A regression pack is regularly updated
    Broadly speaking, a regression pack is a collection of all tests run by a company as soon as a new code change is out. To ensure a test suite corresponds well to the new version of the app, it’s best to keep a regression pack up to date as well.
  • Re-run successful test cases
    Many teams make the mistake of forgetting to re-run tests — that system has passed through successfully — after a new change. However, keep in mind that a subsequent code change might have affected the components of the system that used to be working flawlessly. That’s why it’s crucial to reiterate all tests, including the successful ones.
  • Focus on paths with high traffic
    All cases that include frequently visited pages should be your first priority. Before moving on to testing other aspects of the system, ensure that the components that fuel core interactions and features are fully in the clear.
  • Be data-driven
    Relying on datasets increases the efficiency of testing by huge numbers. To start, it allows developers to create scripts using less code, get rid of redundancies, and store all gathered information as a database of manageable records. The number and the precision of insights are higher for data-driven tests as well.
  • Use a diversified automation toolkit
    This way, you’ll be able to increase test coverage, expand the range of testing opportunities, and use a chosen scripted language to its best extent.

Automated Regression Testing with PFLB

The efficiency of regression testing relies heavily on the skills of QA specialists handling it. Only a well-oiled team of professionals can build a functional continuous regression testing strategy. 

All regression testers have an ISTQB certification — proof of outstanding skills and deep understanding of testing tools.

PFLB implements leading regression testing practices — a data-driven approach, a criticality-complexity matrix, and more. Our QA managers have a rich testing toolkit that includes HP, TestLink, Jira, and ALM. 

PFLB is a dedicated team capable of fully testing your project. If you want to integrate our practices as a part of an in-house team, the company offers outstaffing services as well. 

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Automated regression testing is a way for a development team to improve the maintenance of a project, ensure high user retention rates, and reduce potential tech debt. With a wide range of third-party tools, automating regression testing is not as challenging as it would seem at first glance. 

An intelligent regression testing strategy includes knowing how to automate and prioritize cases, monitor their execution, and write comprehensive test summary reports. If you’re interested in hiring a team of QA managers who are skilled in all aspects of automated regression testing, contact PFLB. 

Our team of experienced testers has run automated regression testing sessions for SMEs and global corporations across various industries — including tech, finance, healthcare, retail, and many more. We have successfully incorporated regression testing into Agile, Waterfall, and other project management methodologies. 
Take a look at our services to see what PFLB specialists can bring to the table. We’re looking forward to discussing your project — don’t hesitate to contact us.

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