Since it was first implemented, the Agile methodology has introduced new efficient methods to develop highly effective testing features in software development.
The methodology is based on four fundamental principles outlined in the Agile manifesto:
- Adaptive planning;
- Early delivery;
- Quickly and easily responding to changes;
- And continuous improvement.
The software development testing phase represents a crucial moment for all process functioning, as emphasised in the principles set out by the manifesto. It’s the only way to determine if an application will work correctly during the implementation phase.
Agile Testing is a software development process that integrates tests throughout the entire development process by involving an inter-functional Agile team which actively participates in the coding process. This helps the combined team to efficiently achieve project goals, software usability, project quality, and timing. Agile teams follow a team-wide testing process which allows them to operate at a sustainable, real time pace, while also identifying problems to be corrected as the development moves forward. This is why tests and coding are always performed incrementally and iteratively, continuously developing new changes until the code quality reaches the expected level for production release.
The principles to be followed for a correct conduct of the Agile Test are:
- Testing is not a phase - Continuous testing is the only way to guarantee the process’ stability. This is why projects are always being tested at the same time as the development activities are progressing.
- The tests themselves advance along with the project - Since Agile methodologies test throughout the development process, the tests themselves are constantly evolving and being improved upon. This provides a strong contrast with traditional methodologies where tests are always the same and only done at the end of the whole development process.
- Continuously improved code - Code is corrected in the same iteration where it was developed.
- Test Driven - In classic development methodologies, tests are only performed at the end of a project. Whereas in agile methodologies, tests are performed during each development cycle so that test-based feedback is continuously nurturing coding priorities.
Some of the problems that may arise in the absence of an effective testing strategy involve significant risks –beyond software malfunctioning– that companies tend to underestimate. For example, they can cause customer alienation or loss of brand value that could lead to significant decreases in product revenue.
To avoid these risks and to make sure that projects are fully efficient, Agile-based testers are not hired to “just test”. Their main role is to work as part of the development team where they ensure product quality by supervising, reviewing and indeed –testing– every stage of the iteration progress. They work closely with the client in order to promote a continuous feedback loop between programmers and end-customers.
How does an Agile Testing process works and how quality control is done?
- The process begins with the Backlog Grooming meeting in which the whole team, including the QA team, participates. This is where the team identifies the requirements for developing each functionality and establishes an acceptance criteria for each one.
- Then we move on to the Planning meeting where the QA team offers its insights for proper estimating accounting for the level of complexity tied to testing each feature.
- During the new cycle –or sprint– the QA Team works in tandem with the development team on writing the automated acceptance tests. The QA team also validates the development team’s work while they move forward with developing each task.
- At the end of each iteration or sprint, the QA Team uses manual tests and all the automated tests developed in the previous step to validate that the software works as expected. Then, along with the client, they accept the implementation of this functionality.
- Finally, as part of the release process of a new version of the app, the QA team validates the app using automated regression tests and manual tests to make sure that this version of the app works properly with all its new functionalities.
What are the main types of Testing in the Agile methodology?
- Test Driven Development (TDD) - This is a software development model that requires automatic testing to be coded before of the software to be tested and that the development of the application software is geared exclusively to the objective of passing the previously prepared automatic tests.
- Behavior Driven Development (BDD) - is an agile method that encourages collaboration between developers, quality managers, non-technical stakeholders and companies involved in a software project. The BDD process emphasizes the natural language and interactions in the software development process. BDD developers use natural language in combination with design language to describe the purpose and benefit of their code. This allows to focus on why the code needs to be created, rather than on technical details. This way, it minimizes the translation between technical language in which the code is written and the language spoken by companies, users, stakeholders and project managers.
- Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) - This method involves team members with different perspectives (clients, development, test) working together to write acceptance tests before implementing the corresponding functionality. Their collaborative discussions generate the acceptance test that represent the three perspectives: client (what problem are we trying to solve?), development (how could we solve this problem?) and the test. The idea behind ATDD is that customer perception of the product is as important as functionality, so this perception should drive product performance in order to increase acceptance rates. Ultimately, ATD collects input from the customer, develops them into acceptance criteria, translates them into manual or automated acceptance tests and then develops code against those tests.
- Exploratory test - this is a type of test that emphasizes personal freedom and the responsibility of the individual tester to continuously optimize the quality of his work by dealing with test learning, test design, test execution and interpretation of test results, as an activity of mutual support that is performed in parallel throughout the project. Then, while the software is being tested, the tester learns things that, together with experience and creativity, generate new tests to be performed.
- Session-Based Test - This method of testing software that aims to combine user responsibility and testing has several benefits: fast problem-solving features, user-friendly design, management control, and metrics reporting. This method can also be used combined with the scenario test. The QA team is designed to test and monitor exams functioning. They can offer an advantage when formal requirements are not present, seem incomplete, or are changing quickly.
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