If you have ever worked in an Agile+DevOps environment then you would know about how important continuous testing is for a smooth workflow. For those who might be new to this topic, DevOps is predominantly a culture, a way of working that enhances collaboration between all parties involved in the development, staging, production and maintenance of one or multiple applications. Agile and continuous integration can also be described as a culture, but one which is focused on productivity and driving product releases to meet ever-changing needs. These cultures were birthed to bring structure and predictability to the development process.

The concept of continuous testing (CT) was developed to continuously test applications through the entire software development cycle (SDLC). This helps in providing critical feedback at the development stage, high-quality build and of course, faster turnover time. This article will look at how continuous testing in Agile and a DevOps continuous testing environment can benefit your entire software development process.

How continuous testing improves Agile and DevOps

One of the main improvements is speed. Software development takes time. As much as most clients would want the software developed in record time, that may not be possible in certain cases although adopting Agile continuous testing will improve the turnout time. DevOps continuous Testing goes hand-in-hand with Continuous Integration to make sure that bugs are found early and are easy to fix. What is continuous integration in Agile? Continuous integration in both Agile and DevOps are routine best practices of integrating code changes into the main branch of a repository and testing the changes as often as possible.

What is continuous testing in DevOps

Every software is tested on all aspects before they are launched. Any proper testing cycle will cover performance, security, scalability, UI and other relevant areas. Finding and fixing issues at any stage of development can save days if not weeks of development time. If the time to market or launch is an important aspect of your development process, then you must adopt DevOps continuous testing. DevOps continuous testing will improve the speed and quality of your build. Your feedback loops will be timely and this always helps when you are building a high-quality app.

Another good thing about continuous testing is that it is 100% risk-free and can easily be implemented across all teams. QA experts can easily comprehend and work on end-user problems. No matter how complex your setup is, there is always a way to implement continuous testing.

Continuous testing in CI/CD

CI and CD stand for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment respectively. Testing continuous deployment would remove the traditional or outmoded approach of development, testing and then release. The problem with this is that none of the processes overlap and nothing operates in parallel. This is a recipe for slow fixes, delays, coupled with bugs. Testing continuous deployment can totally revolutionize your entire workflow.

The whole concept of CI/CD is to deliver quality really fast while allowing automation, continuity and collaboration. In continuous testing, CI/CD can be used to notify testers and developers if there is a break in any area of the build. A merge can be stopped so changes can be made before continuing. This can all be automated which allows continuous testing to find and fix issues before it reaches the end user. Functional, integration, regression, and performance tests can be automated for speed and accuracy.

What continuous testing includes

Continuous testing can look like a lot at first glance but it generally covers the following;

  1. testing at earlier stages of the release pipeline
  2. testing more often before release
  3. testing everywhere, that is, across environments and devices

The dimensions that are tested include functional and non-functional testing. Functional DevOps continuous testing more often than not involves system testing, integrated testing, API testing and unit testing. 

What is the role of test automation?

Automated software testing or test automation is geared at improving the software quality.

This plays a very important role in the overall quality and use of the software. Test automation looks into the application to see data tables, memory contents, internal program states and file contents to ensure that the application is functioning as it ought at every level. Test automation has great advantages over manual processes because it can run thousands of complex tests when triggered.

Benefits of continuous testing

The benefits of continuous testing, especially DevOps Continuous testing, are immense considering the time, effort and money it saves. Here are a few;

  1. Repeated tests

    Thanks to continuous testing, you do not have to complete the entire development phase before you jump to testing. You can run multiple repeated automated tests as you build to quickly find and fix problems.

  2. Fewer errors

    The ability to spot errors faster when applying continuous testing allows you to complete your builds with fewer errors.

  3. Fast delivery

    Testing can be done as you build by running parallel performance tests for faster execution. Large teams can effectively meet deadlines with this model.

  4. Earn customer trust:

    Users will experience error-free software due to continuous testing and will trust your build more.

  5. Test Automation:

    Spend less time testing with automation. You will also get very accurate results.

  6. Increase Releases

    When you are able to speed up the time it takes to get a product ready for release, you are able to release apps and software a lot quicker with continuous testing.

  7. Minimize Business Risk

    Find and solve problems fast to negate any negative effects of error-ridden products. Reputation is very important in business and you want to make sure that you are creating a good reputation right from scratch.

  8. DevOps

    Seamlessly integrate into your continuous testing DevOps process.

  9. Prompt feedback

    Enhances regular communication between the development, testing and operations teams.

  10. Available testing tools

    Access to tools that enhance continuous testing for a swift process.

  11. Improved quality control

    Being able to oversee the entire process through Continuous testing allows for a better-quality build.

Why continuous testing is important to DevOps and Agile

Many have argued and asked questions as to how continuous testing improves Agile and DevOps? Well, the answer can be seen in why continuous testing is important to DevOps and Agile. One trait that runs through DevOps and Agile culture is the need for instant feedback. Continuous testing plays a large role in CI/CD environments allowing development, testing and operations teams to communicate, accelerate release cycles, lower costs and reduce risks.

What are the Key considerations for testing in a CI/CD environment?

DevOps Continuous testing and Agile continuous testing in a CI/CD environment is a proven methods for growth. However, if you plan on applying continuous testing to this environment then you must consider these very important factors since you cannot test every single eventuality. Continuous testing Agile is useful but it cannot cover every instance.

  1. Rapid Feedback

    In order to successfully implement continuous testing, DevOps teams need the right mix of tools, people, and processes. Most importantly, they need fast and frequent feedback loops to guide their testing efforts. Feedback loops are vital at every stage of the SDLC if continuous testing is to be present, and this is a significant obstacle to implementing CT. Not only do automated tests have to be created, but a precise understanding of the test results is essential.

  2. Balancing test and speed requirements

    You should start your testing with a broad coverage approach which should alert you to obvious issues. Next, would be the component or interactions test. This is to examine code interactions. From there, you can move to automated performance, GUI and load tests. Once these automations are done, then you can focus on the manual testing. Manual testing is normally used for high-risk environments.

In a nutshell, DevOps continuous testing has shaped the software development sector. Every software development company has adopted the testing model in order to create high-quality products that satisfy users on time with less risks or defects. Continuous testing is here to stay and as a developer using the Agile or DevOps methodology, continuous testing is a must. Even though there are challenges that Continuous testing has, the benefits far outweigh them.