Enterprise IrelandOpen SourceProjects

Automated testing in research projects?

By 28th January 2014 No Comments

        28th January 2014

The Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) has created much needed employment in the South East by transforming innovative research ideas into successful start-up companies. A key enabler for delivering the quality of software necessary to attract venture capital investment to a research project is a solid automated test framework. This is supported in-house by the Experimental Facilities Management (EFM) group.

In the early days of a research project the team will be less concerned with unit test coverage or automated testing packages and more focused on generating the innovative ideas and solutions that will make their offering unique and of high value. However, if the project is to evolve and become commercially viable, attention will quickly shift to building quality into the product. This is where the EFM team bring their expertise and in particular the Selenium based automated software test framework.

The service provided allows us to execute functions on an internet browser session, record those steps and then replay them automatically. The test steps can then be extended to include checks for specific text or elements on the site. You can capture and store variables for re-use within the test suite. Pauses and waits can be added to replicate real user behaviour. Screenshots can be captured. Data driven testing is supported, i.e. external files with lists of parameters can be fed into the tests. Other more advanced features include flow control logic (while, goto, else, etc.) and the use of Javascript snippets, e.g. to manipulate data or strings.

The Selenium family of tools are open sourced and more than meet the needs of budget conscious projects. An active and collaborative community of users guarantees up to date documentation and continuously enhanced automated test solutions. The EFM teams implementation includes integration with an email service and configurable scheduling of test execution. In other words, the results of a full suite of tests run overnight can be waiting in your inbox every morning.

The most successful implementation of our automated solution to date has been on the FeedHenry project. This successful mobile app development platform incorporates a range of features that were covered almost completely by automated regression test suites. As new components were developed the QA resources on the team were free to concentrate solely on testing the new features. This enabled the project to meet aggressive release deadlines but maintain quality standards. James Mernin, Operations Manager at FeedHenry has stated: “Without a comprehensive automated testing strategy, moving to a full continuous deployment model would simply not have been possible”. More recently the EFM’s automated testing expertise has been applied to the Enterprise Ireland funded MCA project.

For more information contact:
Phelim Dowling