Test Automation Frameworks - Stuff you must Know!

What is a Framework ?

Instead of providing a bookish definition of a framework, lets consider an example.

I am sure you have attended a seminar / lecture / conference where the participants was asked to observe the following  guidelines -

 

  •    Participants should occupy their seat 5 minutes before start of lecture
  •    Bring along a notebook and pen for note taking.
  •    Read the abstract so you have an idea of what the presentation will be about.
  •   Mobile Phones should be set on silent
  •   Use the exit gates at opposite end to the speaker should you require to leave in middle of the lecture.
  •   Questions will be taken at the end of the session

 

Do you think you can conduct a seminar WITHOUT observing these guidelines????

The answer is a big YES! Certainly you can conduct a seminar / lecture / conference / demonstration without above guidelines (in fact some of us will not follow them even though there are laid  ... :-)

 

But if the guidelines are followed it will result in beneficial outcome like reduced audience distraction during lecture and increased participant retention and understanding of the subject matter.

Based on above, a Framework can be defined as a set of guidelines which when followed produce beneficial results.

Now what is a TEST Automation Framework ?

A set of guidelines like coding standards , test-data handling , object repository treatment  etc... which when followed during automation scripting produce beneficial outcomes like increase code re-usage ,  higher portability  , reduced script maintenance cost  etc. Mind you these are just guidelines and not rules; they are not mandatory and you can still script without following the guidelines. But you will miss out on the advantages of having a Framework.

What are the various Automation Frameworks available?

1) Linear Scripting
2)The Test Library Architecture Framework.
3)The Data-Driven Testing Framework.
4)The Keyword-Driven or Table-Driven Testing Framework.
5)The Hybrid Test Automation Framework.

Lets  look at them in detail -

1) Linear Scripting - Record & Playback

It is the simplest of all Frameworks and also know as "Record & Playback".In this Framework , Tester manually records each step ( Navigation and User Inputs), Inserts Checkpoints ( Validation Steps) in the first round . He then , Plays back the recorded script in the subsequent rounds.

Ex :  Consider logging into Flight Reservation Application and checking wether the application has loaded on successful log-on. Here , the tester will simply record the steps and add validation steps.

  SystemUtil.Run "flight4a.exe","","","open"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Agent Name:").Set "Guru99"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Password:").Set "Mercury"

      Dialog("Login").WinButton("OK").Click

      'Check Flight Reservation Window has loaded after successful log-on

      Window("Flight Reservation").Check CheckPoint("Flight Reservation")

Advantages

  • Fastest way to generate script
  • Automation expertise not required
  • Easiest way to learn the features of the Testing Tool

Disadvantages

  • Little reuse of scripts
  • Test data is hard coded into the script
  • Maintenance Nightmare

2)The Test Library Architecture Framework.

It is also know as "Structured Scripting" or "Functional Decomposition".

In this Framework , test scripts are initially recorded by "Record & Playback" method. Later, common tasks inside the scripts are identified and grouped into Functions. These Functions are called by main test script called Driver in different ways to create test cases.

Ex:Using the same example as above, the function for logging in to Flight Reservation will look like .

 

      Function Login()

      SystemUtil.Run "flight4a.exe","","","open"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Agent Name:").Set "Guru99"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Password:").Set "Mercury"

      Dialog("Login").WinButton("OK").Click

      End Function

Now, you will call this function in the main script as follows

    'Driver Script

      Call Login()

      ---------------------------

      Other Function calls / Test Steps.

      ---------------------------

Advantages

  • Higher level of code reuse is achieved in Structured Scripting as compared to "Record & Playback"
  • The automation scripts are less costly to develop due to higher code re-use
  • Easier Script Maintenance

Disadvantages

  • Technical expertise is necessary to write  Scripts using Test Library Framework.
  • More time is needed to plan and prepare test scripts.
  • Test Data is hard coded within the scripts

3)The Data-Driven Testing Framework.

In this Framework , while Test case logic resides in Test Scripts, the Test Data is separated and kept outside the Test Scripts.Test Data is read from the external files (Excel Files, Text Files, CSV Files, ODBC Sources, DAO Objects, ADO Objects) and are loaded into the variables inside the Test Script. Variables are used both for Input values and for Verification values. Test Scripts themselves are prepared either using Linear Scripting  or Test Library Framework.

Ex: Developing the Flight Reservation Login script using this method will involve two steps.

Step 1) Create a Test - Data file which could be Excel , CSV , or any other database source.

AgentName

Password

Jimmy

Mercury

Tina

MERCURY

Bill

MerCURY

Step 2) Develop Test Script and make references to your Test- Data source.

      SystemUtil.Run "flight4a.exe","","","open"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Agent Name:").Set DataTable("AgentName", dtGlobalSheet)

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Password:").Set DataTable("Password", dtGlobalSheet)

      Dialog("Login").WinButton("OK").Click

      'Check Flight Reservation Window has loaded

      Window("Flight Reservation").Check CheckPoint("Flight Reservation")

      **Note "dtGlobalSheet" is the default excel sheet provided by QTP.

Advantages

  • Changes to the Test Scripts do not affect the Test Data
  • Test Cases can be executed with multiple Sets of Data
  • A Variety of Test Scenarios can be executed by just varying the Test Data in the External Data File

DisAdvantages

  • More time is needed to plan and prepare both Test Scripts and Test Data

4)The Keyword-Driven or Table-Driven Testing Framework.

The Keyword-Driven or Table-Driven framework requires the development of data tables and keywords, independent of the test automation tool used to execute them . Tests can be designed with or without the Application. In a keyword-driven test, the functionality of the application-under-test is documented in a table as well as in step-by-step instructions for each test.

There are 3 basis components of a Keyword Driven Framework viz. Keyword , Application Map , Component Function.

What is a Keyword ?

Keyword is an Action that can be performed on a GUI Component. Ex . For GUI Component Textbox some Keywords ( Action) would be InputText, VerifyValue, VerifyProperty and so on.

What is Application Map?

An Application Map Provides Named References for GUI Components. Application Maps are nothing but "Object Repositry"

What is Component Function?

Component Functions are those functions that actively manipulate or interrogate GUI component. An example of a function would be click on web button with all error handling , enter data in a Web Edit with all error handling. Component functions could be application dependent or independent.

Ex: To understand Keyword View lets take the same example. It invovles 2 steps

Step 1: Creating Data Table (Different from Test-Data Table created in Data Driven Framework). This Data Table contains Action to be performed on GUI Objects and correspoding arguments if any. Each row respresents one Test Step.

Object

(Application MAP)

Action

(KEYWORDS)

Argument

WinEdit(Agent Name)

Set

Guru99

WinEdit(Password)

Set

Mercury

WinButton(OK)

Click

 

Window(Flight Reservation)

Verify

Exists

Step 2: Writing Code in the form of Component Functions.

Once you've created your data table(s), you simply write a program or a set of scripts that reads in each step, executes the step based on the keyword contained the Action field, performs error checking, and logs any relevant information. This program or set of scripts would look similar to the pseudo code below:

      Function main()

     {

                Call ConnectTable(Name of the Table) {   //Calling Function for connecting to the table.

                        while (Call TableParser() != -1)  //Calling function for Parsing and extracting values from the table.

                       {

                           Pass values to appropriate  COMPONENT functions. Like Set(Object Name , Argument) ex. Set( Agent Name , Guru99).

                       }

                }   

                      Call CloseConnection()   //Function for Closing connection after all the operation has been performed.

      }   //End of main

Thats all to Keyword Driven Framework.

The advantage of Keyword Driven Framework is that the Keywords are re-usable. To understand this consider  you want to verify login operation for a Website say YAHOO MAIL.  The table will look like this -

Object

(APPLICATION MAP)

   Action

(KEYWORD)

      Argument

WebEdit(UserName)

Set

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WebEdit(Password)

Set

xxxxx

WebButton(OK)

Click

 

Window(Yahoo Mail)

Verify

Loads

If you observe in this case the Keywords Set , Click , Verify remain the same for which corresponding component functions are already developed. All you need to do is change the Application Mapping (Object Repository) from earlier Flight Reservation to Yahoo Mail , with change in argument values and the same script will work!

Advantages

  • Provides high code re-usability
  • Test Tool Independent
  • Independent of Application Under Test, same script works for AUT (with some limitations)
  • Tests can be designed with or without AUT

Disadvantages

  • Initial investment being pretty high, the benefits of this can only be realized if the application is considerably big and the test scripts are to be maintained for quite a few years.
  • High Automation expertise is required to create the Keyword Driven Framework.

NOTE : Even though QTP advertises itself as KeyWord Driven Framework, you can not achieve complete test tool and application idependence using QTP.

5)The Hybrid Test Automation Framework.

As the name suggests this framework is the combination of one or more frameworks discussed above pulling from their strengths and trying to mitigate their weaknesses. This hybrid test automation framework is what most frameworks evolve into over time and multiple projects. Maximum industry uses Keyword Framework in combination of Function decomposition method.

PS:  Other Frameworks worth a mention are

1) Test Modularity Framework 

In this framework common task in test script are grouped together as Modules.

Ex:Using Actions in QTP use can create a Modualr Scripts

   'Sample Script for Login

      SystemUtil.Run "flight4a.exe","","","open"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Agent Name:").Set "Guru99"

      Dialog("Login").WinEdit("Password:").Set "Mercury"

      Dialog("Login").WinButton("OK").Click

      'End of Script

Now you can call this Action in the main script as follows - 

   RunAction ("Login[Argument]", oneIteration)

2) Business Process Testing (BPT) -

This frameworks , breaks up large Business Processes into Components  which can re-used multiple times in the  same or different test scripts. For example , the Business Process of Booking a flight is split into components like Login , Finding Flights , Booking , Payment & Logout which can be re-used in the same  Business process or different processes. Also, BPT facilitates closer coordination amongst SME's and Automation Engineers . 

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