Test Automation Framework: What is, Architecture & Types

What is Framework in Automation Testing?

A Test Automation Framework is a set of guidelines like coding standards, test-data handling, object repository treatment etc… which when followed during automation scripting produces beneficial outcomes like increased code re-usage, higher portability, reduced script maintenance cost etc. 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.

In this tutorial, you will learn

Why do you need a Framework?

Let’s consider an example to understand why you need a Framework.

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

  • Participants should occupy their seat 5 minutes before the start of a 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 the 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 the 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 a beneficial outcome like reduced audience distraction during lecture and increased participant retention and understanding of the subject matter.

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

Types of Test Automation Frameworks

Below are the different types of Automated Testing Frameworks:

  • 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 Testing Automation Frameworks and also know as “Record & Playback”. In this Automation Testing 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.

Example: Consider logging into Flight Reservation Application and checking whether 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 a script
  • Automation expertise not required
  • The easiest way to learn the features of the Testing Tool

Disadvantages

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

2) The Test Library Architecture Framework

It is also know as “Structured Scripting” or “Functional Decomposition”.

In this Automation Testing 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.

Example: 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

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.

Example: 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 automation framework development requires 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 basic 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 the 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 the 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.

Example: 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 corresponding arguments if any. Each row respresents one Test Step.

Object Action
(Application MAP) (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 Action
(APPLICATION MAP) (KEYWORD) Argument
WebEdit(UserName) Set abc@yahoo.com
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 a change in argument values and the same script will work!

Advantages

  • Provides high code re-usability
  • Test Tool Independent
  • Independent of Application Under Test, the 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 Micro Focus UFT advertises itself as KeyWord Driven Framework, you can not achieve complete test tool and application idependence using HP UFT.

5) The Hybrid Test Automation Framework

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

PS: Other Automation Frameworks worth a mention are

Test Modularity Framework

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

Example: 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)

Business Process Testing (BPT)

These Automation Frameworks, break 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 .

Benefits of Test Automation Framework Architecture

Following are the benefits of Test automation framework architecture:

  • A test automation framework helps to reduce the risk and cost expenses
  • It improves the efficiency of tests
  • It helps to reduce the maintenance cost
  • Allows the reuse of code
  • It allows achieving maximum test coverage
  • It maximizes the application functionality
  • Helps to reduce test case duplication
  • It helps to improve the test efficiency and performance with test automation

Summary

  • A Framework is a set of guidelines like coding standards, test-data handling, object repository treatment etc… which when followed during automation scripting produces beneficial outcomes like increased code re-usage, higher portability, reduced script maintenance cost etc.
  • Linear Scripting is the simplest of all Automation Frameworks and also know as “Record & Playback”.
  • Test Library Architecture Framework is also know as “Structured Scripting” or “Functional Decomposition”.
  • In Data-Driven Testing Framework, test case logic resides in test scripts, and the test data is separated and kept outside the test scripts.
  • 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 .
  • The Hybrid Automation Framework is what most test automation frameworks evolve into over time and multiple projects.