CEO at Microsoft Corporation, Satya Nadella, has started preaching a more nimble agile implementation approach for building software, as part of the recent transformation the company has undergone. A recent survey of IT and development professionals shows that agile is the new norm. The majority of development projects and teams have embraced this new methodology while the pure waterfall model is slowly moving towards minority.
It was a little over a decade ago that agile software development first entered the scene as a reaction to traditional approaches for software development projects. While it was initially promoted as a movement, many looked upon it as a major challenger to some of the more entrenched practices such as the waterfall model. Its test-first development practices like test-driven development inspire confidence and promote simple designs. In TDD, the developer begins with writing code for an automated test case, which describes either a new function or a feature that needs improvement. Then he produces minimum amount of code to pass that test and finally refactors the new code so that it can meet acceptable standards. Testing the code at an early stage diminishes the need of excessive debugging. Another technique used by agile techniques is behavior-driven development, which stems out of TDD. In BDD developers combine ideas and techniques of TDD with object-oriented design and analysis.
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Key Testing Methodologies in Agile
Agile development involves a number of different testing methodologies. Let us learn more about them in detail.
Unit / Component Testing:
Individual software units, related data, and a number of other use procedures are all tested in order to assess how tight the operation is. With the help of the unit test, the behavior of a small piece of code- known as a unit- is tested and the tester notified whether the test has passed or failed. Automated unit testing provides various benefits which closely aligned with several agile principles. The key benefit is that it produces working code faster, with fewer bugs. It includes a collection of skills processes and tools which support agility. Besides, you get quick feedback from running tests, giving developers the ability to cover more code. And as we all know, the Agile Manifesto is all about working software. Automated unit testing makes this quicker than any other process.
Integration Testing: From the perspective of an agile workflow, the UI is bound to feature numerous experiences of changes and multiple versions with user feedback and team input being deciding factors. In this regard, test automation in UI maintenance becomes extremely time consuming. In order to enhance the overall coverage while not allowing the maintenance costs to escalate, automation needs to be done at a systems and services level.
In the acceptance test-driven development, a test-first approach is followed. The development team first clearly understands the acceptance criteria and creates test cases based on the bullet points that are clearly labelled in the acceptance criteria. Any modification to the same may be done by setting up a prior planning meeting in negotiations with the Product Owner.
The primary idea of acceptance test driven development involves a set of tests that should be passed before an application may be regarded as finished. It is a well-established fact that testing an application before delivering it is an invaluable practice.
Continuous Integration is an agile development technique where code is checked in small increments and tested against the larger code base. This is a development practice that has been around for long. In fact, it has been around for so long that most developers tend to take this practice for granted. However, it has been found recently that this is not the correct practice.
The build of code is only half the battle won. A successful build will tell you that in terms of syntax, the code holds together but it won’t give any suggestion on how the code works. The practice of continuous integration should ideally involve automatic code deployment to the platform on which it is supposed to reside.
Agile teams usually have a self-organizing setup with a variety of skill sets spanning across the team. Besides using the above test techniques,developers can also use code review to learn the code base and new techniques and technologies to help grow their skill set. Code reviews can benefit every team regardless of their development methodology. With work being decentralized across the team, it provides huge benefits for the agile teams. Code review helps in facilitating knowledge sharing not only across the team but also the code base.
For an agile project, a number of tests may confirm that your system is working as per expectations. These are value-driven tests that also focus on value creation. Exploratory testing, on the other hand, is driven by risk and focuses on unexpected behaviors. Though the outcomes are complementary, the goals tend to be conflicting and this is something that needs to be recognized. This is why it is important to automate agile testing.