Quality assurance (QA) testing is an instrumental part of the software development process. While Agile development teams are moving toward test automation, there are still many parts of the process that require manual tests. Other teams may not be ready to invest in full test automation and require manual tests in the interim to deliver quality software.
Let's take a look at three tools that can help improve the manual QA process by increasing efficiency and reducing the time it takes to accomplish.
Manual Testing 101
Manual testing is the process of ensuring that software releases don't contain any bugs. Rather than running an automated test suite, manual QA testers work through a series of test cases, generate test reports, and log any bugs into a bug tracker for follow-up by developers. The process tests the exact same tools that end-users will ultimately use.
The problem is that manual QA processes quickly become time-consuming and tedious. For example, website regression tests might require testers to go through the same set of steps in Chrome, FireFox, Microsoft Edge, IE11, IE10, and IE8 to verify that new code changes didn't adversely impact the design or functionality. It's mind-numbing work for anyone!
While some manual QA testing can be replaced by automation, there are areas where it's still necessary, such as exploratory testing that doesn't have a well-defined test case. Other teams may not be ready to make the large initial investment in test automation and rely on manual QA testers as a stop-gap before they can justify the investment.
#1. Selenium for UI Tests
Selenium is a browser automation framework that's often used for test automation. If your team is looking to automate in the future, you may want to learn to write Selenium scripts and automate the most repetitive tasks. You can relieve yourself from the most mind-numbing tasks, while building a foundation for future test automation.
Using SauceLabs, you can scale Selenium tests across thousands of browser and operating system configurations to eliminate the need for manual testing of each configuration and dramatically speed up the time it takes to fully test an application. These capabilities are available as independent one-off tests or integrated into CI/CD workflows.
If your team isn't familiar with Selenium, there are many helpful tools for learning how to use the tool. Udemy and Lynda both provide a wide range of courses designed to introduce manual QA testers to Selenium tools. That said, it helps to have some programming experience to better understand the concepts and implement the tests.
#2. Proxies for Location Tests
Many applications have location-based attributes. For example, an ecommerce application may want to show certain payment or shipping methods based on a visitor's location. These applications may either look at a visitor's IP address or their browser-based location settings to determine where they are located and display the correct content.
Manual QA testers can use proxy servers to simulate being in different countries by changing IP addresses. While there are plenty of free proxy servers out there, many of them are unreliable and may show ads that impact the QA process. Proxy servers alone are also insufficient for testing applications that use browser-based location settings.
WonderProxy provides access to more than 240 proxy servers across more than 80 different countries covering 97% of the world's gross domestic product. With the WonderSwitcher add-on for Chrome and Firefox, you can connect to your application from different parts of the world, including simulated browser-based location settings to cover all use cases.
When you're ready to automate testing, WonderProxy integrates with both SauceLabs and Selenium to automate localization tests. You can quickly add these tests to your continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) processes to ensure that your application's location-based features are always working with each release.
#3. Postman for API Tests
The rise of multi-platform applications has made APIs increasingly important. While Curl offers a bare-bones way to test API requests and responses, there's a learning curve for manual QA testers unaccustomed to command-line operations, and the process can be tedious and error-prone. The results of API calls can also be difficult to read without the right output formatting in place.
Postman is a user-friendly tool for testing REST, SOAP and GraphQL API routes without using the command line. Using the standalone app or browser add-on, you can make requests and see the formatted responses. You can even save request templates (e.g. authentication headers) and reuse them without having to remember or retype them each time.
Postman Application Interface - Source: Postman
If you're testing API-dependent applications, Postman enables you to simulate API endpoints and responses without having to set up or run a backend server. These same attributes are helpful when testing applications that have third-party API calls that may involve a cost — you can simulate them and know that everything functions correctly.
Finally, Postman provides test automation tools when your team is ready to move forward to automated QA testing. If you're using Jenkins or another continuous integration server, you can integrate Postman API tests using its command line tool, Newman, or other integrations. With Postman and your CI server, you can ensure that your API is always working properly without any manual QA efforts.
Transitioning to Automation
Most Agile development teams strive to automate as many tests as possible to reduce the time it takes to create, maintain and run the tests. While the transition from manual to automated tests may seem intimidating, there are some strategies that you can use to ease the transition and realize the benefits of test automation without the stress.
Some transition tips to keep in mind include:
- Start by identifying repetitive manual QA tasks and convert them into automated test scripts.
- Keep all of your automated tests organized in a single repository to avoid adding complexity.
- Refactor the test suite on a regular basis as you add tests to avoid creating technical debt.
- Run the tests automatically using a CI/CD server, such as Jenkins or CircleCI.
- Ensure that bug reports are sent to developers for follow-up either manually, or better, automatically.
The Bottom Line
Quality assurance is an integral part of the software development process. While some manual tests are being automated, many organizations still haven't made the investment in automation and some QA tests are best left to manual testers. The tools that we've covered can help simplify manual QA testing and ease the transition to automation.