Testing Trends 2020
Now we have entered 2020, I thought I’d peer into my crystal ball and share some of the trends I expect to see emerge over the course of this year in the software testing industry. My opinions are formed from my experience at conferences last year, what I’ve experienced in my day to day work and discussions and blogs that I’ve read online.
Focus on Coaching
As more teams adopt DevOps and CI/CD principles I expect to see testers continue to collaborate effectively with their team. Due to regular releases it is becoming more and more difficult for testers to keep up with the being the sole owners of the testing activity. I fully expect to see more testers move into a coaching role, where they pair with developers and advise them on the types of tests they would usually run.
For this reason, I expect Alan Page and Brent Jensen’s (AB Testing) Modern Testing Principles to become more widely adopted. Principle 7 states:
“We expand testing abilities and knowhow across the team; understanding that this may reduce (or eliminate) the need for a dedicated testing specialist.”
I expect to see more testers continue to expand their skills, outside of carrying out the testing activity, and continue to add value to their teams.
Automated Visual Testing
Automated Visual Testing tools really took off last year. Tools such as AppliTools are allowing testers to add a layer of automated visual testing that uses AI to compare an expected visual layout of a web page with the actual result.
The unique selling point of automated visual testing tools is that they can detect changes in the layout of a page. Imagine you’re checking for the existence of a Sign-In button in Selenium. Even if it’s hidden or in the wrong place your test will pass if the element can be found. With a visual testing tool, the test will not pass unless the layout is correct. These tests are extremely valuable as they’re truly looking at the product from a user’s perspective.
I expect to see more examples of visual automation in teams’ CI/CD pipelines this year. If you’re interested in learning more about Visual Testing, you can check out Angie Jones’ course here.
AI/ML to Assist Automation
Another trend in the industry is the growth of AI/Machine Learning (ML). I expect more testers to get involved in both testing AI/ML products but also utilising AI/ML to assist their testing efforts.
I believe testers will begin to utilise ML to identify which tests to run in their CI/CD pipeline once a change has been committed. It can consider the size of the change made and what functionality was affected and only run those tests in the pipeline. This allows testers to be more strategic about the tests they will be running.
Another example of using AI to assist in our test automation efforts comes from Jason Arbon. He has developed functionality within Appium that utilises AI for element locators. You can view his course on Test Automation University here.
Testing in Production
Testing in our production environment has been a hot topic for a while but I expect to see the number of people testing in production grow throughout the year.
Distributed systems are becoming more and more complex, especially with the growth of AI and ML, and testing every scenario is becoming almost impossible. Add to this the pressure on teams to release software to users more frequently the ways to test effectively are changing.
I see software testing becoming more reliable on A/B deployments. Pushing changes to production but limiting this functionality to a small number of customers and running tests there. I also see testers becoming more involved in the Observability space. Being able to diagnose issues as they happen in production and fixing these issues before customers notice a negative effect is going to be vitally important to teams adopting a DevOps culture.
It’s always difficult to tell what will happen in the tech industry. You never know when the latest tool or trend is going to emerge and catch-on. I believe that the four areas I’ve discussed will become more prevalent amongst software testers. Keeping up with these trends is important if we wish to continue to add value to our cross-functional teams.
More about the author:
Ali Hill began his career as a Games Tester at Rockstar North, before moving to a more traditional Agile Testing role at Craneware. It was here that his passion for self-learning and utilising new skills led him to learn more about automated API and performance testing.
Currently working as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant at ECS Digital in Ediburgh, Ali is extremely interested in investigating how testing can thrive within a DevOps environment as a whole team activity.
He’s also pretty sociable: