What are the different types of tests

Flaky Tests

Oct 4, 2023

Software testing is an integral aspect of the software development life cycle, ensuring that the software product meets the desired quality and functionality standards. There are various types of software testing, each serving a specific purpose on the journey to a high-quality, bug-free software product. Let's delve into the different types of software testing, including manual and automation testing, types of testing, testing tools, and more.

Manual Testing and Automation Testing: Two Sides of the Coin

Software testing can be broadly classified into manual testing and automation testing. Manual testing involves testers manually executing test cases without using any automation tools. This traditional approach involves human intervention, enabling testers to simulate end-user interactions and identify defects through exploratory testing and scripted scenarios.

On the other hand, automation testing involves using automation tools and scripts to perform test cases. Automation tools like Selenium and Jenkins are widely used for automating repetitive and time-consuming test scenarios. Automation testing is efficient, especially for regression testing, enabling quicker feedback and freeing up testers to focus on more complex test cases.

Types of Software Testing: A pyramid

The software testing landscape comprises several types of testing methodologies, each serving a different purpose. Some methodologies focus on quick and granular tests (at the function level), while others are more comprehensive and involve more systems. We use a pyramid as an analogy for the relationships between the different methodologies - starting with the most granular, increasing in scope:

  • Unit Testing: Involves testing individual components or modules of the software to validate their functionality.

  • Integration Testing: Ensures that integrated components within the same system function as expected when combined.

  • End-to-end Testing: Runs tests on workflows that involve multiple systems.

  • Acceptance/Smoke Testing: Involves validating if the software meets acceptance criteria set by stakeholders or end-users.

  • Performance Testing: Evaluates the system's performance, including load and stress testing, to assess scalability and responsiveness.

  • Security Testing: Identifies vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the software system to enhance security measures.

  • Regression Testing: Verifies that recent code changes have not affected existing functionalities.

  • Black Box Testing: Focuses on the software's functionality without examining its internal code structure.

  • White Box Testing: Analyzes the software's internal code structure to validate its correctness.

These are some of the more popular testing methodologies, and every company has their own scoping of granularity depending on testing methodology - but the pattern remains similar. Granular and quicker tests are run first and more frequently, while broader tests that take longer are run less frequently.

The Testing Process and Tools

The testing process typically involves:

  • Creating Test Cases: Defining test cases based on requirements and specifications.

  • Test Execution: Running the test cases and documenting the results.

  • Defect Reporting: Reporting any bugs or issues encountered during testing.

  • Retesting and Regression Testing: Confirming defect resolutions and checking for side effects.

  • Test Analysis: Is the test performing as expected? What areas are we not testing? Are there any problematic tests?

Various testing tools like BuildPulse, Selenium, Jira, and Postman aid in efficient test automation, management, and execution, enhancing the testing process's effectiveness.

BuildPulse shines in test analytics - measure the stability of your product, determine impact, find, and fix flaky tests.

Quality Assurance and Metrics: Elevating Product Quality

Quality assurance (QA) is a vital part of the software testing process. It involves creating quality standards, processes, and ensuring adherence to them throughout the development life cycle. Metrics such as test coverage, defect density, and customer-reported issues help measure and enhance product quality, guiding development teams in making informed decisions.

Agile Testing and DevOps: An Integrated Approach

The Agile methodology emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and responsiveness throughout the development process. Agile testing aligns with the Agile principles, promoting iterative testing, continuous feedback, and adaptability. DevOps, on the other hand, emphasizes collaboration between development and operations teams, promoting a seamless and automated software delivery process, including testing.

Testing Techniques and Approaches: Tailoring Strategies

Testing techniques like exploratory testing involve simultaneously designing and executing tests, promoting creativity and adaptability. User interface (UI) testing ensures a smooth and intuitive end-user experience. Regression testing, on the other hand, validates that recent changes haven't negatively impacted the existing functionalities.

Conclusion: Striving for Excellence

Software testing, an indispensable part of the software development life cycle, plays a pivotal role in delivering a high-quality software product. By employing various testing types, utilizing appropriate testing tools, and incorporating agile and DevOps principles, development teams can navigate the testing landscape effectively. Ensuring product quality, security, and a seamless user experience are paramount, and robust testing methodologies and practices help achieve these goals. Happy testing!


What is the difference between a flaky test and a false positive?

A false positive is a test failure in your test suite due to an actual error in the code being executed, or a mismatch in what the test expects from the code.

A flaky test is when you have conflicting test results for the same code. For example, while running tests if you see that a test fails and passes, but the code hasn’t changed, then it’s a flaky test. There’s many causes of flakiness.

What is an example of a flaky test?

An example can be seen in growing test suites - when pull request builds fail for changes you haven’t made. Put differently, when you see a test pass and fail without any code change. These failed tests are flaky tests.

What are common causes of flakiness?

Broken assumptions in test automation and development process can introduce flaky tests - for example, if test data is shared between different tests whether asynchronous, high concurrency, or sequential, the results of one test can affect another. 

Poorly written test code can also be a factor. Improper polling, race conditions, improper event dependency handling, shared test data, or timeout handling for network requests or page loads. Any of these can lead to flaky test failures and test flakiness.

End-to-end tests that rely on internal API uptime can cause test flakiness and test failures.

What's the impact of flaky tests?

Flaky tests can wreck havoc on the development process - from wasted developer time from test retries, to creating bugs and product instability and missed releases, time-consuming flaky tests can grind your development process to a halt.

What is the best way to resolve or fix flaky tests?

Devops, software engineering, and software development teams will often need to compare code changes, logs, and other context across test environments from before the test instability started, and after - adding retries or reruns can also help with debugging. Test detection and test execution tooling can help automate this process as well. 

BuildPulse enables you to find, assess impact metrics, quarantine, and fix flaky tests.

What are some strategies for preventing flaky tests?

Paying attention and prioritizing flaky tests as they come up can be a good way to prevent them from becoming an issue. This is where a testing culture is important - if a flaky test case is spotted by an engineer, it should be logged right away. This, however, takes a certain level of hygiene - BuildPulse can provide monitoring so flaky tests are caught right away.

What type of tests have flaky tests?

Flaky tests can be seen across the testing process - unit tests, integration tests, end-to-end tests, UI tests, acceptance tests.

What if I don't have that many flaky tests?

Flaky tests can be stealthy - often ignored by engineers and test runs are retried, they build up until they can’t be ignored anymore. These automated tests slow down developer productivity, impact functionality, and reduce confidence in test results and test suites. Better to get ahead while it’s easy and invest in test management.

It’s also important to prevent regressions to catch flakiness early while it’s manageable.

What languages and continuous integration providers does BuildPulse work with?

BuildPulse integrates with all continuous integration providers (including GitHub Actions, BitBucket Pipelines, and more), test frameworks, and workflows.

Combat non-determinism, drive test confidence, and provide the best experience you can to your developers!

How long does implementation/integration with BuildPulse take?

Implementation/integration takes 5 minutes!

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