In the preceding tutorial, we deliberated on efficient methods for arranging the Test Bed and reducing Test Environment issues. Continuing our discussion on the same subject, we will delve into the process of establishing and managing the Test Environment and significant methods for handling Test Data in this tutorial.
Establishing the Test Environment
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Reproducing the test environment to closely resemble the end-user environment is vital. End-users usually receive a fully integrated product or system that doesn’t require any installation or configuration. As such, these configurations do not need to be explicitly performed by the test teams.
If there are any configurations relevant exclusively for testing purposes (although these will be configured for end-users), the administrators tasked with configuring the development environment should also handle the test environment configuration.
Moreover, if the development team takes the responsibility of installation and configuration, they should also offer their assistance in the test environment.
For instance, if an application needs to be tested across multiple OS platforms and middleware installations, the most efficient method is to employ virtualization or Cloud environments.
Establish a master system with proper application and middleware installations. Then generate a master image from this system and clone multiple instances for each user, offering them an individual system for testing.
The following is a graphical depiction of the process to set up the Test Environment:
Procedure to Set Up the Test Environment
What You Will Learn:
Upkeep of a Test Environment
Despite difficulties in preparing for a test environment, it is imperative to maintain and standardize it. Testers frequently lose precious testing time due to environment or setup issues.
To guarantee excellent product delivery and optimal usage of resources, test teams need to implement effective strategies for test environment maintenance.
Essential Factors for Efficient Maintenance of Test Environment
Consider the subsequent crucial aspects for efficient maintenance as test environments often consist of heterogeneous platforms and stacks:
#1) Effective sharing and distribution of the environment:
Since various teams or individuals might need the same resources for testing, devise an appropriate sharing mechanism that caters to everyone’s needs without causing delays.
Maintain a database or an information link containing data about:
- The user of the environment
- The availability of the environment for usage
- The precise division of the environment’s usage time
Proactively assess the resource requirements and availability to minimize disorder.
Furthermore, re-evaluate resource requirements for each testing cycle and contemplate replacing underutilized resources with new ones.
#2) Sanity checks:
Certain test requirements include extensive test setups or configurations that may consume a considerable amount of time. In instances where multiple teams have to reuse the same test environment, understanding the complete environment and the tests conducted by various teams can help allocate specific resources efficiently.
Performing basic sanity tests accelerates individual tests and notifies teams about necessary environment modifications or fixes.
#3) Monitoring outages:
Just like individual teams maintain their own test environments, global support teams also handle various test environments. Keeping track of and informing the test team about any outages or upgrades of the environments ensures coordinated work planning.
Virtualized environments like cloud platforms are beneficial when sharing the environment for testing purposes and optimizing resources. Provisioning independent test environments with dedicated OS, databases, middleware, and automation frameworks reduces costs and resource constraints.
#5) Regression Testing/Automation:
Perform regression tests for new functions and features in every release cycle. Creating separate test environments for regression testing within each cycle ensures stability. Automation enhances efficiency by assuming a stable environment and attributing defects to features or code.
#6) Overall governance:
Problems with test environment hardware or software should be escalated to the responsible party for suitable fixes. Limitations in firmware or software call for the tester to raise service requests to external vendors or teams. Providing detailed environment reports regularly promotes transparency and facilitates analysis.
Preparing Test Data
Now, let’s delve into the latter portion of creating a Test Bed: preparing the test data. Test data is any input provided to the software code being tested and is crucial to guarantee comprehensive testing coverage and enhance quality.
While designing test cases, test data plays a significant role in covering all scenarios, including positive, negative, and error testing. Test data should be prepared before testing execution as it can be time-consuming or complicated due to the specific requirements of the test environment. The internal development team or end-users usually provide the sources for test data.
For instance, functional testing
Assume we’re discussing functional or black-box testing as an example. In this type of testing approach, the goal is to ensure that the code functions as per the specified requirements.
In such instances, the test cases should cover the following types of data:
- Positive Path data: Data that corresponds to positive testing scenarios per the use case document.
- Negative Path data: “Invalid” data challenging the proper functioning of the code.
- Null Data: Absence of expected data when the application or code requires it.
- Erroneous Data: Supply of data in an illegal format to test code performance.
- Boundary Conditions Data: Supply of data beyond the index or array bounds to evaluate the behavior of the code.
Test data aids in identifying the critical points where a product or feature might fail. It is crucial to monitor and validate test data throughout various testing phases.
Managing Test Data
Seeing how test data plays a significant role in ensuring product quality, managing and streamlining test data is equally crucial for successful Quality Assurance.
Importance of Test Data management and best practices:
#1) Organizations constantly adapt to changing business objectives to meet end-user needs, highlighting the importance of suitable test data for quality testing. Planning and preparing test data can significantly influence testing coverage, and the non-availability of required test data can impede testing efforts.
#2) Some testing requirements may necessitate frequent test data refresh, causing delays and raising the overall application cost.
#3) While organizations aim to generate various types of test data for comprehensive testing, storing excessive and unnecessary data can pose challenges in terms of storage space and data retrieval. It’s essential to maintain versions and archive data efficiently to manage test data repositories.
Organizations often face challenges related to test data management, and strategic implementations can help mitigate these issues.
The following methodologies aim to streamline test data management and align it with testing needs. They serve as generic practices that organizations can adapt based on their discretion.
Strategies for Managing Test Data
#1) Data analysis
Analyze test cases to identify required test data. For instance, within a system testing team, identify end-to-end test scenarios involving numerous applications working together. Analyze the required data thoroughly for effective management.
#2) Data setup mirroring production environment
Extend the first I’ve mentioned strategy and comprehend the end-user or production scenario to identify the necessary data. Compare the existing data in the test environment with the data required for the production scenario. Modify or create new data accordingly.
#3) Establish Test Data clean-up
Based on the testing requirements in the current release cycle, establish clear guidelines to determine when test data can be cleaned up. Test data that might not be relevant at the moment but might be required later should be properly managed and archived.
#4) Identify and safeguard sensitive data
Testing often necessitates sensitive data, and measures must be put in place to protect user privacy. This becomes especially crucial when replicating user environments. The data protection mechanisms will depend on the volume of sensitive data used.
In addition to automating repetitive tests or running tests with different data, test data creation can also be automated. This helps identify errors related to data during testing. Automate the process of comparing results produced by different sets of data to identify discrepancies.
#6) Efficient data refresh using a central repository
Establishing a central repository containing all types of data required for testing can save substantial effort in creating test data. This forms the most important methodology for test data management. During each test cycle, verify if the required data exists in the repository, create it if necessary, and store it for future reference. Remove obsolete data to ensure the repository contains only useful data, reducing storage costs. Multiple versions of the repository can aid regression testing to identify the impacts of data on code behavior.
The Test Environment serves a crucial role in each test team. A well-crafted strategy is necessary to upkeep and standardize the test environment, ensuring smoother release cycles. Efficient management of test data is crucial for enhanced testing and cost-effective solutions while maintaining product reliability.
Share the methods you use to manage your test environment and prepare test data. Don’t hesitate to add any tips or suggestions!