Frontend testing: Tools and strategies

February 13,2021 - 5 min read
Frontend testing: Tools and strategies

Testing is an important part of development and in today’s blog we are going to discuss the necessity of pragmatic tools and strategies for Frontend Testing. There have been a couple of advancements in the field of technology, improvement in frontend testing methodology and tools is probably the most interesting.

For years, the existing testing methods were not suitable to test front-end codes, and there were meek test results after arduous testing procedures. However, the recent advancements are excellent solutions for frontend testing. In this blog, we discuss effective tools and strategies for real-world front-end testing.

Testing is an important part of the entire development cycle as it occurs at every step of the way, for example, validating and improving the UX during the prototype phase, cross-checking the expected value, clicking on the component and verifying the results, running tests during the development cycle are all examples of frontend testing.

While testing is a necessary part of the development cycle, it is a cumbersome and a repetitive process and if it is executed manually, the complexity and cost of testing increases. Hence Automated Testing comes into picture. If the tedious process of testing is automated, the time spent and the number of mistakes committed during testing are both reduced significantly and hence the result is a better and much efficient code.

Testing is an important part of development and its absence possess an opportunity cost. Writing and executing tests costs resources, however, if you don’t, the cost is much more. One important part of testing is to remove any piece of redundant code as well as unnecessary test codes as it is considered to be a good practice and also reduces maintenance cost. All test codes have varying maintenance cost and benefits. There are different characteristics of a test code like the application, tools and languages used in development, and also user environments.

Testing is a difficult process and there are various factors that affect the quality of a test. It is not easy to figure out determinants that makes a perfect test. However, in this segment we have listed out five probable properties of a good test.

  1. Speed

    The test codes you design or use should give you feedback quickly whenever you edit your code and hence the entire process of development becomes faster. A quick feedback will also allow you to run multiple tests more frequently.

  2. Alteration

    The tests you write should be written in such a way that alteration is easy. It means that your test code be divided into many small chunks. This requires less time and resources to fix the test codes.

  3. Detecting Bugs

    It is very evident that if your test cases validate codes with bugs, it is not a good test case. If you test cases are not detailed enough and does not test through every imaginable scenario then some bugs could go unnoticed. Therefore, test specimens must be as comprehensive as possible.

  4. Consistency

    Testing is a marathon and not a sprint race. Your test cases should be able to work perfectly at every stage of development. A good test is not affected by external and environmental factors like time, device OS or network status. In other words, the test cases should produce the same result irrespective of the given conditions. Hence, consistency is very important when it comes to test cases.

  5. Intent

    Test codes should be written in a manner that they are easily understood by people working in the same team. The test cases should not have repetitious, lengthy and verbose codes. The intent should be clear and it should be easily readable and understandable by every one in the development team.

Importance of Testing Strategies

Testing strategies are very important because a good strategy allows faster execution and comprehensive validation. If test cases are not properly strategized and written, it can lead to malfunctioning and raised maintenance cost.

It is clear that testing strategy is very important, however, it’s still very difficult to build the perfect test that marks all the boxes and comes in the category of perfect test cases. In the process, while building test cases, one should weight the costs and benefits and decide the comprises you want to make while coding for test cases.

When it comes to test cases, one has to be extra careful and consider the various environments of users as each platform demands different codes as well as strategies. In frontend testing, ach factor of the product like visual elements, server communication, user interface including others are important and hence while testing, they require personal meticulous strategizing.

If you want to build an effective test cases, you require effective testing strategies appropriate for the front-end environment. Now that we have talked about testing strategies, it’s time we talk about tools required for frontend testing. Testing tools are a pertinent part of the entire process of frontend testing as they help in executing and detecting bugs from units of code of the complete project. In the next segment, we discuss the different methods, types and tools that are popular in frontend testing where the visual elements of the project are tested for bug, inconsistencies or inefficiencies.

Importance of Testing Tools

Testing tools are actually an important part of frontend testing strategies. These testing tools are extremely helpful when designing effective frontend testing strategies as the advancement of testing tools actually lead to better testing strategies.

In front end testing, each segment requires different strategies. For example, it is difficult to write a code for testcases for visual elements because testing visual elements and state changes at the same time can be costly, therefore, it is best to design the application in which the tests are conducted separately. There are frameworks like React and Vue which provide features to separately manage visual elements and state changes.

In the next segment, we discuss how to test visual elements. Usually, the MVC (Model View Controller) pattern is used in frontend, it is most common to use the structure of HTML codes while testing the view within the MVC.

HTML and CSS determine the visual representation of the application but CSS is rarely dynamically controlled and hence the simplest way would be to test and compare the parts of the resulting HTML code.

It is difficult to manually conduct test cases. If the structure of the code is even a little complicated, the test code becomes complex and the cost of executing these test cases drastically increases. Therefore, if similar test cases are conducted, it is common to simply copy and paste the HTML code created by the real component using the console.log () which is present in the browser’s testing tools.

However, this kind of testing does not provide features that improves the development speed. It does not offer prompt feedbacks as it is just a simple regression test. Another disadvantage is that it is a tedious process of copying and pasting the result of the test every time the code changes.

According to a recent advancement, there is a Snapshot testing that solves majority of issues. In this method, there is no need to hardcode the expected data. The tool is capable to save the first result of your program as a file and is compared to the previously saved file every time the test is ran. Many argue that it is still a regression test, but also agree on the fact that the snapshot testing method has eliminated the hassle of writing the expected results manually. If you wish to know and learn more about snapshot testing, we recommend you to refer to the official Jest documentation.

As described above, visual testing consists of too many series and actions. While, there has been too many recent advancements in the world of testing, there are less tools or technologies that can aptly replicate all these series of events.

However, it does not imply that frontend testing cannot be automate. Complete automation might not be realistically achievable, there are tools like that have drastically improved the visual testing methods of comparing image files.

This blog was an earnest effort to illustrate the importance of testing, tools and strategies of testing and the qualities of a good test. Automation in testing was also touched upon and how it is difficult but not impossible to automate frontend testing. This article is not the complete solution to frontend testing as there are several ways to test codes for front-end development. This blog is just an attempt at discovering realistic and efficient frontend testing methods. Also, if you have ideas, doubts or queries related to the blog or frontend testing in general, we encourage you for a discussion. Testing is a process that requires continuous learning and development.

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