The future of software testing: Trends for 2021 and beyond

by | May 4, 2021

In today’s age of digital transformation, companies have had to change the way they test software. Teams performing 100% manual test scripts find it very difficult for the testers to keep up with development.

We often see developers either having to slow down development so the test team can keep up – or developers and others have to jump in to help get the testing completed on time. In either case, there is a negative business impact and reduction in test coverage.

Testing trends

As the reality of software testing has evolved, here are the trends we are tracking for 2021 and beyond:

Artificial intelligence and machine learning test tools

Modern web applications are highly dynamic. Developers are continually modifying and introducing new features to increase quality and meet the needs of stakeholders. But rapid change requires maintainable and reliable tests. Enter artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). These technologies enable tests to detect changes in the application and adjust accordingly. Less time fixing tests leads to more time finding critical defects, which ultimately results in higher-quality software.

Shift left toward testing at the integration layer

In the waterfall model of the software development life cycle, much of the testing happens near the end (on the right end of the spectrum). Agile development, on the other hand, incorporates testing throughout the entire process. As a result, many testers are shifting left (i.e., performing tests earlier). In particular, testing at the integration layer with automated API tests will continue to pay dividends as release cycles shorten and microservice architecture is implemented.

This image illustrates the difference between waterfall and Agile development processes. In waterfall, testing is one in one stage at the end of the process. In Agile, there is continuous testing throughout the process.

Performance & load testing

While testing various aspects of performance has always been an essential part of software development, there is a renewed interest in load testing in particular. Due to an increasing number of open-source tools (i.e. Locust, Gatling) and a move toward cloud-hosted solutions such as LoadNinja and BlazeMeter, load testing is becoming more accessible to non-experts. Additionally, the ability to integrate performance tests into the CI/CD pipeline provides continuous feedback on how releases will perform under expected user loads. Look for load testing to grow this year and beyond.

“Low Code/No Code” tools

Building coded test automation frameworks, though worthwhile, requires a large investment of time, skill, and money. This can lead smaller companies to think of test automation as beyond their resources. Yet, the recent advent of powerful new testing tools requiring minimal or no coding has shifted the balance. With easy-to-use open-source platforms like the Selenium IDE and TestProject (along with paid products like Mabl), automation of web and mobile apps, as well as APIs, is no longer out of reach. While these tools are no replacement for fundamental testing knowledge and skill, they can certainly lower some of the barriers to implementing test automation.

To Selenium & beyond

For years, Selenium WebDriver and its derivatives have dominated the market in web and mobile user interface testing. With the advent of Selenium 4, this powerful framework isn’t going anywhere soon. However, a number of newer players are making themselves known in this space, including TestCafe, Microsoft Playwright, and Cypress. Each of these frameworks have their own advantages and disadvantages, and it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to be able to evaluate which option best fits their unique needs.

Looking forward

Testing is an integral part of the business process and any digital transformation. Skillfully implemented, these testing trends are contributing to increased efficiency, reduced costs, and better software.

Increased test automation, AI/ML tools, greater technical proficiency, and shifting left all hold the promise of delivering greater value to the organization. Companies overwhelmed with testing should work with experts who understand best practices and what type of testing is right for what scenario. If you’re looking for assistance or would like to learn more about our software testing capabilities, contact us today.

About the author

Beau Brown
Software Testing Competency Lead

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