Automated Functional Testing: A Successful Test Strategy

In today’s world, test automation is a buzzword. Everyone in the industry wants to roll outtheir products in the market faster and to do so, there is a need for a robust automated functional testing strategy. By reducing the software development cycle, test automation aids in the rapid deployment of software.

Creating an application is not as easy as it may sound. A user expects a lot from the application he is using. So, it becomes important to consider these user expectations before creating the application and a strong technique to handle extreme app failures, glitches, and security breaches. Undoubtedly, it can only be possible if you automate functional testing to ensure flawless working of the application.

What is automated functional testing?

Manually testing the application is time-consuming and difficult to scale when the application starts to grow. As you add more features and functionalities, you need more functional tests running and more headcounts to make it possible. Automated functional testing expedites the testing process, provides consistent output and also brings with it a whole new set of challenges. Instead of sharing the testing workload of too many manual testers, only one tester can manage the entire test automation process.

Automated functional testing is a technique used to test software using advanced automation tools and frameworks to get faster quality products and releases. Automation testing proves to be a reliable approach to depend on while transitioning towards DevOps. Unlike traditional testing, the companies now start the testing process early on in the development cycle instead of testing at the end of the cycle. The QA team depends on functional test automation to run multiple tests at the same time without any hindrances for developers. It allows the QA professionals to:

  • Create re-usable test sets.
  • Test deployment persistently to expedite the final product delivery.
  • Allow stable test coverage to the entire development pipeline.
  • Cut costs of end-to-end testing by identifying and resolving bugs early on.
  • Create a parallel testing environment.
  • Improve functionalities
  • Easily integrate the updates with existing software.

Other than humans, both bots and scripts maintain the test suite in case of automated functional testing. This relation shows how faster releases andbug-free software help increase the profits:


Types automated tests: functional vs. non-functional:

Non-Functional tests:

Non-functional tests check the response time and software speed, perform load testing to check load-time, and system performance, basically to increase the functionality and behavior of the system. You can’t perform these tests manually, so you will need to use automation tools to test these metrics based on your pre-set parameters. Non-functional tests include Security testing, Performance testing, Compatibility testing, Stress testing, Compliance testing, Usability testing, API testing, Cross browser testing, etc.

Functional tests

Functional testing checks if all the app features are working well, as per the business requirements. During the planning phase of the software development lifecycle, certain business requirements require the tester’s mandatory involvement from the start. The testers play an important role here because they understand each functionality and what can go wrong. So, functional testing validates the given requirements and tests the functionality based on the business requirement to ensure that the software performs as per the real-world user expectations. Functional tests primarily include- acceptance testing, system testing, Integration testing, interface testing, smoke testing, unit testing, etc.; we will discuss this in detail as we move ahead in the blog.

Types of Functional Testing

Functional testing ensures that all the elements of the application work in coordination with each other and that the user interface appears as intended so that the user can accomplish the task he wishes to perform using the app features. There are broadly various types of functional testing throughout the development cycle. Every testing type is unique yet interconnected; one is dependent on the other. For a software to be fully functional, all kinds of functional testing are necessary:

Smoke testing:

The term “smoke testing” originated from the construction industry, where pipes were checked for leakage by injecting smoke into them and seeing if they came out of any openings. Software testing uses the same concept as smoke testing. The build is examined for defects that could render it unusable. Continuous testing ensures that all new releases have a basic level of functioning.

It’s a type of preliminary testing that’s done as part of the testing process to rule out any potential threats, such as rejecting a software release. It’s also known as build acceptance testing or build verification testing. Smoke testing is a method of checking software after it has been produced but before it is released. Before implementing critical testing, it covers all of the app’s basic and critical issues. It examines the app’s basic stability and usability, determining whether the build is genuine and capable of running without crashing. The good news is that smoke tests are easy to perform and can be automated to free up time for other tasks.

Regression Testing:

Regression testing ensures that an application continues to function properly following a code update. The functional and non-functional tests are re-run to test the functionality of previously built and tested software to see if it is still working properly after any new code alterations. Regression testing identifies any bugs that were unexpectedly inserted into the build, i.e., bugs that were not anticipated in the first place.

Regression testing also guarantees that any previously resolved issues do not resurface after the code changes, i.e. regression testing checks that any upgrades to existing software that were repaired in prior versions of the product remain fixed in the current version. It ensures that code modifications do not have a detrimental impact on the app’s current functionality and that it does not regress. As a result, any bug attack is less likely to render the software unusable.

By incorporating regression testing at this step of the test cycle, as soon as smoke testing is completed, you can ensure that your teams can begin eliminating defects as soon as your software becomes functional.

Integration Testing:

Every app module must pass integration testing to function properly. Web services, APIs, databases, and other third-party components should be seamlessly integrated into the application without introducing new issues. Individual components are simple to operate well with, but when all components are integrated to work together, serious problems can emerge. Integration testing is designed to avoid situations like this. Instead of testing individual components of an application, integration testing takes a holistic approach to testing all of them. It ensures that an application functions as a whole while maintaining its quality.

This phase of testing usually focuses on resolving issues with UI operations, API calls, operation timing, time taken for the system to access the database, data formats, and so on.

Unit Testing:

After you’ve completed integration testing, it’s time to move on to unit testing. Unlike integration testing, which takes a holistic approach, unit testing aims to check how functional each unit within the system is. It checkseach unit individually to see if there are any problems. Even though unit testing is required at many later stages of the testing process, developers conduct it themselves. Developers typically focus on components/units that have the potential to cause problems, such as generating a defective system or unstable builds.

The unit testing stage is simple to automate; developers just need to write test scripts and define the number of test cases, and the programwill handle the rest.

Alpha and Beta Testing

The next type of functional testing in the sequence is Alpha and Beta Testing. Both are often considered as one unit, but both are distinct. Let’s unfold it further:

  • Alpha Testing: It’s a type of acceptance testing that involves a team of internal testers. Alpha testers do not participate in software development because doing so would make them developers who would be unable to undertake alpha testing on their software. Alpha testers are familiar with the project they are evaluating.It is possible to prevent major bugs from being exposed to external end-users if the software corporation uses an internal software team for alpha testing. This also aids in the detection and correction of bugs before they are noticed by actual clients. It saves customers the time and effort of filing bug reports, as well as making bug repair easier for developers.
  • Beta Testing:Beta testing, on the other hand, utilizes a small group of external users who test the product and provide their feedback. Beta testers, without bias, point out the app’s actual flaws and offer suggestions for how to fix them.The key is to first test the software internally before releasing it to the general audience. Beta testers do not have any prior knowledge of the product before they begin using it, therefore their comment on how intuitive the app’s user interface is is genuine. Beta testers can be sourcedfrom anywhere in the world, bringing a new level of variety to software testing.

User Acceptance Testing

User Acceptance Testing is the last step in the software testing process. Its goal is to see if the final product matches real-world scenarios and how the consumer reacts to it. User Acceptance Testing occurs at the end of the process when all other types of testing have been completed. This step is crucial since the application will then be ready for a wide group of external testers.

This testing determines whether the final app meets the needs of thetarget audience in the actual world. It also helps in identifying whether the target audience needs the product. This stage is more about focusing on things other than bug hunting. Sometimes customers discover a rare bug that might have gotten missed in other testing phases.

Automated Functional Testing Process

Software Development teams look for test automation to cope with continuous integration and development – a common delivery framework for agile teams. Automation undoubtedly achieves efficiency in the complex and repetitive processes but due to a lack of certain automation practices like planning a proper stepwise process it can become a disaster. Let us have a look at the following diagram representing a well-planned Automated Functional Testing Process.

Advantages of Automated Functional Testing

Automated Functional testing simplifies the efforts by minimizing the set of scripts and providing frequent results. Let us discuss its three main advantages to the testing team, to understand more:

Increased Coverage:Automated testing increases the number of tests you perform, significantly increasing the code coverage. More test coverage, more code, functionality, and non-functionality are tackled. This ultimately leads to improvement in the software quality and faster time to market the app.

Faster results and feedback:Manual testing doubles the effort and time, but test automation covers all repetitive tasks along with the results within seconds. It enables CI/CD pipelines and shortens the feedback cycle.

Better testing ROI:Test automation automates all repetitive tasks of manual testers. This saves time and resources required in manual testing. It saves testers time which they can utilize in doing exploratory testing and think of new ideas to improve their skills in that time.

High-Quality product:Enables the delivery of high-quality products which the customers are satisfied with. Produces bug-free software ensuring all app functionalities are working properly.

High-Security app:Improvement in the security of the application is one of the most important benefits of functional testing, securing the app, customer, and business data from getting compromised.

Techniques for Functional Testing:

Functional testing can be divided into Positive testing and Negative testing, let’s understand what this means:

1. Positive Testing: PositiveTesting is carried out to ensure that the product meets the basic user requirements and works as expected. It includes End-user based tests, decision-based tests, and Alternate path tests.

2. Negative Testing: This ensures that the application behaves normally even after continuous source code changes. It includes the following three sub-categories – equivalence, boundary value, and ad-hoc tests.

Importance of Automated Functional Testing:

Functional testing as the name suggests is the primary testing technique to ensure that your app functions as expected. It’s very important that the developers understand which app is worth investing time into and that can generate value for the business. Creating software takes immense hard work but it is only worth it if it fulfills what it is designed to.

Functional testing ensures that the quality of the software is maintained by staying consistent with the tests. It must first work and must work well. A well-functioning app is always welcome by the customer and increases the chance of user-base expansion.

Most importantly, it guarantees a great user experience to every user who depends on the app.Instead of putting the users in a position to write endless bug reports, you should be able to produce a better app using functional testing to remove any bugs before it reaches the end customers. For a seamless app experience and to deliver a successful app, you must rely on testing more and test often.

Automated Functional Testing Using Selenium

Selenium is an open-source web testing tool to automate multiple web browsers. Its single-window interface allows you to write test scripts in different programming languages to run tests directly within most modern web browsers. It provides a record and playback feature that allows authoring tests without really knowing any test scripting language. Selenium has a multi-browser, multi-platform, and multi-programming support. Along with this, it supports cross-browser and mobile-web app testing.

Why use Selenium in functional testing?

Today, the world of agile methods and test automation is the foundation of agile-based software development. It has become an inevitable requisite in software projects. In test automation, repeated tests are run against the application under test. Global enterprises face a lot of software performance issues in the real-world scenarios and to adopt a cost-intensive automation, it becomes challenging. Selenium is a free open-source testing tool that saves automation costs and enables organizations to enjoy unlimited capabilities of test automation. However, to effectively leverage the automation tool, it is vital to know which test scenarios to avoid and which ones to execute. Selenium can be downloaded directly from its main website, unlike other available open-source tools.

Selenium Test Suite:

1. Record-Playback mode (Selenium IDE): Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment), is a Firefox plugin which the software testers can use to record their test scenarios and refer to them while developing test cases. Its GUI records user actions and can be used to learn how to use Selenium. This Selenium feature is only supported on the Firefox browser.

2. Selenium RC: Selenium RC (Remote Control) software testing tool allows us to write automated UI tests in most programming languages against any HTTP website with the help of any mainstream JavaScript-enabled browser.

3. Selenium WebDriver: It is the extension and an improved version of Selenium RC. It supports most of the latest browsers and platforms unlike IDE that only supports Firefox. It uses browser support for automation and makes direct calls to the web browser making the entire test script run.

  1. Selenium Grid: Selenium Grid tool is used along with Selenium RC for running parallel testing across various devices and browsers simultaneously.

Selenium Test Life Cycle

1. Test Plan
2. Generate Test Cases
3. Run and Debug Tests
4. Analyzing Test Results and Report Defects

When to use Selenium Automation?

Selenium can be used to perform repetitive functional and regression testing. Every organization wants to reduce their manual testing cost and thus have started using Selenium. This is an automation testing tool to avoid repeated manual work, receive faster feedback, reduce cost of manual testing and save time on running tests repeatedly, and ensure that tests are executed consistently with the same preconditions and expectations.

Who should use it?

  • Developers:- Can use Selenium for browser regression testing and replace HTML/ HTTP units.
  • Business Analysts, Functional Testers, developers can create automated scripts in MS Excel after understanding the keyword repository.
  • Quality Assurance professionals can use it for regression testing and cross browser testing on various platforms. QA professionals can cover all types of functional testing like smoke, integration, unit, system, etc. including acceptance testing using Selenium.

Selenium Test Life Cycle

When to use Selenium Automation for automating functional testing?

  • To perform Regression and repetitive functional testing.
  • To reduce manual testing costs and avoid repetitive manual tasks
  • To receive faster feedback and save time.
  • To reduce the cost of manual testing and save time on running tests repeatedly.
  • To ensure consistent execution of tests with pre-defined expectations


Testing is the most crucial reason behind the success of a software product. It is a well known fact that people will not use or acquire a software or an app that does not function well. It creates more obstacles than enhancing the user experience journey for your target audience. When it is about solving and resolving significant problems, testing is expensive, time-consuming, repetitive, and prone to human error. For successful continuous testing, you must employ exploratory test practices as a part of the overall Continuous testing process. The test teams can choose the best test solutionsto make each of the steps stated above easier with the help of automated functional testing. They’ll be able to automate data-intensive, complex, and repetitive tests in no time, allowing them to increase the quality of their software while making the most of limited test resources.

Published on Java Code Geeks with permission by Priyanka Charak, partner at our JCG program. See the original article here: Automated Functional Testing: A Successful Test Strategy

Opinions expressed by Java Code Geeks contributors are their own.

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Chris Pesarchick
Chris Pesarchick
2 years ago

Your article reads that Unit test is done after integration tests. This is backwards. All developers should be writing unit tests and then writing code. You move up the testing triangle not down it.

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