The increased rate of technological development has led to a greater reliance on automated testing. For automated testing and development to be successful the following key elements are required:
- A test automation tool
- A form of source control, to store and manage changes to automated tests
- A functional continuous integration, continuous delivery or deployment system (CI/CD)
This post discusses Source Control, one of the major components for the effective development of automated scripts.
What is Source Control?
Source control or version control is a way of managing code using a system that provides a central location for the code repository and an accessible history of the code. Source control comes in many flavors, with Git, Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Subversion (SVN) being the most common. Its ease of use and robustness has led to Git becoming more and more popular.
With source control, copies of the code and a detailed record of code changes are stored within the system. In the event that the master copy becomes conflicted or corrupted, it can be effectively rolled back to a previous version. The repository can also be called upon, with the use of a pipeline through a CI/CD instance to kick off test scripts or test builds.
Why is source control important?
Not only is source control important, but it is also essential in any development effort, from the smallest to the largest teams. Automated tests are created in the same manner as any software development, with several methods and functions that are interlinked and shared across the entire test suite. Without a central location to house changes to the test suite and project, it is impossible to truly use test automation as intended.
The development of automated tests, is normally a collaboration of several test developers, working in unison, to script as many tests as possible. It is essential that all development efforts are housed in a single location, that each developer can access and write to in order to maintain the most current version of the code. This helps unify the team and allow for several different development efforts/branches, to be undertaken on the project at the same time.
Source Control is also essential when CI/CD is being used to run automated tests in a given environment. This allows for tests to be run, while developers are working on changes and expanding the test suite to evolve with the business.
Source Control Best Practice
Branches and the need for a good branching strategy: One of the key elements that makes source control so powerful, is the ability to have several developers work simultaneously, on their own instances of the project, while the master branch is still able to function fully with CI/CD. To maintain healthy repositories during code development, it is essential that each developer is using an assigned or newly created branch.
There are several branching strategies that can be implemented and the business needs to define what works best for the organization. Some of the most common branching strategies include Release, Hot Fix, Servicing, Feature, Development or Main Only. All of these do have a commonality, that the master branch is never directly committed to and all developers use their own branch or clone of the master branch to make their changes.
Conflict Management: No matter what form of source control is used, code merge conflicts will inevitably happen at some point. There is no need to panic when this occurs, as there is a built-in management tool to help resolve these conflicts. Resolving conflicts is easier with Git, than with the older once highly popular SVN.
Revert and Restore: Something that can become invaluable to the development team is the ability to revert to a previous build. If for some reason the code becomes corrupted, a great advantage to using source control is the ability to reverse and restore to a previous working version.
Source Control and CI/CD
Continuous Integration plays a key role in test automation. One of the most alluring and useful aspects of automated testing is the ability to run tests at any given time or whenever a build is deployed. This testing helps ensure the overall health of the environment and the code being implemented. The CI/CD process is heavily reliant on having source control in place. When a dedicated master branch is set into place in the pipeline, the newest stable version of the code can be implemented immediately, giving the ability to test new features on demand.
Solid Automation Requires Stable Evolution
Test automation is a truly powerful tool that is made up of many moving components. It can help software-reliant companies of all sizes achieve a reliable, well-tested product, in a fraction of the time, it would take an analyst to test manually. As test suites grow and become more complex, it is vital that the code stays relevant and functions as intended. The best way to keep your test development optimized is with the utilization of a source control system with an active and well-maintained branching strategy.
Source control should be established and utilized form the very beginning of automated test development. In most cases, there is a high likelihood that your company is already using it for the development of its proprietary code. Whether starting test automation for the first time or improving existing practices, having a central place to store code off-site, is always a healthy choice.
Effective source control is an essential element for using test automation to its fullest capability and utilizing it with CI/CD. Thus, allowing for keeping test automation at the forefront of all development, testing early, testing often and producing solid stable code.
Automation is key to enabling companies to adapt and adopt new technologies faster. A lot of companies spend time revolving instead of evolving their QA practices. CelticQA Solutions can guide you through this journey, so your efforts and time produce output that shortens the testing life cycle and sets you up for continued expansion. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information
Written by Joseph Catron
Lead Automation Engineer and Automation Architect