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Automating the UI regression testing process - pros and cons

Continuous re-checking of the same areas and looking for tiniest UI issues is quite cumbersome. These are the usual difficulties you face when performing UI regression testing manually:

  • Fatigue: having 100 screenshots in your project requirements, it will be difficult to notice a tiny UI glitch when it comes to the last one.
  • Wrong assumptions: "I've checked it a dozen of times already and everything was OK" or "No changes were committed here in the latest build, so it just cannot be different" - let us be honest, all manual testers say this from time to time
  • No time for creative tasks: you could perform some stress testing or develop some suggestions to optimize the application, but you have these 100 pages to verify - again!

Automating visual regression testing could help with the problems listed above, but it brings some new challenges:

  • Time-consuming, especially on the initial stage
  • Requires regular maintenance of automated tests
  • Some operations are difficult to automate - e.g. when proceeding with an action on one page requires a confirmation on another one

So, should you automate the UI regression testing process on your web project? It depends on its scope, time limitations, UI complexity, motivation level of your QA team and many other factors. In any case, this requires careful approach, risks estimation and finding a proper test automation tool/framework which can do the trick.

And what do you think about this dilemma? Care to tell about your experience of solving manual regression testing problems?

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Few more challenges:
1. With successive regression runs, test suite becomes fairly large. Due to time and budget constraints the whole regression test suite cannot be executed.
2. Minimizing the test suite while achieving maximum test coverage remains a challenge.
3. Determination of frequency of regression tests i.e., After every change in a built or a bunch of bugs fixes, is a challenge.

Thanks for you reply! I agree with the importance of these ones. Actually, #2 is particularly painful when working with UI regression testing tools since a suite of, say, 10 tests has a bunch of repetitive steps, e.g. when you have log in. A good way to optimize this is an optional verification flag for example: if you can switch the actual verification off for a certain step, it would take less time

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