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Test Driven Development – A Perfect Fit for Mobile App Testing Automation

Mobile App Testing AutomationLast updated July 28, 2016

Every aspect of the mobile app game, from strategy to design to testing, runs on an accelerated timetable. In addition to the pressures of increasing competition, both enterprise and SMB developers need to consider the lofty expectations of mobile end users. Billions expect not only a steady stream of high-quality products but also the continuous deployment of updates and upgrades.

Test Driven Development – The Solution for Mobile App Testing Automation

Test Driven Development, or TDD, has emerged as a highly effective process for mobile app development teams who need to produce results and perform automated tests with increased efficiency. TDD has its roots in Extreme Programming, a development method created in the late 1990s by famed American software engineer Kent Beck to better address evolving customer requirements—and to eliminate fear in application development.

In his book Test Driven Development: By Example, Kent Beck details the two basic TDD rules to remember:

  1. Never write a single line of code unless you have a failing automated test
  2. Eliminate duplication

How Test Driven Development Works

Traditional programming consists of code development followed by testing. With TDD, the order is reversed. An automated test is written as the first step, followed by code development. The premise is that user data is gathered to identify new functions or needed improvements, an automated test is written and then code is developed. The next step is for the test to fail. No, really. This allows the tester to write code only to satisfy the test, and to not write unnecessary code. Most importantly, this gives the business the early confidence that the development team is developing and focusing on only the features they need to deliver within the app.

What follows is writing code, which can be crude, and running automated tests to verify that the code meets all tested requirements. Once passed, the fine-tuning of the code begins, with developers able to proceed with the assurance that the refactoring is not damaging any functionality.

Finally, after all duplicative code is removed, developers can move on to another feature and repeat the automated test cycle. Under TDD, each step must be small, with only a handful of edits between each test run. This process along with continuous integration, another tenet of extreme programming, minimizes the need for excessive debugging and provides frequent checkpoints for quick reversion. If an automated test of an app’s feature fails—and some will—it’s better to retrace just a few steps instead of the entire process.

Why Test Driven Development Helps

TDD’s important inversions of established development and testing cycles enable developers to focus on better quality earlier in the process and to move toward functionality with a level of assurance that eludes more traditional methods. The more targeted testing is up front, the less time development teams need to spend reworking code throughout the process. In addition, it means new apps or features get to market faster. Maintenance and updates are also streamlined by TDD, enabling faster releases, which is a must for today’s discriminating app users.

For developers in the mobile app field, the notion of “less is more” when using TDD rings especially true: less time spent testing equals more time tailoring new apps or updates to meet customer requirements.

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Steve Orlando

Steve Orlando is a seasoned development and quality assurance professional with experience testing and developing mobile, Web, mainframe, CRM and desktop applications. In his role as director of product development for Mobile Labs, Steve drives the design and implementation of the company’s private mobile device cloud, deviceConnect™ as well as its automated mobile app testing solution, Mobile Labs Trust™. Steve also leads the team of developers focused on Mobile Labs' solutions. Prior to Mobile Labs, Steve was a solutions architect and development manager for Pyramid Consulting where he designed a solution accelerator for HP QTP to extend automated testing to a mobile device and served as the subject matter expert for automated testing. Steve’s experience also includes various IT, QA, development and programming roles for companies including Verizon Wireless, Alltel Wireless, Matria Healthcare and the University of Georgia.

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