The Complete Guide to Automated Functional Testing


Functional testing is an essential part of software development. It ensures that the software product performs all of its intended tasks as expected by the stakeholders and users.

This article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about automated testing and its differences from other approaches. Read on to understand why this technique is so crucial, and how you can use test automation tools effectively within your business.

What Is Functional Testing?

Functional testing is software testing that utilizes test automation tools to determine whether a product or application works as expected. These test cases aim to ensure that all features work correctly and that there are no bugs in your code. 

Types of Functional Testing

Integration Testing

A type of automatic or manual testing in which individual software modules are combined and tested as a group. The main objective of integration testing is to detect errors in communication between integrated systems or subsystems. 

User Acceptance Testing

User acceptance testing (UAT) tests all of an application’s features and functionality from a business perspective, and often involves collaboration with business users. It can be performed in a lab environment or by asking employees to use applications as they would in a real-world scenario. 

Regardless, UAT is where you’ll determine whether your app meets its core objectives and if it’s truly ready for prime time. 

Smoke Testing

A smoke test checks whether a program starts and its most basic functions. Once you’ve completed your software, it’s helpful to run smoke test cases on it as soon as possible.

Setting up smoke tests allows you to quickly identify when something has gone wrong so that you can fix it before your customers ever know about it. It can also help you spot regression bugs. 

Alpha and Beta Testing

Alpha and beta tests are two core types of user testing used throughout software development life cycles. Both tests can help you determine if your application is ready for a public release. Alpha checks involve smaller groups and more internal users, while beta analysis involves more prominent external participants in the form of real users who would interact with the site or program.

Regression Testing

If your application is performing well in a test environment, it’s essential to determine if all or any changes caused bugs to develop. Regression tests let you check if new code/functionality caused errors you did not detect in past tests. 

Regression testing is best used with agile processes, because it often takes a few releases for regressions to become noticeable. It makes sense to start regression testing early to have time to fix bugs.

What Is Automated Functional Testing?

Functional test automation uses computer programs to execute automated tests on your website or application instead of you needing to manually test it yourself. It is the best way to ensure that a website or application will continue to perform as expected once it’s released as it mitigates the largest number of errors that would otherwise be missed through manual testing.

Automated Testing Methodologies

There are different methodologies used in automated testing, and you can execute it through any of the following techniques.

Keyword Testing

When creating automated functional checks, the first thing you’ll want to test is keyword difficulty, which means writing out a set of predetermined keywords and running them through your website or app.

Threat Modeling

This involves breaking down a system into layers, examining each for potential attack vectors, and then deciding how to protect each layer.

Data-Driven Testing

Data-driven testing ensures that regardless of how many times a particular sequence of data or functionality is invoked, its behavior in terms of output values (or any other externally visible response) remains precisely identical in every respect.

Frequent Testing

You don’t need to test every single line of code or every new feature you implement; to do so would slow your development process to a crawl. Instead, create testing criteria that focus on critical components or high-risk areas and test those components as often as possible.

How To Do Automated Functional Testing: A Step-by-Step Guide

For many businesses, testing their website or software before releasing it to the public can make or break their company’s success. This step-by-step guide will help you choose the right tools to configure the tests correctly and report the results.

Prepare for the Procedure

While it’s tempting to dive right into writing code, it’s vital that you first plan out how your automated testing framework will work. Which features will you be using? What kind of interfaces do they provide? How will your tryouts interact with those interfaces? You can begin designing your test harness and writing code once these questions are answered.

Select an Automation Tool

When you have outlined the plan, it is time to pick an automation tool. There are many tools out there, and choosing one can be difficult. It is good to evaluate your options based on your project’s highest priorities. 

Design a Framework for Your Test

Before you begin writing any tests, you need to have a basic idea of how you will structure your analysis. The key is to know what kind of code it will be and how it will fit into your testing framework.

Adjust Your Test Environment

Setting up automated testing can be costly and complex, so it’s essential to make sure you choose a testing environment that’s flexible enough for your development processes. This works best if you have a server or virtual machine where you can load your application.

Creating the Test Scripts

When writing a testing script, the first thing you need to do is figure out what exact features need to be tested. When creating a test script, consider your users and how they might interact with a given feature of your site or application.

Run the Tests

Once you’ve got your automated tests set up, it’s time to run them. You should write some test runner to execute all of your tests in order.

Analyze the Results

Once you’ve made it through a suite of functional tests, take a second look at your testing results and make sure you haven’t missed anything. If everything looks good, mark it as such. If there are errors, you can rerun your test and try to find the source.

Software Test Automation Best Practices

Here are five best practices for functional tests that will help you optimize your approach to automated software testing and get the most out of your effort.

Proper Research

To produce reliable, high-quality automated tests, software developers need to learn everything about how users will interact with their code. Quality research makes automated testing more effective, but it also helps teams develop tests faster.

Test Process Planning

The critical first step in any automation project is to scope out what you’re going to automate and what you’re not. Small-scale automations are lower risk, so these are good places to start, especially if you are trying out a new software and don’t want to risk too much. Also prioritize processes that are more prone to human error.

Running Tests on Test Tools

Before you write automated software tests, it’s good to know how to run automated software tests. This step can save you time, money, and resources during development while ensuring your test tool of choice is compatible with your application code.

Documenting and Reporting Results

The process of testing can often feel tedious and time-consuming, but it is critical to document your results every step of the way. Reporting your work not only helps you create a repeatable, predictable testing process, it’s essential to continually improving your testing process.

Continuous Improvement

The benefits of test automation far outweigh any effort spent on achieving continuous improvement. Find ways to speed up your tests or make them more thorough. You never know what improvements may be possible in the future. 

How Do I Start Automation Testing?

Here are six steps on how to get started with automation tests today:

  • Determine what you intend to automate.
  • Examine the fundamentals of the automation tools.
  • Look for a simple tutorial and narrate it on your device.
  • Execute the script and make sure you understand each process.
  • Elevate your stacks and dive into more sophisticated automation projects.
  • Acquire tools that can be configured with other software (such as Selenium) for better results.

Best Resources to Start Automation Testing

Some of these valuable resources will aid you on your automation test journey:

  1. Udemy courses – It’s never too late to learn something new. Udemy is a great place to start if you want to learn automation or manual testing. 
  2. Coding, Languages, and Frameworks (Selenium) – This software is easy to learn and use but can also be very powerful. A great place to start if you want to automate testing on your website or web application.
  3. Java Programming online courses – The Java programming language is a general purpose, object-oriented computer programming language. It is concurrent, class-based, and specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible.
  4. Coursera – This education platform partners with universities to offer free and paid online courses. There are dozens of classes on automation testing available from top-tier institutions.