How Can You Handle Test Execution Delays Caused By External Dependencies?

Test Execution

In the software testing process, the test execution phase plays an important role as it helps validate to ensure the system complies with end-user needs and demands. However, there is a chance of delays in test execution due to external dependencies, including third-party services, data, hardware and team members interference. It is critical to manage and reduce these delays to protect your testing timeline and preserve quality. In this article, we’ll explore a few approaches, like cross browser testing, that help to deal with delays in test execution caused by external dependencies.

Importance Of Test Execution

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of test execution for the following strong reasons:

1. Defect Detection: The error or defect detection within the software is the main goal of test execution. Testers can identify discrepancies by analysing real results with expected outcomes and suggest more research and improvement. You can reduce cost and time consumption during later phases of development by early defect detection.

2. Validation: Test execution helps to validate that the software complies with the particular functional needs and ensures the software works as expected and meets end-user requirements. Validation is essential to produce an excellent product that fulfils user intentions.

3. Verification: You can verify that the software aligns with actual quality standards and follows coding and design instructions using test execution. It also evaluates whether the software adheres to industry standards, privacy laws and regulations.

4. Risk Mitigation: Test execution helps to reduce the risk related to the software. Early defect detection and correction enables stakeholders to mitigate the chance of issues coming during production, which may lead to system failures, security violations, or expensive outages.

5. Feedback Loop: Developers can understand the reason for code failing with the help of feedback during test execution. You can improve code quality and efficiency in the development process accordingly by finding and resolving the issues rapidly. 

What Are External Dependencies?

In the software testing field, the term “external dependencies” means elements or factors that are needed for the proper function of the software, but they are not built into the software. For example, the software may need a connection to a database for data storage or retrieval, or it may require access to an API to use specific functionalities or retrieve data. These external dependencies come from third-party sources, while internal dependencies are in-built components of the software. In the software development process, effective management of external dependencies is essential to ensuring the software can be created, deployed, and maintained constantly and reliably. Databases, APIs, filesystems, threads, memory, and time are common examples of external dependencies.

Strategies For Handling Test Execution Delays Caused By External Dependencies

Dealing with test execution delays arising due to external dependencies is challenging in software testing. You can manage and reduce such delays using the following strategies: 

Mocking And Stubbing

In software testing, mocking and stubbing are crucial parts of separating the code being tested from external dependencies, such as databases, APIs, or services. Mocking can create fake objects or components that imitate the actions of actual external dependencies.  You can replicate reactions from these dependencies without evoking them, which helps to manage the test data and action and eradicate delays due to slow or unpredictable external services.

Stubbing, on the other hand, is a process of replacing certain methods or functions with predefined responses. For instance, if your code communicates with a web API, you can stub the API calls to return preset data rather than sending real HTTP requests. This avoids delays due to slow or unavailable networks. A combination of mocking and stubbing can generate a controlled testing environment that eradicates the variability of external dependencies to ensure the constant and rapid performance of your tests. It helps to get rapid feedback during development. Also, it increases your test reliability by mitigating the risk of false positives or failures due to external factors.

Dependency Caching

Dependency caching minimizes the delay problem caused by external dependencies by storing and reusing the output of these external dependencies. This is how it operates:

Initial Dependency Retrieval: The system retrieves data from external dependencies as usual when tests are run for the first time. However, after testing, this data remains in storage rather than being thrown out.

Subsequent Test Runs: The system first verifies the cache on subsequent test runs before contacting external dependencies. Instead of initiating new calls to the outside world if the data in the cache is still accurate and intact, it uses the cached data that results in execution time reduction.

Cache Invalidation: The cache should include a deadline mechanism or get deleted when the external data alters to maintain correctness and to ensure that tests are always run using the most recent data. 

Dependency caching is an efficient strategy for constant development and integration as it increases the test execution speed and mitigates the load on external systems. 

Retry Mechanisms

This method starts by identifying the crucial test cases that communicate with external dependencies. These are the ones that often encounter delays. Afterwards, set up a retry mechanism for these particular test cases. The retry mechanism automatically undergoes test re-execution when a test case experiences a delay or failure, allowing the external dependency to take more stabilization time. To prevent overloading the system, you can establish a cap on the number of retries and a time interval between each attempt. Consider including exponential backoff in your retry approach as well. This indicates rising the delay time between retries exponentially with each attempt, minimizing the load on the external dependency during peak times. Important elements of this strategy are monitoring and logging. Make certain that logs record information on retries and failures for evaluation and troubleshooting.

Timeouts And Circuit Breakers

Setting a time limit for a test’s completion involves timeouts. If the test run goes over this threshold, it is forcibly stopped. This keeps a test from waiting endlessly for a response from an external dependency, which guarantees your test suite keeps operating effectively. You should carefully choose timeout values by considering the expected dependency response time.

Circuit breakers are the best approach to view the performance of an external dependency over time. The circuit breaker “trips,” thereby stopping additional requests to that dependence for a certain amount of time if the dependency repeatedly fails to reply or takes too long. This helps avoid a backlog of pending requests and enables smooth recovery of the system. You can automatically reset circuit breakers after improvement in the dependency’s performance.

Parallel Testing

Delays can reduce test efficiency when dealing with complex mechanisms that depend on external services or resources. Parallel testing includes breaking down test cases into smaller groups and distributing them over other test environments or workstations to handle. This makes sure that the execution of tests in other subsets is not impeded by delays caused by external dependencies in one subset. Parallel testing also makes it easier to identify and isolate problems with external dependencies more quickly, which leads to quicker resolution. 

Monitoring And Alerting

A strong testing approach must include monitoring and alerting, especially when addressing test execution delays brought on by external dependencies. A methodical technique is necessary to handle such delays successfully. First, assign thorough monitoring procedures. Use scripts or tools to continuously monitor the performance and status of your test environment, including any external dependencies like databases, APIs, or third-party services. Keep track of important metrics like response times, error rates, and resource usage.

Next, install alerting mechanisms. For each external dependent case, establish acceptable response times and error rates. The alerting system should send messages to the appropriate stakeholders, such as testing, development, or operations teams, when these thresholds are met. Incorporate machine learning or anomaly detection methods into intelligent alerting to find delays or problems that might not be readily evident using static criteria. Finally, create a concise incident response strategy. The strategy should outline who is in charge of looking into and fixing problems when alerts are issued, as well as any predetermined procedures to lessen the effect of the delay on the testing process.

Documentation And Communication

A key component of managing test execution delays is thorough documentation. Maintain an exhaustive list of all external dependencies, together with information on their specifications, integration points, and any bottlenecks. The testing team can use this documentation as a reference to assist them in finding the main reasons why delays occur. Create backup plans for each dependent as well, detailing what to do in case of delays.

Second, it’s important to communicate clearly and effectively. With external parties in charge of these dependencies, establish frequent contact channels. Remind them of your testing deadlines and timetable, and ask for frequent reports on any delays they anticipate. It is simpler to resolve problems as they develop when there are open channels of communication that promote collaboration. Additionally, share information regarding the dependencies and their potential impact on the test timeline internally inside the testing team to make sure that everyone is aware of the situation and can modify their plans as necessary.

Note: To solve test execution delays brought on by external dependencies, LambdaTest offers several alternatives. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test orchestration and test execution platform that helps businesses drastically reduce time to market through faster test execution, ensuring quality releases and accelerated digital transformation. The platform allows you to perform both real time and automation testing across 3000+ environments and real mobile devices, making it a top choice among other cloud testing platforms.

The first benefit of LambdaTest is that it enables parallel testing across several browsers and environments, minimising the impact of external dependencies by running tests concurrently to ensure a smoother process in addition to speeding up testing. Another benefit of using LambdaTest is geographically dispersed testing. By having access to actual browsers and devices in different worldwide locations, latency problems with external services are reduced, improving test dependability. 

The platform additionally provides intelligent wait timers that enable tests to remain paused until certain elements load, reducing false negatives caused by timing concerns. LambdaTest also smoothly connects with CI/CD tools, automating testing procedures and preserving a regular schedule regardless of outside delays.

Conclusion

A key component of effective and trustworthy software testing is managing execution delays due to external dependencies. You can lessen the effect of external dependencies on your testing process by implementing the strategies mentioned above, such as using mocks and stubs, parallelizing tests, and creating dedicated test environments. Keep in mind that the key to efficiently handling these delays is prior preparation and communication with teams in charge of external dependencies. You can make sure that your testing stays on track and that the software development process works smoothly, which will ultimately result in the delivery of high-quality software products.

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