Effective Strategies for Managing Regression Test Suites

Effective Strategies for Managing Regression Test Suites

3 July 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment QA

Managing a growing regression test suite can be a significant challenge, especially in environments with a large legacy codebase and manual testing requirements. This guide provides practical strategies and heuristics for determining which tests should be included in your long-term regression suite and which can be considered for one-time or short-term use.

Key Considerations for Including Tests in Regression Suites

When deciding whether to add a test to your regression suite, consider the following factors:

1. Risk Assessment

Evaluate the risk if the bug the test is designed to detect goes unnoticed. The closer the test is to what the end user will experience, the easier it is to assess the risk. High-risk areas should have more comprehensive testing.

2. Code Hierarchy and Dependencies

Understand where the code change sits in the program hierarchy. If the code change affects multiple components, a single test might suffice. Conversely, isolated changes might require specific tests to ensure functionality.

3. Complexity of the Bug

Consider how many conditions need to be met for the bug to manifest. Complex bugs that require multiple conditions are less likely to be caught by unrelated tests and should be included in the regression suite.

4. Test Coverage Overlap

If a test encompasses multiple other tests, it can be more efficient to include the encompassing test in the regression suite. This reduces redundancy and helps maintain a manageable test suite size.

5. Longevity and Frequency

Assess how long the bug has been in the code and how frequently the affected function is used. Long-standing bugs in rarely used features might not need long-term regression tests, whereas frequently used functions should be tested continuously.

6. Subtlety of the Problem

Subtle issues that are hard to detect should be tested more rigorously. These problems might not be apparent during routine testing and could have significant impacts if not addressed.

7. Field Usage

Consider how often the function will be used in the field. For example, database migration tests might only need to be run once if all users update simultaneously. However, if users might skip updates, regression tests for migration scenarios are essential.

Practical Strategies to Manage Regression Suites

1. Time-Based Pruning

Regularly review your test suite and consider discarding tests that have not detected any bugs in a year, unless they cover critical issues. This helps keep the suite lean and focused.

2. Consolidate Tests

Combine smaller tests into more comprehensive ones where possible. This reduces the number of tests while maintaining coverage, making the suite more efficient.

3. Archive Manual Tests

For tests that are only needed once, perform them manually and archive the results. This avoids the need to automate every test and helps manage the manual testing burden.

4. Mocking and Stubbing

Use mocking and stubbing in manual tests where applicable. This can significantly reduce the time required for testing by focusing only on the critical parts of the system.

5. Tagging and Subsetting

Tag tests based on their importance and create subsets for different testing scenarios, such as smoke tests or happy path tests. This allows for targeted testing without running the entire suite.

Leveraging Automation Tools

Incorporating automation tools can greatly enhance the efficiency of your regression testing process. For instance, virtual test devices can simulate various environments, reducing the need for extensive manual testing.

Our product, Repeato, is a no-code test automation tool for iOS and Android that simplifies the creation, execution, and maintenance of automated tests. Utilizing computer vision and AI, Repeato ensures that tests are fast to edit and run, making it an excellent choice for quality assurance teams looking to streamline their regression testing process. For more information on how Repeato can help, visit our documentation section.

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