5 Software Testing Trends for 2016

As long-term transitions continue around the increasing market dominance of mobile and cloud apps and the adoption of faster software development life-cycles, testers in 2016 are taking on an increasingly critical role in software organizations. Several trends this year are building on the contributions of the testing to enhance both quality and efficiency.

Test Automation Continues to Increase

Test automation has been on the rise for years as enterprises realized the benefits of finding more defects earlier and faster. Although over half of testing is still accomplished manually, that fraction is dropping as companies expand their test teams into both development and operations in the quest for a more efficient, continuous delivery model of software production.

The most mature testing environments achieve up to 80 percent automation, but many organizations still struggle to reach that lofty level even as automation frameworks and practices continue to advance the state-of-the-art:

  • Increasing use of automation even when code is in a high state of flux
  • Automation tools that support full end-to-end testing
  • Increased penetration of automation into both development and operations
  • A rise in the technical skill levels of testing organizations in support of automation engineering

Increasing Use of Mobile Device Test Farms

App stores are setting higher acceptance thresholds, which places greater demand on companies to increase the breadth and depth of their mobile app testing, especially with regard to device and platform compatibility. “Winging it” by passing on post-production testing to clients and end-users is no longer tolerable.

Therefore, a key trend in mobile app compatibility testing is the rise of mobile device farms in-house or in the cloud. The latter is increasingly popular as the matrix of models, OS versions, carriers and platform configurations continues to expand exponentially. Maintaining a highly dynamic infrastructure in-house is simply untenable for all but the largest enterprises.

Furthermore, cloud-based mobile device test farms typically have supporting hardware and software for instant configuration, provisioning and collaboration between testers and development, which makes their use far more efficient than in-house setups. This trend is confirmed by the recent arrival of Google’s Cloud Test Lab and Amazon’s AWS Device Farm.

Proactive Software Testing

Test organizations are undergoing a left-shift of testing activities into early development as well as a right-shift into the operations side to support stability at the production end of continuous delivery models. As such, in 2016 watch for major moves by test departments away from reactive testing toward proactive test practices in the pursuit of a fail-fast/fail-often philosophy.

In 2016, testing increasingly adds value to business requirements, design and the earliest development phases by offering expertise that reduces the jolts to production cycles that occur when software is created and evaluated by distinct groups in distinct time phases. As a result, user experience, scalability and performance issues will surface sooner and result in the delivery of software more closely reflecting customer requirements.

Increasing Focus on Security Testing

In 2016, surveys reveal that security testing is taking top priority among software organizations even over functional, compatibility and performance testing as the cost of security vulnerabilities continues to rise. These tests are critical to companies seeking to avoid the risks of breaches or service interruptions.

The approaches to security testing in 2016 will focus on these areas in order of decreasing priority:

  • Dynamic, runtime test cases to expose vulnerabilities
  • Static tests using automated code analysis tools during development
  • Manual code scrubs to expose security issues that automated tools may miss
  • Penetration testing, which uses a combination of manual and automated techniques to compromise apps and hardware and then further expose inner points of vulnerability

Increasing Need for Test Data Management

Before DevOps, when testing was its own silo, there was little thought to synchronizing code, test scripts and test data. In a continuous development/integration/testing/delivery methodology that spells time-consuming snipe hunts looking for hard-to-replicate defects in systems that inaccurately reflect the platform on which the defect was discovered.

Thus, as 2016 progresses, look for the rise of the Test Data Manager role in leading software organizations to enable data-driven testing, manage data set/configuration/code revision control, manage performance test setup and provide production-level service virtualization. The rise in use of test data management best practices is already reversing a multi-year rise in test data challenges.

Testing’s value to any enterprise serious about achieving high quality and efficiency in their software production continues to rise.

This year will see further significant improvements in the application of security testing, broader use of test automation, cloud-based testing services and an elevation of the role that test data management plays. As such, testing’s presence will span the entire SDLC using new approaches, tools and technology that will make the role of tester an exciting place to occupy.