All about shift-left testing. Is shift left testing supplementary or complementary to acceptance testing?

A need to release your applications frequently and fast is essential to drive your business in today’s technologically advanced world. However, in an effort to slash down the time-to-market, many organizations are looking at innovating their Quality Assurance services significantly. Testing is a continuous process with a constant feedback loop of communication between the client, developers, and testers.

With the adoption of agile practices, testing begins much earlier in the software development lifecycle. Static testing is a great opportunity to reduce errors during the design phase. By also investing in test design simultaneously with the development and production process we avoid errors, save costs, and could potentially speed up the product launch.

What is Shift Left Testing?

Shift-left testing is also defined as “Early and Often” because it focuses on the functional aspects of the software at the early stage of the Software Development Lifecycle. With shift-left testing risks arising through defects in the software development lifecycle, can be projected and mitigated in advance. Shift-left testing is an inclusive part of the software development process, and comprehensive end-to-end automation enhances its accuracy and efficiency. It helps in reducing operational expenses and maintaining high-quality standards with greater ease. 

The testing team determines and defines the test designs based on the client’s objective. In shift-left testing following are the tasks a team focuses on during the test design phase.

  • Understanding client’s requirements, application behaviour and end-user expectation
  • Creating unit tests parallel to the development process
  • Creating functional and integration tests
  • Executing tests through end-to-end test automation
  • Creating reusable, maintainable code with regular quality checks

Developers and testers together adapt a Test-Driven-Development (TDD) approach and work through each detail and defect along the way. Both teams coordinate with each other to solve defects during the production phase within a DevOps environment. Testers and developers together communicate with clients, which allows them to deliver superior quality products smoothly and efficiently.

Why shift-left testing is important? How important it is to acceptance testing?

It takes time for the development team to gather requirements and pass them on to the testing team. The testing team may be less involved in the initial planning stage, often resulting in insufficient resources being allocated to testing. Hence, including testing early in the development stage helps in preventing the delays and unanticipated costs required for testing. Shift-left testing can avert the following types of errors arising due to late testing.

  1. The effort could be futile if defects remain undiscovered during the significant implementation of requirements, architecture, and design
  2. When the software is produced and features are integrated later in the development stage debugging such as identifying, localizing, fixing, and regression testing of defects become difficult
  3. The code coverage reduces to minimal during testing when encapsulation obstruct white box testing
  4. Fixing bugs can be postponed until the new versions of the system are launched and leave less time to fix defects detected through testing. This piles up a “bow wave” of technical debt leading to the decline of your project
  5. Helps you to develop a robust product with better team collaboration & efficiency

Shift-left testing focuses more on unit testing and integration testing rather than emphasizing acceptance testing. It enhances product quality by bug detection at the early stage of product development and helps reduce time-to-market. The CD/CI level in shift-left testing allows faster test runs and improve user acceptance. The continuous integration approach of shift-left testing complements user acceptance testing.  

It is frequently conducted in the open-source, in which license compliance and security vulnerability must be included, where the former ensures that all the components used in an open-source are licensed properly, while the latter helps to discover the problematic components in the open-source.

Benefits of Shift-left Testing:

  1. Shift-left testing helps in designing and thinking for development and testing
  2. It helps in developing a high-quality product
  3. Shift-left testing allows early bug detection to ensure better ‘Code’ & ‘Product’ quality
  4. It helps in reducing time-to-market and improving high ROI
  5. Shift-left allows continuous integration and continuous delivery for faster test runs

Types of Shift-left Testing

The four types of shift-left testing are:

  • Traditional shift-left testing

Traditional shift-left testing concentrates on unit testing and integration testing, using API testing and modern test tools instead of emphasizing acceptance and system-level testing, which is executed using GUI testing with record and playback tools.

  • Incremental shift-left testing

Incremental shift-left testing is useful when developing large, complex systems, especially those incorporating significant amounts of hardware. Based on the requirement to deliver it to the customer and operation, the shift-left testing shifts both development and operational testing.

  • Agile/DevOps shift-left testing

Agile testing excludes operational testing and is restricted to development testing only. The testing occurs once the system is integrated into the operation. The transition to Agile/DevOps shift-left testing is contemporary and is an ongoing practice.

  • Model-based shift-left testing

The model-based shift-left testing begins instantly at the integration stage rather than waiting for the software to appear on the right side of the test lineage. The previous types of shift-left testing concentrate more on implementation defects in the development stage, whereas Model-based shift-left tests focus more on uncovering the testing requirements, architecture, and design models.

Yethi, your partner for software QA

Shift-left testing allows integration testing during software engineering to be able to detect defects at the early stage when it is easier and is less expensive to find bugs in software and fix them. Shift-left testing is becoming powerful and popular as it improves efficiency, effectiveness, and even the scope of testing.

With the agile methodology of testing being adopted worldwide, it is essential to test an application faster and earlier, alongside developing software in SDLC. Bringing development and testing parallelly together early in the development stage is what we call ‘shifting-left’ testing.

At Yethi, we follow an agile methodology and framework. We have a well-structured and planned environment for continuous testing. Easy to integrate and easy to learn, our codeless test automation platform, Tenjin, is a plug-and-play banking aware solution. Its robotic capabilities enable it to learn and adapt to the application and its updates. Regardless of the complexity and number of updates, Tenjin facilitates continuous testing, minimizing the manual effort and speeding up the test execution, helping you launch your product early in the market.

Our testing solution allows you to test your software at the beginning of the development stage. Testing is executed simultaneously with the development process so that you can test as you build. Tenjin covers comprehensive end-to-end testing ensuring that you have the quality codes and the product.