Before you release your product into the market, it is extremely important to properly test whether it’s functioning as intended. To do that, software developers utilize a variety of testing techniques that verify the software’s integrity. The IT industry makes use of dozens of various tests – there are over 40 different testing methods, counting only the most popular ones! To thoroughly check their software, developers implement End-to-End testing, often simply called E2E testing – an elaborate technique that mimics end-user experience.
There are many layers to End to End testing, as it is one of the most complex testing methods, requiring you to check every part of your software that the end-user interacts with in any imaginable way. With this guide, we want to show you the importance of E2E tests, as well as tell you precisely what they are, including a few specific examples.
End-to-End testing is one of the most useful and informative techniques for software testing, providing valuable data about the inner workings of the program from the end-user perspective. With E2E testing, developers can thoroughly verify the behavior of their software. During the test, you will be trying to replicate key user behavior scenarios when using your software. The actual list of things to do varies, depending on the type of software you’re testing – but in all cases, it is rather extensive.
When performing an End-to-End test on a web application, you would start with opening your browser and navigating to the proper URL, and then proceeding to use the software as intended for the end-user. Similarly, in the case of a regular desktop application or mobile application, you would open the app just like a user would, checking out every bit of functionality that is intended for the users to work with. Keep in mind that during E2E testing you won’t need to check developer-specific aspects of the software, only the end-user perspective if it is important to you.
During an E2E test, your goal is to verify all of the dependencies that directly or indirectly influence the reception of the software by the end-user. This usually includes any external services, as well as databases used by the software and metrics, as well as any other dependencies. E2E tests will ideally be performed in the production environment, but this isn’t always possible. The tests can, of course, be performed in an independent End-to-End testing environment, but you should make sure it is as close to the production environment as possible.
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Is End-to-End testing necessary? It is true that more and more developers make sure to implement an E2E testing phase before the final deployment of their software. There are many benefits to E2E tests, but the most crucial ones are:
While tests such as unit testing or integration testing are very useful, allowing you to verify the working of each component and providing quick results, they don’t give you the whole picture. By not performing E2E tests, you won’t know how the experience of using your software will look like from the end-user perspective.
For example, individual component testing (integration testing) might show promising results and full functionality. However, when combined, something goes wrong and produces a bug. By only checking individual components, you wouldn’t be able to find out about the bug. With a proper End-to-End test, you can verify whether everything works correctly together as it should. Even integration testing doesn’t cover all of the components of your software, and you might never know whether every aspect of your app clicks together.
E2E testing doesn’t necessarily have to discover bugs – it can also give you useful insight into the user experience of your product. Overall, all types of tests play their respective roles in the whole testing process. Just because E2E tests give you a more complex understanding of your software as a whole doesn’t mean that other test types are less valuable. Before releasing your app, always make sure to proceed with a thought-through testing strategy.
Alright, so now you know what End-to-End testing is – but how to exactly implement it? There is a wide variety of checks and individual tests that must be covered by your end-to-end testing plan, some of which include:
When executing E2E testing methods, developers usually follow an established E2E testing framework that guides you throughout the process, enumerating various tasks and responsibilities. The framework is relatively simple and consists of only three elements:
The User Functions relates to listing the features of your software, as well as all of its interconnected systems. To properly measure and test software functionality, you need to first think about what you’re going to test. After you’re finished with listing user functions, remember to record everything relevant to each of them, including both the input and output data. Since E2E testing can be considered holistic, you also need to pay attention to all of the relations between every individual function – how they work together and whether there are any clashes.
Now that you have established the user functions you’re going to test, you need to think about the testing conditions. Try to come up with as many quantifiable indicators that can be measured for each of the functions. These can range from response time to consistency of data flow, to simple convenience of use. Remember – you’re trying to imagine yourself as an end-user, so try to keep track of anything that might be an issue for a non-developer.
Finally, before the E2E testing can commence, you need to prepare specific test cases for each of the conditions. At this point, you have prepared a list of user functions to test, as well as conditions that will be measured during the test. Now, you need to create at least one test case for each of the conditions. By test cases, we mean scenarios during which specific indicators will be able to be measured.
Congratulations, you’ve almost reached the end! At this point, you should pretty much be a walking fountain of knowledge about End-to-End tests. However, the raw theory is one thing, and implementing those types of tests in reality is another. To make the process a bit more digestible, consider this End-to-End testing example for a website with shopping functionality:
See how simple it is in the end? Now you can implement E2E testing methodology in your software to ensure better end-user reception, increase your product quality, and build a positive brand image.