Mobile Test Pyramid

Mobile testers need to take a different approach when it comes to Test Automation.

Anyone who is involved in software testing and software Test Automation should know the Test Automation pyramid introduced by Mike Cohn (www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/).

This article contains excerpts from my book Hands-On Mobile App Testing published with Pearson Education.

As you can see in the following image, the typical pyramid consists of three layers. At the bottom, there is the automated unit-testing layer, in the middle the automated integration testing layer and at the top there is the automated end-to-end testing layer (including the user interface tests). Each layer has a different size, indicating the number of tests that should be written within each stage. Manual testing is not part of the test pyramid, hence it is shown as a cloud for additional testing work.

But this pyramid is not applicable to mobile apps and mobile test automation. Mobile testing requires a totally different set of testing activities like movement, sensors, different devices and networks compared to other software like desktop or web applications. Lots of manual testing is required to be sure that a mobile app is working as expected in the different usage scenarios.

Mobile Test Automation tools are currently not as mature as their counterparts for web and desktop applications, which leads to a flipped Test Automation pyramid. As the tools become increasingly mature, this pyramid is likely to flip back again because the default Test Automation pyramid is based on a more stable foundation (see the pyramid image below).

The default pyramid therefore can’t be used as an indicator for Test Automation and Manual Testing in the mobile world. The flipped testing pyramid looks like this: In this version of the pyramid, the automated unit testing layer is the smallest one. This is the case because not

The flipped testing pyramid looks like this:

In this version of the pyramid, the automated unit testing layer is the smallest one. This is the case because not every unit or method of mobile apps can be tested in an isolated manner. In some cases, different APIs, layers or systems may need to be faked or mocked in order to get the small unit to work. This is also the case for every other software application, but in some cases mocking or faking other systems for mobile apps is much more complex. This is not efficient from a technical or economic point of view. However, it’s no excuse for not writing mobile unit tests at all. The main logic of an app can/must be tested at the unit level.

The next stage is the end-to-end Test Automation layer. Within this layer, the whole app is tested from a user perspective. It will be tested to make sure the whole system is working, from the app’s user interface through to the backend system via a wireless network, including integration testing with different libraries or APIs. The integration testing layer is therefore part of the end-to-end layer.

The biggest change in this pyramid is that manual testing is part of it. Mobile testing requires lots of Manual Testing, and this can’t be replaced by Test Automation or any other tools yet.

Nevertheless, mobile Test Automation is a really important topic and every mobile tester should be able to write automated regression tests that provide fast feedback about the current quality state of an app. Furthermore, Test Automation helps the team build a reliable and robust mobile app that makes the customers happy.

Mobile Test Pyramid

The flipped testing pyramid has no stable foundation and mobile testing requires lots of Manual Testing, which is why I created my own mobile test pyramid consisting of four layers including Manual and Automated steps. The biggest layer of the pyramid is Manual Testing and forms the strong foundation for every mobile app project, followed by end-to-end testing, beta testing and a top layer comprising unit testing. The grey parts of the pyramid indicate the automated steps and the white parts are the Manual Testing steps. The beta-testing layer is new to the pyramid but essential to every mobile app project. Keeping the high expectations of the mobile users in mind requires this layer to be part of every mobile project to get early feedback from your mobile customers. You can either use a crowd testing approach for your beta testing or you can ask your colleagues to beta test early versions of your app to provide important feedback.

Note: The End-2-End and Unit tests layers can also be swapped as well as the beta and End-2-End layer. The amount of End-2-End tests and Unit tests can differ from project to project and from app to app.

I used this mobile test pyramid in several projects and it helped me set up a reliable, effective and valuable testing process.

If you want to read more about mobile testing, please have a look at my book Hands-On Mobile App Testing which is available as a printed copy as well as an eBook. More details under: http://www.handsonmobileapptesting.com/ or in any other online or offline bookstore.

#HappyTesting!

Daniel Knott
Daniel is a mobile testing expert working as Senior Software Test Engineer at XING’s Android team. He started his software testing career in 2003 as a trainee at IBM Germany. After his time at IBM, Daniel studied computer science with a focus on software development and testing. Since 2009, Daniel has worked for companies such as Accenture, AOE and XING. In several agile development projects he tested web, desktop or mobile applications. However, mobile testing became his passion and since the beginning of 2011 he is working in the mobile development and testing industry. He worked and is working with several mobile test automation tools such as Robotium, Calabash for iOS/ Android, Espresso and Keep It Functional. With the help of this tools, he developed a fully automated testing environment for Android and iOS. Daniel likes to share his knowledge and therefore he started to share his experience on his blog at http://www.adventuresinqa.com as well as in several testing magazines. Daniel is a well-known mobile expert, a speaker at various conferences in Europe and since 2014, he is the author of the book “Hands-On Mobile App Testing“, more information about the book can be found at http://www.handsonmobileapptesting.com. Get in touch with Daniel:
– XING: Profile ( www.xing.com/profile/Daniel_Knott )
Daniel Knott on Twitter

The Related Post

One of the basic challenges with test automation is adoption. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cataloged licenses for a company and found out they already have many different automation software packages, none of which is being used. Traditionally I’ve been told that is because the tools don’t work and that the teams ...
Learn how to leverage TestArchitect and Selenium for turnkey, Automated Web testing. TestArchitect lets you create, manage, and run web-based automated tests on different types of browsers—using either a WebDriver or non-WebDriver technique. In this article, we will explore employing WebDriver for testing a web-based application with TestArchitect. TestArchitect with WebDriver is a tool for automating ...
Introduction A characteristic of data warehouse (DW) development is the frequent release of high-quality data for user feedback and acceptance. At the end of each iteration of DW ETLs (Extract-Transform-Load), data tables are expected to be of sufficient quality for the next ETL phase. This objective requires a unique approach to quality assurance methods and ...
TestArchitect TM is the name we have given to our automation toolset. It reflects the vision that automated testing requires a well-designed architectural plan allowing technical and non-technical elements to work fluidly in their capacity. It also addresses the continual missing link of all test automation tools of how to design tests. In TestArchitect the test ...
Bringing in experts can set you up for automation success. Test automation isn’t easy when your testing gets beyond a few hundred test cases. Lots of brilliant testers and large organizations have, and continue to struggle with test automation, and not for lack of effort. Everyone understands the value of test automation, but few testing ...
Developers of large data-intensive software often notice an interesting — though not surprising — phenomenon: When usage of an application jumps dramatically, components that have operated for months without trouble suddenly develop previously undetected errors. For example, the application may have been installed on a different OS-hardware-DBMS-networking platform, or newly added customers may have account ...
LogiGear Magazine – January 2011 – The Test Automation Issue
5 roadblocks in vehicular autonomy that complicate Software Testing Experts in the field have previously referred to air travel as somewhat of a gold standard for autonomous vehicle safety, but after Boeing’s two tragedies, that analogy can no longer be used when talking about self-driving cars. This was after Boeing’s 737 MAX Jets have found ...
When Netflix decided to enter the Android ecosystem, we faced a daunting set of challenges: 1. We wanted to release rapidly (every 6-8 weeks). 2. There were hundreds of Android devices of different shapes, versions, capacities, and specifications which need to playback audio and video. 3. We wanted to keep the team small and happy. ...
The path to continuous delivery leads through automation Software testing and verification needs a careful and diligent process of impersonating an end user, trying various usages and input scenarios, comparing and asserting expected behaviours. Directly, the words “careful and diligent” invoke the idea of letting a computer program do the job. Automating certain programmable aspects ...
Introduction A common issue that I come across in projects is the relationship between test automation and programming. In this article I want to highlight some of the differences that I feel exist between the two.
Based in Alberta, Canada, Jonathan Kohl takes time out of his busy schedule to discuss his views on software testing and automation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in the loop with the lastest
software testing news

Subscribe