What is self-healing test automation?

Self-healing test automation is a unique capability built into modern software test automation solutions that automatically updates tests when changes are made to an application’s user interface. A user sets the parameters of the test, including details around why elements are included in a test scenario, and the test automation solution learns how to modify a test automatically when the application is modified.

Every time software is changed - current features are updated or new functionality is added - automated tests also need to be updated to reflect the changes and test the application properly. Self-healing test automation removes the manual work that’s required to update those tests and instead relies on AI and machine learning to detect those changes and automatically update tests as the application evolves.

Benefits of self-healing test automation

One of the biggest challenges of testing web applications is test maintenance. When you consider the number of scenarios, use cases, features, and integrations that need to be validated every time an application changes, the result is a significant amount of software testing overhead. For teams that are manually testing, or building tests with scripts and/or frameworks - where self-healing capabilities are not available - it requires a lot of time and effort to maintain the list of tests necessary to ensure software quality.

Poor maintenance of tests will result in failed test results, false positives, overall decline in test reliability, and ultimately risk introducing bugs into production. Teams will often spend more time fixing tests rather than fixing issues in the application, slowing down product development and delivery to market. Self-healing test automation significantly reduces - and can even eliminate - the burden of maintaining tests. By automatically updating tests, without the need for human intervention, self-healing test automation improves reliability and team efficiency. Additionally, more reliable tests contribute to a culture of quality that builds confidence in testing throughout the development process.

The net gain of teams who have implemented self-healing test automation solutions is substantial time savings that enable their team to focus on higher value tasks and reduce the rote, repetitive work of test maintenance. One real-world example is Sensormatic Solutions, who has been able to reduce test creation from weeks to days with the help of self-healing capabilities in mabl.

Modern test automation solutions offer self-healing capabilities

Self-healing test automation is a relatively recent innovation with roots in the advancement of AI, machine learning, and big data. Because they rely on newly available capabilities to process and learn from testing data, self-healing test automation solutions like mabl have only recently emerged in the wider market, differentiating themselves from established alternatives that require manual maintenance. Few companies today offer a solution that automatically heals an automated test, but the recent Forrester Wave(TM): Continuous Functional Test Automation Suites, Q2 2020 report highlights that teams who are looking for functional test automation should be evaluating solutions that “make functional test automation smarter and more autonomous.” As demand grows for these solutions, so will entrants to the market.

Self-healing test automation is for Agile development teams

Quality engineers and developers who are reducing manual testing and are moving away from homegrown or legacy test automation frameworks like Selenium are adopting proprietary, low-code test automation solutions that include self-healing capabilities to accelerate adoption of test automation and expand overall test coverage. Teams that have recognized that test maintenance is slowing down production cycles and impeding quality are choosing to improve their quality testing practice with the help of automation.

Self-healing test automation is not limited to a specific vertical or organization size. Teams both large and small who are practicing - or in the process of adopting - Agile development and DevOps are taking advantage of modern test automation that self-heals tests. And the benefit far outweighs the short-term pain of implementing a new solution. In the most recent Testing in DevOps survey, the data revealed that teams who have implemented test automation and have good test coverage are 2.5 times more likely to see higher customer happiness.

Where can you implement self-healing automated tests?

Self-healing automated tests can be implemented any time a user wants to validate the functionality of a web application’s user interface. When a test is created, it can be configured to update automatically based on expected changes in the application. For teams that are distributed across the globe, SaaS solutions like mabl allow quality leaders to empower anyone on the team - regardless of their physical location - to create and run self-healing automated tests and reduce the burden of test maintenance.

Make the most of self-healing tests with mabl

Mabl is a low-code test automation solution that enables you to easily create, run, and manage automated browser, API, and mobile web tests. It allows users to create tests once, easily run them across browsers in parallel, and then reuse all or parts of tests. The intuitive way for users to create tests allows anyone in your team to be able to participate in improving the quality of your web application.

Mabl also includes native self-healing test capabilities that during test creation and execution, capture over 35 unique element attributes to help automatically evolve your tests as your UI evolves with development. Mabl’s smart element locators offer an agnostic approach to identifying app changes allowing you to easily test modern app frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js. With mabl, your team can easily create reliable automated tests to improve quality without slowing down development.