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What is Regression Testing in Agile?

Master the essential role of regression testing in the Agile software development cycle and understand its profound impact on product quality and reliability.

Master the essential role of regression testing in the Agile software development cycle and understand its profound impact on product quality and reliability.

In the dynamic world of software development, the relationship between regression testing and the Agile methodology remains paramount. With the continuous integration and rapid development cycles championed by Agile, it’s crucial to ensure that new changes don’t inadvertently affect the existing functionality of the product.

Regression testing in Agile has, therefore, emerged as a beacon for quality assurance, ensuring that software maintains its integrity throughout its development life cycle.

But first and foremost, let’s dive deeper into the very roots of the term Regression Testing.

Why is it Called Regression Testing?

Regression tests are a subset of scheduled tests chosen to be executed periodically, for instance, before a product release. Their aim is to verify that the product hasn’t suffered any regressions. There are three types of that you generally automate which we will touch upon later: unit tests, API tests, and UI tests.

Regression testing is the process of testing software applications to ensure that recent changes in code, such as new features or bug fixes, have not adversely affected existing features. Its primary goal is to catch unintended side effects that might arise after modifying the software.

Regression testing can be done manually or using automated tools, and it is an essential part of the software development lifecycle to maintain software quality. Whenever a change is made to the software, regression tests are run to ensure that the rest of the system remains intact and functions as expected.

At first, we believed it meant goingback and executing the same test cases, given that it’s related to that idea. After a while, we realized the concept is actually associated with verifying that what is being tested has no regressions.

We imagined that “not having regressions” meant no regressions in quality or functionality, but we heard the rumor that the concept comes from the following situation: If users have version N installed, and you install N+1, and the latter has bugs, you will be tormented by having to go back to the previous version, to regress to version N. You want to avoid these regressions! And that is why these tests are carried out.

It is incorrect to think that regression testing is limited to verifying that the reported bugs were fixed, as it’s just as important to see if what used to work is still working properly.

Generally speaking, when the tests for certain functionalities are designed, a decision has already been made about what tests are being considered within the set of tests such as the ones that will be executed before every new product release or in each development cycle. Regression testing consists of executing the previously designed tests all over again.

Some will argue that by having a checklist of steps to follow and things to observe, one is not really testing, but simply checking. James Bach and Michael Bolton, two experts in the field of testing, often discuss the differences between testing and checking. Testing is where you use creativity, focus, search for new paths to take, and asks yourself, “How else can this break?” By checking, you simply follow a list thought of by someone else. 

Here’s the thing with regression tests: they can be boring. Boredom fosters distraction. Distraction leads to mistakes. Regression tests are tied to human error. 

We are not saying that is dull! We love it! But, we mean that routines can be monotonous, therefore, prone to error. Moreover, us techies tend to see things that can be automated and wonder how we could program them so we don’t have to do them manually. This is when automated testing comes to the rescue, given that robots don’t get bored!

Test automation consists of a machine being able to execute the test cases automatically, somehow reading their specifications which could be scripted in a general-purpose programming language or a tool-specific language, or from spreadsheets, models, etc. 

Here’s what some stakeholders within the development process might say they want to accomplish by automating regression tests:

Developer:

“I want to make changes to the application, but I am afraid I might break other things. Testing them all over again would be too much work. Executing automated tests gives me peace of mind by knowing that despite the changes I’ve made, things that have been automated will continue working correctly.”

Tester:

“While I automate I can see if the application is working as required and afterwards I know that whatever has been automated has already been reviewed, giving me the opportunity to dedicate my time to other tests, therefore obtaining more information about my product’s quality.“

Developer:

“When I have a huge system in which changes in one module could affect many functionalities, I hold back from innovating in fear of breaking things.”

User:

“When I’m given a new version of the application, nothing’s worse than finding that what used to work no longer does. If the error is in something new, then it’s understandable, but, when it has to do with something that usually worked and now doesn’t, then it’s not as easy to forgive.”  

Now that we understand the importance of regression testing, we’ll walk you through a journal to go deeper into Agile.

Agile Integrity

How does Regression Testing help maintain software integrity in an ever-changing Agile environment? How do help testers who perform regression testing?

Every change in software can have unintended consequences. When testers perform Regression testing, they ensure that recent changes or additions haven’t adversely affected the existing functionalities.

In an Agile setting, where iterations are quick and frequent, tests offer a safety net. They act as checkpoints, ensuring that as we add or modify features, the software’s core functionalities remain untouched and efficient.

Moreover, in the Agile world, customer feedback is continuous. As teams adapt and change the software based on this feedback, regression testing ensures that these adaptions don’t create new issues or reactivate old ones. This cyclical process, harmonized with Agile, guarantees software’s reliability, even in a rapidly changing environment.

Can there be testers in Scrum? We tell you all about it in this article. Just as it is said, Scrum is a Paradigm Shift for Software Testing!

Time Management

In Agile’s short sprint cycles, how is time managed to incorporate Regression Testing in each iteration?

Sprint cycles in Agile are notoriously short, demanding efficiency in every step. Integrating regression testing within such tight time frames is challenging, but essential. Automated regression testing is one solution, as it drastically reduces time compared to manual methods. By using regression testing tools and prioritizing test cases, Agile teams can focus on the most critical parts of the application during each sprint, ensuring no functionality is compromised.

Additionally, Agile teams often use test case prioritization techniques. By ranking test cases based on their importance, teams can address those with the highest impact, ensuring crucial functionalities are always validated first. This strategic selection, combined with automation, makes regression testing in Agile both feasible and effective.

CI/CD Integration

How do Regression Testing practices adapt in Agile teams following a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment methodology?

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) emphasize integrating code into a shared repository frequently. This constant code integration necessitates regular regression testing to ensure no newly integrated code breaks existing functionality.

Automated regression testing tools become indispensable in such scenarios, allowing teams to run regression tests swiftly after each integration, catching and fixing issues in real time.

Furthermore, Agile teams can leverage various regression testing techniques to adapt to CI/CD. Techniques like selective regression testing or partial regression testing allow teams to test only parts of the software affected by the recent changes, maximizing efficiency.

The synergy between CI/CD and ensures that software always remains deployable, meeting the high standards set by Agile principles.

Learn more about the 3 “Agile C’s” in this article.

Test Selection

What’s the recommended strategy for selecting which regression tests to run in a sprint, especially with time constraints?

Selecting the right tests to run is vital, especially when time is of the essence. One approach is regression test selection. By identifying the parts of the codebase that have been modified, Agile teams can choose only the relevant tests associated with those areas.

Another approach involves test case prioritization, where tests are ranked based on their potential risk or impact on the system.

Additionally, automated regression testing tools often come equipped with features that can intelligently select and prioritize tests based on code changes. These tools analyze changes and determine which tests are most relevant, ensuring comprehensive coverage without wasting time on irrelevant tests.

MVP Balance

How is the need for comprehensive regression testing balanced with Agile’s “Minimum Viable Product” philosophy?

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a cornerstone of the Agile methodology, focusing on delivering functional products with just the essential features.

The MVP allows for quick releases and continuous feedback. Balancing this with comprehensive regression testing is tricky but achievable. One strategy is to maintain a core set of regression test cases tailored to the MVP’s features. As the product grows and evolves, so does this core set.

Furthermore, by utilizing automated testing tools, Agile teams can ensure the MVP’s integrity without extensive manual testing. Automation provides rapid feedback, aligning with Agile’s fast-paced nature. It ensures that even as teams focus on delivering the MVP, the product remains free from defects and regressions.

Test Automation and Automated Regression Testing

In the Agile context, how can regression test automation speed up deliveries while maintaining quality?

Manual regression testing, especially in the Agile environment, can be time-consuming. Enter automated testing. By automating repetitive and time-intensive tasks, Agile teams can expedite the regression testing process without compromising quality. Automated can be run frequently, even several times a day, ensuring every change is validated in real-time.

Beyond speed, automation brings consistency. Manual testing can sometimes be prone to human errors or oversights. Regression tests in automation, once set up, execute the same way every time, ensuring a consistent and thorough evaluation of the software’s functionality. In the Agile world, where rapid iterations are the norm, test automation becomes the linchpin for maintaining software quality.

However, embracing automated regression testing in Agile doesn’t merely boil down to the choice between manual and automated methods. It’s about building a synergy between both. While automation can handle repetitive tasks with precision, there are instances where human touch, intuition, and exploratory skills are irreplaceable.

Agile teams that strike a balance between the two can achieve a more comprehensive testing coverage, leveraging the best of both worlds.

Furthermore, in the dynamic ecosystem of Agile, feedback is a precious commodity. Automated regression testing is not just about detecting defects but also about providing instant feedback.

This immediate insight allows developers to address issues at the earliest stages, reducing the cost of errors and fostering a more iterative and responsive development cycle.

When issues are identified and rectified swiftly, the entire team can stay aligned with the sprint goals and continue to deliver value to stakeholders without hiccups.

Additionally, test automation in Agile promotes adaptability. As features evolve or new ones are added, the automated regression test suite can be adjusted and expanded accordingly. This flexibility ensures that as the software grows and changes, the tests remain relevant and robust.

Lastly, it’s worth noting the role of collaboration in Agile automated regression testing. It’s not a siloed activity. Everyone from developers to testers to product owners plays a part. Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) tools facilitate this collaboration by integrating automated regression tests into the development pipeline.

As a result, Agile teams are empowered to make informed decisions, ensuring that every software release is of the highest quality and meets user expectations.

What are The Benefits of Automated Functional Testing for Business? Read more here!

Agile Tools & Techniques

Which Agile techniques or tools are especially useful for facilitating more efficient Regression Testing?

When talking about software testing, there are various regression testing techniques, regression testing processes and that cater specifically to the Agile environment. Techniques like risk-based testing, where tests are selected based on potential risks, align well with Agile’s rapid iterations. As for tools, regression testing tools integrated with development environments or CI/CD pipelines offer seamless testing experiences.

Automated regression testing tools that support parallel execution can significantly reduce test run times in software testing, as a key part of the software development.

Tools that incorporate AI or machine learning can predict which areas of the application are more prone to defects, optimizing the process. Integrating these tools within the Agile process ensures that regression tests remain a facilitator, not a bottleneck, in the development cycle.

Are you interested in Test Automation? Take a closer look at our Complete Guide to Automated Functional Testing!

In a Nutshell

Regression testing approach in Agile is more than just a process; it’s an assurance.

In the dynamic and fast-paced world of Agile development, performing regression testing stands guard, ensuring that as software evolves, it doesn’t lose its foundational integrity.

By integrating advanced tools, techniques, and automation, Agile teams can harness the full potential of a regression test, delivering software that is not only functional and feature-rich but also reliable and robust.

Moreover, within the Agile framework, regression testing transforms into a continuous feedback loop, adding immense value at each iteration. As user stories evolve and codebases expand, it becomes imperative for Agile teams to validate that previous functionalities remain unaffected constantly.

This frequent validation not only mitigates risks but also promotes a culture of excellence and accountability.

By embedding regression testing into their daily routines, Agile teams foster an environment where innovation is enabled without compromising its essence.

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