Testing Chief

How much does your test automation code smell?

A code smell is any characteristic in the source code of a program that violates fundamental design principles and negatively impacts design quality

Usually, code smell indicates that something might be wrong, a problem that doesn’t necessarily pose any noteworthy challenge now but has the potential to grow into a deeper and much more expensive problem to fix in the future. Irrespective of the programming language used and the experience of the development team, they might accumulate additional work due to non-optimal design decisions. Just like financial debt, if the team doesn’t pay off this accumulated debt at regular intervals, it becomes so huge and difficult to manage the product and must be abandoned at some point. 

In the current fast-paced Agile and DevOps environment, the boundaries between development and QA are quickly blurring and the same sets of standards are expected from all members of the team including the QA. If you are an automation engineer and just focusing on getting your test automated but not on cleaner, simpler, and easily maintainable code, then it’s high time to start doing it. You don’t want your unmaintained test automation code to be the reason for the build to fail in the CI-CD pipeline.

Some of the common problems include – No comments to explain what the code will do, dead code which is never run or redundant code introduced rather than reusing existing code. Keeping other things constant, long methods and classes reduce the readability of the test script. Inefficient waits, inappropriate locator strategy and not having correct assertions are all issues that are very specific to test automation code that programmers might not have to deal with in their code.

There are several ways in which the automation engineers can enable static code analysis for their test automation code. Sonarlint, an IDE extension that helps engineers to detect and fix issues in code as they do the test automation scripting is the easiest of ways for someone looking to start this journey. In addition to removing the code smell, it will also help the automation engineers become better at coding and make the test suite more efficient. Once the QA team is familiar with the static code analysis process, code refactoring, and reducing technical debt, they can start using SonarQube. It is an automatic code review tool to detect bugs, vulnerabilities, code smells, and % duplicate code in the code repository. It can be easily integrated with the existing workflows to enable continuous code inspection across all the Bitbucket branches and pull requests.

As the code quality improves, it will definitely bring down the total cost of maintaining your automation test suite in the long run.

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