There were times when testing and quality assurance teams were strategically divided and the development cycle followed a perfect procedural style where development was followed by QA and testing process. These processes introduced a delay in the development stages and resulted in applications that came with a lot of bugs and errors that needed to be rectified more frequently.
Today the scenarios have changed completely. For starters, development and QA teams are no longer separate entities and work closely on a single project to avoid delay in production. Ensuring quality in the development process is every single member’s responsibility which means that continuous testing is required throughout the process. This is where this concept of shift left and shift right testing comes into the picture.
Casually referring to the left-to-right writing style, the shift left testing approach commonly talks about testing your applications after every single development stage whereas shift right testing talks about testing towards the end of the development cycle. To understand it better, let’s first have a look at the waterfall model of project management.
The waterfall model talks about the importance of following a linear project strategy, ensuring that every second step is followed only after the previous one is completed. This is somewhat similar to what our shift left testing approach is all about.
Shift Left Testing in detail…
Following the drill, the shift left testing approach means doing things ahead of its stipulated time. In other words, developers test their applications before time. This means that while following the shift-left testing approach, instead of waiting for the application to be developed and then move to the testing phase, your development team would test your application at every single step of its development. So, to put it out, Shift left approach brings testing and development together and makes your developers work in a team towards a common goal.
Why should you adopt a shift left testing approach?
Though a lot many growing developers would see this continuous testing routine in shift left testing as a bottleneck in their development process, inculcating a habit of early testing can help your company benefit on various levels. Below mentioned are some of the most basic reasons why you introduce shift left testing in your usual software development life cycle.
- One of the biggest benefits of shift left testing is the fact that this form of testing enables you to identify roadblocks and possible performance testing blunders in advance. Many times, your original design can take a massive toll as compared to the one that comes out towards the end of your development project, but the result is always a better and improved version of the previous one
- It gives you time to fix your bugs in advance making sure you do not miss out on delivery date deadlines because your application was not ready to be deployed yet
- Shift left technique is more like ‘do a maths sum everyday’ approach that ensures the result is accurate and saves a lot of time that otherwise would have been wasted in testing post-development. It improves the efficiency and quality of your work
What are the types of shift-left testing?
Traditional Shift Left Testing
This form of testing approach is exclusively focused on the unit and integration testing with the combined use of API testing and modern testing tools. One drawback of this approach is that it fails to focus on system-level and acceptance testing
Incremental Shift Left Testing
This testing approach is best used for high-level complex applications development. In this process, complex codes are broken down into small segments and tested individually one after another that allows developers to build one segment above the other ensuring each of these segments is accurate and error-free
Shift left testing method helps in performing tests in numerous sprints and it is widely used for development-based testing without operational testing. Very recently the Agile/DevOps Shift Left testing process has gained popularity and it is preferred widely by many enterprises
Model-Based Shift Left Testing
Model-based shift left testing uses the concept of early-stage testing in the design and development phase that includes executable requirements, design model and architecture and helps in rectifying around 50-60% errors introduced in these early development phases
Shift Right Testing
Shift right testing approach refers to performing testing routines towards the end of the development process. Usually, it’s after the deployment or release. This form of testing can also be deployed in configuring, operating and monitoring software. So, to mention in plain simple terms, shift right testing brings testing and operations to a single platform.
These practices today are very closely linked with DevOps where the development and operations team sit right next to each other throughout the development phase and the engineers involved with the project can provide valuable inputs any time.
Shift Right testing practices such as API Monitoring, Feature Toggles, and using production traffic for testing applications are just a few examples of how teams can extend their Continuous Testing culture to a more holistic approach in the development lifecycle.
Few reasons to adopt the shift-right testing approach:
Below mentioned are some of the top reasons why you should opt for shift right testing.
- By choosing the shift right approach, developers can get hold of the customer feedback early in the development phase and rectify the changes required on their application
- Individually testing applications on each step gives a lot of scope to automation in your application. When small chunks of your app are being developed, it becomes easier to automate the entire process and deliver a quality product
- Shift right testing enables you to proceed with user interface automation once your application is stable to its core
- Shift right testing approach enables developers to test a larger chunk of application together which means it gives them a broader idea of the functioning of the application. This ensures your application is free from bugs and offers and delightful customer experience
What are the different methods of shift-right testing approach?
This type of testing is commonly referred to as bucket testing or split testing. There are duplicate designs of a web page that are created and tested individually to see which design generates more leads for the business. It falls under the conversion rate provision process where the page with minor variations is compared with the original one to analyse how both are performing individually. Ultimately, the page that generates more leads is incorporated and the original one is moved to trash.
Continuous Quality Monitoring (CQM)
Continuous Quality monitoring helps in improving the system quality at all software lifecycle stages. Many tools and techniques are used to monitor the quality of any application in its development stages. Few of the most common CQM techniques include Code instrumentation, Real user monitoring and virtual user monitoring that can be used in the software development process.
In this form of testing, errors are manually introduced in the systems code to check how the program will function in such scenarios. Technically, artificial chaos is created to check the application’s performance in stress conditions that helps developers to identify and fix bugs before the application is released for the mass users. There are various performance testing tools that can be used to automate this process to make your testing quicker and efficient. The basic idea is to check how the application will respond when sudden attacks are introduced to the infrastructure of the application or the network.
Combining Shift Left and Shift Right Testing with DevOps
While talking about introducing the shift left and shift right approach to testing in an agile application development environment, it’s important to understand how often we need to test and when.
Having a set testing calendar but only doing it once in the development stage will not make any sense as this would ultimately result in delay towards the end of the delivery stage. Instead, a healthy testing schedule would mean that testing is introduced into every single iteration, cycle, sprint, etc. Many modern organisations today have started performing these agile practices that include test-driven development. The ultimate aim is to incorporate testing into development seamlessly and ensure both the left shift testing and right shift testing techniques are followed in the development process.
To conclude it can be stated that it’s important to incorporate both shift left and shift right testing techniques in the application development process. These approaches bring your development, operations and testing teams together and make them work hand-in-hand to help deliver quality products to your customers.
You can always improve in the development stages, even if your team is testing your application at every single step of the production. It’s important to note here, that establishing the right balance in testing is essential in your development cycle. You do not want your developers to be engulfed in testing forever and lose out on the essential creativity level. This is where automating your testing process can come to rescue.
Automation here can help you save a lot of time and deliver better results in terms of quality, accuracy and efficiency. Manual testing on the other hand could create new bottlenecks for your system. Automated testing has a bucket full of benefits that can be passed on to your development.
Having walked through the significance of application testing through the shift left and shift right testing approach, it’s clear where this is moving. Combining shift left and shift right testing and adding a pinch of automation to this leads to continuous testing.
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