Auto-healing or self-healing test automation adapts itself to changes that occur in the environment or the user interface so that human intervention is not needed to continue the testing process.
When a script stops running due to the absence of an expected object, self-healing automation provides a better understanding of the options. Instead of completely shutting the process down, it examines and evaluates all available objects’ properties and provides weighted scores to all similar objects. Self-healing can sweep, analyze, and pick from among ten different objects in less than 50 milliseconds.
How Does it do this?
The function of auto-healing in test automation platforms is to identify the changes in objects or elements that cause a test script to break, study the testing data, arrive at the best match for correction, and then apply that fix before continuing to run the test.
This sophisticated “learn and adapt” process is possible due to the progression in Natural language processing and Machine Learning technologies. When tests are being run, the self-healing test automation tools scan the user interface of the application for any objects that may be present. These objects are then compared to the previously generated application model. It observes the changes made and adapts the tests accordingly.
Why is auto-healing needed?
Auto-healing increases the reliability of the test, reduces the time and effort put in maintenance, and also improves the ease of testing interfaces.
The core reason behind most test failures is that, while the user interface is changed, the test is not. Traditional automation frameworks are not equipped to auto-adapt and would disturb the project flow in such situations. Self-healing ensures that tests are updated and adapted according to the changes in UI, keeping your tests from being flaky and eliminating the chances of such failures.
For instance, you might change the size or position of a certain button on your home page. You may have made this change to improve the look and feel of your application, but the testers need to ensure this change is reflected in every single test flow that needs the use of that particular button.
Auto-healing not only makes this change in the test that has the direct involvement of the button, but also in every other test that uses this updated button in some way.
Also, when a lot of time and effort is not necessary in updating the tests manually, there is a lot of room for anticipating user behaviour and developing solutions that can handle unexpected scenarios.
Can all Tests Have Auto-healing?
We can set up auto-healing features for different kinds of tests. While the tools required for them may vary, a good test automation platform will cover multiple types of testing. Any test that is repeated frequently, takes up a lot of time, or is prone to human error can be made auto-healing in order to improve the overall efficiency of the testing process. Testing teams see high value in incorporating self-healing automation in functional testing, integration testing, and unit testing.
Self-healing automation works 80% of the time. Even in the worst-case scenario, if your self-healing automation code identifies the wrong object, all you have to do is perform manual maintenance for that one instance. There won’t be any damage to your data or application. Truth be told, even if your self-healing automation works correctly only 30% of the time, that would mean you have to do 30% less manual maintenance on your application overall- and that’s still a win!
The positive effect of self-healing automated tests
Self-healing has started to change the mindset that people have regarding automation approaches. It allows the automation effort to begin sooner and minimizes the fear of maintenance. With self-healing, the process of maintenance itself is automated. This preserves, if not improves, the return on any investment that is made. This is why self-healing automation is called automation within automation and can provide a unique competitive advantage today.