Test Automation with Katalon Studio: Sharing Knowledge within the Software Test Community

Late in 2018 I began writing tests with Katalon Studio in an effort to improve the test automation story around a large legacy application.  I was among the first in our company to trial the test automation software, and immediately saw how valuable an asset it would be to our company and to me as a software tester.  You can read all about why we adopted Katalon, but this story takes place several months after our initial adoption.  The company I’ve worked at for more than 7 years was bought out by another software company in March.  The company that bought us is based in Dallas, Texas – while our shop’s former corporate headquarters were in Pensacola, Florida.  While our company’s product’s fit well together for our target customers, the technology, design and implementation of our software varied widely.

The biggest difference between the two firms is the Dallas office is a publicly traded firm that must answer to stakeholders and faces more government regulation, while the Pensacola office was a privately held firm that primarily answered directly to our customers.  Here’s a quick table displaying the differences in the software development workflows of each office.

Pensacola Corp Offices Dallas Corp Offices
Extremely Agile – delivered apps to production frequently, assuming some expected risk. Less Agile – slower SDLC and slower production rollouts
Test to Dev ratio of about 6:1 Test to Dev ratio of about 3:1
Development offices around the globe, many remote personnel – accustomed to the workflows, applications, and processes required of this style of work. A couple development offices in the continental U.S. which were the result of recent purchases of smaller companies. Still going through the growing pains of learning to work with remote personnel.

Since the acquisition became official in March, there has been much growth and some pain, as you might expect.  This article is about the growth – for employees, I think it’s similar to what occurs in a blended family.  This July 1st through 3rd I was able to go to Dallas to see my stepbrothers and stepsisters in person for the first time (most of them anyways).  This was a surprisingly fun and exciting adventure.

anxiety about The Trip

Without diving into too much personal detail, I haven’t flown commercially since before 9/11, not to say I haven’t traveled much, because I’ve traveled more during my life than I would’ve liked to.  More, as a heavily-involved-father to four boys while also being married to a professional nurse, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of leaving my family (even for a couple days), perhaps burdening my wife with additional work around the house.  And I didn’t even mention the travel plans would mean I would be out-of-town for my birthday.  All of this aside, I embraced the travel plans, made arrangements for my assistant coach to lead basketball practice for my boys while I was out on Monday, and assured my wife she would be awesome without me for a couple days.

I think the travel alone is a blog post in its own, but I’m not travel blogger – let’s get down to brass tax – I’m a software tester, I love testing software and delivering great products to customers quickly.  To be sure, I hadn’t even chatted with more than two of the testers we met on our first day in Dallas.  I wasn’t sure what they would expect, and certainly had some fear that they would dismiss or reject what we thought would be helpful. Which leads me to my next point – I traveled to Dallas with one other tester from our Pensacola office and two from our Atlanta office.  I know all three of them well and have worked with each of them for several years.  Within the last six months, our test team has adopted Katalon Studio as the primary means we do automated testing on our software.  What began as a step in the shallow end has quickly escalated to full adoption to most of our platforms.  The purpose of the trip was to show how we use Katalon, and to answer questions they may have about adopting it for their testing needs.

Introducing katalon studio

Day one consisted of a pretty basic introduction of test automation with Katalon Studio – how it can be used and how we presently use it.  We demonstrated how and why we use Katalon and demonstrated how it could be integrated with Sauce Labs and did a very basic follow-along workshop where we wrote a basic test.  The Pensacola office has, at present, several hundred automated test cases spanning at least three major applications.  Katalon’s biggest selling points to us are:

  • Developers and Testers can write Katalon tests – you don’t need to know how to write code to write tests.
  • Katalon Studio plays nicely with Sauce Labs. We use Sauce Labs to test our various applications against various Operating Systems, Browsers, and Mobile Devices.  While were still in our infancy of using Sauce Labs, we think that will play a larger role for us in the future.
  • Katalon has a large community that can help answer questions.
  • It plays nicely with our current tooling (and can work well with most tooling)

automated test demo

Day Two we dug in deeper and showed off some of our test automation with Katalon Studio.  We talked about organizational structure of our test case file system in Katalon, as well as the file structure in the object repo – and how this is beneficial.  We had asked the Dallas team to send us a manual test case the week prior to our trip that they currently have, and demonstrated building a test case based on the provided test case.   This was my favorite day of the trip – I got to pull a cooking-show trick, and began writing a pretty robust test case, then pulled the proverbial fully baked cake out the oven that I had already prepared before our trip.  We ended the day with a workshop where the Dallas team got some guided, hands on training.  I was superbly impressed with how quickly the Dallas team took to Katalon, writing some pretty awesome tests on their second day using the application!

turning the tables: received some training

Day three was unfortunately too short – our flight left early in the afternoon, so we had to leave around lunch time.  However, in this half-day, the Dallas team got to show us some tooling they currently use – this was a great knowledge share day, and I really enjoyed the enthusiasm that is software testing that was shared between the testers this day.  Of note, I think they plan to migrate all or most of their current automated tests to Katalon Studio. Mission accomplished.

five Takeaways from the experience

  1. I’ve got a major case of impostor syndrome – this trip surprised me in an unexpected way, I have knowledge that is worth sharing and above some criticism.  I was expecting extremely smart and proficient Quality Assurance Engineers of the Dallas office to look down upon our little Katalon project, and perhaps even our software in general.  For many of them, this was their first time seeing our applications up close.  I was fully expecting some judging eyes – but, to be clear, there was absolutely none of that – these were professionals who were excited to learn about Test Automation with Katalon Studio.
  2. Software testers mostly work in a silo.  Most of the Pensacola office tester’s are embedded on a development team.  For workflow and production reasons, this works great.  From a knowledge share standpoint, this is not ideal.  I typically don’t have the opportunity to see how other tester’s I work with write tests or think about when they’re writing tests.  For this reason, It was great fun to sit in a room of professionals who test software for a living (and some even for love) – and hear their energy and love for what they do, to share ideals and principals.  It was a great learning experience, and this part was especially professionally rewarding.
  3. Whether or not you’re building test automation with Katalon Studio, or are using another solution, building good and testable software is really hard.  There are environmental issues, hardware and software setup concerns, data issues, and the list goes on.  It was great to hear other testers share these concerns and pick up a few interesting tips that can help us in the daily grind.
  4. Dallas doesn’t suck.  Pensacola this time of year is so wet and so hot, you sweat just walking to your car in the morning.  It’s humid, muggy, occasionally pouring rain, and relentlessly hot.  However, there’s a ton of fun things to do in the Pensacola area, and it all begins and ends on the water.  I know I live in a proverbial paradise, I love our beaches and coastal waters, the endless summer sunshine and the mild winters. I like that our traffic isn’t terrible, and where I live is pretty small, slow and laid back. Pensacola is a great place to live and work and raise a family. But Dallas – well, I had conceded that Dallas would suck – it would be overly congested, impossible to cross streets, and be full of big, old buildings and businessmen wearing cowboy hats.  But Dallas was none of those things (at least not where we were).  It was a hip, thriving community with great food and plenty of fun things to do. It was warm, but it was not hot like the unrelenting hell-fury sun of Florida.  Walking outside anytime of day was pleasant and didn’t make you burst into a puddle of sweat.

I can’t wait to go back and I hope it happens soon.  This trip was a lot of fun in many ways.  I’m tremendously grateful to be given the opportunity I have with my company, and look forward to learning, growing, and working with many new and great software testers.

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