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How Do You Handle Exceptions and Errors In Your Test Code?

Errors and exceptions are events that occur during the runtime execution of a program. Errors and exceptions increase the program’s complexity by disrupting the flow of the program’s execution time. Automation testing tools and frameworks are available to test code errors and expectations in runtime and debug them.

Errors are problems in programs, and exceptions are essential to the testing flow. They can be unexpected or unwanted events that occur in programs. The occurrence of both errors and exceptions on the test code is unpredictable, but they can be handled, debugged, or resolved.

In this article, let us see how to handle unannounced exceptions and errors in the test code.

Errors and Exceptions  – Overview

Errors and exceptions are unexpected events that intrude on the program’s execution flow. Internal and external factors usually cause errors, whereas internal factors generally cause exceptions. The common types of errors are syntax, logical, and runtime errors, and the exceptions can be classified into checked and unchecked exceptions.

The cause of error in a program can be many things, such as network failure, file corruption, insufficient resources, and other common causes. Logical errors, unexpected conditions, and invalid input usually cause the exceptions.  

Importance of Handling Errors and Exceptions in Test Code 

Handling errors and exceptions in test code is essential for various reasons. The main reason for handling the errors and exceptions is that they help to prevent or mitigate negative consequences in test code, such as data loss, security breaches, and user dissatisfaction. 

Error and exception handling help debug the test code. It assists in identifying and fixing the root cause of the error and exception in the test code by providing valuable insights and feedback. 

Additionally, handling the errors and exceptions in test code helps improve the test code’s readability, reduces the maintenance cost, and separates test code from standard execution logic to exception logic. 

Handling Errors and Exceptions in Test Code 

Handling errors and exceptions is crucial in testing because they can disrupt the entire automation testing process. Cloud testing tools like LambdaTest are good at quickly finding and understanding problems in software running on the cloud. They perform well in big and flexible cloud setups, making it fast to discover and figure out issues in different system parts. 

Cloud testing platforms like LambdaTest help you automate complex or uncertain scenarios with specifications. LambdaTest is an AI-powered test execution and orchestration platform that empowers developers and testers to perform automation testing seamlessly on over 3000+ real browsers and operating system combinations.

Discovering and debugging the errors in test code at early stages will reduce the code’s complexity and help the testers easily automate the entire automation testing process. In this section, let us see some practical ways to handle errors and exceptions in test code. 

Using Meaningful Naming Convention 

One of the first steps to handle errors and exceptions in the test code is naming convention. The naming convention is defined as a set of rules or a framework for calling the test methods, functions, and test files in a specific way. Naming them helps the software testers identify the issue’s source and understand each test’s purpose and scope.

The rule of the naming convention may change according to the programming language, but the naming conventions have the same set of purposes across different languages.

If you are using Java to write the test code, test classes, functions, and file names must be named according to the Java naming convention. For example, the test method should have been named in a format like <Method_name>_<Expected_Behavior>, and test classes should be named with the prefix test, and the packages should be named with the prefix example.com.test. 

Annotations and Assertions 

Annotations and Assertions are another way to handle errors and exceptions in test code during automation testing. They are used to analyze the expected outcome or behavior of the test code. Annotations are unique identifiers that provide instructions or information to test the framework or compiler. Annotations also control the following step function executed in the test script.  Since the annotations are strongly typed, it makes the compiler spot the errors and exceptions right away.

Annotations can be used by @Test annotation to mark the test methods and other annotations such as @after, @before, @expected, or @ignore to specify the precondition, postcondition, skipping, and expected exception of test methods.

Assertions are statements that check the test methods to see if the condition is true or false, and if the condition of the test method is wrong, it throws an exception. There are multiple assert methods, such as assertTrue(), assertFalse(), assertEquals(), and so on. 

Handling Expected and Unexpected Exceptions 

Expected exceptions are the exceptions that are anticipated and can be handled during the testing process. Users and external factors usually cause it. Expected exceptions can be controlled by catching and logging. Then, the program can be executed continuously without any interruption.

Unexpected exceptions are never anticipated, making them hard to handle during testing. Programming errors and hardware failure usually cause random errors.  Unexpected exceptions are uncatchable and can not be logged. This leads the program to crash. 

In the automation testing process, you can validate the test code by generating a test scenario where the test code throws an exception as if it were a part of its normal behavior. In such cases, both expected and unexpected exceptions should be handled accordingly. 

For example, If you use Java to write the test code, both exceptions can be handled using annotations and assertions. Expected exceptions can be managed using @Expected annotation and assertThrows methods to denote the exceptions that are expected to be thrown by a test method. Unexpected exceptions can be handled by try-catch-finally blocks or the assertDoesNotThrow method to manage the unexpected exception and verify that no exception is caused during the automation testing process. 

Logging and Debugging Tools 

Using logging and debugging tools is another efficient way to handle the errors and exceptions in the test code by record and analyzing the execution and output of the test cases. Logging is a technique used in the automation testing process to keep track of events such as the progress and state of the test code during the execution. Logging not only helps debug the errors and exceptions but also helps the testers analyze and monitor the performance of the code.

Debugging is a process of identifying and fixing bugs during the automation testing. There are multiple processes involved in debugging the test code. The initial debugging stage is identifying the errors and exceptions in the test code, and then the errors and exceptions have to be isolated from the source code. Those isolated errors and exceptions are corrected, and finally, correction is tested to ensure the code works. This entire process can be automated by using debugging tools. 

Debugging tools make automation testing the process easier by using features like breakpoints and watch points to break or pause the execution of test code when a specific condition is met. 

For example, If you are using Java to write the test code, you can use the logger class from java.util.logging package to write a message or data to a file or console with different levels of inflexibilities. You can use various integrated development environments to debug your test codes by setting breakpoints, watching variables, or staging through test code. 

Reviewing and Refactoring the Test Code  

Reviewing and refactoring are the last ways to handle errors and exceptions in the test code. Refactoring is a process of improving the internal structure of the existing test code without changing its behavior during the automation testing process. Refactor makes the test code readable, modular, and testable. It also increases the test codes’ performance, quality, and maintainability.

Before refactoring the test code, a solid set of automation testing units is required. You will know if you have broken any functionality of the code if the existing test code fails during the refactoring. 

Test code review is a specific software quality assurance process for inspecting and evaluating the test code. The code review’s primary purpose is to ensure no errors and exceptions during runtime when testing. Manual and automated review of codes can be done. During the code review test, we can identify and address vulnerabilities in the testing codes, including memory leaks or buffer overflows. 

For example, suppose you are using Java to write the test code. In that case, you can refactor the test codes by applying common patterns and principles such as removing duplications, extracting methods, introducing parameters, and simplifying expressions. You can also review your test code using various tools to perform static analysis and detect any code smells, bugs, or vulnerabilities.

Benefits of Handling Errors and Exceptions in Test Code 

Handling the errors and exceptions in test code has the following advantages:

  • Separation of duties: Using error handling and exception handling makes managing the error and exception easier by separating the standard test code logic and exception logic from the test program. This helps to debug the test code without affecting the actual logic of the program. 
  • Error propagation and Recovery: Errors in test code can be reported and handled smoothly across different parts of the test programs. Exception recovers the code from errors and helps to maintain the code in good shape.
  • Fault tolerance: Handling errors and exceptions makes the test code durable and resistant to problems such as bad input, network failure, and file issues.
  • Readability and maintainability: After successfully handling errors and exceptions in test code using debugging and other methods, the code is improved in quality by being more organized and structured.  
  • Debugging and Troubleshooting: Exception handling in the test code provides valuable information and stack trace for debugging. This helps identify the root cause of errors and the specific code responsible for them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, handling errors and exceptions in test code is crucial for automation testing. Practices like naming conventions, utilizing annotations, and distinguishing between expected and unexpected exceptions contribute to a reliable testing process. Logging and debugging tools play a significant role in identifying and resolving issues and providing valuable insights. Code reviews and refactoring enhance code quality and readability. The benefits include improved separation of duties, efficient error handling, and increased fault tolerance. A systematic approach to error and exception handling is essential for maintaining the integrity of automation testing, ensuring smoother execution of test code, and minimizing disruptions.

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