The development community has long recognized the benefits of shifting testing earlier in the software development process. By finding and fixing bugs earlier, development teams and business and operational stakeholders can avoid the costly and time-consuming process of reworking already-written code.
To understand the principle better, let’s look at why DevOps recommends shifting left in the first place.
But first, what is DevOps?
What is DevOps?
DevOps is a set of practices emphasizing the collaboration and communication of software developers and other information technology (IT) professionals while automating the application delivery process and infrastructure changes.
In other words, DevOps improves application development speed and quality by shortening the feedback loop between developers and operation teams.
The goal of DevOps is to deliver applications quickly and efficiently. To do this, Development and Operations teams need to work closely together, sharing responsibility for the entire software development cycle.
Testing falls under the Operations department’s responsibility in a traditional waterfall model. It can lead to delays in software delivery, as the Ops team may not have the bandwidth to test new code as quickly as the Development team can produce it.
DevOps teams can avoid these delays by shifting testing earlier in the process.
So, what exactly is Shift left testing?
What is Shift-left testing?
Shift-left testing is a methodology where testing is moved to earlier in the software development process. For example, developers may write unit tests during the coding process rather than waiting for a separate QA team to run them after the code has been written.
The aim is to identify and fix defects as early as possible in the lifecycle before they have a chance to cause problems later on.
What are Shift-left Testing Principles?
The basic idea behind shift-left testing is that it’s better to find and fix bugs early in the software development life cycle rather than later. By finding and fixing bugs early, teams can avoid the need to rework code that has already been written.
There are several key DevOps practices that you can follow to help make this happen:
- Automate everything: The more you can automate your testing, the easier it will be to get started early and find defects quickly.
- Build quality from the start: The shift left testing approach prevents defects, so focusing on quality from the beginning is essential. It means writing high-quality code and using techniques like test-driven development.
- Test continuously: Continuous testing means testing throughout the entire software development process. It helps you to find defects early and fix them before they cause problems.
- Shift left on everything: It’s not just about shift left on testing – the whole team needs to be involved. Everyone should think about quality from the start and be responsible for ensuring that the final product is high-quality.
Why does DevOps recommend Shift-left Testing Principles?
Many factors explain why DevOps recommends the shift-left testing principles in software development. As requirements constantly change in the programming world, keeping up with changing expectations and needs is challenging.
Traditionally, application programming plans keep the requirements on the left and the delivery and testing requirements on the right. However, this method has led many businesses to adverse outcomes.
With the traditional approach, development and testing teams cannot work in parallel, increasing the overall cost. For example, suppose the programming team is working on the requirements due in six months. The operation team would have to wait until those requirements are complete before starting testing. In turn, this would cause an increased amount of time wasted and, as a result, an increase in cost.
There is also an increased risk when requirements are not well-defined from the beginning. The programming team might build something that the operation team didn’t account for, and, as a result, it might not be testable. Software failures would be more likely as a result.
Additionally, once your application is released into production, it becomes challenging to maintain its integrity as new features are added continuously. In software engineering processes like quality assurance (QA), developers often test beta versions instead of final versions, introducing additional risks they weren’t aware of.
If the testing team cannot test continuously, they might not be able to catch all the bugs before the application is released. It would lead to decreased quality and might cause the software to fail in production.
The traditional approach often leads to missed deadlines because the programming and testing teams work independently.
The testing team might not have enough time to test all the features before the deadline. Therefore, the software might be released with bugs or might not have all the features initially planned.
Difficult to Scale
It is difficult to scale the traditional approach because it is difficult to predict how long each phase will take. Requirements might change during the development phase, which would cause the timeline to shift. Adding more people to the project is difficult because you need to train them in the requirements and ensure they understand the process.
The traditional approach is no longer feasible in software development’s fast-paced, ever-changing world. Instead, DevOps recommends the shift-left testing principles because they allow you to catch problems early and avoid the risks associated with the traditional approach.
Communication and collaboration are key in the application programming process, becoming more critical as the project progresses. Therefore, the sooner you can get started with testing, the better.
Typically, these problems occur because developers or project managers working on different sides of this process (i.e., left and right) cannot effectively communicate what needs to be updated.
Since each discipline works internally separately, it can be challenging to pinpoint where bugs come from, even if you know something should have worked.
Reduce Failure Demand
In many organizations, programming and operations teams work in silos. Programming teams focus on new features and functionality, while operations teams are responsible for keeping the systems up and running.
One of the aims of DevOps is to break down these silos and improve communication and collaboration between teams.
One of the ways that DevOps does this is by recommending that teams shift left. It means moving to test earlier in the application programming process so that defects can be found and fixed before they cause problems in production.
It ensures the reduction of overall development time.
Organizations can improve their efficiency and speed up software development by shifting left.
In DevOps, there is a saying that “the earlier you find a defect, the cheaper it is to fix.” It is because it’s much easier and less expensive to fix a defect early on before it has a chance to cause problems later in the programming process.
As a result, DevOps recommends that teams shift left and focus on quality from the beginning. Doing this can avoid costly defects and improve their overall efficiency.
Teams find and report bugs faster
Shif left also helps teams to find and report bugs faster. By testing early, you can avoid waiting until the end of the programming process to discover defects in the code.
Teams can start testing as soon as a new code is written. It means that defects can be found and fixed right away before they have a chance to cause problems later on. It also means that teams can report bugs to the programming team more quickly to be fixed before they cause any significant issues.
Overall, the shift left helps to improve the quality of the software, as well as the efficiency of the development.
Gets users’ feedback faster
In addition, shift left allows teams to get feedback from targeted users sooner. User feedback is essential for improving the quality of software. By getting feedback early, teams can ensure that they are building the right thing and that the software meets users’ needs.
Development overall is more efficient and takes less time.
By shifting left and focusing on quality from the beginning, you can avoid fixing defects quickly and avoid waiting until the development’s end, saving you time and money. It enables product teams to perform daily tasks like testing and reviewing changes and progress. You can keep track of changes and progress more efficiently since quality is everyone’s top priority.
DevOps teams should shift left because it helps to avoid delays, provides early feedback, and improves application quality. Shift left is a key part of the DevOps philosophy, and it is something that all teams should consider adopting.
How to move to Shift Left
The first step to shifting left is to implement continuous testing. The new code needs to be tested as soon as it is written. Continuous testing helps to find defects early before they have a chance to cause problems later in the programming process.
It also helps to improve team communication, as everyone knows the need to test early and often.
To implement continuous testing, you need to set up a separate testing environment from the development environment, which might be challenging. Still, it allows testing new code without affecting the live site.
You also need to automate your testing process so it can run frequently and quickly. Typically, both automated testing and manual testing are needed to successfully shift-left.
Many tools are available to help with this, such as Selenium, SoapUI, and TestComplete.
Continuous deployment is the next step to shifting left. Once the code has been tested and approved, it deploys automatically to the live site.
This step speeds up development by allowing new features to be released sooner. It also helps to reduce the risk of errors, as there is no need to deploy code manually. Using this ideology, application users can see updates faster.
To implement the continuous deployment, you must set up a continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. It is a series of tools and processes that automate the code deployment process.
Many CI/CD tools are available, such as Jenkins, Bamboo, and TeamCity.
The final step to shifting left is to implement continuous feedback. The teams should regularly provide feedback on the code to improve it.
Demand planning, product backlog grooming, and sprint planning are all activities that help provide code feedback.
By doing this, teams can identify defects early and report them to the programming team.
Is Shift Left always appropriate?
The main aim of shifting left is to improve quality and efficiency. However, it’s not always appropriate for every organization.
Shift left may not be advantageous if the organization already has a good testing process.
It’s also important to remember that shift left is just one part of DevOps. There are other essential aspects, such as continuous delivery and constant deployment.
So, while shift left can help improve quality and efficiency, it’s not the only thing organizations need to do to succeed.
Final Thoughts: Why DevOps recommends Shift-Left testing principles
The Shift Left principle refers to moving testing earlier in the software development life cycle to find defects and fix them before they can cause problems in production.
It helps improve quality, efficiency, and communication between teams. However, it’s not always appropriate for every organization.
Overall, it’s easier and less expensive to fix a defect early on. So, by shifting left and focusing on quality from the beginning, you can avoid having to fix defects later, saving you time and money.
What is the shift left testing in agile?
Agile testing is an iterative approach to program testing that helps teams deliver high-quality applications faster. A principle of agile testing is shift left testing which means moving testing activities earlier in the programming phase.
Which test automation tools are used for automated tests?
Many test automation tools are available on the market, such as Selenium, Cypress, UFT, Postman, or ReadyAPI.
How do I create a test automation framework?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as your team’s best test automation framework will depend on your specific needs and requirements.
However, some tips on creating a test framework include using a programming language that is easy to learn and use, choosing a tool with good documentation and support, and designing.
Is security testing part of the testing?
Security testing is a program testing designed to identify security risks in an application and ensure that data and resources are protected from unauthorized access. Security testing is critical to the application development cycle, as it can help prevent serious security breaches.
What are the types of performance testing?
There are many types of performance testing, such as load testing, stress testing, capacity testing, and scalability testing.