Low-Code Testing: Is It Necessary?

Low-code testing can prove problematic for business users, who have benefited from the ease of development of low-code platforms. Low-code development has existed for over a decade, but 2020 was a tipping point for adoption. The pandemic emphasized low-code usability benefits, helping it gain further traction.

Further, with the increased emphasis on digital transformation, innovation, and agility have become crucial. With its promise of reducing app development time by nearly 90% [1], it’s little wonder that 66% believe low code development is the key driver for digital transformation. [2]

Why test low-code apps?

The most significant advantage of low-code platforms is that they allow non-developers to develop apps despite needing more technical experience. By 2026, Gartner expects at least 80% of low-code developers to work outside IT departments, up from 60% in 2021. [3]

Low-code development will gain popularity as proponents move into mission-critical use cases and pro-dev teams add new capabilities to established settings. However, concerns arise over whether low code can develop software with the necessary quality, scalability, and sustainability. It is in this context that testing low-code apps assumes significance.

Low-code testing: aspects to consider

Increasingly, organizations have begun to realize that testing low-code apps is essential. However, the rigor with which testing is carried out still needs to be improved, especially compared to traditional apps. Thus, determining which low-code applications can and should be tested is critical for advocates and critics.

Some pertinent questions that testers deal with when it comes to low-code testing are:

  • How much traditional testing is required when code is pre-created?
  • To what extent can custom code be validated and tested?
  • How can a low-code app’s functionality, productivity, and user experience be natively assessed?
  • How difficult would it be to connect with existing continuous integration and deployment tools?

These are essential considerations for firms that rely on low-code development, helping them determine which workloads to target and which to put on hold.

The importance of low-code testing

Since the codebase of low-code apps contains few original “units” of code, the need for unit testing could be less. Each app component would be a prebuilt unit, and the source code would be hidden from the team using the platform.

Low-code applications also offer restricted deployment options that do not support every configuration. However, while saving time and effort, these limitations do not preclude the necessity for testing. QA teams must be at the forefront of the low-code delivery chain for several reasons:

To identify defects or bugs

The prebuilt modules on low-code systems may be defective. These may not necessarily be errors from the low-code vendor. The team’s setup or architecture could include bugs even if the vendor-provided components are bug-free. Functional testing would help identify these bugs. Even if you can’t find the prebuilt component’s defect, you can identify its effects and tailor your solutions to prevent them.

To ensure reliability, functionality, and security 

Low-code apps seldom live in a universe of their own. Instead, they are a component of broader processes and must interface with other resources. APIs are often used to facilitate these connections. Thus, testing APIs and verifying that your low-code application can use them as necessary is vital.

Testing APIs helps ensure low-code apps work as intended and provide the expected functionality. It verifies system integration and ensures data can be properly exchanged and protected. Low-code testing can also ensure that external storage, networking, and other resources can be accessed and used correctly.

To maintain quality and standardization

Sometimes, QA teams may be the only line of defense between amateurishly built low-code software and your users. Therefore, the QA team must evaluate low-code apps before publishing them, especially if non-tech employees have developed them.

Unlike standard, professional apps made with UI design best practices and software performance in mind, these apps will have to be evaluated for quality. Further, while low-code apps used by a few users or for a specific task may not face this issue, those used by larger teams will require the oversight of QA engineers. Low-code testing leverages the best of both worlds—providing ease of development while maintaining quality.

To improve performance

Performance is often not a priority for low-code platforms. Instead, the primary goal of a low-code developer would be to facilitate the rapid development of applications. Thus, the expectations for low-code applications to perform as optimally as their traditional counterparts are likely lower.

However, for those serious about quality, it is another reason to prioritize low-code testing.

To combat deployment unpredictability

Low-code platforms sometimes introduce unexpected behavior and performance issues that negatively impact the application’s deployment and usage. Low-code testing helps detect and correct errors before the application is deployed and ensures the functionality of the application.

In addition, it can help validate the application’s performance, compatibility with other systems, and compliance with relevant regulations and standards.

To ensure security

Low-code testing can uncover and fix security problems before releasing the application. On the other hand, security scanning and penetration testing evaluate the application’s security, discover risks, and detect and fix security vulnerabilities like poor authentication, authorization controls, and data encryption.

Low-code testing can verify the application’s compliance with PCI DSS, HIPAA, and other security protocols. By finding and fixing security flaws before deployment, low-code testing reduces security breaches and data loss, protects users’ data, and builds trust in the app and developer.

Choosing between automated and manual testing

Automated testing is essential to low-code development because it improves testing accuracy, consistency, and speed while decreasing repetitive testing time and effort. Low-code testing frameworks provide test automation without coding by offering a visual interface for building and running tests. Automated tests can be run frequently and regularly, providing immediate feedback on software quality and helping identify flaws early in development. They also speed up development and allow teams to work on new features and bug fixes.

However, manual testing also plays a vital role despite the focus on automation. Certain types of tests, in particular, require human intuition and creativity, such as exploratory testing, user acceptance testing, usability testing, and edge case testing.

Ultimately, combining automated and manual testing will be the most effective approach for low code testing. Testers must determine the most appropriate mix of automated and manual testing for a specific project and testing scenario. They must consider factors such as project scope, available resources, and the desired level of test coverage to ensure high-quality software.

References

1. 451 Research. Feb. 2018, www.redhat.com/cms/managed-files/mi-451-research-intelligent-process-automation-analyst-paper-f11434-201802.pdf

2. Roul, Rajendra. “32 Low-code Development Statistics to Know Before Adopting.” G2, July 2021, www.g2.com/articles/low-code-development-statistics#low-code-development-benefits-statistics

3. “Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Low-Code Development Technologies Market to Grow 20% in 2023.” Gartner, 13 Dec. 2022, www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2022-12-13-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-low-code-development-technologies-market-to-grow-20-percent-in-2023

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