A Closer Look at Integration Testing


Integration testing is the process of assembling various code modules to preform very specific tasks in a software system that uses them in a more generalized application. The article gives the example of using a module that stores and retreives files with another that displays their names in a list and another that reads keystrokes as well as one that that recognizes mouse clicks, all together it is a file manaement application. Each module is usually created and tested seperately using unit tests before being added to the code control system. After in the management system they are subjected to integration tests which tests them in conjunction with other modules. This usually uncovers issues with data formats, operation timing, API calls, database access and user interface operation.

There are four parts of integration testing that are critical. The first one is software integration which means in part that everything fuctions the way the user commands. For example, with interface operations it is important that when a user does something unexpected by the systems design the application does not simply crash but produces an error message. Next, the modules must continually exchange data as the overall system functions. This is often performed by a data or command bus that facilitates module communication. These buses are often the most stressed component of the system and integration tests should test them under various amounts of load to ensure that the individual modules are working together properly. Third are the API calls which are the most common channel by which the system communicates with third party services and has become a tool for connecting modules together within the system. This allows data and commands to be separated into different function calls making the exchange easier to debug. One of the main issues with API calls for integration testing is that each one needs to be tested separately, through the entire set of data and inside and outside the acceptable range. Then API calls must be tested in functional groups. Finally there is End-To-End testing which is a big priority for integration testing. The test sets up a system called a sandbox environment and then creates tests for every use the application would go through in real world use. User inputs simulate the front end with data and requests which are then communicated to the middleware to work with the backend of API calls to third parties and database manipulations. All of this is carefully monitored for accuracy and run time.



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