Adding Feature Flags to Test Cases

Feature flags are by no means a new concept, but when used within QA tests, they provide a lot of flexibility and extend the functionality without having to write and maintain multiple test cases.

I've recently added the TimeDuration library to several tests to record how long it takes to perform a "save" action. It's great for me, but I don't want this to run all the time, so it's being wrapped in a feature flag. I start with a simple list of flags at the top of the code like:

boolean timedTest=true

And then later in the code, there is an IF block if (useDataBase==true){ to see if the time should be recored. By default these are off for regression tests. But when I want to use them for functional testing, I change the flag.

Taking that a step further, I've been using feature flags to section off functionality. Let's say we are creating an order. That order needs a list of items. For a regression test, the list needs to be generic enough to apply to multiple scenarios and users.

However, with a feature flag, the list can be be specific for my functional test without having to write a whole new test case or disrupt the existing one. Right now, I am adjusting them at the test level.

Here is a simple example to either read a spreadsheet for generic items or query the database for a specific user and location.

//Read inventory from the database file or xls spreadshseet?
boolean useDataBase=true

if (useDataBase==true){
    WebUI.callTestCase(findTestCase('Populate Custom Inventory List - DB'), [:], FailureHandling.CONTINUE_ON_FAILURE)
    WebUI.callTestCase(findTestCase('Populate Inventory Items List'), [:], FailureHandling.CONTINUE_ON_FAILURE)

Another example would be whether or not to add a custom item to an order. A custom item has specific fields associated with it and isn't used in regression testing.

//add a custom item to the order?
boolean addCustomItem=false
if (addCustomItem==true){
    //Wait for Add Inventory Item button to be visible
    WebUI.waitForElementVisible(findTestObject('btn-Add Custom Item'), 15)

<additional code here>

    //Click to Add Custom Item to Order'btn-Save Custom Item'))

While these aren't complicated examples, they are the start of consolidating code for functional and regression testing. In the case above, my original test created a certain type of order. With a few small additions, the test is dynamic enough to fill in extra forms when the testing is for my benefit. But with the flags turned off, it acts as a regression test that works for 80-90% of the users in the system. This gives me extra testing capability without having to write and maintain two sets of tests.

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