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How To Build High-quality Cross-platform Apps With Agile Test Automation

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation

Two of the hardest things in software development are estimating how long a project will take to complete and whether or not that project is bug free. This has become even more impossible as technology progresses. Agile test automation attempts to address this in some very specific ways.

It’s a fact that in today’s hyper-connected society people own multiple types of electronic devices, and they may use your applications on an increasingly diverse range of technologies, screen sizes, and hardware capabilities. Choosing the right cross-platform development tool which can target those devices from a single codebase is the smartest choice you can make.

Why is cross-platform development so hard?

In a competitive world your app’s best chance of success is to exist as a cross-platform app which can meet the customer’s needs on the devices of their choice. Testing all possible variations of hardware and operating system to check for potential bugs is a mammoth task. Estimating how long the development and testing will take is also difficult to get right with pure guesswork. Each new step forward in device capabilities, new screen types, ever higher screen resolutions, and a giddy array of form factors like bendable screens piles on the burden.

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation a collection of devices and an IDE in the background

How can agile test automation help with cross-platform development?

Agile development techniques, and, in particular, agile testing tools, attempt to ease the task of development and testing, and even automate much of it. The right tests, especially if they applied automatically, help raise and maintain quality. Combining those with agile development techniques also helps to measure progress and provides a basis for accurate estimation of workloads.

What is cross-platform app development?

Cross-platform app development is the process of creating apps that can work on multiple types of devices – both desktop and mobile, as well as the operating systems that run on them. Currently this means Windows, macOS and Linux for the desktop, as well as Android and iOS for mobile. These categories can be further broken down into the ‘form factor’ of the devices. A Windows device, for example, might be a traditional desktop computer with a keyboard and mouse or it might be a tablet with a touch-screen keyboard.

How To Build High-quality Cross-platform Apps With Agile Test Automation - various types of devices

 Is it easier if I only target mobile devices for cross platform app development?

The same is true for Android and iOS where the target hardware could be a mobile smartphone or a tablet, but even that distinction is blurring since Microsoft Windows 11 can now run Android apps natively and Apple desktop computers can run iOS apps. Each new advance in convenience for the consumer is another weight on the shoulders of the developer. It’s simply a given that the process of quality control has reached an inflection point where agile test automation is not only advisable, but also practically essential.

How does agile test automation relate to Agile development?

Agile development – with a capital “A” is concept in relation to the process of software development. An Agile development methodology is intended to address the difficulties inherent in accurately estimating the length of time a given feature might take to develop. Agile test automation similarly uses the term ‘agile’ to describe a flexible, adaptable approach to testing in the same way that Agile development tries to be a more flexible way of developing software compared to the more monolithic and rigid strategy of waterfall development which might take many weeks, months, or even years before a product version is released.

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation a white board with a person standing in front of it looking at the drawings on it

How does using an agile methodology help with time and cost estimates?

Agile development focuses on the concept of a “minimum viable product” and breaking down the elements of features, improvements, and bug fixes, into units which can be assigned a level of difficulty.

These ‘chunks’ are used to produce a list of tasks to complete which is commonly referred to as a ‘backlog’. The project manager and/or the team then apportion items for the members to work on. The team attempts to evenly distribute the work items based on its perceived difficulty as well as any dependencies.

The level of difficulty for each element worked on is used over the course of iterations, sometimes called “cadences” to measure the number of items at a particular level of difficulty which were achieved during the cadence. The metric of difficulty and time taken is then used to improve the estimation of probable items of similar difficulty.

How do agile methodologies help in measuring how fast a software developer is able to work?

Each cadence is used to produce a minimum viable product that contains as many finished items as possible, even if not all the items were finished. Many teams use a two-, three-, or four-week cadence.

The team reviews the amounts of items that were completed – or not – during the cadence and either increase or decrease the number of allocated tasks for the next cadence as a result of that metric. This measure of estimated time to complete the backlog of work is called the ‘velocity’ of the team and it tends to give a reasonably accurate estimate of when a particular feature might be available.

Adding or dropping features is also made easier since the team can estimate the impact of a particular new item on the efforts of the team in an upcoming cadence.

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation a collection of people looking at a white board with some sticky notes on it

What part does agile test automation play in improving quality and increasing the accuracy of estimates?

Developers working in this fashion generally also use automation such as unit testing so that they can ensure that the individual task they are working on meets the minimum requirements to be described as ‘done’. These kinds of tests might include ‘mock’ interfaces, test frameworks, and other specialized technologies.

If the tests succeed there is a significant probability that a feature is acceptable. This ability to add and remove items along with the more accurate estimate of times, and the fact that each cadence should deliver a working ‘build’ of good quality thanks to the automated tests is why the concept is thought of as ‘agile’ since teams can adapt and produce workable and even saleable output more frequently and with greater flexibility than with more traditional ‘waterfall’ approaches where an entire product will not be released more often than perhaps every one or two years.

What is agile test automation?

Agile test automation means using test automation or automation testing in agile development. Agile development is based on iterative development, and it involves continuous planning, improvement, learning, and collaboration. In other words, the agile methodology involves the continuous delivery of functional software that is created in iterations. The core purpose of agile methodologies is to deliver high-quality products quickly and in predictable timescales with measurable speed (often referred to as “the velocity”).

 The agile model typically involves small and self-organizing teams of developers and business representatives that meet on a regular basis throughout the development process.

Test automation or automation testing refers to the process of executing tests automatically using automation testing tools and analyzing test results. It focuses on the identification and confirmation of already existing defects and helps reduce errors and costs.

 How and when should agile test automation be implemented?

Automation Testing works best for stable apps that involve minimal changes instead of dynamic fast-changing projects that are based on the agile model. So, some principles of automation testing contrast with agile methodology.

However, we can implement automated testing in agile software development effectively if we plan and prepare for it properly. For example, not all test cases in an agile project are suitable for automation, so it’s essential to know what test cases to automate. Additionally, it’s best to conduct parallel testing. In an agile environment, testing involves continuous integration between the development process and testing.

Agile test automation results in faster testing outcomes, improves productivity, and helps deliver high-quality products quickly. It also contributes towards reducing costs.

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation an image of the RAD Studio IDE with some unit tests in it
RAD Studio has access to DUnit and DUnitX for agile automated testing

 Why is agile test automation important for the rapid development of high-quality cross-platform apps?

The primary purpose of agile methodology is to build high-quality software faster. However, in an agile environment, the software or app is developed in iterations, new features are added constantly, and testing is done continuously. That rapidity of development along with the explosion in device types and operating systems means that manual testing of each feature in all possible variations is almost impossible. This is where we need agile test automation. It improves the efficiency of cross-platform app development. Since software testing is done at every stage, it’s easier and cost-effective to detect and fix bugs in the early stages and build high-quality apps.

 Which is the best framework for cross-platform app development?

RAD Studio Logo

RAD Studio from Embarcadero is a superbly capable development environment which is expressly aimed at creating high-quality, high-performance native cross-platform apps. Unlike simple code editors, RAD Studio is a dedicated integrated development environment offering power-user and time-saving features coupled with built-in intelligence and assistive technologies such as error insight, code completion, intelligent macros and code templates. It also includes a rich set of easy-to-use deployment toolchains to get your apps packaged up correctly for the intended target devices with the minimum of fuss.

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation Software IDE to turn software ideas into reality RAD Studio

What are some RAD Studio’s features?

  • RAD Studio provides a single code base for creating apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. Thanks to the efficient cross-platform FireMonkey FMX UI framework and a run time library, developers can create apps for iOS and share most of the code to Android, macOS, Linux, and Windows. This means developers don’t need to write separate code from scratch for each platform.
  • RAD Studio FireDAC is a Universal Data Access library that helps create applications for different devices connected to organizations’ databases. Its powerful universal architecture allows for direct access from Delphi and C++Builder to MySQL, SQL Server, InterBase, SQLite, PostgreSQL, Oracle, DB2, and more.
  • Applications built with RAD Studio work natively on almost all major platforms.
  • RAD Studio provides multi-device preview and can efficiently work with iOS and Android simulators to tailor your app’s design.
  • It also provides powerful visual design tools for developing cross-platform apps.
  • RAD Studio’s enterprise connectors enable developers to connect to 90+ leading enterprise systems, such as SAP, Jira, Office, and many more.

What specific features does RAD Studio have available for agile test automation?

When RAD Studio is installed, developers can optionally choose to also install the DUnit automated test framework at the same time. DUnit is able to integrate into the RAD Studio IDE environment so that test projects can be easily created with a couple of clicks. Spoilt for choice, RAD Studio with Delphi developers can also choose to use the DUnitX framework.

Using DUnit or DUnitX can help fulfil the agile test automation process and significantly contribute to the overall quality of your code by catching many otherwise unnoticed errors before your apps ship. Writing good unit tests can also simply confirm that your code is performing without error.

Combining good coding practices, unit tests, a helpful IDE, and a development environment which can target as many devices as possible from a single code base is the golden ticket for cross-platform app development. RAD Studio ticks all these boxes.

What sorts of tests would be managed by agile test automation?

Part of the process of application design is also understanding how your app should behave when it is working correctly – a definition of ‘done’ as it is sometimes referred to. Likewise, knowing what behavior is undesirable, incorrect, or downright disastrous is key.

How To Build High quality Cross platform Apps With Agile Test Automation an image of the TestRail bar chart
Source TestRail

Unit tests assess the correctness of individual classes or items of the program’s code. This is an adjunct though to functional tests and integration tests. Does the app, as a whole, do what it should and does it ‘play nice’ with other elements of the operating system and hardware. You can have a perfectly well-written program which passes all its unit tests with flying colors, compiles with zero syntax errors and warnings yet is utterly useless the second it actually has to exist on a real device and be used by an actual end-user.

“It works on my machine” may be a cliché – but it is also very true. Agile test automation tries to do away with you ever having to say sorry to a dissatisfied customer.

Which tool is best for test management and agile test management?

TestRail, from Embarcadero’s sister company Gurock, is easily a standard in test management. It allows you to streamline your testing processes so that you’re confident that you have produced high-quality software which works as expected with no nasty surprises. With TestRail, you can organize reusable test cases into folders and track test execution progress in real-time. It also allows users to create agile test plans. There is an efficient and easy-to-use interface combined with interactive dashboards built specifically for test management. Additionally, you can integrate TestRail with several other tools, third-party apps, and frameworks using the TestRail API.

How To Build High-quality Cross-platform Apps With Agile Test Automation - a TestRail hero image explaining the product's features

What are the key features of TestRail for agile test automation?

Here are the key features of TestRail for test management and agile test management:

  • With TestRail, you can quickly draft test cases and evaluate coverage. You can also link tests to requirements and defects in GitHub Issues, Atlassian Jira, GitLab, and more.
  • TestRail allows you to quickly generate traceability reports, allowing all the team members to see the status and progress of testing in real-time.
  • With TestRail, it’s easy to monitor all your test activities and quality metrics on a single platform.
  • TestRail can be easily integrated with many project management tools and automation testing tools, such as JIRA, Jenkins, and Selenium.
  • TestRail also supports agile test cases. You can easily organize, schedule, and track agile test cases and streamline your testing process. For example, users can organize test runs in plans to track results for iterations.
  • It provides powerful filters to start test runs and select test cases. You can also group, filter, and organize your results efficiently.
  • TestRail makes it easy to track tests for browsers, mobile devices, and more.

TestRail has two versions: TestRail cloud, which is the online version of TestRail, and TestRail server, which you can install on a Windows Server or Linux. You can sign up for your free 14-day trial and try all the impressive features of TestRail. Additionally, there are detailed video tutorials to help you get started with TestRail.


In today’s increasingly complex and competitive world, developers and businesses need to create cross-platform apps as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. Using a low-code, cross-platform app development solution like RAD Studio with its integrated unit test framework, combined with agile test automation tools such as TestRail is a “plan to succeed”. By implementing agile test automation, we can augment the cross-platform app development process and help enhance quality, catching potential problems before they reach the customers. In some industry sectors such as finance and medical software, proper verifiable testing is not only desirable, but it may also be a legal or contractual requirement. For the rest of us it makes absolute sense to consider how the benefits of agile test automation can help us make a good thing better.

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is automation testing in agile?

Automation testing in agile enable teams to create test cases that automatically run every time new code is added.

How do you implement automation testing in agile?

For agile automated testing, it’s essential to plan and prepare for agile properly. Not all test cases in an agile project can be automated, but it’s essential to automate regression tests and conduct parallel testing.

Why is test automation important in agile?

The agile methodology involves continuous testing every time a new feature is added, and conducting these tests manually is too complex and time-consuming. As a result, agile test automation is required.

Start using TestRail today and manage your agile test cases efficiently!

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About author

Ian is the Embarcadero Developer Advocate, a professional writer, presenter, and host. He is a prolific software developer, voice actor, designer and poet. Ian is British American, born in London, now living in Dallas, Texas. "I get up early every day and write code".

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