How to Test Microservices

Microservices Testing Strategies

Microservices are great for building out certain types of apps that have numerous moving parts and components. However, testing your microservices can get a bit tricky. You’ll need to test both how your microservices work in isolation and how they work with one another. Of course, there are some solid strategies out there to ensure your microservices testing is as efficient and effective as possible. Read on for some strategies and tips for testing your microservices.

What are the Challenges to Testing?

Before taking a look at some of the top ways to test microservices, let’s discuss some of the biggest challenges you might run into. The challenges of testing microservices can include:

  • Discovering issues later on - One of the biggest challenges of testing microservices is reducing the risk of issues showing up later in the software development lifecycle. Due to the many services and associated databases, cloud resources and more, it can often be challenging to set up tests on local workstations. Although mocking the dependencies could work in these scenarios, it can be very difficult to maintain. Additonally, it lowers the fidelity of the environment which causes most integration issues to be missed. You want to make sure to have shift left testing in order to catch these issues in the early stages because the cost of finding them later can be many multitudes worse. In fact, it’s estimated that finding issues in the QA stage is ten times costlier than finding them during development. That number grows to 100 times higher when issues are found in production.
  • Cascading issues - Microservices can be complex, with each having its own codebase and dependencies. Thus, it can be difficult to identify singular issues, which can cause cascading issues throughout the system. Finding the root cause can be messy without proper testing and the right tools.
  • Testing compatibility - Testing microservices needs to be comprehensive. While microservices are designed to focus on specific tasks, they do often need to communicate with one another. You need to test microservices thoroughly to ensure they’re compatible and that integration is complete.
  • Creating test environments - Creating and managing test environments for microservices is not only difficult but very expensive, especially when tyring to duplicate environments at scale. These test environments can help make it easier to test and update microservices, but the path to implementing them isn’t always simple. That’s where tools like Signadot comes in. We can help you easily and affordably create testing Sandboxes in Kubernetes.

These challenges can be overcome with the right strategies and tools. So, let’s take a look at some of these strategies next.

The Testing Pyramid

The Testing Pyramid is a software testing concept that is ideal for microservices. It helps testing teams visualize the distribution of different types of tests, starting with larger unit tests at the base and smaller end-to-end tests at the top. The pyramid shape takes microservices testing level by level, keeping testing on track and ensuring confidence in the efficacy of microservices across a system.

Let’s take a look at some of the different exploratory tests that can be used in a microservices Testing Pyramid format.

Unit Tests

Unit tests are a crucial step for testing microservices. These are the most basic tests for microservices, but that doesn’t make them any less important. These tests focus on testing individual microservices in isolation. Developers can ensure these services are working as they’re supposed to, and they can identify any bugs and errors early on.

Integration Tests

Integration tests are also essential for testing microservices due to the many runtime dependencies that can only be tested along with other live components. These tests focus on making sure the different services can communicate with one another and work together effectively. Integration tests can help validate the overall functionality and compatibility of microservices throughout a platform or application. Ideally, these tests will uncover any issues that may occur when services interact so they can be addressed before deployment.

End-to-end Testing

Finally, end-to-end testing should be the final step that ensures your microservices can function reliably and consistently. In this step, developers test the entire platform from start to finish. This typically involves testing the platform in a way that a user would interact. This test can help identify issues that happen when multiple microservices are interacting at once, along with potential issues with the user experience. Although this type of testing is typically done during the later staging of the software development lifecycle, developers actually find this extremely useful during the earlier stages. This is especially true for developers working on backend services that want to ensure their change hasn't regressed anything related to critical user flows from the frontend.

In short, end-to-end testing provides a holistic view of your microservices' behavior and helps ensure that they meet the desired requirements and deliver a seamless user experience.

Best Practices

Testing microservices can be complicated, but there are some general best practices you can follow to prepare for the process. These best practices may include:

  • Establish testing goals - It’s always a good idea to lay out your testing criteria and goals for testing. This helps align your developers and guide your testing processes.
  • Use testing tools - It can help to implement testing tools in your software stack that automate some of the more tedious tasks. This can save time, reduce human error, and give your developers a break from the more mundane aspects of testing.
  • Use testing environments - It’s a good idea to implement test environments that allow your developers to run comprehensive tests before deploying code. Platforms like Signadot can help with this step.
  • Conduct regular code reviews and maintenance - Remember that your work doesn’t end after testing. You should conduct regular code audits and maintain your microservices through updates and patches.

By following these best practices, you can feel more confident in your testing efforts and be well-prepared for any challenges you may run into.

How Signadot Can Help

If you’re testing microservices, it can help to have the right tools on your side. That’s where Signadot comes in. Signadot makes it easy to test microservices in Kubernetes by enabling Sandboxes that create a safe and isolated environment for testing and development.

Here are some of the ways that Signadot can help:

  • Isolate changed services - A key benefit of Signadot’s Sandboxes is the ability to spin up only changed services and their dependencies. This saves your developers time and saves you computation resources. Instead of copying over the entire application, your developers can focus on the affected microservices.
  • Easy tool integration - Signadot makes API testing easy by seamlessly integrating with popular tools Postman, Cucumber, or k6. This makes it easy for you to catch and fix regressions before merging code.
  • Run end-to-end tests earlier - Signadot uses tools like Selenium and Cypress to allow you to target multiple Sandboxes and test end-to-end functionality, speeding up your dev cycle and allowing you to test new features in isolation.
  • Ensure valid testing: Signadot helps ensure valid testing with the latest versions of dependent services. By enabling Sandboxes on a baseline environment that is kept up to date with the main/trunk branch via a CI/CD workflow, developers can rest assured that the testing is valid.
  • Seamlessly Automate Tests for Every Pull Request: Signadot enables you to not only do manual testing but also helps with automating tests at the granularity of every Pull Request (or code change). This is now possible as each Sandbox that's spun up is quick and inexpensive. So you can spin up 100s of Sandboxes without much increase in costs.

In short, incorporating Signadot into your workflow will not only enhance the efficiency of your development team but also ensure the reliability and scalability of your microservice architecture.

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