Test automation with Microsoft Visio and Katalon Studio

With this article we present an solution approach for test automation is to use

  • a test automation tool like Katalon Studio for development of test cases of IT application’s user dialogs (like HTML forms)
  • a tool like Microsoft Visio to document (also called model or map) the business processes that are supported by the IT application
  • The BPM-X® software to derive the end-to-end path from process models for automated execution

The challenge in demanding enterprise projects isn’t the technical development of test cases for the user dialogs of the IT application themselves. The complex question is the arrangement of those test cases in the right execution sequence of end-to-end paths through a business process and the determination of therefore related test data for positive and negative tests.

A test case developer can´t oversee the complexity of an enterprise business process as he has a more focused view to the functional behavior of user dialogs and the related test cases of IT application level.

In the organizational viewpoint of an enterprise project, the different project participants like process owners, business analysts, IT application solution experts and test engineers need to collaborate without any communication and media breaks. But in reality, different languages are spoken by participants, redundant and bulky, outdated prose documentation are used. The consequence is a lack of traceability from business requirements to IT application delivery. This results in overall weak implementation quality and high efforts by expensive late change-requests because of uncovered or incorrect implemented requirements.

Let us have a look at a simple procure-to-pay example to show how test automation works.

procure-to-pay business process
Fig.1 procure-to-pay business process

The procure-to-pay business process flow is depicted with Microsoft Visio as a business process diagram, stored in a file with the extension VSDX. In the scope of business process management

  • a (business process) model is an abstract, simplified documentation of a business process flow
  • a diagram is the visual representation of a model using a specific visual notation

To document (also called model, depict or map) a business process flow in Visio, a visual notation like flowchart or BPMNTM can be used. For this tutorial we selected the very common Visio flowchart notation with swimlanes. A swimlane is used to describe a processes participant like a Ship Officer or Buying Agent. Business activities placed in a swimlane are execute by this specific participant role. In general, a participant role can be a human or an IT application.

Each blue box in the business process diagram is a business activity like “Prepare Requisition” or “Prepare Request for Quotation” usually supported by an IT application’s user dialog. For a web application this might be an HTML form or a Java user dialog. In some cases, the business activity itself has a more complex workflow of business activities and therefore is depicted by a separate diagram. To simplify the documentation (modeling) of a business process flow model, more complex business activities are detailed into a separate business process model called sub-process models and linked to the respective business activity.

Let us have a look to a more complex business activity “Make Payment” in the following figure.

Business Arctivity
Fig.2 Business Arctivity "Make Payment"

The “Make payment” activity is linked to a detailed sub-process model that describes the specific process flow of the “Make payment” activity, shown in the following figure.

A business sub-process
Fig. 3 A business sub-process

This “Procure-to-pay” business process has all in all 20 business activities (blue rectangles) and 5 business rules (purple diamonds). The green boxes are showing input and output data objects like a “Goods Order” or an “Invoice”. There are many possible end-to-end path through the business process model, executing the business activities in a correct specific order. This order or execution sequence that is decided by the logic of business rules. E.g. for an “Order request is greater as 10000”, a “sign-off of the order” is required.

Now let´s have a look at the longest path having all business activities included of this simple example business process:

end-to-end path through the business process
Fig.4 end-to-end path through the business process

Each blue box business activity is usually supported by user dialog of an IT application. The user dialogs are tested by one or more test cases and specific test data created by a test automation tool like Katalon Studio. The test engineer must assemble the test cases in a right order with the right test data to have a correct sequence of to be executed test cases for the procure-to-pay end-to-end process.

A real life business processes can have several dozens of business activities, many rules and many sub-processes. This ends-up in hundreds of relevant end-to-end paths to be tested for

  • system-integration testing (SIT),
  • user acceptance testing (UAT),
  • business and non-functional requirements-coverage testing
  • and finally the ongoing regression testing.

This is the moment the BPM-X® solution comes into the picture of a business process driven end-to-end testing. Based on business process models, developed by tools such as Microsoft Visio, the BPM-X® software generates the end-to-end paths based on different test coverage algorithms. The technology behind is called model-based testing (MBT).

The BPM-X® generated deliverables are used to orchestrate the predefined user dialog test cases for the correct sequence of test execution in the test automation tool.

For Katalon Studio,

  • each BPM-X® generated end-to-end path becomes a so-called test suite. The test suite is a correct sequence of test cases that have been pre-recorded by Katalon Studio.
  • The BPM-X® generated set of test suites are a so-called test suite collection. The test suite collection corresponds to the business process itself.

In short abstract, the solution approach is formalized in 3 steps, using

  1. a modeling tool to describe the business process
  2. a test automation tool to develop (record and modify) the test cases for user dialogs and to execute test cases
  3. the BPM-X® software to generate the end-to-end path from the business process documented with the modeling tool and execute automated end-to-end testing with the test automation tool

The following figure shows the solution approach in an overview:

Business Architecture and Application Testing
Fig. 5 Business Architecture and Application Testing

The business process architecture is described by a functional and process decomposition of models (the left turquoise triangle in the figure). Assuming that 2 IT applications (yellow rectangles) called App X with forms A and B and another application called App Y with the Form C are supporting and implementing a business process on level 4 (right turquoise rectangles named “L5”). The BPM-X® software generates from the business process model the end-to-end path as a correct order of L5 business activities. Each L5 business activity is supported by an IT application that’s form(s) are (is) tested by a specific test case, developed with Katalon Studio.

Tools and deliverables to link the business processes with the application for automation of testing
Fig. 6 Tools and deliverables to link the business processes with the application for automation of testing

There is a BPM-X® tutorial available that includes prepared artifacts for easy execution of the tutorial exercises:

  • Microsoft® Visio® documented business process model including a sub-process model
  • HTML mockup application for the execution of test cases using MiniWeb server and HTML forms
  • Katalon Studio project data with pre-recorded test cases of the HTML forms
  • BPM-X® to read the Visio® diagram and generate Katalon Studio test suites and test suites collection.

A recording of the webinar is available at Youtube:

At the bottom line, the methodology and concepts model-based testing of business processes is linked with the methodology of behavior-driven development (BDD) and testing.


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