AMA: product APIs for test automation

Michael Karlovich asks..

What’s your design approach for incorporating internal product APIs into test automation? I don’t mean in order to explicitly test them, but more for leveraging them to stage data and set application states.

My response…

As explained previously, in my current role at Automattic I primarily work on end-to-end automated tests for These tests run against live data (Production) no matter where our UI client (Calypso) is running (for example on localhost), so we don’t use APIs for staging data or setting application state.

In previous roles we utilised a REST API to create dynamic data for an internally used web application which we found useful/necessary for repeatable UI tests.

We also utilised test controllers to set web application state for a public website. These test controllers were very handy as they allowed you to visit something like which would set up an order for you with products in your session, and instantly display the checkout page, which would typically take 8 steps from the start of the process to this page.

This saved us lots of time and made our specific tests more deterministic as we could avoid the 8 or so ‘setup’ steps and use a single URL to access our page.

This approach had a couple of downsides in that this couldn’t ever be deployed to production, and it didn’t test realistic user flow which includes those ‘setup’ steps. There were two things we had to do to avoid the risk of using this approach; firstly ensure that these test controllers were never deployed to production though config, and secondly we had to ensure we had some end-to-end coverage so we were at least testing some real user flows.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.