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10 portfolio projects for aspiring automation engineers

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Angie Jones Senior Developer Advocate, Applitools
 

Those looking to break into the test automation field have difficulty doing so because of lack of experience. One way to gain experience is, of course, to study and practice on your own. But how do you demonstrate your newfound knowledge to employers?

Other professionals, such as front-end developers, create portfolios to highlight their skills, and you can do the same as automation engineers!

Here are 10 projects for your test automation portfolio that will help you stand out among the competition.

1. Web browser automation

Web automation is by far the most common and sought-after form of test automation. If you're looking to break into test automation, this is an absolute must-have for your portfolio.

Be sure to go beyond a basic login flow. Instead, show full scenarios that require your code to interact with multiple pages. 

This project should demonstrate your ability to find element locators and interact with various types of elements such as dropdown menus, checkboxes, text fields, buttons, links, alerts, file upload widgets, and frames.

Also, be sure you're writing clean test code and utilizing design patterns such as the Page Object Model or the Screenplay Pattern.

Sites to practice against:

2. Mobile automation

The demand for mobile test automation engineers has increased over the years as the popularity of mobile apps has soared. Having experience here can certainly work in your favor.

Your portfolio should demonstrate automated testing against both iOS and Android apps. Using Appium to create one project that works for both iOS and Android would be great. Using tools such as Apple's XCUITest or Google's Espresso is good as well. But if you go this route, I recommend doing at least two projects (one of each), since each supports only one mobile operating system.

No matter which framework you use, you'll want to demonstrate the same element interactions as you did in your web automation project, but also mobile-specific gestures such as swiping and pinching.

Apps to practice with; download any of these to use in your project:

3. Visual automation

After making your web and mobile projects, fork them and add visual testing capabilities to them. You'll quickly see just how much your tests are missing because they weren't enabled to verify the appearance of your app. 

Visual testing is a skill being listed on a number of job postings, and having this skill will really help you shine against the competition.

4. API automation

With the rise of microservices, IoT applications, and public-facing APIs, the demand for automation engineers who know how to test APIs has become substantial. So definitely add an API testing project to your portfolio. (Here's a free class on how to test APIs to get you started.) 

Within this project, be sure to demonstrate a variety of API methods, with GET and POST as a minimum. Use APIs that require parameters or request bodies, and also return complex responses with multiple objects and arrays.

For bonus points, use advanced verification techniques such as deserialization or approval testing. Also, demonstrating how to mock API responses would be a nice bonus.

APIs to practice against:

5. BDD specification automation

Many teams are practicing behavior-driven development (BDD) and automating tests based on the specifications produced. You'll want to demonstrate your experience with this and how you can jump in and hit the ground running.

For this portfolio project, be sure to not only show the mapping between feature files and step definitions, but also demonstrate how to share state between steps via dependency injection.

Also, be extremely careful when writing your feature files. Long, verbose feature files will hurt your portfolio more than help. Make the effort to write good, concise Gherkin.

6. Data-driven automation

Your practice projects may use only a small amount of test data, so it's easy to store that data inside the source code. However, on production development teams, you'll have hundreds or even thousands of automated tests. To keep up with all this data, many teams adopt a data-driven testing approach.

I recommend adding this to at least one of your projects to demonstrate your ability to programmatically read data from an external source, such as a spreadsheet file.

7. Database usage

Speaking of being able to access data from external sources, it's a good idea to add a project that interacts with a database. I recommend writing queries within your code to both read and write from a database, and use this within the context of a test.

For example, you can read from the database to gather the expected results of a search query. Or you can write to a database to place your application in a prerequisite state before proceeding to test.

8. Multiple languages and libraries

Writing all of your portfolio projects in one programming language is okay; however, automation engineers often need to dabble in multiple languages.

To make yourself more marketable, try using a different language for a few of your projects.

Also switch it up a bit and try a few other automation libraries as well as assertion libraries. For example, maybe do a project with Selenium WebDriver in Java and JUnit, and another project with Cypress in JavaScript and Mocha.

I know this sounds daunting, but you'll find that some of the architecture and design patterns in test automation are universal. This exercise will really solidify your understanding of automation principles in general.

9. Accessibility automation

Automating accessibility testing has always been needed but recently has become extremely important for companies. There have been legal battles where companies have been sued because their websites were not accessible to those with disabilities.

Demonstrating that you are able to do test automation for accessibility will give you a great advantage when applying for jobs.

You can use the same sites/apps you used for your web and mobile projects to demonstrate accessibility testing.

10. Performance testing

Last but not least, you should consider adding a performance testing project to your portfolio.

Nonfunctional testing such as performance is a niche skill that many automation engineers do not have. Adding this to your portfolio will help you be perceived as a unicorn who really stands out from the crowd.

Presenting the Portfolio

GitHub

Be sure to put all of your projects on GitHub so employers can easily access and review your code. However, be careful to hide secret keys. This will give you bonus points, since it shows another level of maturity.

Website

Create a website that highlights each of your portfolio projects. You don't have to build the website yourself; you can use common CMS systems such as WordPress to allow you to quickly get your portfolio up and visible.

Each project highlight should include a paragraph or bullet points explaining what you've done in the project and the tools and programming language used.

Resume

Include a link to your portfolio on your resume, and feel free to list your portfolio projects under the "Experience" section of your resume.

While this is not traditional work experience, it shows that you are self-driven, passionate, and competent to break into the test automation field.

Interview

During your interviews, be sure to mention all of the projects you have worked on. Draw from your experiences with building the projects to be able to answer the questions. Also brush up on other concepts around testing and development that may come up during the interview.

Good luck!

Join Angie for her Automation Cookbook series, where she solves common automation challenges while live streaming.

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