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Friday, April 16, 2010

Test Automation Frameworks: What is Keyword-driven/table-driven testing (including definition)

For a few of the last posts, we have been looking at more details about test automation, including the benefits of automation, some scenarios in which we should not use automation, and the scenarios in which we should use automation. In addition, we started discussions around the use of test automation frameworks and how they prove to be more beneficial than just creation test cases as you do recording of your test scenarios. In this post, let us consider one of the test automation frameworks, based on "Keyword-driven/table-driven testing".
'Keyword driven testing' and 'table driven testing' seem like 2 different sets of words, but they actually are used to refer to the same method. They denote an application independent framework, which requires the development of data tables and keywords. These data tables and keywords are independent of the test automation took being used, and also independent of the test scripts used to drive the application that is being tested. These keyword driven tests look very similar to the manual test cases. When keyword driven tests are being used, a table is used to document the functionality being used, and this functionality is also mapped through step by step instructions for each test. The entire testing process is driven based on data.

Benefits of keyword driven testing:
- If the tester needs to be quickly on the job, extensive training on the tool can be done later, but at the instant of testing, the tester needs to know the keywords, and the format of the test plan.
- The Scripting language can be written by somebody who has expertise on the scripting language, and this activity can happen earlier to the test plan. The tester does not have to be bothered about the scripting process.
- A spreadsheet format can be used for writing the detail test plan.

Some problems with this technique:
- If there are a large number of keywords, then the tester needs to learn all these, and this initial effort can take time. Once done, then this is no longer a constraint.
- You need people skilled in using the Scripting language of the tool being used.

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