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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Automation in Software Testing

Software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the product or service under test. There can be two types of testing manual and automated. The automation of software testing is becoming more and more popular but at the same time manual testing cannot be ignored. In this article we shall be mostly focusing on the merits and demerits of automated software testing. As chopping and adding of requirements is nothing new in today’s software business and the testing window is getting smaller there is a realization of a greater need for test automation.
The sad part about automation testing is the expectations that the managers have from these testing models. It’s a general belief that automation can help find more bugs which is not true. The efficiency of the test scripts is solely dependent on the efficiency on the test cases that make the test scripts. People expect that since they have introduced automated testing, they can do away with or at least reduce the manual testing which is a “BIG MISTAKE”. As already mentioned it is the test cases that define the efficiency of the automated test scripts and these test cases are written by these manual testers hence if you think of putting away with them the customers might also think of putting away your product.
Continuing regarding the unrealistic expectations that people have with automation testing, part of the blame for these expectations goes to the fact that when vendors give demos of these products they only tell you what you want to hear and not the reality about the difficulties faced when you try to use the tool for your application. Proper planning is essential when you go for the selection of any automated tool. It is very important that the people who are actually going to use the tool get a hands-on experience of the tool. This might sometimes be impractical because of the tight work schedules and time bound deadlines but if applied it’s a very useful technique for the selection.
Many test automation tools provide record and playback features that allow users to interactively record user actions and replay them back any number of times, comparing actual results to those expected. This approach can be applied to any application that has a graphical user interface. However if the developers continuously keep changing the GUI even when it’s not called for it indicates towards lack of process in place and hence the automation test will have to be configured again and again.
People have to be educated about the advantages and limitations of automation testing techniques. It is important that pitfalls of automation testing are properly evaluated to avoid inconvenience at a later stage. It should be taken care of that the selected scripts are compatible to your applications. There is no doubt that automation testing is an asset in the armory of the testing team but without proper knowledge and understanding it can even turn out to be a negative catalyst.

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