Crispin and Gregory define Test-Driven Development (TDD) as the process of writing and automating small unit tests before writing the piece of code that will make the test pass. TDD is used for continuous integration testing to ensure small units of code work together first. A unit test verifies the behavior of a small part of the code in the overall system. These tests are the primary candidate for the majority of automated tests. Even teams that are not practicing Agile development use TDD to prevent defects and design software (Agile Testing, 2008).
Instead of creating the "tests" at the end, I suggest starting with examples at the beginning that can be run by a human or a software system. Get the programmer, tester, and product owner in a room to talk about what they need to be successful, to create examples, to define what the automation strategy will be, and to create a shared understanding to reduce failure demand. My preference is to do this at the story level — what some might call a minimum marketable feature — which requires a half-day to a week of work. George Dinwiddie, an agile coach in Maryland, popularized the term "the three amigos" for this style of work, referring to the programmer, tester, and analyst in these roles. Another term for the concept is acceptance test-driven development.
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The method or process being used to implement automation is called a test automation framework. Several frameworks have been implemented over the years by commercial vendors and testing organizations. Automating tests with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or open source software can be complicated, however, because they almost always require customization. In many organizations, automation is only implemented when it has been determined that the manual testing program is not meeting expectations and it is not possible to bring in more human testers.
This article uses the term “tester” to refer to the person involved in testing software with automation tools. It is not meant to distinguish by job title or technical proficiency. Jim Hazen describes himself as a hybrid, or “technical tester,” because he can write test scripts and develop what he refers to as “testware.” The trend is to hire for multiple skillsets, but that does not mean the non-technical stakeholders involved in software development don’t benefit from automation testing.
Automation frameworks provide guidelines to achieve beneficial results from test automation tools and automated testing activity. They establish a universal standard for testers to achieve the specific goals of the automated tests. The framework should be easy to maintain and easy to change. Consider dedicating the role of framework design and development to a dedicated, qualified tester. A poorly designed — or hard to maintain — framework causes problems even if you are using the right automation software tools. Poor planning and the failure to create or select the appropriate framework to guide test automation activity limits the benefits of automating tests.
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There are various tools that help software teams build and execute automated tests. Many teams are actively using unit tests as part of their development efforts to verify critical parts of their projects such as libraries, models and methods. Historically, testing user interfaces of desktop-based applications via automated tests have been more challenging, and currently available tools for this are usually commercial and quite expensive.
Over a decade of domain experience has taught us that there are some of the best automation testing tools available in the market, some of which are open and some available as commercial versions. We have the expertise to help you choose the most effective software testing tool(s) based on your specific requirements and effectively use these tools to meet your exact requirements.