Manual software testing is performed by a human sitting in front of a computer carefully going through application screens, trying various usage and input combinations, comparing the results to the expected behavior and recording their observations. Manual tests are repeated often during development cycles for source code changes and other situations like multiple operating environments and hardware configurations. An automated testing tool is able to playback pre-recorded and predefined actions, compare the results to the expected behavior and report the success or failure of these manual tests to a test engineer. Once automated tests are created they can easily be repeated and they can be extended to perform tasks impossible with manual testing. Because of this, savvy managers have found that automated software testing is an essential component of successful development projects.
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.