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Amazon is testing delivery drones that pick up warehouse orders sorted by robots, Google is testing self-driving cars, Starbucks is testing cashier-free stores dedicated to mobile ordering and payment, and Facebook is testing a brain-computer interface that may one day translate thoughts into digital text. There are mundane versions of automation technology behind all of this testing — software automation testing. Companies use automation technology to create the software responsible for the products and services causing all the hype.
But if the company had one shared test environment where changes needed to be negotiated through change control, that might not actually save any time. We'd have a big, fat bottleneck in front of testing. As Tanya Kravtsov pointed out recently in her presentation at TestBash New York, automating the thing that is not the bottleneck creates the illusion of speed but does not actually improve speed.
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Interactive home pages. Some small businesspeople love working with numbers, but many just want to sign on to their accounting application, do what's needed, and move on. Interactive home pages, or dashboards on these websites play two primary roles. First, they flag tasks that need attention and provide a bird's-eye view of your finances, with graphs, charts, and tables that quickly summarize real-time income, expenses, and cash flow. Second, most of these sites' dashboards contain links to working screens, so you can pay a bill or send an invoice or transfer funds between accounts—whatever needs to be done that day.
While programmers are waiting for feedback, they start the next thing, which leads to multitasking. Eventually, someone re-skins the user interface, and, unless there is some sort of business logic layer in the tool, all checks will fail and you will be left with no easy way to revise the system. In an attempt to just get done, teams revert to human exploration, the automation becomes even more out of date, and, eventually, it will be thrown away.
To do more with less, developers reused test scripts during development and integration stages to work more efficiently. The demand for new software built, and the constant change to software under development opened the door for automation testing practices to serve as a reliable control mechanism for testing the code (Automated Software Testing, 1999).
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.