When we talk about continuous testing, and with it continuous delivery and DevOps, the term automation gets thrown around a lot. In a basic sense, we all understand what automation means — the use of some technology to complete a task. But when we talk about automation in terms of continuous testing, there are some nuances that we need to take into account.
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Testing in these short Agile iterations often necessitates a “shift left” approach. This shift left in agile development process means testing starts much earlier in the application lifecycle. As a result, in such an approach, developers with strong technical expertise are increasingly being held accountable for testing, and thus, they often work alongside testers to create test automation frameworks.
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Manual testing can be mundane, error-prone and even exasperating. Frequent repetition of the same test cases with only slight changes in data values is laborious and time-consuming. Test automation alleviates testers’ frustration with low-level, repetitive testing while increasing the repeatability and accuracy of these tests. Automation enables testers to focus on more challenging and rewarding work such as risk analysis and exploratory testing.
Worst case, your testers spend all day maintaining the automation false failures, adjusting the test code to match the current system, and rerunning them. This might have some marginal value, but it is incredibly expensive, and valuable only when the programmers are making changes that routinely cause real failure. But that's a problem you need to fix, not cover up with the Band-Aid of testing tools.
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.