What to automate, when to automate, or even whether one really needs automation are crucial decisions which the testing (or development) team must make. A multi-vocal literature review of 52 practitioner and 26 academic sources found that five main factors to consider in test automation decision are: 1) System Under Test (SUT), 2) the types and numbers of tests, 3) test-tool, 4) human and organizational topics, and 5) cross-cutting factors. The most frequent individual factors identified in the study were: need for regression testing, economic factors, and maturity of SUT.
Automation frameworks are combined with specific automation tools to create a sound basis for your specific project goals. Automation tools are then aligned with testing goals. When the framework and tools are combined with common practices and coding standards for testing software, you have an automation framework. Jones offers an example using the most popular open source automation technology used for testing a web browser’s user interface (UI).
This “how” and “why” make organization, consistency and speed imperative to supporting a continuous testing model, and that’s where test automation can help. Managing all of the testing needs in a continuous testing environment is a massive undertaking — it requires a tremendous communication effort to keep track of which environments have deployed new code, when each piece needs testing and how those requirements integrate back into the moving process of continuously delivering software.
Testing as a craft is a highly complex endeavour, an interactive cognitive process. Humans are able to evaluate hundreds of problem patterns, some of which can only be specified in purely subjective terms. Many others are complex, ambiguous, and volatile. Therefore, we can only automate very narrow spectra of testing, such as searching for technical bugs (i.e. crashes).
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But if test automation is so limited, why do we do it in the first place? Because we have to, there is simply no other way. Because development adds up, testing doesn’t. Each iteration and release adds new features to the software (or so it should). And they need to be tested, manually. But new features also usually cause changes in the software that can break existing functionality. So existing functionality has to be tested, too. Ideally, you even want existing functionality to be tested continuously, so you recognise fast if changes break existing functionality and need some rework. But even if you only test before releases, in a team with a fixed number of developers and testers, over time, the testers are bound to fall behind. This is why at some point, testing has to be automated.
TestPlant eggPlant is a niche tool that is designed to model the user’s POV and activity rather than simply scripting their actions. Testers can interact with the testing product as the end users would, making it easier for testers who may not have a development or programming background. TestPlant eggPlant can be used to create test cases and scenarios without any programming and can be integrated into lab management and CI solutions.