Authors Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster wrote the field's seminal text, Software Test Automation, which has guided many organizations toward success. Now, in Experiences of Test Automation, they reveal test automation at work in a wide spectrum of organizations and projects, from complex government systems to medical devices, SAP business process development to Android mobile apps and cloud migrations.
As most people in the software industry know, there are distinct differences between manual testing and automated testing. Manual testing requires physical time and effort to ensure the software code does everything it’s supposed to do. In addition, manual testers have to make a record of their findings. This involves checking log files, external services and the database for errors. If you’re familiar with manual testing, you know this process can be extremely time-consuming and repetitive.
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Test automation on the other hand is the automated execution of predefined tests. A test in that context is a sequence of predefined actions interspersed with evaluations, that James Bach calls checks. These checks are manually defined algorithmic decision rules that are evaluated on specific and predefined observation points of a software product. And herein lies the problem. If, for instance, you define an automated test of a website, you might define a check that ascertains a specific text (e.g. the headline) is shown on that website. When executing that test, this is exactly what is checked—and only this. So if your website looks like shown in the picture, your test still passes, making you think everything is ok.
Automation testing is much faster than its human equivalent, and yields crucial analytics. It lets us run tests 24-7, even several at once. Perhaps most crucially, it enables us, as developers, to focus on the creative stuff, freeing us up for what’s most important. Unfortunately there are a baffling number of automated mobile app testing tools to choose from, and each one comes with its own bullish marketing literature, telling you that this product is more reliable than any other. Given the baffling amount of jargon and technical-speak involved, it’s hard to separate the real from the spiel.