Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reliving TASO ...

Ben Simo and Sam Burgiss reminded me about "mother of all" paper on Test automation.

Yes, I am talking about James Bach's Test Automation Snake oil ... It is kind of bible for all Test automation professionals.

This is nearly a 10 years old article (original in Nov 1996 and a rewrite in June 1999) - I am surprised to see, like Nostradamus (a Famous a French apothecary), James, 1o years ago predicted and neatly articulated "wrong" ways of applying automation. The statements and observations made in the paper are mostly valid and applicable in Automation world even today.

I have started learning about Automation from this paper in a “real” way. Before I got into what I call it as "Holistic Approach to Automation" (for the lack of any better word) I did some automation here and there using some tools and later I realized how bad that was.

Today, I see so many young and upcoming testers falling into the trap and start learning Automation tools straight without knowing about Testing and how automation affects human testing. And there are tool vendors, training institutes and recruiters/head hunters – all just look for few words “automation" and names of some leading GUI automation tools - you got a job.

My advice to all who would like to pursue the career in Test automation...

1. Knowing tool is a very small part of you as automation Engineer.
2. Invest time in learning "Testing" especially human side of it and practice
3. Pick up a programming course - learn programming - C, C#, Java, VB, PERL can be good candidates.
4. Read anything by TASO by James and his other articles ... When I say read - don’t just go over them once and discard them ... Understand them deeply, discuss them, if you have question - share it with others in the community -- write to me I can help you with my views ...
Every time I read James' articles - I get new ideas, new thinking, new interpretations...

After doing all above - if you get time - use (I say use) an automation tool ...That is last thing that you require in the path to success in Test Automation...

You might also want to have a look at following noteworthy references related to Test automation...

Seven Steps to Automation success by Bret Pettichord
High Volume Test Automation Cem Kaner

James - you should seriously consider writing a sequel - TASO part II ...

Though you say Agile Automation is your TASO II, the plot appears to be not the same -- we are carving some more on the lines of TASO ....



Ben Simo said...

Invest time in learning "Testing"

I believe that this should be the first priority for those wanting to automate testing.

Good approaches to testing should drive our use of tools -- not the other way around.

In preparation for an article, I spent some time last night reading sales literature from automation tool vendors. If I were to believe the sales spiel, I would want to automate everything using the cheapest labor I can find. Yes, that's what some of the literature could lead people to believe if they don't know better. Some of it was worse than I had remembered. I'll be reading from one of those sales papers to a group of tool users tonight. It is eye-opening to see what the vendors are telling our managers and executives.

I am concerned by the current trend amongst automation tool vendors to wrap tools into a vendor-created "best practice". This promotes the idea that any unskilled person can test software if they only have the right tools and process.

I've reviewed resumes and interviewed many people that know test tools. Many of them have even had vendor certifications. However, very few showed any skill or wisdom in applying those tools towards good testing.

Learn to test first. Then look for ways that automation can assist your testing. ... and keep TASO in mind.

Ben Simo

Debasis Pradhan said...

Hi Shrini,

Excellent post I would say. A must read for any tester (I don't mind if (s)he is into manual or automated testing). Recently I have blogged about a similar topic: Test Automation Traps!. I would certainly like to hear your views on it. Thanks.

Software Testing Zone