Sunday, May 06, 2012

A brief introduction of Test Automation...

I was asked by a blog reader to give a quick introduction of how automation helps in testing. Here is how I replied. I thought this might kick off some interesting off shoots...


"Certain portions of testing such data validation etc can be efficiently verified by automation programs than humans in repeated way (humans make mistakes and often are terrible at repeated executions). By carefully identifying portions of application under test that could be "safely" checked (validated) by automation - you can speed up testing (you can run many test cases in parallel, in the night etc) through automation. 

But beware - automation is a dumb and (humble?) servant - will do exactly what you ask it to do million times without cribbing - it does not have intelligence. A good tester can recognize something that is not in test script and looks like a problem. Automation cannot do this."


Do you like it?

One offshoot I am reminded of when wrote this piece - Automation is like people trying to losing weight. It requires patience, discipline and dedication. There are many quacks that operate in both automation and "weight loss" industry that promise "over-night" benefits.

If you are aware of how weight loss works or does not work - you can safely extend the analogy to benefits of automation.

Do not expect your testing or your application to become slim and trim with automation - overnight and most importantly - do not expect it remain so with no investment on ongoing basis. The later part - neither automation consultants (especially those who sell tools) nor those folks that run weight-loss industry - will tell you.




Shrini

12 comments:

Tarun Kumar said...

On a lighter note, who is that guy in pic?

Corey Goldberg said...

> Do you like it?

You seem to begrudgingly concede that automation can help in certain areas, yet fails in others. Was that your intent?

as to the "do not expect it remain so with no investment on ongoing basis." jab. I am curious who has told you that before? Automation and test infrastructure need to keep up with systems under test... there is always maintenance if the systems are changing. I've never heard someone suggest otherwise really. Have you?

btw, the dark gray background you placed behind your quoted text makes it unreadable when syndicated via your xml feed.

Calkelpdiver said...

Shrini,

Okay, I can buy-in to what you are saying. Very valid points regarding automation and some of what it is good at, and good for using. Interesting analogy with weight loss, but an appropriate one in the respect of it takes time and you have to continually work at it to maintain it properly. The key thing is by building it correctly you can reduce the amount of maintenance, but you can never eliminate it.

As an automation guy I make sure to let my clients know what all is involved in doing this type of work and what they can gain from it. I've always made sure I give them the whole and real picture. I'm the first one to call B.S. on other consultants and tool salespeople who do the Snake Oil sales job.

Anyway, nice post.

Jim Hazen

AbodeQA said...

really nice post

Kashif Ali Habib said...

Nice Post,

I am currently involved in the automation of the application that changes quite frequently, its always good to set the expectation level that what would we achieve after automation.

Shrini Kulkarni said...

Corey,

Thanks for posting

>>> You seem to begrudgingly concede that automation can help in certain areas, yet fails in others. Was that your intent?

Intent was to explain some folks who are trying to understand what automation can do for them and what it can not do for them. We discover and re-discover many facets of what we seem to know for sure every day. So... an attempt to explain automation to someone who does not know what it is.

>>> as to the "do not expect it remain so with no investment on ongoing basis." jab. I am curious who has told you that before?

Like many of conversations on mail, twitter etc - we both seem to work in two totally different worlds and contexts. My writings are more reflections on software/IT/IT services industry in indian subcontinent. What I write here are real conversations with people in the industry here. In my context here - I get business leaders, IT managers and others constantly asking "why cannot we automate once and keep using it for ever?".

Once a manager asked me "this automation that we funded 3 years back is not usable now. Give me my money back or fix it for free". These are real incidents. My post is for the people like these.

>>> there is always maintenance if the systems are changing. I've never heard someone suggest otherwise really. Have you?

Yes. I do. Hence the post.

Shrini

touqeer aslam said...

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James said...

Automation testing is a costly process to implement?

Independent Testing Services said...

Wow! you have explained topic in detail..Its very easy to understand..very good point about automation..

Automation Testing said...

I am not a software testing guy, but the company I am working with deals in test automation. On the other hand I have little knowledge about test automation as well. I think it is held to automate the testing process and to speed up the testing life cycle via some software testing tools. Let me know if I am right.

Jitendra Jogeshwar said...

To understand value of automation one has to give it time and like any development project it requires maintainenace

Anonymous said...

Hi Shrini,
Perfect analogy!
In sync with point raised, I want to take this forward. Technical people are always very much aware of cons/limitations of Test automation. They also convey there views to seniors(Management/Business consultants.
But those guys never buy our points and ask us to do what they want.
My question is how to tackle these situations?
My problem is Business always superceeds technical points :(
Please help us out in this regards.