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Test Automation Series – Part 1: Introduction and Basics to Test Automation

Not everything is perfect in this world and yet we still hold out for that one thing that will help us obtain some ideal of perfection. In the software development world, for instance, many still confuse the idea of test automation with achieving perfection. As if it’s magic and will help us create the most perfect process imaginable.

Unfortunately, today, there isn’t a magic wand we can wave in order to immediately solve all automation problems. But, with the proper mindset, much can be achieved. It’s important to set the right expectations for yourself and for your team.

There is no question, however, that testing is crucial to the success of a product. How you get there, however, takes some critical thinking – something we’ll discuss in-depth later in an interview post with longtime software tester John Stevenson and Ray Grieselhuber from Functionize.

The main aim of test automation should be to make the tester’s job easier and more efficient where possible. Test automation, to put it simply, is the development and execution of test cases, using an automated testing platform or tool, to check performance and functionality.

So, for part one of our test automation series, let’s discuss some basics about test automation.

You’re probably familiar with the marketing mumbo jumbo that states how amazing test automation is – “It will increase ROI! Save on cost! Increase time-to-market!” – but what are some realistic ways test automation can be used to help your organization overall? Because when used by the right team and where it makes sense to automate, test automation can be quite beneficial.

Test Coverage

With a sophisticated test automation process in place, testing teams have the ability to increase their test coverage. This allows for more test scenarios in a shorter period of time, providing more data for testers to use when developing and maintaining their software product.

Feedback

When regularly executed, automated tests provide continuous and rapid feedback. Not only do automated tests check for any regression in the system after new code is introduced, but they also provide visibility as to how one reported outcome compared with an earlier test result.

Time

If automated tests are created and coded correctly the first time, so that execution goes smoothly, they have the ability to provide testers with more valuable time. This allows testers to spend their days utilizing their strengths where it matters most – exploratory testing.

The main takeaway: don’t blindly chase test automation. Automated tests can prove to be valuable when used correctly and thoughtfully. When not, however, expect a lot of disappointment, wasted energy and lost money.

To learn more, stay tuned for part two of our test automation series where we will share with you and explain the different test automation frameworks that exist.