Test Automation 101: What Is Automated Testing and How Does It Work?

Apr 13 00:55 2021 Dan M Print This Article

This article talks about test automation and has thrown light on the myths and misconceptions.

Do you know why many developers are jumping on the automation bandwagon? In this article,Guest Posting we’re going to take a look at the basics of automated testing. We’re going to look at manual testing as well, and how it compares and complements automated testing.

But, first let’s learn: what is automation testing?

Test Automation: What It Is and What It’s Not

In simple terms, test automation is the use of automation tools or platforms to help testers and developers test software products. It involves the development and execution of test scripts that automate a development team’s testing efforts. Automation tools are also developed to assist with report creation and results analysis.

You can automate both functional and non-functional software tests. You can automate more than just unit, integration, smoke, regression, and performance tests. It won’t make sense to automate some tests though, so how do you know when to automate and when not to?

When and When Not to Automate

A test must only be automated when it meets certain criteria, otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense and manual testing would still be the best way to go. When choosing which tests to automate, here are some things you need to consider:

Is the test repeatable?

An automated test will only save you time, money, and effort if it’s repeatable. If not, then you’re going to just spend more resources writing the test script than manually performing the test itself. A repeatable test follows three basic steps: setup, execution, and clean up.

Is the test objective?

If a test requires human opinion or user feedback as a result, it cannot be automated. A good example would be a beta test. Beta tests are performed by real users in real environments. The results of these tests are real user feedback on the quality of the system.

Is the test time-consuming to run?

Here are some examples of time-consuming tests:

  • tests that must capture images for recording and validation purposes
  • tests that involve large amounts of input data
  • tests that need to be run in multiple configurations (such as different OS and browsers)

These aren’t the only criteria for choosing which tests to automate though. The decision to automate sometimes depends on the pace with which your team is developing a product. Sometimes, it depends on the product’s development stage. Ultimately, automating your tests depend on a lot more factors than just knowing which tests make sense to automate.

Automation Testing Myths and Misconceptions

There are a ton of myths and misconceptions about automation testing. If you’re only beginning to look into automation, then it’s best to get these misconceptions out of the way as early as now. Here are some of them:

Test automation gives you more free time

Test automation can save you time, and money, and a whole lot of effort, for that matter. But, we can’t actually say that it’s free time. Let’s compare.

When you’re manually testing a product, you have your tests and your test cases. As long as you know how to perform these tests and you understand what needs to happen, you’re ready to go. Most of the time, however, these tests are repetitive and take a long time to perform.

But, with automated tests, you’re going to set aside time to code your test scripts beforehand. But, the time spent actually performing the test is greatly reduced. Now, you don’t have to spend your time manually testing the product over and over again. You can just run your automated tests and focus your efforts on improving your test scripts or other more important tasks.

Test automation is expensive

Or, is it? Investing time, money, and effort into automating your tests is generally a good idea. Most developers find that test automation tools can pretty much pay for themselves in a year or two. You can make use of free test automation tools and platforms to even lower down the start-up costs.

Test automation minimizes the need to perform manual and time-consuming tasks, giving testers more time to focus on more pressing issues about the product.

Another way that test automation saves money is with parallel testing. Instead of manually running one test at a time, one tester can run multiple tests without any additional effort on their part.

Test automation replaces manual testing

This is true in some ways, but false in some others. See, right now, some tests just can’t be automated. There are just some things that cannot replace a human’s insight. The best way to look at automated testing is that it complements manual testing. 

These are the reasons why very few software companies and development teams have fully automated testing systems in place. Most work on a 50:50 manual to automated tests ratio.

Also, rather than inhibiting human interaction, some test automation platforms even allow collaboration.

Choosing a Test Automation Tool and Platform

You now know what automated testing is and what it isn’t. You also now have a general idea of which tests can be automated and otherwise. This is where we’re going to introduce automation tools and platforms.

There is a wide selection of test automation tools and platforms available for development teams of different sizes. Choosing one is the challenge. So how do you choose a test automation tool or platform?

All you have to do is choose one that works with your project. Understanding your project requirements is key to finding the perfect automation tool. One platform may be the highest-rated, but if a less-popular platform does exactly what you need to be done then that is the platform you work with.

For example, a paid test automation tool might look good because it offers parallel testing. but does your project need parallel testing? You might want to check out open-source testing tools if there is no allotted budget for testing tools in your project.

You might also want to consider the general direction of the development team or the culture of the company you belong to. Apart from your current projects, consider your future projects too. Some automated tests may be used for testing different projects and, if you can successfully reuse your tests, then that gives you a head start for your next projects.

Conclusion

Some of the most common misconceptions about automation are:

  • Test automation provides testers and developers with more “free” time.
  • Test automation is very expensive.
  • Test automation is meant to get rid of every single manual test.

When looking for test automation tools and platforms, you should consider:

  • The project you’re working on so you can decide on the features you need
  • The projects you will be working on in the future to save you time
  • The project’s budget

Testing automation is the process of automating repetitive, time-consuming, and objective manual tests. It can help development teams save time, money, and man-hours. Not all test automation tools are made equal though, and you need to choose one that works best for your projects.

 

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About Article Author

Dan M
Dan M

Daniel Martin loves building winning content teams. Over the past few years, he has built high-performance teams that have produced engaging content enjoyed by millions of users. Dani also enjoys photography and playing the carrom board.

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