Tips on automating project testing
As important as writing code in a development project is testing the overall application, or set of apps. This tip, excerpted from InformIT, discusses just two of several problems that the author, who is also the author of Automated Software Testing: Introduction, Management, and Performance, has encountered.
Elaborate test scripts were developed, duplicating the development effort.
I have witnessed test script development that resulted in an almost complete duplication of the development effort, through overuse of the testing tool's programming language. In one of our projects, the application itself used a complex algorithm to calculate various interest rates and mortgage rates. The tester re-created these algorithms using the testing tool. Too much time was spent on automating scripts, without much additional value gained. One cumbersome script was developed using the tool's programming language--but the same script could have been developed using the capture/playback feature of the tool and simply modifying the generated script in a fraction of the time. The test team must be careful not to duplicate the development effort; this is a risk when developing elaborate test scripts. For each automated testing program, it's important to conduct an automation analysis, and to determine the best approach to automation by estimating the highest return.
Automated test script creation was cumbersome.
All teams involved need to understand that test script automation doesn't happen automatically, no matter what the vendor claims. On one project, test engineers with manual test backgrounds were involved in creating the automated scripts. Basing their assumptions on the vendor claims of the tool's ease of use, the test engineers complained that the creation of automated scripts took longer than expected, and that too many workaround solutions had to be found.
It's important to understand that the tools are never as easy to use as the tool vendor claims. It's also beneficial to include one person on the testing staff who has programming knowledge and appropriate tool training, so that he or she can mentor the rest of the testing staff responsible for automation.
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This was first published in June 2001