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Pros and Cons of Automated Testing

Introduction to Automated testing:

"Automated Testing" means automating the manual testing process currently in use. The prime requirement is of presence of a formalized "manual testing process" in the organization.

Automation refers to the use of strategies & tools which augment or reduce the need of manual or human involvement in unskilled, repetitive or redundant tasks.

Automation process includes – Creation of detailed test cases, including predictable "expected results", which have been derived from Business Functional Specifications and other Design documentation.

A standalone Test Environment, including a Test Database that is restorable to a known constant, such that the test cases are able to be repeated each time there are modifications made to the application.

When to use the Automation tools:
Great effort is required in firstly automating the test cases and maintaining them thereafter. Hence some sort of cost-benefit analysis is quite helpful before investing money and putting efforts into it.

Automation is suited to following types of testing with specific intentions:

1) Functional Testing – on operations which perform as per the expectations.

2) Regression Testing – on the behavior of the system which has not been changed.

3) Exception or Negative Testing – thereby forcing error conditions in the system.

4) Stress Testing – to determine the absolute capacities of the application and operational infrastructure.

5) Performance Testing – to provide assurance that the performance of the system will be adequate for both batch runs and online transactions in relation to business projections and requirements.

6) Load Testing – to determine the points at which the capacity and performance of the system become degraded to the situation that hardware or software upgrades would be required.

Benefits of Automated Testing:

1) Reliable: Tests perform precisely the same operations each time they are run, thereby eliminating human error

2) Repeatable: You can test how the software reacts under repeated execution of the same operations.

3) Programmable: You can program sophisticated tests that bring out hidden information from the application.

4) Comprehensive: You can build a suite of tests that covers every feature in your application.

5) Reusable: You can reuse tests on different versions of an application, even if the user interface changes.

6) Better Quality Software: Because you can run more tests in less time with fewer resources

7) Fast: Automated Tools run tests significantly faster than human users.

8) Economical: As the number of resources for regression test are reduced.

Choosing the right tools for the job and targeting the right areas of the organization to deploy them can only realize these benefits. The right areas where the automation fit must be chosen.

Areas where Automation can be attempted first:

1. Highly redundant tasks or scenarios

2. Repetitive tasks that are boring or tend to cause human error

3. Well-developed and well-understood use cases or scenarios first

4. Relatively stable areas of the application over volatile ones must be automated.

Suggested guidelines for Automated Software Testers so as to draw maximum benefits from automation:

1) Concise: As simple as possible and no simpler.

2) Self-Checking: Test reports its own results; needs no human interpretation.

3) Repeatable: Test can be run many times in a row without human intervention.

4) Robust: Test produces same result now and forever. Tests are not affected by changes in the external environment.

5) Sufficient: Tests verify all the requirements of the software being tested.

6) Necessary: Everything in each test contributes to the specification of desired behavior.

7) Clear: Every statement is easy to understand.

8) Efficient: Tests run in a reasonable amount of time.

9) Specific: Each test failure points to a specific piece of broken functionality; unit test failures provide "defect triangulation".

10) Independent: Each test can be run by itself or in a suite with an arbitrary set of other tests in any order.

11) Maintainable: Tests should be easy to understand and modify and extend.

13) Traceable: To and from the code it tests and to and from the requirements.

Disadvantages of Automation Testing:
Though the automation testing has many advantages, it has its own disadvantages too. Some of the disadvantages are:

1) Proficiency is required to write the automation test scripts.

2) Debugging the test script is major issue. If any error is present in the test script, sometimes it may lead to deadly consequences.

3) Test maintenance is costly in case of playback methods. Even though a minor change occurs in the GUI, the test script has to be re-recorded or replaced by a new test script.

4) Maintenance of test data files is difficult, if the test script tests more screens.