The advent of Automated Testing marked a major milestone in the software testing landscape. It represented a significant leap from manual testing, introducing efficiency and repeatability in the testing process. In this chapter, we'll explore Automated Testing in-depth, understanding its purpose, how it works, its benefits, and limitations.
What is Automated Testing?
Automated Testing is the process of utilizing specialized tools, scripts, and software to execute tests on a software application and compare the actual outcomes with expected outcomes. It is an alternative to manual testing, where testers must sit in front of systems and manually proceed through various steps to check an application.
Automated Testing can include validating user experiences (UX), checking for correct outcomes, verifying data integrity, stress testing, checking for performance issues, regression testing, and more. The main goal of automated testing is to automate as much of the testing effort as possible, such that it is repeatable with minimal human effort or intervention.
How Does Automated Testing Work?
The process of Automated Testing generally involves the following steps:
- Test Preparations: This stage involves identifying what tests will be automated, choosing the right tools for automation, setting up the test environment, and creating a test plan.
- Test Development: In this stage, the test cases are written, and scripts are created using a testing framework or a programming language. These scripts include instructions for the automated testing tool, describing what actions should be performed and what results should be expected.
- Test Execution: The automated tests are then executed independently or as part of a larger suite of tests. Automated test suites can be run repeatedly at any time of day. They can also be incorporated into the build process to run automatically whenever new code is committed.
- Result Analysis: Once the tests are executed, the results are analyzed. Successful tests will pass without intervention, and failing tests will generate reports for the test engineers to analyze.
- Maintenance: As the software under test evolves, test scripts must be updated and maintained to keep them relevant. This is a continuous task throughout the software development lifecycle.
Benefits of Automated Testing
Automated Testing offers several benefits:
- Efficiency: Automated tests can run fast and frequently, which is cost-effective for software products with a long maintenance life. Once automated tests are created, they can retest the system quickly.
- Accuracy: Automated testing is more reliable and eliminates the risk of human error.
- Reusability: Automated test cases can be reused for different builds of an application, and thus, it's a one-time effort that can be utilized throughout the software development lifecycle.
- Coverage: Automated testing can increase the depth and scope of tests and significantly improve software quality. Lengthy tests that are often avoided during manual testing can be run unattended.
Limitations of Automated Testing
While automated testing offers numerous benefits, it also has its limitations:
- Lack of Adaptability: Automated tests follow predefined scripts and cannot adapt to changes unless those scripts are modified. They are not capable of learning or improving over time.
- High Initial Time Investment: Writing scripts for automated tests can require a significant initial time investment.
- Maintenance Effort: Maintaining test scripts can be time-consuming if the application changes frequently.
- Lack of Exploration: Automated tests do not replicate human intuition and exploratory skills to attempt unexpected inputs and use cases
These limitations of Automated Testing leave room for the next stage in the evolution of software testing: Autonomous Testing. In the next chapter, we'll delve into Autonomous Testing, exploring how it promises to overcome these limitations and revolutionize the software testing landscape.