Posted by: ahmedashfaque | February 23, 2010

Test automation

Automation of any kind bring the advantages of increased productivity and quality. Productivity increases are because the fact that machines or devices can do tasks at a much higher speed compared to when these tasks are performed by humans. Increases in quality is because of the fact that human errors are eliminated. These are the reasons why automation of any kind is always sought and implemented.

But automation is not always possible. A process must have a standardized set of activities so that the process can be automated. Consider a manufacturing line where industrial robots are working successfully. These processes have been successfully automated because here each activity has been able to be standardized. Because these activities are standardized, robots are able to move their position and do some task. This becomes possible because their own movement, movement of parts and the task to be performed by these robots are precise. If any large deviation happens in any of the process area or the set of activities then the automation will not work.

Coming to software testing, if any of the testing activities can be automated? Consider automation for test case design? If it can be automated? Test design activities involve understanding each requirement, finding the software feature which fulfills that requirement, thinking about how to create test cases so that the feature can be tested to validate if the feature really supports the requirement or not. All of these activities are almost impossible to automate; given the limitations of today’s technology.

Similarly most of testing activities are difficult to automate except test case execution. Test case execution is a good candidate for automation. Test case execution involves taking written test cases, executing commands in the software application under test as per test cases and observing (recording) the results of those commands. The final step in test case execution is analysis of the results of the test case execution. These steps can largely be automated and thus test execution has been automated successfully in many test projects.


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