test code programmer

in Design

Getting Started with Automated Testing

test code programmer
Automated code testing is more sophisticated than ever, and there are tons of products out there to help development teams efficiently debug their code. Still, and for a variety of reasons, not all teams use them. Here at Jixee, we have been using manual testing. We recently realized that this practice was costing us in both time and inaccuracies. Our testing practices needed an upgrade, and we wanted to find the best way to do that. In exploring the ins and outs of automated testing, we came up with some interesting results — some stuff we thought might be helpful to other teams like us that need to give their testing practices a face lift.

Benefits of Automated Test Code

The benefits of automation are pretty clear; automation allows tests to run faster, more consistently, and be repeated again and again with less overhead. As you continue to work with automated testing, more automated tests are added, giving your team the ability to run more tests each time. It’s a system that compiles and adds more value as time goes by. Incorporating automated testing to take care of the repetitive stuff allows your team to focus on making manual testing more meticulous.

When used properly, automated test code saves teams money and time, and it improves the quality and efficiency of code. Think of automated test code as the necessary maintenance for your software’s longevity.

Humans Vs. Robots

Making better software is always the ultimate goal, but why do many teams still opt for manual testing? Developers are able to produce complex code faster than ever before as a result of advancements in code generation tools and code reuse. This also makes testing more difficult for testers to be able to keep up with the rapid pace of software development. Test automation can turn out to be pointless in light of these advances, especially if it’s only run at the end of the testing cycle. Rather, test automation should be used early and often along the development life cycle, and in sync with manual testing in order to produce good quality software.

While automated and manual testing are both necessary, let’s look at the differences so we can apply the two accordingly:

Automated testing is not a replacement for humans, but it has a useful purpose in ‘checking,’ which prepares testers for the following manual testing. The strengths of automated testing are in the ability of algorithmic decision rules that pick up on bugs a person may miss altogether. It can do this in less time and with far more accuracy, evaluating the pieces within code that need to be improved.

On the other hand, manual testing done by a human is a better ‘testing’ method for the bigger picture. People have the unique ability to test a product through exploration and experimentation. They will model, question, observe, make inferences — things that just cannot be accomplished without a human touch.

It’s important to understand the differences between what each type of testing affords the team, and always avoid giving automated testing too much value. If automated testing is used in place of all manual testing, this can give a false sense of security and potentially lead to more bugs in the software.


Key Points on Automated Testing

Adding in automated testing is actually a big effort in terms of time and resources up front. Of course, if you do make this effort and do a good job of setting up automated tests, your long term success will be improved. Immediate payoffs are small, a few scripts provided, but you’ll have to make the effort to automate most test cases. Seek the long term results that come with running automated tests on subsequent releases, allowing you to maintain scripts at this point.

Test automation is still an effort on the part of your development team, meaning that the people doing the testing need to have the right skill sets. Recognize the difference between a good manual tester and a good test automator. A good test automator needs to be able to take test cases and write code to automate the process of executing tests.
To reap the benefits of automated testing, it’s important to really ask yourself what your team needs from it — and if it’s simply faster testing, you probably won’t gain much. Instead, find specific weak points in your testing model that could be improved from adding in automated testing.
Automated testing works best when incorporated into an agile environment, with the ability to quickly react to changing software systems and environments.
Automated testing is essentially just like any other development effort. You need to decide what should be automated, design the automation, write the scripts, and test the scripts. Scripts, like any program, require maintenance over time.

Consider Your Automated Strategy

If you are going to use automated testing, consider the timing of automation. The very beginning of building is not a useful time — the product is still unstable and automated testing will not be able to deliver reusable code to build quality software. Same goes with the end of the development cycle, it’s pointless to start using automated code once you have an entire product worth of code built out. Find a sweet spot where you have stability and need automated code to save time and money.

Also consider using the right tool for your automated strategy. This will be different for every team based on building infrastructure and budget. Try to find a tool that offers the greatest compatibility, offering record & playback for all the events, classes, and objects in your particular application.

Usability is a key factor, the automated testing will be more of a headache than a help if your team struggles just to figure it out. It’s a good idea to find a software that offers good training and support.

Though automated testing can’t replace the type of testing a trained developer can perform, automated testing still holds an important role for any team’s testing strategy. If we look at it like maintenance testing, we see the value it brings to the entire testing strategy, giving developers more autonomy to do the type of testing that results in great intuitive software. There’s plenty of aspects to keep in mind when adding in this software: knowing what works for your team, having or training someone on your team to be good at writing automated tests, understanding the effort it takes to get automated testing off the ground, and deciding what and how to automate. Implementing automate software is valuable when done correctly — it will catch those mistakes that a developer may gloss over ten times, save you time and money in the long run, and ultimately help you produce quality software.