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Divide Your Automated Testing Efforts

Automating all testing is impossible. Moreover, not all tests should be automated. Some tests are indeed better off being conducted manually.

Note: this is a reprint of an article originally posted on SmartBear.com on Oct 1, 2012. The original article can be found here.

By Dave Clarke


In general, deciding which tests should be manual and which should be automated will depend on the frequency with which a given test needs to be run and how much data is involved.

Testing automation eases test creation. You can designate checkpoints of your choosing. With the right testing application, you will easily be able to test cross-browser, HTML5, and rich internet application functionalities.

The best candidates for automated testing are:

  • Repetitive tests that run for multiple builds
  • Tests that are prone to causing human error
  • Frequently used functionality that introduces high risk conditions
  • Tests that can't be performed manually
  • Tests that require several different hardware or software platforms and configurations
  • Tests that are time-consuming if done manually

Make a new plan, Stan

Successful testing automation, like any other complex endeavor, requires a solid plan, a means to identify which tests are ripe for automation and provide a path forward for future testing.

Determine what you expect to achieve with automated testing, your goals, then decide which tests can, and should, be automated. With several types of tests available to you, deciding which test should be used in which instance is critical to developing a successful testing automation plan.

Unit testing, for example, is best used to test small pieces of the application; load testing is best used to ascertain how a Web service will respond when challenged by a heavy workload. Functional or graphical user interface (GUI) testing will help you test specific pieces of the application's user interface (UI).

Little tests, big results

Your plan will guide you in determining which tests you'll be automating and then implementing. Next, you will need to decide what actions those automated tests will perform.

Instead of creating complex tests that test multiple aspects of the application's functionality simultaneously, divide them into a few smaller tests. Larger testing protocols can be challenging to edit and debug. A setup of smaller tests makes the test environment more manageable and, often, you can share the test code, data, and processes in other instances.

Smaller-sized test designs also facilitate updates to your testing protocols. You can add small tests to validate new functions as they are added rather than wait for an entire feature to be implemented.

When creating these small tests keep them focused on just one objective. Creating a separate test for read-only and another for read/write functionality also gives you the option to use as needed without having to include them in every automated test you create.

These smaller tests also give you a sort of modular capability when it comes to crafting new tests. By combining the various testing components into a larger, automated test when appropriate, you can organize your testing to probe an application's functional area, major or minor divisions in the application, common functions, or a base set of test data. When one of your automated tests references other tests, you can create a test tree to designate the order in which the tests are run.

Automated tests pass muster

The right testing automation tools can help you save time by automating regression tests. You get test run histories in clear, concise reports to better gauge test results. You can create testing protocols custom-tailored to your needs and then have them run automatically. This agile style of testing will improve the testing process, and of course, in the end, produce better software.


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