Is Test Automation Cheating?

Is Test Automation Cheating? Image 1 by Michael Bendit

{2:50 minutes to read} Since this is my third post on the subject, I’ll admit to having an obsession with testing.

I took my last final exam nearly 25 years ago as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student. Now I wonder if test automation would have made my life as a student less stressful, or would it have been considered cheating?

As far as I know, there isn’t a robot that will take your school exams, but software developers have been writing automated test programs (i.e., “test robots”) for years. These test programs can run those mind-numbingly routine procedures to ensure that the developer’s software is working properly. In fact, some of the most progressive software development teams are actually writing these test programs before coding the software to be tested – an approach referred to as Test-Driven Development (“TDD”), which TypeMock describes rather elegantly on their website.

Test automation is particularly well-suited for validating the proper functionality of large systems with a myriad of usage scenarios.

Is Test Automation Cheating? Image 2 by Michael Bendit

Since each new update to such large systems has the potential for introducing errors (“bugs”) anywhere in the code, the quality assurance team should run through a full battery of tests, using both historical and new test cases, before each software release. This process is known as “regression testing.” Without test automation, regression testing would be almost impossible since it involves such large numbers of test cases, all of which need to be run with every software update.

Although using software programs to automate your software testing is nifty and cutting-edge, it isn’t always appropriate.

There can be a considerable cost involved in designing and programming software tests, which may impact your development budget. If your application is relatively small, and can be tested manually, that might be the better approach. Usability testing is also very difficult to automate and is better done with real people who can experience the system as a user would.

If your software project has a big budget line for automated testing, and you aren’t building a large, complex system that is slated for several updates, the automated testing program may be more than you need.

Still not sure if test automation right for your software development project? Contact us to let us help you with that assessment.

Michael Bendit

 

Michael Bendit
Managing Director
Software Development Resources Inc.
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New York, NY 10011
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