Even in today’s devops-adept world, there is a degree of uncertainty regarding the value of test automation. While some see immediate, and obvious, advantages, particularly they come to resolving highly-granular, or recurrent, process validations; others perceive setting-up automated scripts to be nearly as painful as legacy iterations.
Consequently, we thought we’d offer some useful bullet points in an attempt to clearly articulate the value proposition. However, before we get started, it’d be most useful to understand just what test automation is, and how its significance applies to at-large development.
To wit; ‘test automation’ utilizes external scripts to execute targeted code investigations. The development approach is most usually applied in regression, or deeply-iterative test regimes, but can also be applied to any software sub-system that requires the identification of active/passive errors within a particular code base, or a chain of integrated processes within an omnibus software complex.
For the layman, while the description would seem to be direct enough, it also suggests a couple of other fuzzy terms requiring further discussion. For example, as a test regime, the expression ‘regression’ typically investigates the integrated stability of previous and current software versions, after a code base has been updated or altered significantly.
This verification value may apply at any level within a system including enhancements, patches, and/or configuration changes. At an ‘integrated process’ level, automated testing can also apply, where module-to-module code compliance, stability, and/or performance elements are critical. Either way, however, a general ability to create automated ‘fire and forget’ test scripts, can save enormous amounts of time and effort, leading to reduced cost, and enhanced revenue over time.
As a practical matter, however, there are some major areas that automated tests that should exist as first principle regimes including:
Repetitive/Regression Tests: As mentioned earlier, automated regression testing involves validating iterative changes made to one or more existing code bases. These investigations typically deep-dive basic code and process elements associated with a next-stage product build has been completed. The upside is that this kind of test regime avoids the manual tedium that sometimes leads to missed errors. On the other hand, however, the process of setting automated scripts are also be comprehensive, thereby requiring a degree of patience to develop useful script.
Granular validation of GUI-level elements: In this case automated test scripts are particularly useful when related to the performance and validation of low-level components such as; screen formatting, color settings, button triggers, or the validation of mis-matched text comparisons. Again, while test setup may appear to be a bit time-consuming at the front-end, any time lost in the development cycle is easily recovered once a scripted test module is completed and in operation.
Data index/process validation: This value-add test variant delivers automated testing that targets the stability and performance of datastores, ranging from the efficacy of individual records, tables, modules to the indexing of at-large data complexes.
Cross-platform investigations: Compliance and stability is critical to today’s highly complex data environments. Automated testing regimes support this value by streamlining previously manual test processes, thereby reducing time, and cost, while enhancing product stability.
Odd development ducks: Given the complexity of today’s digital landscape, there are some test requirements that are simply beyond legacy-based test regimes. In this case today’s automated test scripts can help aid developers produce more and better systems for less money.
As you can see, advantages relating to automated test regimes extend as far as the eye can see. However, to establish a next-step continuum here are some takeaways that can be applied to nearly any enterprise development.
Test teams can be quickly established and strategically employed resolve case specific requirements particularly if the requirement calls for repetitive, time consuming processing
Automated testing scripts can be indexed and applied many times, while iterative changes can be executed while only experiencing minor alterations.
Stability over time
Automated test scripts provide consistent performance and stability over time. These code constructs reduce glitch rates by marginalizing human error, while allowing for dependable replication over time.
Extended product life-cycles
Automated test regimes can be developed on the basis of highly-rigid requirements, governed by zero-failure metrics. The ability to quickly test and refine functions and feature-sets prior to, and after, a product roll-out, offers a host of advantages both internally and externally. In all cases, however, a clear understanding of how, and ‘why a system does what it does, when does it’; ends up creating a universal confidence that ultimately leads to less cost, and more revenue on the bottom line.