Software has become increasingly complex and product development lifecycles are shorter than ever — which means that test automation is essential. Test automation can automate repetitive (but necessary) tasks in a formal testing process that is already in place. It can also add in additional testing that would be difficult to perform manually. Automation helps QA teams ensure that they catch defects in apps, often in a more efficient and effective way than with manual testing.
Manual testing is, put simply, the process of manually testing software for defects. The tester is required to play the role of an end user and use all of the features of the application to ensure correct behavior. Manual testing is usually performed by a person sitting in front of a computer carefully going through application screens, trying various usage and input combinations, and comparing the results to the expected behavior.
Automation is important when testing your app, but some questions remain: How much should you automate? Is it sometimes better to do manual testing? Before you dive into test automation, you should carefully consider the options.
When to Automate
There are many instances when automation makes sense. If it’s necessary to run test cases a number of times in a test cycle, automation testing is absolutely what you should be doing. In addition, if repeatability is a big factor, automation should be used — repeatability will not be a time consuming activity when you use automation, as it would be with manual testing.
Certain testing tasks, such as low-level interface regression testing, can be labor-intensive and time consuming to do manually. Additionally, a manual approach might not always be effective in finding certain kinds of defects, which automated tests would be able to catch. A great benefit of automation is that once the automated tests have been developed, they can be run quickly and repeatedly — making it a more cost-effective method for regression testing.
When Not to Automate
Automation is not always the answer — sometimes it makes more sense to test your apps manually. Manual testing is very flexible, and its test case development is inexpensive. A baseline of testing can be done with little skill, and verification of a bug is often instantaneous.
Another benefit of manual testing is that there is little delay between code being ready to test and the tests being run. However, one of the difficulties with manual testing is its total cost over time. Each iteration requires human time — and work done by humans is expensive. The cumulative costs over time can add up very quickly.
Mix it Up
Ultimately, you have to decide when it makes sense to use automated testing vs. when you want to use manual testing. If your testing only needs to happen a limited number of times, it should be done manually. If the tests need to be run on a regular basis (daily or even more frequently), they should be automated. It’s a good idea to do manual testing in the first instance, because manual exploratory testing is almost always more thorough — this is because of the high cost of manual test development. In addition, with manual testing you can find bugs right away while the development team still has the code fresh in their minds.
The best approach is to do thorough exploratory testing of each app feature immediately, and then afterwards, you can automate the major cases. Having a good mixture of automated and manual testing will help ensure that your app is defect-free.
To learn more about InfoStretch’s expertise in test automation, click here.
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