Letter From The Editor – September 2019

I was just recently at a company that had a beautiful test architecture, framework, and Cucumber with tons of well-automated tests. But there was no good test management on top of the Cucumber tests, and they did not do a good job tagging the tests. Although almost everybody on the team could write and maintain the tests in Cucumber, the Architect of the project left the company. Within a year, it turned into a giant mess: the maintenance costs tripled, it got a bad reputation, and people complained about it more than they talked about how many bugs it found. Test Automation needs a strategy—not only tests.

This issue of the LogiGear Magazine is focused on Test Automation—as the September issue has been over the past few years. We have known for a long time that business success is predicated on Task Automation.

Test Automation is an essential part of this. We are here to keep you up to date on not only the basic topics, but also in intermediate and advanced topics surrounding Test Automation and strategy as well.

When I started automating tests, the suite ran by my side on a machine next to my desk. Before I left at 5pm, I manually started the suite. Once I returned the next morning, after the suite ran automatically through the night, I received a great report of the tests that passed, the tests that failed, as well as those that did not run. This began my day of analyzing the fails.

Running Automation was free. It took a long time to write tests, but they helped get testing done faster, and, although maintenance took a while, it was worth it. But those days had smaller, more manageable suites. It started with dozens of tests, then evolved into hundreds of tests-never thousands and definitely not hundreds of thousands. They ran against weekly builds—not build-on-demand, and certainly not multiple builds per day. Running the Automation was sometimes a pain; sometimes it broke—but it was manageable. And I was proud of it. Test Automation was quite important, but small.

Most people would be surprised at the condition and situation of automated regression suites many companies have today. It is very common to find companies who have been automating with the same tool for 10+ years. For example: browser Test Automation with Selenium. It is common to find companies automating with the same tool, having hundreds of thousands of tests that take a long time to run, with additional high costs to maintain, manage, and analyze.

Often, these suites are fat, bloated, slow, missing bugs, and a pain in the neck. Rather than an asset, they can be the biggest problem for a test team—whose main job is to find bugs!

What was lacking in the past is still needed today: a smarter Automation strategy. While more developers are doing unit testing today than ever before, there is still a need for speed from most development teams to get the Test Team’s API/Service/UI/GUI Automation run, results analyzed, and then code delivered as fast as possible. The idea of all Automation being through the user interface (or a graphical user interface [GUI]) is just not going to work anymore. It didn’t work in the past, but it was the only solution some organizations tried.

The days of trying to “automate everything” are gone. Test teams must automate smarter. Where and how much to automate for speed of running, cost, immediate feedback, maintenance, coverage, and risk analysis… it’s complicated.

Whether your organization needs Test Automation for a back-end server, a database, on the desktop, in a browser, on a mobile device, an “Internet of Things” device, or some emulators and simulators, sophisticated products need sophisticated Test Automation, including a tool suite and an Automation strategy. Strategies are complex, require transparency, risk analysis, and communication.

That’s why this issue of LogiGear Magazine deals largely with Test Automation strategy. Our cover story was written by Noah Peters with help from Van Pham and talks about the new “hot-topic” in the Software Testing industry: Automated Testing strategies for Conversational User Interfaces (CUIs). If you’re looking to start your Automation journey, the article 12 Best Automation Tools for Testing Desktop Apps in 2019 is a great place for you to begin looking at different tool offerings, and the article These are the Best Uses for Test Automation outlines the various types of tests that benefit the most from Test Automation. This issue’s Blogger of the Month, Kristin Jackvony, offers great insight to the 12 do’s and don’ts of Automation with her article, How to Decide What to Automate. Or, perhaps you’re looking at expanding your testing skillset; our article, Hack Your Test Team’s Productivity, written by Christian Touhey, explores the growing aspect of skilling-up in the workplace at the expense of artificial intelligence replacing low-skilled labor jobs. In TestArchitect corner, we guide you step-by-step on how to leverage TestArchitect for web app testing. And finally, I finish my 2-part series on Emotional Intelligence in this issue’s Leader’s Pulse. We hope you enjoy this issue!

Michael Hackett
Michael is a co-founder of LogiGear Corporation, and has over two decades of experience in software engineering in banking, securities, healthcare and consumer electronics. Michael is a Certified Scrum Master and has co-authored two books on software testing. Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Mobile and Internet-Based Systems (Wiley, 2nd ed. 2003), and Global Software Test Automation (Happy About Publishing, 2006). He is a founding member of the Board of Advisors at the University of California Berkeley Extension and has taught for the Certificate in Software Quality Engineering and Management at the University of California Santa Cruz Extension. As a member of IEEE, his training courses have brought Silicon Valley testing expertise to over 16 countries. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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