Test automation is about letting software robots perform repetitive tasks, emulating end-user interaction with the system under test, in order to increase the range, depth, and reliability of one's quality assurance efforts.
Manual testing sees a human sitting in front of a computer trying out different ways to use or input data into the web application. Any defects or difficulties are recorded and compared to results from the other variations tested.
Test automation offloads these routine and repetitive testing tasks from humans to machines. Test automation uses software (separate from the software under test) to control the execution of tests.
The tests compare actual outcomes with predicted outcomes. This approach can help find bugs in specific operations and simple-use cases (e.g. logging in, creating a new account, doing password resets).
Automated testing can’t do the advanced scenario testing or provide insights into user experience (e.g. how user-friendly the app is). Yet by automating, a business can move forward with development more quickly and reliably.
With a platform for test automation, software robots are instructed to perform predefined actions, compare results, and report success or failure with greater efficiency.
Yours may be the one company on the planet that works at a slow, patient pace for development. If not, automated testing will appeal as it sees the machine taking over for your likely already over-worked humans. This shift to automatic offers several advantages.
Testing automation will continue to do what you program it to do, 24/7, without fatigue or getting distracted. While human testers can get bored doing the routine, repetitive testing tasks, you can count on automated testing to work consistently and reliably.
No, this doesn’t mean your developers get to run free and take weeks of vacation. However, with automated testing, you do free up human resources to tackle the more challenging work that keeps them engaged and inspired. Oh, and they can take coffee breaks and go home to sleep sometimes too while testing continues.
The scripts you write for testing automation can be reused, even when the operating system or device changes. This enables simultaneity as the automated testing generates reports from reliably testing the same parameters again and again. That repetition could lead to mistakes in manual testing since humans are less eager to do the same things over and over.
Test automation can do a lot more work at once than a human — without sacrificing accuracy. Tests can be run on several computers simultaneously to test different configurations and determine if the application is performing as expected. Automated testing can also simulate a higher volume of users interacting with your product without you needing to hire thousands of quality assurance team members.
Automated testing can also go deeper into applications and see memory contents, data tables, file contents, and internal program states. While doing advanced testing manually may be skipped because there is simply “not enough time,” testing automation systems can run lengthy tests unattended.
In addition to cutting back on the human resources expended on testing throughout the development cycle, test automation’s time savings reduce your costs. Manually repeating tests whenever source code is modified, for all supported operating systems and hardware configurations, is time-consuming. With automation easily, accurately replicating testing, time to results can be cut from days to hours.
Learn more about codeless test automation in our guide to reducing risk, lowering costs, and driving value with test automation, or get our test automation strategy checklist to prepare for the year ahead.