Whenever you’re developing software, you need to test for defects. Manually testing these projects though is time consuming, and far from being fail-proof; bugs will often pop up later on sections you’ve already tested. So what’s a development team to do?
It’s simple really. Beyond consistent testing, software development teams should bring automated testing tools into the mix. We’ve rounded up three of the most popular tools, as well as explain the benefits of test automation, in today’s blog post.
Adding test automation allows rigorous regression testing to be done in a short amount of time. Don’t get us wrong, running manual tests does have its benefits (more random testing, lower cost in the short-term), but it also has its downfalls. The bugs get lucky when it comes to the limitations of manual testing.
With automated testing, however, it’s harder for defects to stay undetected. After test setup, the automated tools run tests that repeat predefined actions, comparing program expectations and actual outcomes.
While these practices are often expensive to implement, they are ultimately cost-effective; they cut down on manual testing time, find hard to detect bugs, and ensure your program delivers your expectations. Additionally, a large suite of good regression tests gives programmers freedom to refactor code. Without solid automated tests, programmers can grow fearful of making changes to codebases due to unintended side effects. With growing code quality, the costs of future enhancements are reduced. Using a combination of automated and manual testing tools is necessary for the development of effective software.
3 Popular Automation Tools
FitNesse is an open-source wiki tool that specializes in comparing program expectations and outcomes. It is often used to automate User Acceptance Testing by allowing end users to write test cases. How is this done? A business user develops a decision table with predetermined inputs and outputs on a wiki page. Note, that these wiki pages can be written long before development is complete. The developing program is then connected to this, and the program’s outcomes are matched against the predetermined outputs. If they match, the program is good. If they don’t, there’s an error.
For example, let’s say that the decision table predetermines that 2 + 3 = 5 and that 14 + 5 = 19. If those sums are achieved when the program runs, and the predetermined outputs match the actual outputs, then the program is running well. If the predetermined and achieved outputs don’t match, then you know that there is an error in the program.
This tool is seen as a collaborative one; the business user designs the wiki page tests and puts them into FitNesse, while the developers connect FitNesse to the developing program, allowing the tests to run. When an error is found, they must all work together to determine where it is, and what the solution will be if they are going to reach their desired project outcome.
Selenium is another open source tool, or rather a combination of tools, though this one focuses on testing web applications. This isn’t why Selenium stands out though. The tool remembers what you did as you clicked around in a browser, and produces a code that can be used in automated tests. The code produced can be Java, C#, Groovy, Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby. You can even modify the code and customize it as need be, to make your automated tests all the stronger.
SoapUI is an open source tool that does web service testing for service-oriented architecture. Allowing a development team to run automated regression, compliance, functional and load tests, soapUI gives you complete test coverage. It is an impressive suite, and definitely worth a closer look for any shop producing web services.
SoapUI pushes usability; it’s made with technical and non-technical individuals in mind. That way, everyone involved can work with SOAP and REST-based web services, giving the project it’s best chance of success. In addition to helping you test the services themselves, soapUI quickly and easily mocks up services, allowing you to test client code without the overhead of actual service calls.
These tools have unique features that make your software development life a whole lot easier. While these automated tools should be used in tandem with manual testing, they’re going to reduce the bug count in your releases, and help increase the quality and design of your codebase through more frequent refactors.
Have you used these test automation tools in the past? Would you recommend them? What other tools do you use? Let us know in the comments section, or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.
Thanks to wongo888 for the use of their respective photographs.