Thursday, January 21, 2021

Down With the Kids!

Tonight I attended Not Your Parents' Automation, a webinar by Paul Grizzaffi hosted by the Association for Software Testing.

Automation Assist is what Paul is calling non-traditional uses of automation for testing purposes. For him, the trad approach — the one your parents are comfortable with — includes regression tests and smoke tests, typically run on some kind of schedule to give feedback on behaviour changes in the system under test compared to some kind of oracle.

There is merit in that kind of stuff — the oldsters do have some wisdom — but there's much more that can be done with programmatic tooling. Paul gave a bunch of examples, such as

  • data cleansing to migrate gold masters from one framework to another
  • test account creation to speed up registration of new testers on a system under test
  • file checking help to take away donkey work and leave a tester to free to apply skill and judgement
  • high-volume random activity to identify potential problems based on heuristics about what undesirable responses are likely to look like
  • migration quick checks to show that core systems are functional for happy path scenarios and let the testers concentrate on special cases

In each of these, Paul will be happy to re-use or repurpose existing tooling or find novel tools that fit the need. Project need is the key driver, with cost and value a close second. He's happy to code up one-shot tools, or use automation to solve just some of the problem, if that's what's going to get the job done at appropriate level of effort and at the appropriate time.

I have done a lot of work myself using the approaches Paul described (see Exploring to the Choir for a few examples) which means, whatever my children might say, that I'm now officially down with the kids!

P.S. The Association for Software Testing are scheduling an event every month through 2021. Details are here.

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