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Rapid Software Testing Focused: Automation

This class is a one-day overview and summary of Testers and Automation: Avoiding the Traps.

“Test automation” is a hot topic. If you are in the testing field, then you are probably being pressured to automate your work. But how should you go about it? Only certain specific aspects of testing can be automated, so which aspects should you focus on first? There are lots of expensive tools you could use, but there are also free tools, and maybe you can create some tools yourself. What should you NOT focus on? What traps must you try to avoid? How can AI help — or hurt?

Creating, applying, and maintaining useful automation to support testing can be immensely valuable. It’s also a huge challenge. This one-day class is designed to help you help you meet that challenge, looking through the lenses of the Rapid Software Testing methodology.

Maybe you’re a coder; maybe you’re not. This class is designed to help you either way. If don’t write code, we don’t teach you how, but we will help you learn to work immediately and productively with people who do.

In this class, we’ll help you — and through you, your organization — to expand notions of automation beyond GUI or API output checking. We will show you some creative uses of inexpensive tools. We’ll help you to analyze dimensions of cost and value, and to evaluate how different kinds of tools can help or hurt your testing. And we’ll talk about to recognize and learn from things that happen in the Secret Life of Automation.

This class is not affiliated with any tool vendor, and we don’t teach you to operate any specific tool. We may demonstrate or mention particular tools during the class, but we have not accepted and will not accept any payment or benefit from commercial interests. (We may be biased, but we have not been bribed.) We will show you how to analyze vendor claims critically.

In short, this class is about the essence of automation strategy: vision and setting goals that make sense for you and your organization.

About the Authors

Michael Bolton started in technology work as a programmer in 1988. Since then, he has worked in testing, program management, customer support, and documentation, developing and using tools all the way along.

The class is co-written with James Bach, a developer-turned-tester involved with automation in testing since 1987. James’ team was among the first to use spreadsheets to implement data-driven and keyword-driven automation. One of his most popular articles ever was Test Automation Snake Oil, written about the exaggerations and lies told by test tool companies in the 1990’s — the same silliness common among tool vendors today.

Who Should Take This Training

RST Focused: Automation Strategy is for these kinds of people:

  • If you are a tester who does code, we will help you see many ways of applying your coding skills to testing.
  • If you are a tester who does not code, we will help you understand possibilities and challenges of creating automation, and help you to learn to ask for what you need.
  • If you are a quality coach or manager who is responsible for bringing in automation, we will help you create a strategy that avoids the common traps.
  • If you are from an organization that is struggling with existing automation, we will help you understand your situation and form a plan to improve the situation.
  • If you are a supporter of skilled, responsible testing, and you feel that you are under attack by technologists who think they can automate everything, we will help you defend your team and your work.

Goals of RSTF-Automation

  • The primary goal of this class is to teach you how to plan and administer an effective strategy for applying automation to software testing.
  • A secondary goal is to help you avoid common traps that cause automation to be inefffective, or to suck the life out of testing.

Main Topics Covered

This class is taught Socratically, with exercises, discussions and illustrations of automation within the RST methodology. Class discussions and debate address students’ questions and specific needs. We all learn from the unique perspective that each student brings to the class.

We’ll cover:

  • The 11 traps of automation in testing.
  • Checking vs. testing: what can be automated and what can’t.
  • An exercise in test strategy and talking to a coder about automation.
  • The secret life of an automator: hidden costs.
  • How tools can help in primary testing vs. regression testing.
  • Thinking critically about the claims made by commercial tool companies.
  • Thinking critically about “ROI” — really cost, value, and risk — of various kinds of automation.
  • How you might apply AI in testing – and how AI can go wrong.
  • Demonstrations of creative ways to apply tools to testing.

How This Class Compares To Our Other RST Classes

We talk a lot about test strategy and a little about automation in each of our classes. This class focuses on incorporating automation into your test strategy. However, this class does not attempt to teach you how to code or how to test.