Can test automation replace human testers
The fact that Software testing is integral to the development and overall success of any product in the IT industry, puts Software development managers worldwide in an all too familiar dilemma. What testing strategy they should pursue? Do they hire the services of a professional testing team for their product verification? Or would they be better served using an automated tool. The debate on the use of Manual testing vs. Automated testing has been raging on for quite some time now. Before we judge the utility of either, it wouldn't do any harm to briefly enumerate the pros and cons for both.
Test automation employs specialised software tools which run a set of repetitive tests with a predefined set of instructions, to compare a program's expected and actual responses. If there is a perfect alignment between the two, then it indicates the bug free quality of the product and its readiness for shipping. If not, then the software needs de-bugging and a re-run of tests until all the glitches are rectified. Let's take a look at some of the advantages of this approach:
Runs quickly off the mark:
One of the biggest factors which give an edge to Automated testing over manual testing is of course, the speed. Best part is the re-usability of these tests, which is a much needed relief for those running regressions on a frequently changing code.
Automation testing can be done on different machines and operating system platforms on a concurrent basis.
It is very effective for Build Verification and Testing.
Automated testing is apt for large scale projects.
- Automation testing is not helpful with UI testing
- High initial cost of tools.
- When it comes to considerations requiring a human touch such as image contrast or text font size, automated testing cannot be trusted with the most accurate of solutions.
Manual testing, as the name suggests, is the testing of software for bugs by humans without the aid of any automated tools. Like automated testing, Manual testing has its own share of merits and demerits.
- For companies which can't afford customised auto tools for testing, the lead programmers double up as testers.
Manual testing is flexible as compared to automation testing in that, it doesn't take enough time to set up test cases and start with them, and the ideas can be verified there and then itself.
Due to its repetitive nature, Manual test can be a very monotonous exercise and can cure the best of insomniacs out there. If you are not engaged to the task a strict 100 percent, then the likelihood of missing out on some bugs is pretty high.
Not friends with re-usability:
Unlike the case with Auto testing where you can have a re run in a matter of seconds, manual testing can be a pain, if the lead developer incorporates last minute changes into the software. The situation would require a tedious re-test of the entire exercise from the scratch.
After a careful weighing in of the merits/demerits of both methodologies, it's safe to say, we cannot have a 'one size fits all' approach towards selection of testing strategy. Where the scale of the project is large and the environment is diverse with innumerable platforms to work on, it makes sense to employ Automated testing. However, it doesn't mean that Manual testing is now a relic of the stone age. Speed and Precision are of course desirable attributes, but no amount of Sophistication in testing tool technology can make up for the limitations in testing without an end user perception. Same goes for other qualities namely sound configuration management, inspections and walkthroughs. Moreover, there are ample studies and experiences to highlight the fact that most of the bugs are found at the time of creating the test cases. Therefore it's obvious that the suitability of the strategy will a whole lot depend on the environment, deadlines involved, budgetary constraints and the like.