It has been a while since I published a blog post. Recently, the Ministry of Testing announced their latest 30 days of testing challenge – this time focussing on tools. Here are my notes from Day 1 of the challenge.

Day 1 – Share your favourite tool and explain why

I’m not going to choose a specific tool, but rather a type of tool – Test Automation Tools.

Test Automation Tools are unique in that they are tools that we create. We create and develop a series of automated tests that can be used to verify if parts of the application are working as expected. There is always a debate about if automated testing is actually testing. Despite being a great advocate of test automation, I do not see it as testing. Instead, I see it as a tool that aides testing.

Like all tools, test automation has its limitations. It can’t test everything, and there will be gaps in the overall test coverage. This is why it cannot replace testing, only improve it.

For a tool to be useful, it needs to help someone complete a task quicker and/or more efficiently. I don’t like the idea of test automation replacing testing, and I don’t think it ever should. There are too many limitations. Attempts at creating automated tests that cover 100 % of the application will usually only result in an unmaintainable mess. However, by having a suite of automated tests that provide brief coverage of a few wide scope features will at least provide fast feedback of the current state of these features. It can take the pressure off testing by allowing testers to focus on areas known to be directly impacted by the change being made to the application.

These tests will not be as extensive as any testing carried out by a person, but should still provide some confidence that other areas of the application are still working.

Questions from the Challenge

Each day’s challenge is posted on the Ministry of Testing Club along with some questions. Here are my answers to the specific questions posted against Day 1.

What tool brings you joy?

As mentioned, this is Test Automation tools – especially those related to UI automation. UI Automation is notoriously flaky, and getting the tests working efficiently is a challenge. Developing UI Automated Tests is like trying to solve a Sudoku puzzle. You get one wrong number and the entire thing falls apart. In UI Automation, you need to make sure each individual step works correctly. If a single step breaks, then the entire test is broken. Debugging a failing test, searching for that single point of failure is so much fun.

What’s the one tool you go to that is a pleasure to use and helps you solve problems

The greatest tool we can use is simple pen and paper. I’ve already mentioned that Test Automation development is like trying to solve a puzzle – being able to scratch out notes and ideas on a pen and paper is the best way to solve the puzzle. You can do so much with pen and paper – doodling (helps with mental health), scribble down notes and ideas, create a checklist so you don’t forget something …

Most of my best ideas started out as indecipherable scribbles on a piece of paper.

What tool helps you be a better tester?

Test Automation tools help us be better testers by providing confidence that areas of the application not known to be directly impacted by the change work as expected. This provides us with more time to focus on the areas that we know are directly impacted. These are the areas that are most likely to contain bugs so it only makes sense to target more testing to this area.

Further Reading

Ministry of Testing Club discussions