Good test automation that checks nothing

To:          Eric Jacobson
Date:        May 25, 2012
From:        Ilya Kurnosov
Subject:     RE: The Most Important Part Of Test Automation

Define your problem as “unemployment”, for example, and you may restrict your answers to new jobs – and not consider retraining leave or the desirability of leisure and study-time.

— “The learning revolution”, chapter 5 “How to think for great ideas

A lot of people seem obsessed with automated checks these days. Or with proving that “automated testing” is really nothing more than “mere automated checking”. Let us pause for a moment.

  • Do you use ProcessExplorer or ProcessMonitor during your troubleshooting adventures?
  • Do you use DebugView for leveraging instrumentation built into your product?
  • Do you use (God forbid!) debugger for capturing crash dumps?
  • Do you use WireShark to see if something weird goes over the network?
  • Do you use Perl script that beeps on otherwise invisible events to help you reveal them?
  • Do you use bug tracker or something as simple as Google Docs for communicating with your teammates?
  • Do you use SnagIt or Wink or Problem Steps Recorder to make your problem reports more clear?
  • Do you use Git for keeping your artifacts?
  • Do you use SQL scripts for test data preparation?
  • Do you use PowerShell scripts to deploy fresh builds of your product to test environment at night?
  • Do you use simple HTML page (with sortable JavaScript table) to publish testing progress on your intranet?
  • Do you use Pomodoro technique with kitchen timer to get the most out of your test sessions?
  • Do you use XMind for capturing your test ideas?
  • Do you use Compendium for capturing your notes while exploring the product?

All these examples are not about checking anything. If you ask me I’ll say it is test automation nevertheless. And I merely scratched the surface with these examples. I see purpose of test automation in supporting and enhancing testing. Automation should not necessarily be complicated, but it has to be effective.

Good test automation that checks nothing