Test Automation VS Interactive Testing

by Dmitry Kirsanov 23. November 2023 04:00

Ascend with me, dear reader, as we scale the colossal mountain that is the software development industry. Now, as any seasoned mountaineer will tell you, using modern tools and techniques will make your ascent significantly easier. This is the very essence of the shifting trend within our industry that sees increased emphasis laid on test automation for projects and products. If you listen keenly to the gusts of wind blowing through the industry, you'll detect a thunderous applause for testers who specialize in automation. After all, the applauders say, hasn’t there been a Bard-like poetic justice in watching software developers give up the pen and ink of their coding jobs, for the sleek, hi-tech world of test automation?

Across this industrious landscape of ones and zeros, you may encounter job postings with intriguing titles like 'Software Developer in Test’; an enigma wrapped in syntax. It seems that test automation has become the heartthrob of the software development industry.

And why wouldn't it? After all, my own footwear has merrily wandered this pathway and around. The large part of my career has seen me donning the cap of a developer, building test automation tools and frameworks, and gleefully deploying them.

Yet, let us not be blinded by the shimmer of automation. Because as they say, all that glitters is not cout (sorry, couldn’t help). A bulk of my career sternly advises me to remind you that human interactive testing holds a magnifying glass to the face of the product and reviews it with a scrutiny that robots could only dream of, as of 2023. In fact, from the perspective of a career-focused professional, interactive testing often trumps automation, when done properly.

Our dear friends, the software developers, may certainly lend a hand at automation needs. Yet, as wonderful as they are, they simply lack the necessary skills, experience, and (not to mention) time to craft the age-old art of human interactive testing, as we dwelled on in our previous lesson.

They are, after all, primarily code wizards. And here’s an industry secret – test automation is mostly... surprise, surprise... writing code! So lo and behold, you already have a reservoir of resources at hand that can perform test automation without nudging your testers to dive into the bottomless sea of coding tutorials.

But wait! The developers must write features, you protest. Indeed, they must. And let me pose a question in return: is it not crucial that these features work flawlessly? Can your company risk a crack in its product armour? Can human lives afford to be disrupted by software glitches? If your answer is a resounding no, it might be wise to invest some developer time in test automation, under the watchful eye of your biting-the-bullet professional tester or DevOps (it all depends on what test surface we are talking about, but more of it later).

The goal here is not to douse the blooming popularity of test automation. It is, without a doubt, an essential part of the development cycle. But this is a wakeup call. Interactive testing is paramount, and an unrequited hero in the world of software development. So perhaps, it's time to put the brakes on retraining your entire QA team with coding crash courses.

Test automation is indeed an important activity and contributes an essential role in the development lifecycle.

You will, more often than not, require test automation while crafting your software masterpiece. And believe me, creating and configuring that automation is a job that requires technical prowess. But it's crucial to understand that even if a code-writing tester is not part of your project team, test automation should never be prioritized over human interactive testing.

In my future musings, we shall delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of test automation, exploring commonly used types, and scrutinizing key aspects such as the selection of testing surfaces and tools. Until then, remember: balance is the key. Automation and interaction are not foes on a battlefield, but partners in the dance of software development.



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