Are you ready for continuous integration?

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Test automation would seem to be a pretty technical excercise. Don’t forget there’s a lot of communication involved too. This article describes what to tackle first and answers the following questions:

  1. What do you achieve by automating tests?
  2. What steps do you take to get test automation in place?

You’ve decided you need test automation. Awesome! Next phase: Get cracking! You’ve read what considerations to keep in mind when creating a successful automated testing strategy. So you’re good to go. Or are you?

Test automation is the process of automating tests. A set of checks distilled from test cases that are a translation of acceptance criteria. Clear user stories are the first prerequisite for test automation.

Level 1.) Write clear acceptance criteria

Update your definition of ready, if you haven’t done so already and only get started on a story if it has clear, scoped acceptance criteria! Know what to test. Test automation begins in refinement sessions. Create clear, testable acceptance criteria. It takes practice to get it right.

Level 2.) Write test cases

You’ll probably need multiple test cases to cover a single acceptance criteria. You’ll need them do cover the edge cases. The Gherkin language can be a good way to describe behavior instead of technique. Execute them and use them to communicate with the product owner.

Level 3.) Agree on what to build and test. Agree on how to communicate about it.

Development teams cannot start building before having an understanding of the clients wishes. In many development teams the developers think they understand and start coding. The resulting product will be tested by someone else at a later point in time. The tester will then mark the work item “done” and the team moves on. That approach has “assumption” written all over it. Would it not make more sense to have the development team and the stakeholders describe the test cases together?

Level 4.) Test first

Describe the systems new behavior collaboratively in the refinement. The behavioral documentation of the system are the test cases and vice versa. Create living documentation by doing so. Start testing the right things before testing it right.

Level 5.) Automate them checks

Summary

Test automation should be called check automation. Only checks can be automated. Test automation is — if done right — a tool that will help teams to validate the systems behavior more often and faster.

Use test automation as a tool to do testing. Focus on testing the right things instead of automating tests. Use test automation as a tool to test faster!

software developer / consultant @ vxcompany.com

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