By Denise Kalm | Industry Expert
A new, clean web page isn’t built in a day — it requires major testing before going live. Web pages are software, and software is prone to bugs. Problems with your pages can seriously affect your line of business, and the wide visibility of a web page harbors the risk of damaging your brand when mistakes happen. (And they do.) Mistakes in this arena are deadly not only because customers might seek out other business: Public mistakes are just plain embarrassing!
Though most application software goes through complex automated QA and load testing, too often web pages don’t get the same diligence and attention, because they “look just fine.” You may manually walk through various options, but the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality is tempting. It’s possible you’ve known for years that your company needs an automated tool, but budget constraints have placed it out of reach for except the largest companies. But now small startups are working harder and getting smarter, and small companies are accordingly offering creative, affordable solutions. In short, you can no longer afford not to evaluate your automation needs.
So what kinds of questions should you ask yourself while evaluating? “How repeatable are your manual tests?” “How long does each test take?” Automating the process allows you to run tests repeatedly as you develop the web pages without impacting the development schedule. For web applications, tests need to be run on all operating systems and hardware types your customers might use — a complicated, unwieldy process when performed manually. Automated test scripts ensure that you cover all the bases, freeing up time and money that you can then devote to other areas.
You’ll also have the option to create more tests than you would ever want to execute manually. (Remember: The more you test, the more reliable your software will be.) You not only want to test the ideal way a customer works with your application; you also need to run tests that’ll check when things go wrong. It is essential to detect where, how, and why your application isn’t handling a situation correctly. Once your solution is in place, you can have the product report on in-flight, transaction processing steps to see contents of tables and files, and the memory to understand and correct problems.
So what does automation mean for you?
- Automation means accuracy. Each run will be exactly the same as the last, and every important aspect will be documented. Unless you hire out, developers in small shops end up doing the testing, which wastes valuable company resources (and is hardly fun for them).
- Automation means scale. No one can bring together hundreds or thousands of users to test the capacity of a system and detect potential issues, such as out-of-sequence database updates. Only an automation solution can test the limits of your application as thoroughly as if it were running live.
- Automation means a happier and more productive team. When developers and QA can do what they love instead of what they find tedious, everyone smiles more. Simple as that.
What are the steps involved in automation?
The first step is deciding what tests to run — the most obvious of which are unit, functional, regression and load testing. Unless this is a brand new application, you’ll also need to conduct regression testing to ensure you haven’t broken anything in the existing code. Your application may have other needs, so be sure to have a complete list before you search for a product.
Once you know this, you can prepare a list of requirements (or RFP) to present to a list of vendors, such as supported platforms, scripting languages, the ability to record and/or replay, and kinds of testing they offer. Vendors must, of course, be able to test against all the common browsers, but they’ll also need to test all the popular mobile platforms.
This may sound overwhelming, but CM First can help!
We at CM First can help you develop efficient ways to automate testing of your browser, mobile, green screen, and client-server applications with industry-leading products coupled with best practices training and mentoring. We are particularly experienced with applications developed with CA Plex and CA 2E, but we are not limited to applications built with those products. (Anything that has an interface can be automatically tested, including packages like Office and Salesforce.)
In sum, running tests early in the development cycle expedites the process of getting your working product to market. Let CM First help smooth the transition from manual to automated so you stress less and profit more.
When will you start automating?