Manually or automatically: several words about testing applications

6 min read

Automated testing is one of the most talked about topics among quality control engineers. New software testing systems appear constantly, and each new framework gets the title of the best.

However, automated testing is based on the assumption that the program is used as it was intended by the developers. If you rely only on automatic tests, then soon errors will appear in the code, and at the same time, you will get a vague idea about the quality of the application interface.

As for manual testing, they pay less attention to it, since such a process is exhausting employees, and only an expert with a special mindset will fit for the role of an executor. However, "manual" tests are not inferior to automated ones. The point here is that the approaches have different areas of applicability, so today we will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.

Automated Testing

According to Sarah Fittje, a quality control engineer at Project A Ventures, if the test involves performing a large number of repetitive tasks, then it makes sense to automate it. A classic example is regression testing, which allows detecting serious bugs, so it is important to regularly conduct it in full before launching the final product.

You should not think that setting up automatic tests will save a lot. Writing and maintaining written scripts requires certain QA skills that not all testers possess, therefore, the company will have to pay its own specialists more (however, the staff of testers can still be reduced).

It is also worth noting that it is quite difficult to implement automated tests for a large application with great functionality - this way you risk to lose the vision of the overall picture and cannot cover all the functionality with tests. However, setting up an automated testing system from the first days of the project, you get the opportunity to speed up quality control cycles and establish a consistent test of the application.

However, it is important to understand that automated testing will not be able to help in identifying deficiencies in the appearance of the interface and the quality of user interaction with the product. Let’s consider the directions for the application of automation:

GUI testing

This type of testing is aimed at checking the front-end of the application. Without the help of automation, it is very difficult to take into account all possible combinations of user interaction with the interface in web browsers, mobile devices and other systems (it is important to understand that such a test will not be able to evaluate the UX, as noted above).

Regression testing

Using this type of testing, developers find bugs caused by improvements in application functions. Under the pressure of frequent updates, developers have to work at a frantic pace and sometimes make compromises, which are surely used by bugs, “creeping” into the code of the software. Manually track down the shortcomings of each release is quite problematic.

Functional testing

This testing is to verify that the functional requirements have been met, that is, whether the application is operating as expected. It is determined how accurately the conceived functions are implemented, the analysis for compliance with standards is carried out, and the security of the solution is evaluated. It takes a lot of time to repeat functional testing, even with a slight change in the application, so it can be expensive to perform all the actions with “hands”.

Manual testing

Automated testing helps to achieve high quality, but at the moment it has not completely replaced manual tests. This is due to the fact that users can perform completely unexpected actions that are difficult to take into account in automatic tests.

While the user gets used to the application, he is able to make mistakes, not complete the necessary steps, enter unexpected values, and so on. Users know much less about your product, but in the end, they will use it. Therefore, client approval is the most valuable indicator of interface quality.

When the behavioral characteristics of a person and intuition begin to play a key role in evaluating the work of a program, you should pay attention to manual testing - it is more important to put yourself in the user's place. A tester can be creative in the process of verifying functionality: coming up with unexpected ideas, simulating unusual use cases — this helps to uncover critical errors that “automated testing” will not notice.

Manual testing cases:

Usability testing

This testing serves to test the usability of the application from the user's point of view. This task, which is vague in its objectives, cannot be solved by computer - the machine needs clear wording.

Ad hoc testing

This is one-time testing aimed at verifying one aspect of the program. There are no formally defined rules for this type of testing, it is conducted improvisationally - the tester can use any available means to search for bugs. In fact, ad hoc tests are an attempt to “guess” a possible error.

Combined version

Developers automate tests in order to work more efficiently and succeed more, but you cannot use scripts to describe all possible uses of the application and take into account all errors. Some things are very easy to miss - for example, if an extra input field for a username appears on the login screen, but everything else works correctly.

As we noted above, different types of testing have different areas of applicability. Automatic tests will not replace manual ones, but they can be used to save working time during the execution of large monotonous sets of actions. Manual testing is carried out for a long time, but you can not do without it if you want to achieve a high quality product. At the moment, only a combination of these approaches is able to provide high standards in relation to the functionality and usability of the product.

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