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Test Automation - Record and Play or Automation Framework (Myth vs. Reality)

Question asked by CE-InFocus in #Debates on May 27, 2010
CE-InFocus · May 27, 2010
Rank C3 - EXPERT
Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) services, Gaming, Mail and Messaging, Telecom, or CRM services etc. are few domains that have become more varied and more complex. Information systems roll out application versions to cater to the requirements. The product cycle has been accelerated because of the explosive growth in the global software market demand with rapid advancement in computing technologies has shortened the software development life cycle and due to restrictive cost pressures, the focus has now shifted to optimizing/reducing software testing time. Hence to keep pace with this growth, the QA team needs high end technological support tools for faster delivery with quality results.

In today’s technological world due to business challenges and shortened product release dates, test automation has become a critical and strategic necessity for timely quality assurance. Emergence of various automation tool and frameworks adds to serious consequences and recurring costs of instantiating, running and maintaining multiple automated testing solutions for multiple programs and projects across the enterprise have put IT organizations on a dilemma of choosing one amongst the lot. Hence automation approach is one of most important factor for the s[​IMG]uccess of Test Automation.

Automation approach should mainly focus on the reliable automation solution that can last the entire life span of the product (not just the project for a company). Thus, automation approach significantly not only reduce the risk of the current project, but can actually reduce the risk and cost of future projects and can be used for longer periods of time with less maintenance. This translates to a significant savings over the course of longer projects, and the ability to more thoroughly test an application with less tester overhead.

In automated testing era, buzzwords like "error handling", “Syncing”, “data driven” or “robust solution” are becoming famous, but have you ever thought what is under the carpet that is making an automation solution efficient, maintainable and usable? Believe me; Automation of an application requires a considerable financial investment; though effect of this can be smoothen with ROI in longer run.

Here, I am giving my 2 cents in explaining Record and play and Automation Frameworks.

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Record and Play Back</span>

Record and Play is one of the automation approaches which are mainly highlighted by the automation tool vendor, as this approach does not require the automation expertise. With this approach test automation kick-off in no time as it require no special automation expertise. This approach follows a simple logic of recording user inputs, transactions, navigation and then replaying the entire recorded script to compare it against the actual screens. Few benefits where Record and play works perfect:
  • If scripts are created and used for a shorter duration; as in longer duration scripts maintenance will increase by a huge amount. In essence, this defeats the purpose of test automation.
  • This approach serves as an excellent method where the project needs to execute the smoke test script for single release cycle and test scripts are to be scraped after few executions.
  • If the tools used are intelligent enough to analyze the application under test and auto generate meaningful test data.

  • <div>

    When testing team doesn’t have the automation expertise and still automation is a mandatory requirement for the project. In this case team can kick off their automation using record and playback approach; however they face heavy maintenance work for the subsequent releases.

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Automation Framework</span>

Marketing strategy of automation tools drove record and play approach more than reality and hence test automation is facing a lot of challenges in terms building good foundation for robust, maintainable test systems. Simply installing an automated testing tool and recording scripts may jumpstart the initial automated testing effort, but this approach will become difficult to maintain and therefore more expensive.
<div>The myth that automated test tools simply record keystrokes and play back the tests unattended has probably caused more disappointment that any other feature of these tools. And hence this was the starting point for creation of Automation framework. Following are few benefits of automation framework:</div>

  • <div>By keeping all the scenarios in mind Automation Frameworks are designed to work in such a way that they can handle the situation where any pop-up windows would prompt by the application.</div>

  • <div>In a well maintained automation framework user can parametrized the variables and can design the script in a way where script is picking data from the spread sheet.</div>

  • <div>Script created with automation framework will wait till the designed syncing time.</div>

  • <div>Automation framework lasts for longer time and works well for longer duration projects.</div>

  • <div>Well maintained Automation frameworks works well to handle any un-expected error or for recovery due to unexpected halt. This saves lots of time in for unattended execution.</div>
<div>This article will act like an appetizer for food of thought, for all Quality Assurance folks who always have some doubts for automation using record and playback and framework. Flood this article with your follow-on doubts, I would be happy to answer them.</div>
<div><em>This guest post is contributed by Er. Anil Jain (Structural Engineering, VNIT Nagpur). Anil is currently working for an IT firm in India and has experience of more than 5 years in QA. Anil is passionate about computer technologies, structural engineering and loves electronic gadgets, mechanical devices. He enjoys playing Cricket & Table Tennis.</em></div> Posted in: #Debates

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