Five, Six, Seven, Eight: The Tempo of Test Automation


Dedication to improvement ensures that QA testing automation efforts remain effective in the ever-evolving landscape of software development.

When you hear the words “test automation,” dance likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, you may think about automation tools, test scripts, and frameworks. Yet, beneath this seemingly mechanical surface, there is an artistry to the QA process.

Test automation, like a well-rehearsed dance, involves carefully planned steps and execution. It’s not always pretty, and there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. And just as dancers improve and refine their process through practice, so do QA professionals.

In the end, both dancers and testers aim to create something special for their audience. Whether it’s captivating a crowd on the stage or making sure software works perfectly for users, it’s the pursuit of excellence that unites them.

Adopting a Creative Mindset

When performing on stage, dancers aim to bring emotion and meaning to their movements in order to create a story. Without it, the routine is nothing more than some steps strung together.

Similarly, QAs aim to infuse automated tests with creativity and intuition. This means looking beyond the test code to understand how the application’s functionality impacts the end user.

A great way to achieve this is through persona-based testing. This means thinking through the type of people who will use the app and how they will interact with the software. When creating a testing strategy, a persona-centric approach is crucial to help set requirements and dictate testing for each feature. It leads to the development of robust test cases that enhance overall coverage.

Through this mindset, QAs are better able to anticipate user needs and uncover critical issues that might otherwise slip through the cracks.

See also: AI and Software Testing: Avoid Burnout, Save Developer Time

Breaking in New Tools

Think of the process of adopting a new test automation tool like a ballet dancer putting on a fresh pair of pointe shoes. While the goal is to achieve more elegance or simplicity, the initial process is anything but. It’s new, uncomfortable, and, at times, a little painful.

When testers embrace a new tool, they have to navigate the complexities of unfamiliar software. And while easy-to-use or out-of-the-box tools can make this process simpler, they don’t get rid of all challenges. Ballerinas go through hundreds of pointe shoes each year but still need to break in every new pair they put on.

This is especially true when QA teams switch from an all-manual approach to an automated one. It can be arduous adapting to new practices, learning different methodologies, and troubleshooting issues. But if testers can push through this discomfort, it’s possible to accelerate release cycles, detect more bugs, and achieve significant cost and time savings.

Finding the Right Rhythm

Rhythm is the heartbeat of any dance. It anchors the movements and provides structure for the whole routine. But as dancers know, a complex step can throw the whole number off – making it easy to get off beat.

QA teams, especially those practicing agile, strive to find their own rhythm. This comes through creating and executing repeatable tests that produce reliable results. But much like adding a triple pirouette into a routine, adding more complexity to an application can throw testing cycles off rhythm.

To ensure they don’t miss a beat, it’s crucial for testers to devise effective testing strategies early in the development process. After all, an untestable app is an unusable app. While initial estimates may not always be spot-on, they can be honed with each agile sprint to find the right rhythm.

Adopting a robust and scalable automated testing tool will also help ensure seamless cycles when applications grow larger. This will facilitate a clear organization of test cases and enable the scalability of tests across various environments.

Maintaining Stability

Picture a dancer falling on stage. It’s tough to watch and disrupts the whole performance. It also puts the audience on edge, wondering if it may happen again during the routine.

Just as a dancer needs to be surefooted, maintaining test stability is critical for seamless quality assurance. Unstable or “flaky” tests often result in unreliable outcomes that lead to poor application quality. And if the end-user has a bad experience, chances are they’ll be hesitant to use the application again.

Flaky tests can be caused by several factors, including application changes, inconsistent testing environments, or data dependency. To ensure test stability, it’s important to practice regular script maintenance, environment management, careful data handling, and robust error-handling mechanisms.

Better Collaboration for Greater Impact

When watching a group dance performance, it’s captivating to see people moving in harmony. But this doesn’t happen by accident. It takes extra communication and teamwork to make a complex routine seem effortless. And the commitment of each person is vital to deliver a great performance, be it on stage or in the software space.

QA teams must work collaboratively. This involves crafting tests and solving complex problems together. While testers are the drivers for quality, they are not the sole owners of it.

Tight collaboration with the development team and other stakeholders helps to create fast feedback cycles and deliver high-quality software. Everyone involved needs to clearly communicate progress, share their learnings, and provide clear visibility into their work.

But collaboration doesn’t stop within one organization. Online QA communities are the backbone of the automation space. Input from fellow testers in open-source communities or X (Twitter) groups can foster real innovation. Developers and testers from all corners of the world come together to contribute to and improve tools or ideas, forming a global community of experts. This collaborative spirit continuously pushes the boundaries of what is achievable in the field of test automation.

The Grand Finale: Elevating Software Quality

When there is a big software release or product launch, it often feels like a grand finale. And in many ways, it is. It could be the culmination of months or even years of hard work, which should be celebrated.

But unlike the finale of a show, this moment is just a step in an ongoing journey toward improving software for users. For even the most skilled professionals, whether it be in dance or software testing, this includes continuous process refinement and skill enhancement.

To achieve this, QAs may invest their time in mastering new testing methods or scripting languages. This dedication to improvement ensures that their automation efforts remain effective in the ever-evolving landscape of software development.

By embracing the artistic view of test automation, we not only help enhance the quality of software but also elevate the craft itself. Testers are the true unsung artists of the digital realm. And just as dancers grace the stage with beauty and finesse, testers play a vital role in bringing the software we use every day to life.

Megan Donovan

About Megan Donovan

Megan Donovan is a test automation advocate at SmartBear, becoming a driving force in the UI test automation and test management space. Beyond her daily responsibilities, she actively champions the adoption of test automation through blog contributions and community involvement. With a bachelor's degree in drama performance and creative writing from Hofstra University, Megan brings a unique blend of creative thinking and technical prowess to the world of software testing.

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