How Automated Testing Can Improve Performance and Efficiency

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Automated Software Testing

Manual or Automated Testing for Your Software?

No matter how skilled your Ruby, JavaScript, or PHP programmer maybe, they WILL make mistakes. Mistakes are unfortunately inevitable, especially if the application you are writing is highly complex. To ensure that these mistakes do not get through to the customer however, your development team will employ some form of testing.

The problem with this is however that testing is not really adding any value to the product, it can be time-consuming and thus expensive. It can also cause significant delays to your project if the coders have to wait while the tests are completed before they are able to continue with their work.

Manual testing takes time, often a huge amount of time. Imagine if you have a piece of software with multiple forms to fill in. Each form has multiple fields for information. It could take several minutes to simply complete each form and see if the information is accepted. Then you need to check that the information is actually being used and stored the way that it should be. If you discover a fault and feed it back to the team, you will then need to repeat this test all over again to see if the issue has been truly fixed or if it has triggered other issues. Imagine again, having to do these tests repeatedly as each revision is made to the software. Not only will it be time consuming it will also be boring.

Boring work makes mistakes. Entrusting people to check for errors is never going to be infallible. People overlook things and make mistakes of their own. No matter how good your QA team is, there will always be times that they themselves will make mistakes.

You will want your testing to be done as quickly as possible while also delivering accurate results. You will also want those tests to be wholly repeatable so that they can be rerun and compared to previous results as your PHP development team revise and build your software.

Thankfully, just as you can write an app to deliver the functionality that your customers are looking for, you can also build software to test that software. Automated software testing can help you to get your testing done in a more repeatable and quicker manner.

However, for small companies, there is often a reluctance to invest in automated testing. The reason for this is that it will cost you money upfront to develop the tools that you need for the task. While this may be the case, for most projects this initial investment in time and money will be recouped many times over.

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How Can Automated Testing Improve Performance and Efficiency?

In any Agile team, you will be looking to gain feedback as quickly as possible. Using manual testing, however, can cause you significant delays and one easy way around this is to introduce automated testing of your software.

When hiring PHP programmer talent you will want to check their preference with regards to manual and automatic testing. Many can be highly biased as to what they prefer and you need to ensure that you provide what is best for your project. You also have to consider beyond the initial project if the app that is to be designed is likely to grow and be revised in the future.

As with any decision your PHP programmer needs to make a decision based on the likely return on investment. Designing a piece of automated testing software will cost money and take time in itself. But you need to weigh this against the time and money saved later within the project. Often automated tools can do the work that would take days to do manually in a matter of hours or even minutes.

So what are the realities of automated testing? How can it really help you? The following are just a few of the significant benefits of using software to test software:

  • Cost Savings: hiring someone to undertake testing can be an expensive proposition. Especially if those tests will need to be repeated on a regular basis. This is not a task that can be relegated to unskilled labor either. Often your PHP website programmer and other coding professionals will have to be heavily involved. Your PHP programmer salary is not going to be a minimal expense and you will want them to be concentrating their time on writing the software not testing it.
  • Savings in time: not only can the software enter the test case data more quickly, but it can also do so out of your normal working hours. Often lengthy automated tests can be set to run overnight if they need to be, providing you with the results that you need in the morning. More often than not, however, your tests can be completed in a matter of minutes rather than waiting many hours or days for someone to do the task manually.
  • Perfect repeatability: people, as already stated, make mistakes. Automated testing software will be able to run your tests in precisely the same way time after time. That way you can always be sure that you are comparing like with like when you compare the test results from different versions of your software.
  • Quicker regression testing: this is testing the software whenever a new feature is added or other changes are made. This is done to ensure that whatever you have changed will not have any unexpected knock-on effect within the software. If you were relying only on manual testing it would be highly tempting to only test those parts of the software that appear to be directly linked to the changes that you have made. At times however issues can develop elsewhere in the system that are not so obvious to see. Tracing them later can then be a real headache. Automated testing allows you to check everything quickly so there is no need to compromise for the sake of speed.
  • Allows staff to concentrate on their main tasks: coders can concentrate on getting their work done rather than on doing repetitive testing tasks that are better left to automatic testing. This also includes your testers, by having the simpler tasks automated they can then concentrate on issues that may be harder or more expensive to automate.
  • More complex testing: one of the most impressive things with using automated tools is that you can have more areas covered during the test. You can for instance monitor memory usage and how other programs are utilized while running your tests. You can also do things that may not be possible when doing the work manually such as testing how the software handles multiple users at the same time.
  • Continuous testing: not every project will have stop and start development and await for results before getting on with the programming work. There are many times when you will want automated testing that is able to run on a continuous basis as you make your changes and additions.
  • Covers multiple platforms: your testing can be repeated multiple times when using your app on different operating systems and the like. When using manual testing it can be tempting to run fewer tests on operating systems and platforms that may be less likely to have your app run on them. This can leave you open to issues later when your app is on the market. By using automated testing you are able to quickly test multiple environments for your app without excessive workload.
  • Enables frequent testing: another issue with manual testing is that often the frequency of tests is reduced due to cost and time constraints. While this can be fine if everything goes well it can make for hard going if problems are later discovered and you have to find out where and why.

Should You Be Using Automated Testing or Manual Methods?

Automated testing offers many benefits over manual testing. However, it does not mean that you should completely stop your manual testing. Often issues come to light when someone does something out of the norm with the software, something that a highly repetitive piece of test software simply will not do.

Software is perfect for testing when you want to run data through your app to see that it works as it should. However, that software still needs to be designed and will only do what is asked of it. If it is poorly designed at the start then it may not provide you with the protection that you are looking for with your project.

Automated testing is always the best choice if you are going to be conducting a large volume of repetitive tests on a regular basis. Especially if those tests will need to be repeated on different platforms and configurations. It is also best if you will need to enter large data sets and for testing, that would simply be impossible for you to do manually.

Always do your homework at the start, you will often find that the return on your investment in setting up automatic software testing will be significant when compared to running the tests manually. That is without taking into account the many other benefits that it offers such as repeatability and accuracy.

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Kateryna Boiko is a Marketing Director at Mobilunity, Provider of Dedicated Development Teams with 9 years of hands-on experience in digital marketing. Kateryna managed to work with diverse industries and markets and now is keen on sharing unique cases with the world and coach on topics relevant to Web Analytics and Search Engine Optimization.

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