Although software test automation is a specialization in the field of software quality engineering, it is very vast in scope. This scope is further expanding horizons today with increasing demand for automation testing services across a range of areas in the product development portfolio. When automation came into the lime light and in a tester’s charter about couple of decades ago, the focus in quality was primarily black box – obviously, automation also followed suit and was heavily reliant on record and play tools focusing on front end automation.
This evolved over the years simultaneously as quality and engineering practices matured in organizations, and the roles of testers that underwent a significant change. Today, it stands vast in scope, and some core areas that are covered include functional automation (front and back end, with a focus on services automation), automation of regression cycles, unit test automation, huge surge in automation of non-functional areas including performance, security, localization (both functional and non-functional), usability and accessibility, automation of test data generation and reporting. Regression for these non-functional areas is also a growing need, making it inevitable to bring in test automation services across the board. While automation has become very sophisticated in its overall modelling including frameworks and tools to make it very reliable, robust and scalable, there are still record and play tools which are used in automating large enterprise software. Automation testers cover the whole gamut of both very high end programmers as well as functional testers who understand the system very well but who do not have much coding knowledge. Regardless of where you fit in, a few key pointers to remember would be to look beyond the core day to day coding activities – to ensure the purpose of automation is understood and to look for ways to optimize, to ensure minimal code, maximum reusability, scalability and reliance that it can bring in in its outcomes.
The scope of test automation will only continue to rise as new technologies flood the market, as new products are churned day in and out – as people who understand the product ecosystem and the need for overall quality we need to strategize how automation will help us achieve our end goals rather than looking at automation as an end goal in itself.