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Building Testing Competency

September 5, 2010 2 comments
Process-data diagram of Open source software d...
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Building a testing competency isn’t easy and doesn’t happen over a period of a month or so.. its a continuous approach and over a period of time it can be achieved. But how long the period will be nobody can say and cant set a definite target as well but yes certainly can put some plan in place and try to achieve the target.

While plan for building a testing competency there are so many things to which has to be taken care of and points listed below are more or less part of all types of plans.

  1. Scope
  2. Knowledge on Subject matter
  3. Resource
  4. Process
  5. Best Practices
  6. Proof Of Concepts
  7. Dependency
  8. Environment
  9. Tools
  10. Domain

Scope: while deciding the scope the first thing you need to look after is the which area or types of testing you need to start the competency. If you consider everything related to testing while starting then things will be very complex and building competency will be difficult if you are a single person. But if a team is working on building competency on different types of competency and at-least one person is concentrating on one type like regression competency, open source tool competency, performance competency etc then it can be achieved.

Knowledge on Subject matter : The person who is going to build and design the competency should be very strong in the subject matter of the competency. The basics of the subject matter should be very clear to him based on the process, technology, methodology, frameworks etc. If he is confused then he can never drive the team and make the basics clear for others and his client presentation can not be very effective.

Resource: This is one of the most important aspect since its the resource who is going to build with other resource. So the selection of the resource should be done properly. Not all testers can be part of this. Resource with good experience, strong understanding, ready to accept challenge and have more then basics knowledge of coding should be considered.

Process: The process should be defined and adhered to reach the target faster and effectively. Now when i say process it includes rules and regulations to be followed , documentations and its standards, checklists, reviews, audit standards etc.

Best Practices: The learning’s from previous projects or POC‘s , from previous companies and if you are part of some competency before those experiences count a lot and can be handy while building a new competency.

Proof Of Concepts : Doing POC’s is vital but starting the first POC is always a challenge. Deciding what aspects of the subject should be covered in the POC is very important.But if you have prior experience of POC or strong understanding and knowledge of the subject matter, will help you in doing this.

Dependency : The most important aspect for excelling the competency is reducing the redundancy. I have noticed the most of the competencies depending on a single resource and once the resource left the company the competency became unstable or unsuccessful. So reducing the dependency is a must.

Environment: Another aspect which is of prime importance. When I say environment I includes the hardware and software requirement. Because of the security reasons most of the companies don’t allow open source software or 3rd party softwares  to be downloaded. Since servers are costly availing those is not easy for the competency team. So companies have to be relax their rules a bit for the competency group, which needs lots of approval and it has its own challenges.

Tools: Availability of tools for the competency is very vital. Normally getting the paid tool is a challenge or installing open source tool is also a problem because of security issues. Even getting the supporting tools is also tough. I have always face challenges for tools.

Domain: Some customer values and prefer domain specific competency related to technology, like Automation testing competency for Heathcare domain . So they get the confidence that the company has done extensive study on how to handle automation related project for healthcare domain. So while doing POC’s those kind of things can be kep in mind  and case studies can be prepared based on that.

I believe these points are mandatory for building a testing competency. The points are not in chronological order. Please provide your inputs and correct me wherever i am wrong.

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Scripting Techniques in Test Automation

From easy techniques as record and playback to more advanced techniques like keyword driven testing we have numerous options as far as test automation is concern. The test manager has to choose wisely the technique to minimize the cost for development and maintenance. The various test automation techniques are as follows.

1.      Linear

2.      Structured

3.      Shared

4.      Data Driven

5.      Keyword driven

Linear Scripting

Linear scripting approach is simple record and playback approach of test automation. It can contain some redundant functions etc which may not be required at times.

Pros And cons of Leaner Scripting.

1.      A non-structured way of programming.

2.      Very low development cost.

3.      Programming skills required is negligible.

4.      No planning required.

5.      Data is hard coded in the script.

6.      Maintenance cost is high.

7.      No sharing of scripts done so efforts are often repeated.

Structured Programming

Structured programming uses control structures in the scripts so testers can control the flow of the test script. The control structures used are ‘if- else’, ‘for’, ‘while’, ‘select-case‘ statements which help in implementing decision making in the script, making some tasks iteratively.

Pros and cons of Structured Programming

1.      A structured approach of scripting.

2.      Dev elopement cost is relatively higher then leaner programming.

3.      Intermediate programming skills are required.

4.      To some extent planning is required.

5.      Data is hard coded in the script.

6.      Maintenance cost is relatively low comparing to linear programming.

7.      Since control structures are used so scripting efforts increases to some extent.

Shared/Modular Scripting

In this technique the scripts representing a application behavior is shared with other scripts. This means the AUT common functionality is scripted as shared scripts and will be called by other scripts to complete the test cases. So the re-usability factor is very high. This makes the scripts modular in terms of common functionality. Such scripts sometimes can be used for other applications as well.

Pros and cons of Shared Programming.

1.      Scripts are more structured then the structured approach of programming.

2.      Development costs are reduced relative to structured scripting since the effort duplication is reduced.

3.      Intermediate programming skills are required.

4.      More planning is needed comparing to structured programming.

5.      Data is hard coded in scripts.

6.      Maintenance cost is lower than linear programming.

Data Driven Scripting

This technique separates data from the scripts and stores the data in external repository in the form of files. So the script just contains the programmed code not the data. This useful when the data changes over time and cycle. Script need not be changed for change in data.

Pros and Cons of Data Driven Scripting

1.      Scripts are programmed in a structured manner.

2.      Development cost is relatively high because of parametrization.

3.      High programming skills are required.

4.     More planning is needed.

5.      Data is isolated in data tables or external files.

6.      Script maintenance is low.

7.      Recommended to be used where positive and negative testing both are involved.

Keyword Driven Scripting

In this approach the control to check and execute operations are mentained with exernal data files. So the test data and the operations of the test is planned in external data files. Extra library is needed to interpret this data in addition to the conventional script. Its an extension of data driven testing.

Pros and Cons of Keyword Driven Scripting.

1.      it combines the data driven, shared and structured programming techniques.

2.      Development cost high since testing planning effort is high.

3.      High programming skills are required by tester.

4.      Initial planning cost is high.

5.      Data exists in the external files.

6.      Maintenance cost is very low.

7.      Extra framework and library is needed and hence more programming skills is required.

This is my piece of understanding about various types of test automation scripting methodology. I am open for your comments to enhance it make it more meaningful .Please provide your valuable feedback.

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