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TEST AUTOMATION


PAYMON KHAMOOSHI DIRECTOR GEEKS LTD


WWW.GEEKS.LTD.UK


MAKING TESTING MORE EFFICIENT


Making the testing process more efficient should be a priority for all companies developing software. Paymon Khamooshi shows how his company, Geeks Ltd has made improvements by automating the most time-consuming elements of the testing process.


esting is of central importance in software development, but a thorough testing regime can eat up an enormous amount of a project’s resources. Depending on the development process followed, testing can take up to 50-60 percent of a project’s time. And although testing is meant to be a method for mitigating risks, if designed improperly it can actually introduce more risk into a system. With so much at stake it is therefore unsurprising that making testing more efficient is a priority for software developers everywhere.


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At my own company, Geeks Ltd, we have tackled this problem by automating the most time-consuming elements of the testing process, and this has created enormous efficiencies that span several levels. Using our own programming language called M#, we have reduced testing times for our .NET web applications by up to 75 percent. We have also managed to substantially reduce risks in several areas of development, sometimes in ways that are not immediately obvious.


Because the stakes are so high, I strongly encourage every programming executive to re-examine their development process and identify areas where automation can improve their testing regime.


Here are the areas where I believe automated testing offers the most value:


• Elimination of human error; • Automated unit test creation; • Automated testing data creation; • Human resources (smaller development teams); • Assisting Agile development.


ELIMINATION OF HUMAN ERROR


A well-designed test will root out any human error from the finished code, but test coding is just as susceptible to human error as any type of coding. By automating as


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much of the test creation process as possible, designers can ensure the creation of quality, error-free code, and free themselves up for higher value functions.


Repetitive and monotonous functions benefit the most from automation. These tasks are not only time consuming, but are also naturally fertile ground for errors to creep into a system. Whenever possible, programmers should be offered pre-written coding options to choose from, much as mobile phone users are given options with predictive text. This ensures consistent, pre-tested coding is used as much as possible, and insures against coding mistakes.


Besides the obvious value of eliminating mistakes from software testing, automation also realises enormous time- savings in the development process across several other layers. Eliminating errors at the creation stage means they will not pop up later in the development process (which can cost both time and money). As well, by taking the repetitive activities away from the development team there is more time to allocate to higher-value testing. The more time your team can allocate to higher-value testing, the better quality finished product.


AUTOMATED UNIT TESTING


Software is tested on several levels and, as a general rule, the lower the level, the more monotonous and repetitive the work involved. The most basic level, known as the ‘unit test,’ verifies the functionality of each and every object in the system. Unit Tests by themselves won’t verify that the system as a whole works, but they do make sure that each of the building blocks in the system are themselves sound. The more unit tests that are written and deployed, the more assurance developers can have that they are designing a solid, robust system.


Unfortunately, creating and executing unit tests is extremely repetitive, and is often not the best use of


APRIL 2013 | www.testmagazine.co.uk


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