Having been in the testing field for almost 18 years I’d say that most of my value-added work for various organisations hasn’t been and is not easily automatable. Dare I call myself a ‘sapient’, intelligent, creative human being whose key contributions have been derived from the grey matter between my ears and a combination of using my powers of persuasion, risk analysis, test analysis and design, sales (as in continuously selling the value and importance of testing), prioritisation, exploration, conversation, mapping, drawing, suggesting alternative design solutions, solving complex problems, challenging and verifying assumptions, questioning, lateral thinking, reviewing, being a soundboard, counselling, mentoring, coaching, sharing a drink with the team, and for having a realistic understanding of what might annoy or please the various stakeholders involved (understanding usability, reliability, performance and security concerns that may not be well understood by project stakeholders) among other ‘skills’ – writing short sentences is obviously not one of them.
In those 18 years I have used plenty of automation – but only to help me achieve my goals and to make my work less of a burden on myself and the rest of the project team– test and defect management tools, static testing tools, excel macros, SQL querying tools, test execution tools, test design tools, exploratory testing tools etc. – the main thing is that I’ve been in control of the tools and not vice versa.
I have also been in the awful position of having to run the same suite of tests, again and again, to check for regression – hours upon hours of monotony and repetition is not my idea of fun nor is it particularly motivating – if there are tools that can help me get some of that work done then hallelujah. Then there’s set up and generation of data, set up and configuring test environments, reporting on progress – I could do with some automated assistance here too.
I really don’t think the manual tester will die out – I don’t think Colin really meant that either – but the use of test automation in its many guises is becoming more and more prolific – and if these tools can help us spend time on ‘higher value’ work then we should welcome that. I suppose it would be much more helpful if we were more open to the benefits of test automation and be less fearful of it.
Post by Toby Thompson