Software testing is a complex business, but it can be simply understood by newcomers when broken down into the two main types of test methodology.
Manual testing is carried out by human QA specialists, while automated testing is handled by software. This is not enough to give you much insight, so let’s hone in on more of the specific differences and distinctions of manual and automated testing to bring you into the loop.
The Appeal of Automation
Automated software testing is not an especially new concept, although it has come a long way in a fairly short period.
In the past, developers would need to code their own tests to root out issues with projects they were working on. Today, codeless automation testing tools exist to ensure even non-technical team members can make and alter tests on the fly.
The first and most obvious benefit of automated testing is that it can be carried out repeatedly, with exactly the same aspects of the software put through their paces. This means that if changes are made, you can reliably know whether or not a bug has been fixed without having to go through the same testing steps time after time.
This also means that human error is taken out of the equation, although to be more exact it has actually moved. Testing may be endlessly repeatable, but if the test itself has been scripted imperfectly, then there is still room for errors and unhelpful outcomes.
The Enduring Importance of Manual Testing
Manual testing has been part of product development for decades, and this is still the case in the world of software.
Human testers are tasked with exploring the way a program performs and functions, with a view to revealing flaws so that these can be fixed before launch.
The two main downsides of manual testing are the time it takes for human testers to follow the desired testing criteria and the tedium that this can evoke in them.
However, automated testing tools have not rendered manual testing completely redundant. One of the things that the manual approach offers is the ability to test for more complex circumstances within the software and to get that indescribable human insight into whether or not an application is firing on all cylinders.
In many instances, QA staff will not only carry out the testing but also put them together in the first place.
This leads to another issue; that limited test coverage. Manual testers only have so much time in the day to design and implement tests, so they do not have a hope of exploring every aspect of a project to the fullest.
The Combination of These Approaches
As you may have worked out by now, in most software development studios a healthy mix of automated and manual testing is used both during development and after launch to pinpoint and patch problems with the code.
The rise of automation, both scripted and codeless, has accelerated the speed with which testing can be implemented. It has also meant that developers can afford to test their software more frequently, without this slowing them down. As such, inadequacies tend to be noticed sooner rather than later, speeding up development cycles and delivering better experiences to end-users.For the time being, manual testing still sits alongside automated tools to test and validate software. Complex or user-facing elements still need the manual touch, and typically a hybrid approach will be used since there is really no need to pick one at the expense of the other.