Experiences of Test Automation: Case Studies of Software Test Automation

Dorothy Graham / Mark Fewster  
Total pages
January 2012
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Software test automation has moved beyond a luxury to become a necessity. Applications and systems have grown ever larger and more complex, and manual testing simply cannot keep up. As technology changes, and more organizations move into agile development, testing must adapt-and quickly. Test automation is essential, but poor automation is wasteful-how do you know where your efforts will take you?


Authors Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster wrote the field's seminal text, Software Test Automation, which has guided many organizations toward success. Now, in Experiences of Test Automation, they reveal test automation at work in a wide spectrum of organizations and projects, from complex government systems to medical devices, SAP business process development to Android mobile apps and cloud migrations. This book addresses both management and technical issues, describing failures and successes, brilliant ideas and disastrous decisions and, above all, offers specific lessons you can use.

Coverage includes

  • Test automation in agile development

  • How management support can make or break successful automation

  • The importance of a good testware architecture and abstraction levels

  • Measuring benefits and Return on Investment (ROI)

  • Management issues, including skills, planning, scope, and expectations

  • Model-Based Testing (MBT), monkey testing, and exploratory test automation

  • The importance of standards, communication, documentation, and flexibility in enterprise-wide automation

  • Automating support activities

  • Which tests to automate, and what not to automate

  • Hidden costs of automation: maintenance and failure analysis

  • The right objectives for test automation: why “finding bugs” may not be a good objective

  • Highlights, consisting of lessons learned, good points, and helpful tips

Experiences of Test Automation will be invaluable to everyone considering, implementing, using, or managing test automation. Testers, analysts, developers, automators and automation architects, test managers, project managers, QA professionals, and technical directors will all benefit from reading this book.

Table of Contents

Foreword xxix

Preface xxxi


Reflections on the Case Studies (by Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster ) 1

A Management Issues 2

B Technical Issues 8

C Conclusion 16


Chapter 1: An Agile Team's Test Automation Journey: The First Year (by Lisa Crispin) 17

1.1 Background for the Case Study 18

1.2 Whole Team Commitment 19

1.3 Setting Up the Automation Strategy 20

1.4 Applying Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD) to Test behind the GUI Using FitNesse 24

1.5 Use an Incremental Approach 26

1.6 The Right Metrics 27

1.7 Celebrate Successes 28

1.8 Incorporate Engineering Sprints 28

1.9 Team Success 29

1.10 Continuous Improvement 31

1.11 Conclusion 32


Chapter 2: The Ultimate Database Automation (by Henri van de Scheur) 33

2.1 Background for the Case Study 33

2.2 Software under Test 35

2.3 Objectives for Test Automation 36

2.4 Developing Our Inhouse Test Tool 37

2.5 Our Results 40

2.6 Managing Our Automated Tests 40

2.7 Test Suites and Types 41

2.8 Today's Situation 43

2.9 Pitfalls Encountered and Lessons Learned (the Hard Way) 43

2.10 How We Applied Advice from the Test Automation Book 45

2.11 Conclusion 47

2.12 Acknowledgments 48


Chapter 3: Moving to the Cloud: The Evolution of TiP, Continuous Regression Testing in Production (by Ken Johnston and Felix Deschamps) 49

3.1 Background for the Case Study 50

3.2 Moving Our Testing into the Cloud 52

3.3 How We Implemented TiP 55

3.4 Sample of Monthly Service Review Scorecards 58

3.5 Exchange TiP v2-Migrating TiP to the Windows Azure Cloud 62

3.6 What We Learned 63

3.7 Conclusion 67

3.8 Acknowledgments 67


Chapter 4: The Automator Becomes the Automated (by Bo Roop) 69

4.1 Background for the Case Study: My First Job 69

4.2 My Great Idea . . . 72

4.3 A Breakthrough 74

4.4 Conclusion 80


Chapter 5: Autobiography of an Automator: From Mainframe to Framework Automation (by John Kent) 83

5.1 Background for the Case Study 84

5.2 A Mainframe Green-Screen Automation Project 88

5.3 Difference between Mainframe and Script-Based Tools 89

5.4 Using the New Script-Based Tools 91

5.5 Automating Tests for IBM Maximo 97

5.6 Conclusion 102

5.7 Additional Reading 103


Chapter 6: Project 1: Failure!, Project 2: Success! (by Ane Clausen) 105

6.1 Background for the Case Study 105

6.2 Project 1: Failure! 107

6.3 Project 2: Success! 109

6.4 The Next Time Period: Testing for Real 118

6.5 Conclusion 127


Chapter 7: Automating the Testing of Complex Government Systems (by Elfriede Dustin) 129

7.1 Background for the Case Study 129

7.2 Our Requirements for Automation 131

7.3 Automated Test and Re-Test (ATRT), Our Automated Testing Solution-What Is It? 132

7.4 Automated Testing Solution Applied 140

7.5 Conclusion 142


Chapter 8: Device Simulation Framework (by Alan Page) 143

8.1 Background for the Case Study 143

8.2 The Birth of Device Simulation Framework (DSF) 145

8.3 Building the DSF 146

8.4 Automation Goals 148

8.5 Case Studies 149

8.6 No Silver Bullets 153

8.7 Conclusion 154

8.8 Acknowledgments 154


Chapter 9: Model-Based Test-Case Generation in ESA Projects (by Stefan Mohacsi and Armin Beer) 155

9.1 Background for the Case Study 155

9.2 Model-Based Testing and Test-Case Generation 157

9.3 Our Application: ESA Multi-Mission User Services 161

9.4 Experience and Lessons Learned 168

9.5 Conclusion 173

9.6 References 174

9.7 Acknowledgments 175


Chapter 10: Ten Years On and Still Going (by Simon Mills) 177

10.1 Background for the Case Study: “Before” 177

10.2 Insurance Quotation Systems Tested Automatically Every Month 179

10.3 What Happened Next? 193

10.4 Conclusion 193


Chapter 11: A Rising Phoenix from the Ashes (by Jason Weden) 197

11.1 Background for the Case Study 197

11.2 The Birth of the Phoenix 199

11.3 The Death of the Phoenix 202

11.4 The Rebirth of the Phoenix 203

11.5 The New Life of the Phoenix 207

11.6 Conclusion 212


Chapter 12: Automating the Wheels of Bureaucracy (by Damon Yerg [A Pseudonym]) 217

12.1 Background for the Case Study 217

12.2 The Agency Automation 219

12.3 From 2000 to 2008 223

12.4 An Alignment of Planets 226

12.5 Building Capability within Test Teams 231

12.6 Future Directions: The Journey Continues 233

12.7 Conclusion 235


Chapter 13: Automated Reliability Testing Using Hardware Interfaces (by Bryan Bakker) 237

13.1 Background for the Case Study 238

13.2 The Need for Action 239

13.3 Test Automation Startup (Incremental Approach) 240

13.4 Buy-In from Management 242

13.5 Further Development of Test Framework 244

13.6 Deployment and Improved Reporting 248

13.7 Conclusion 250


Chapter 14: Model-Based GUI Testing of Android Applications (by Antti Jääskeläinen, Tommi Takala, and Mika Katara) 253

14.1 Background for the Case Study 253

14.2 MBT with TEMA Toolset 256

14.3 Modeling Application Behavior 261

14.4 Generation of Tests 266

14.5 Connectivity and Adaptation 268

14.6 Results 272

14.7 Conclusion 273

14.8 Acknowledgments 274

14.9 References 274


Chapter 15: Test Automation of SAP Business Processes (by Christoph Mecke, Melanie Reinwarth, and Armin Gienger) 277

15.1 Background for the Case Study 278

15.2 Standards and Best Practices 282

15.3 eCATT Usage Examples 286

15.4 Conclusion 292

15.5 Acknowledgments 293


Chapter 16: Test Automation of a SAP Implementation (by Björn Boisschot) 295

16.1 Background for the Case Study 295

16.2 Project Overview 298

16.3 Phase 1: Proof of Concept 299

16.4 Phase 2: Project Start 307

16.5 Conclusion 319


Chapter 17: Choosing the Wrong Tool (by Michael Williamson) 321

17.1 Background for the Case Study 321

17.2 Our Preexisting Automation (or Lack Thereof) 324

17.3 Decision Needed: New Tool or Major Maintenance Effort? 326

17.4 Moving Forward with eggPlant 328

17.5 What Did We Do after eggPlant? 336

17.6 Conclusion 336


Chapter 18: Automated Tests for Marketplace Systems: Ten Years and Three Frameworks (by Lars Wahlberg) 339

18.1 Background for the Case Study 340

18.2 Automated Test Frameworks 341

18.3 Test Roles 344

18.4 Abstraction Layer 345

18.5 Configuration 348

18.6 Cost and ROI 349

18.7 Conclusion 352


Chapter 19: There's More to Automation Than Regression Testing: Thinking Outside the Box (by Jonathan Kohl) 355

19.1 Background for the Case Study 355

19.2 Two Tales of Task Automation 357

19.3 Automation to Support Manual Exploratory Testing 362

19.4 Automating Data Interactions 364

19.5 Automation and Monitoring 368

19.6 Simulating Real-World Loads by Combining Simple Tools 370

19.7 Conclusion 372

19.8 References 372


Chapter 20: Software for Medical Devices and Our Need for Good Software Test Automation (by Albert Farré Benet, Christian Ekiza Lujua, Helena Soldevila Grau, Manel Moreno Jáimez, Fernando Monferrer Pérez, and Celestina Bianco) 375

20.1 Background for the Case Study 376

20.2 Comparison of the Different Approaches to Each Project 381

20.3 Project hamlet 385

20.4 Project phoenix 386

20.5 Project doityourself 388

20.6 Project miniweb 391

20.7 Test Execution 392

20.8 Result Reporting 393

20.9 Conclusion 396


Chapter 21: Automation through the Back Door (by Supporting Manual Testing) (by Seretta Gamba) 401

21.1 Background for the Case Study 401

21.2 Our Technical Solution 403

21.3 Implementing Test Automation with ISS Test Station 406

21.4 Implementing Test Automation 409

21.5 Supporting Manual Testing 413

21.6 The New Manual Test Process 417

21.7 Conclusion 422

21.8 References 423


Chapter 22: Test Automation as an Approach to Adding Value to Portability Testing (by Wim Demey) 425

22.1 Background for the Case Study 427

22.2 Portability Testing: Love or Hate It 428

22.3 Combination of Both Worlds as a Solution 428

22.4 Conclusion 435

22.5 Acknowledgment 435


Chapter 23: Automated Testing in an Insurance Company: Feeling Our Way (by Ursula Friede) 437

23.1 Background for the Case Study 437

23.2 The Application 439

23.3 Objectives 440

23.4 The Work 441

23.5 Lessons 443

23.6 Conclusion 444


Chapter 24: Adventures with Test Monkeys (by John Fodeh) 447

24.1 Background for the Case Study 447

24.2 Limitations of Automated Regression Testing 449

24.3 Test Monkeys 451

24.4 Implementing Test Monkeys 453

24.5 Using Test Monkeys 454

24.6 Benefits and Limitations 458

24.7 Conclusion 459

24.8 Additional Reading 460


Chapter 25: System-of-Systems Test Automation at NATS (by Mike Baxter, Nick Flynn, Christopher Wills, and Michael Smith) 461

25.1 Background for the Case Study 461

25.2 Test Execution Tool Integration 465

25.3 Pilot Project for the Tool 466

25.4 In-Service Model 467

25.5 Implementation 467

25.6 Typical Script Template 470

25.7 Lessons Learned 472

25.8 Conclusion 474


Chapter 26: Automating Automotive Electronics Testing (by Ross Timmerman and Joseph Stewart) 477

26.1 Background for the Case Study 477

26.2 Objectives for Automation Project 480

26.3 Brief History of the Automation Project 480

26.4 Results of the Automation Project 483

26.5 Conclusion 483


Chapter 27: BHAGs, Change, and Test Transformation (by Ed Allen and Brian Newman) 485

27.1 Background for the Case Study 485

27.2 Buy-In 487

27.3 The Story of Building the Automation Framework 491

27.4 Description of our Automation Framework 493

27.5 The Test Environment 497

27.6 Metrics 499

27.7 Conclusion 501


Chapter 28: Exploratory Test Automation: An Example Ahead of Its Time (by Harry Robinson and Ann Gustafson Robinson) 505

28.1 Background for the Case Study 505

28.2 What's a Trouble Manager? 507

28.3 Testing a Trouble Manager Transaction 509

28.4 Constructing Test Cases Programmatically 510

28.5 New Ways to Think about Automated Tests 511

28.6 Testing the Trouble Manager Workflow 513

28.7 Test Generation in Action 518

28.8 Home Stretch 520

28.9 Post-Release 521

28.10 Conclusion 522

28.11 Acknowledgments 522


Chapter 29: Test Automation Anecdotes 523

29.1 Three Grains of Rice (by Randy Rice) 523

29.2 Understanding Has to Grow (by Molly Mahai) 527

29.3 First Day Automated Testing (by Jonathon Lee Wright) 528

29.4 Attempting to Get Automation Started (by Tessa Benzie) 535

29.5 Struggling with (against) Management (by Kai Sann) 536

29.6 Exploratory Test Automation: Database Record Locking (by Douglas Hoffman) 538

29.7 Lessons Learned from Test Automation in an Embedded Hardware-Software Computer Environment (by Jon Hagar) 545

29.8 The Contagious Clock (by Jeffrey S. Miller) 549

29.9 Flexibility of the Automation System (by Mike Bartley) 551

29.10 A Tale of Too Many Tools (and Not Enough Cross-Department Support) (by Adrian Smith) 552

29.11 A Success with a Surprising End (by George Wilkinson) 556

29.12 Cooperation Can Overcome Resource Limitations (by Michael Albrecht) 561

29.13 An Automation Process for Large-Scale Success (by Michael Snyman) 562

29.14 Test Automation Isn't Always What It Seems (by Julian Harty) 567


Appendix: Tools 573


About the Case Study Authors 587

About the Book Authors 605

Index 607


Dorothy Graham is a world-renowned consultant, speaker, and author with nearly forty years of experience in software testing. After nineteen years with Grove Consultants, she now concentrates on conferences and writing. She was Programme Chair for the 1993 and 2009 EuroSTAR conferences and holds the European Excellence Award in Software Testing. Mark Fewster has thirty years of software testing and automation experience. As developer and manager for a multi-platform graphical application, he designed an architecture for long-lasting test automation. With Grove Consultants since 1993, he provides training and consultancy in all aspects of software testing. Graham and Fewster coauthored the popular book Software Test Automation (Addison-Wesley, 1999).


Contributed chapter lead authors include Lisa Crispin, Henri van de Scheur, Ken Johnston, Bo Roop, John Kent, Ane Clausen, Elfriede Dustin, Alan Page, Stefan Mohacsi, Simon Mills, Jason Weden, Bryan Bakker, Antti Jääskeläinen, Christoph Mecke, Björn Boisschot, Michael Williamson, Lars Wahlberg, Jonathan Kohl, Albert Farré Benet, Seretta Gamba, Wim Demey, Ursula Friede, John Fodeh, Mike Baxter, Ross Timmerman, Ed Allen, and Harry Robinson.

Reader Review(s)

“What you hold in your hands is a treasure trove of hard-won knowledge about what works and what doesn't in test automation. It can save you untold hours and costs by steering you away from paths that lead nowhere and guiding you towards those that lead to success.”

-Linda Hayes


“From tools to methodology, Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster weave a compelling set of stories that provide a learning experience in automation. This comprehensive tome is the first of its kind to take the reader deep into the world of automated testing, as depicted by case studies that show the realities of what happened across a multitude of projects spanning a wide variety of industries and technology environments. By identifying similarities and repeated themes, the authors help the reader focus on the essential learning lessons and pitfalls to avoid. Read this book cover to cover for inspiration and a realization of what it takes to ultimately succeed in test automation.”

-Andrew L. Pollner, President & CEO of ALP International Corporation


“Many years after their best-seller Software Test Automation, Mark Fewster and Dorothy Graham have done it again. Agile methodologies have given test automation a dominant presence in today's testing practices. This is an excellent, highly practical book with many well-documented case studies from a wide range of perspectives. Highly recommended to all those involved, or thinking about getting involved, in test automation.”

- Erik van Veenendaal, Founder of Improve Quality Services and vice-chair of TMMi Foundation


“This book is like having a testing conference in your hand, with a wealth of case studies and insights. Except that this book is much cheaper than a conference, and you don't have to travel for it. What impressed me in particular was that it is all tied together in a concise 'chapter zero' that efficiently addresses the various aspects I can think of for automation success. And that is something you will not get in a conference.”

-Hans Buwalda


“An exciting, well-written, and wide-ranging collection of case studies with valuable realworld experiences, tips, lessons learned, and points to remember from real automation projects. This is a very useful book for anyone who needs the evidence to show managers and colleagues what works-and what does not work-on the automation journey.”

-Isabel Evans, FBCS CITP, Quality Manager, Dolphin Computer Access


Experiences of Test Automation first describes the essence of effective automated testing. It proceeds to provide many lifetimes worth of experience in this field, from a wide variety of situations. It will help you use automated testing for the right reasons, in a way that suits your organization and project, while avoiding the various pitfalls. It is of great value to anyone involved in testing-management, testers, and automators alike.”

-Martin Gijsen, Independent Test Automation Architect


“This offering by Fewster and Graham is a highly significant bridge between test automation theory and reality. Test automation framework design and implementation is an inexact science begging for a reusable set of standards that can only be derived from a growing body of precedence; this book helps to establish such precedence. Much like predecessor court cases are cited to support subsequent legal decisions in a judicial system, the diverse case studies in this book may be used for making contemporary decisions regarding engagement in, support of, and educating others on software test automation framework design and implementation.”

-Dion Johnson, Software Test Consultant and Principle Adviser to the Automated Testing Institute (ATI)


“Even with my long-established 'test automation won't work' stance, this book did make me pause and ponder. It opened my mind and gave me a few 'oh, I hadn't thought of that' moments. I would recommend this book as an initial reference for any organization wanting to introduce test automation.”

-Audrey Leng


“This book is a stunning achievement. I believe that it is one of the best books ever written in test automation. Dot and Mark's approach presenting 28 case studies is a totally new concept including eye-catching tips, good points, and lessons learned. The case studies are coming from life experiences, successes and failures, including several aspects of automation, different environments, and a mixture of solutions. Books are 'the' source of wisdom, and what a good idea for using storytelling to increase our learning through triggering our memories. This book is a must for everyone who is thinking of or involved in test automation at all levels. It is truly unique in its kind.”

-Mieke Gevers