Customer Review

August 12, 2002
This book is written for the in-the-trenches testing practitioner. Before describing the book and its strengths, I need to state that the authors' views of certain aspects of software engineering dramatically differ from kine. Specifically, they express some disdain for applying a life cycle approach to testing in general and test automation in particular, and also don't seem to see the value of maturity frameworks, such as the CMM. On the other hand, they are forthright about their focus on the practitioner, and are strong proponents of process. My views differ from theirs in that I see the value of bounding processes within a life cycle flow, and also see the value in measuring capability. While my perspective may not be meaningful to the practitioner who is actually doing the testing, it does take into account the realities of managing an IT organization.
Regardless of my opinions and views, the authors have put together a powerful, sensible approach to test automation. Key strengths include:
- Pragmatism, including compelling counter arguments to my own views (especially in the first two chapters titled "What Is Just Enough Test Automation?" and "Knowing When and What to Automate". I particularly liked the distinctions between processes, and life cycles and tools.
- Going straight to the critical success factors, such as requirements as the entire basis for test planning, and ensuring traceability throughout the development life cycle. In addition, the frank discussion of limitations of some testing tools, and the associated high maintenance associated with scripts, is illuminating. I also liked the way that the book shows what can be automated, and, more importantly, what cannot (or should not) be. It also reemphasizes the importance of developing a test strategy and test plans, and how automation tools fall short in some areas. An invaluable part of this aspect of the book is the discussion of test scripting languages and their strengths and weaknesses.
- Examples based on real tools, with an emphasis on Rational's TestStudio. Mercury Interactive's WinRunner is also used to illustrate key concepts of the Test Plan Driven framework that is discussed later in the book.
- Material that hands-on practitioners can use. While I have a high regard for the Automated Test Lifecycle Methodology that is proposed in an excellent book titled "Automated Software Testing" by Elfriede Dustin, Jeff Rashka, John Paul, that book is more for implementing and managing automated testing within the context of a life cycle, and isn't a topic to which the audience of this book will relate. Indeed, the real strength of this book is the fact that no other book on automated testing talks to the practitioners. In addition, the material covers unit, integration, and regression testing from the practitioner's point of view.
- Advanced topics including data-driven approaches to testing that ties into automated suites, hybrid approaches that combine manual and automated elements, and how to develop test plans and associated artifacts.
Despite my disagreement with some of what the authors views, I have to give this book my highest endorsement because, in my opinion, it's well thought out, provides one of the most thorough discussions of test automation at the practitioner level I've encountered, and is technically flawless.
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