Understanding Both Sides of the Test Tool Fence


testing being automated (after all, no test is a "silver bullet").

Finally, both the customer and developer must understand scalability-knowing that there is a point where enough testing has been performed. (Agreeing on where to draw that line is another issue entirely, one that is unlikely ever to be settled.)

There Will Always Be a Fence
There is always a fence between commercial test automation tool users and developers. This fence is shaped by the nature of the testing being performed, the complexity of the operations performed, and the sales volume of the tool itself. High-volume "shrinkwrapped" tools have high fences, empowering the developer to produce a generalized solution to a common problem. Low-volume, highly customized tools have lower fences, empowering the customer to pursue a specific solution to their specific issue.

For the developer, understanding the customer is a must. This lays the foundation for success, no matter what type of tool is being produced. Customers should try to understand the developer's viewpoint. At its essence, use of a commercial test automation tool is an expression of trust by the customer. Understanding the developers of a tool is an important facet in establishing that trust, especially with high-volume tools where communication is primarily one-way.

Now that you have been chartered with selecting the perfect tools for your organization's test automation effort, feel free to climb over the fence and see the view from the other side. It will help as you contemplate which tools provide the greatest value in your situation. While you're there, take a look at the grass, too, and see if it's more RGB 0, 150, 0 on the other side.

About the author

Steve Morton's picture Steve Morton

Steve Morton is an automated test tool developer by trade, operating in an arena of low volume and high expectations for the past eight-plus years. He has primarily worked on an automated, low-level structural analysis and test definition tool tailored for safety and mission-critical software development markets such as the aerospace and medical devices industries. His ongoing efforts to bridge his developer’s viewpoint into the viewpoint of a tool’s customers has led him to acutely examine the nature of the relationship between developers and users of automated software testing tools. In addition, Steve has used both commercial and homegrown testing tools throughout his career, enabling him to stand on both sides of the automated software test tool fence.

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