Book Review – Experiences of Test Automation by Dorothy Graham & Mark Fewster

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“Only a fool tests the depth of water with both feet”

Want to know how Microsoft is able to automate the testing of thousands of vendor drivers? Are there common tips that can be learned from a diverse set of automation case studies? How does automation fit in an Agile environment? Think eggplant is only used as an ingredient in eggplant parmesan? Mamma mia! Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster follow up their classic 1999 book Software Test Automation with Experiences of Test Automation – Case Studies of Software Test Automation — a big collection of automation awesomeness that answers these and many other questions.

What the book covers

Whether it's your first time in the automation rodeo or a gray-bearded veteran like myself, this book is a must-read. It contains 28 real-world case studies from test automation engineers responsible for testing a plethora of technologies. The automation stories presented contain a diverse set of testing needs and feature a bunch of different test tools, including:

  • QTP
  • BPT (chap 6)
  • Junit
  • EggPlant
  • JMeter
  • Nagios
  • Selenium

This is great, since the hardest thing about starting an automation project is often knowing what tools are available and which ones to use. The case studies provide the reader with some high-level reasons why one might want to use a similar approach if their technology/test environment is similar.

How the book is laid out

Since it's basically a collection of studies, one needn't read the book in order. Each chapter contains a helpful table with an overview of what is covered; for instance: Was the project successful? Which tools were used? etc., which makes it easy to skim through and decide whether the contents of a particular case study are relevant to one's situation. (Of course, you will want to read them all!) Each chapter also contains a slew of lessons, tips and good points that are highlighted in easy-to-find gray boxes.

What I liked

I enjoyed all the chapters (6,7,17,18,19 & 21) that cover agile development. Since I'm new to Agile, they really helped me to understand how others are using test automation in an Agile environment. Aside from the 28 case studies, the book also has what I think is an excellent preface, an appendix on test tools and a chapter that contains an overview of the common management and technical issues found throughout the studies.

Verdict: A must-buy!

What I love most about this book is that it allowed me to learn from other people's success and failures without writing one line of code. In fact, I don't see why anyone wouldn't want to read this book. Don't be like the fool in the ancient proverb, “Only a fool tests the depth of water with both feet”. Avoid re-inventing the wheel! This book can show you what worked (and didn't work) in other, similar projects before you start your next automation assignment.

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