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Benefits and Types of Software Testing Tools

The use of software testing tools can dramatically simplify testing, increase the defect find rate and ultimately achieve a higher release quality. Beyond this it can lead to improvements in reliability of the delivered solutions making them more productive and effective from the customers perspective. There are a wide variety of software test tools that address many aspects of the testing process; they can be applied to different types of software, different programming languages, and address different types of testing. The scope and quality of such tools vary widely and provide varying degrees of assistance.

Many of the tools can be tried out these days with no commitment and can be downloaded free of charge. You can choose to purchase a licensed version and upgrade to the full product quickly and easily if the tools evaluation works out well. However, you should remember that the value of testing tools depends on the extent that the tool can address and support the software testing process. Essentially the testing tools should fit and improve existing business processes. They certainly should not force process change on the test team if change isn't likely to be accepted or implemented by the software testers.

Types of Software Testing Tools Software testing tools can be categorized by the testing activity or the process they are utilized in, e.g. test planning, test execution, data comparison, defect capture, etc. Categorizing tools by the process they are utilized in leads to categories along the following lines:

· Source Code (AdaTEST, AQtime, BoundsChecker, CMT++, CodeCheck, CodeWizard, GlowCode, OSPC, Panorama, TBGEN)

· Functional (.TEST, AberroTest, Automate!Test Manager, CitraTest, Eggplant, GUITAR, QACenter, Silktest, TestComplete, WinRunner®)

· Performance (BugTimer, LoadRunner®, Monitor Master, SilkPerformer, TestLoad, WinFeedback, XtremeLoad)

· Java (Abbot, AgileTest, Agitator, Cactus, GJ-Coverage, JCover, JMeter, JUnit, Marathon, QEngine, TCAT/Java)

· Embedded software (Message Magic, Reactis Tester, TBrun, Tessy, TestQuest Pro, USBTester, VectorCAST)

· Database (AETG, Data Generator, Datatect, ER/Datagen, Jumpstart, SQL DB Validator, TestIt!, TurboData)

· Bug tracking tools (Bugzilla, DevTrack, Dragonfly, Footprints, Mantis, Perfect Tracker, QEngine, Squish, TrackStudio)

· Test management tools (ApTest Manager, QaTraq, Extended Test Plan, QADirector, SilkPlan Pro, TestLog)

Benefits of using Software Testing Tools The benefits of using such software testing tools are extensive. Such tools can provide the following:

  • they can drastically speed up the testing process. Just imagine how long it may take you to manually try a few hundred test cases. Automated software tools are able to run 100 or even 1000 times faster;
  • they can increase test coverage with the creation of large data sets and combinations. This allows testers to reduce their dependency on developers' support with developing test data.
  • they can remove the human factors such as carelessness or boredom. Think about the times when you have run a few hundred test cases and your attention waned increasing the mistakes you made with your tests. A test tool will perform the same test and check the results perfectly each time it is run;
  • they can support the testing of the code in a live environment. Tests tools are often used to replace hardware or software which you plan to use your product on. This application can then help respond to software issues that might be difficult to achieve in a controlled test environment.
What makes software testing tools so useful is that their usability and features have improved immensely in the past few years. As these tools become easier to use the ability to deploy these tools, even to very inexperienced testers, becomes more feasible. With the productivity gains delivered by using such tools the more members of your team employing these tools means the more improvements you will see with productivity increases.

Importance of Software Test Automation Using Tools

To Error is Human is the fact which drives the need for automation testing. Because, manual testers may not execute the test cases correctly. There will be lot of possibilities for making mistakes. They may give wrong input data due to typo, or they may not notice the actual behavior of the system correctly, or they may not report the test result correctly, or they may miss to execute some test cases, or they may forget to run some preconditions, or they may change the sequence of test case execution in case sequence is important.

Another important factor is, Automation test scripts will be used as a way of storing domain/project/task Knowledge gained by the Test Engineers. Say for example, if a Tester works in project for one year, he might have spent more time for learning the domain, purpose of the project, modules in the project, flow of all functionalities. He will be familiar with known issues and challenges.

If this Tester leaves from the project, the knowledge gained by him also will leave.

It is very difficult for the newly joining Tester to understand everything from the Test Case document.

If automation test scripts are already available then the new Tester can just start the testing by running the automation scripts, without gaining much knowledge about the project.

He can understand the flow/data by seeing the execution of the automation test scripts. But anyway, he should gain project/domain knowledge to enhance/update the automation scripts further. So we can say that test automation is a way of storing knowledge.

Automation tool such as QTP (Quick Test Professional) has feature for storing screenshot of each and every page navigated during the execution. So it can be used as a proof for completion of testing, and also we can refer the screenshots of previous executions if there is any need to refer them.

Test report can be automatically written to a customized report page which will ensure accuracy of the report and also it can improve look & feel of the report.

The very important advantage of automation testing over manual testing is, execution speed. Test execution can be completed quickly and also we can execution the scripts in night time also without human involvement. So ultimately total time needed for testing can be reduced which will significantly help for timely project completion. There may be requirement of doing some testing at specific time. It can be easily achieved by putting execution of those automation test scripts in a task scheduler/crone job. The tool such as QTP supports automation object model to achieve this.

The functional test automation scripts will be useful for doing performance testing also. Because many performance test tools will support reusing/calling of these test scripts.

Some type of testing involves comparing large amount of data between previous version and current version as part of regression testing. Practically it may not possible for doing it manually. This problem can be easily solved by simple shell script or any other scripts such as vbs, wsh.

As the automation test tools support Data Driven Testing, Test execution can be done repeatedly with many different data sets.

There are lot of automation test tools available for doing Functional, Regression and Performance Testing. Test complete, SilkTest,SilkPerformer, QARun, QALoad, TestPartner, WinRunner, LoadRunner, QTP, Rational Robot and openSTA are some of them. QTP is most widely used now as it supports vbscript and it can be used for testing many different applications just by adding required add-ins.

In conclusion, we can say that improvements with software testing tools that use the latest techniques in software testing will not only increase team motivation, but also increase the quality of software products in a number of ways: 1) reduce the cost of software development and testing; 2) reduce the time spent on the development of new software products; 3) improve the software performance, conformance to specifications and interoperability with other software/hardware. Further more the benefits of using software testing tools within the test team, leads to increases in team motivation, increases in test coverage and decreases in time to test.
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