|The key fits beautifully and turns like a dream. But did you check if it locks the door?|
(Photo: Alan Cleaver, Flickr)
There is a lot of talk and excitement over the use of test tools in software testing. A whole chapter of the ISEB foundation syllabus is devoted to it. Test tools range from small-scale open source applications to comprehensive commercial packages. A favourite selling point is how test tools eliminate human error. Some vendors promise you savings beyond your wildest dreams (one company even promises benefits within an hour of use). But a good tester needs an eye for what can go wrong in software, and software they’re using for testing is no exception. So: are these tools any good?
Obviously there are cases when you’d have to use a test tool (such testing a website to see if 10,000 people can log on at once, unless you happen to have 10,000 people at your disposal), and cases where you’d never use one (such as tester user-friendliness for IT novices). But there is a vast range of test tools out there covering every kind of activity you can imagine, so it would be impossible to cover them all in one blog entry. Instead, I’ll concentrate on Selenium IDE, which I’ve been using over the last few weeks. It’s an open-source extension to Firefox which allows you to automatically test websites; you can either automatically record yourself clicking through all the links and entering data into forms for replay later, or manually program the test yourself.