In a recent blog post from Bas Dijkstra, he metaphorically equates test automation to bubble wrap in “an attempt to help people see test automation in a slightly different light than the ‘be all end all’ solution to all testing problems that it’s still perceived as too often.” While I suggest you check out his article, here’s a quick summary:
- Bubble wrap (and test automation) lacks isolated value.
- It is used as a means of “safely” delivering a higher-value product.
- Often times, more than is necessary is used.
- It protects from some issues but not all.
The above analogizes bubble wrap to test automation, ultimately making a case for the appropriate - and not superfluous or unnecessary - use of test automation.
Bas also uses an excellent example shared by Alex Schladebeck regarding the importance of exploratory testing alongside automated testing:
Say you’re going for a run in the park. You may make a list of everything to watch out for (i.e. weather, other people, the potential for injury), but it happens that there is a dangerous animal in the park that you didn’t account for in your list. This is a clear example of when exploratory testing can be incredibly useful.
Both forms of testing are important in forming a comprehensive testing suite. But where does one end and the other begin?
How do you balance the two forms of testing?