August 13, 2019

Automated Testing vs. Manual Testing vs. Continuous Testing

Continuous Testing

Software applications dominate our digital lives — from the banking apps we use to deposit checks to the online health portals we use to message our doctors. 

Given the importance of software to the modern lifestyle, it’s crucial that web and mobile applications are easy to use and error-free. That’s why software testing is so essential to DevOps.

In this article, we’re detailing three types of software testing used by developers and testers today. You’ll learn the key aspects of automated testing vs. manual testing and how continuous testing fits in too.

What is Manual Testing?

In software engineering, manual testing is the process in which QA analysts execute tests one-by-one in an individual manner. The purpose of manual testing is to catch bugs and feature issues before a software application goes live.

When manually testing, the tester validates the key features of a software application. Analysts execute test cases and develop summary error reports without specialized automation tools. Because no advanced tools or automated techniques are used, manual testing by its nature is time-intensive and requires an appropriate level of software engineering and coding knowledge.

Manual testing is the foundational style of testing in QA and software engineering. Increasingly, organizations are relying less on manual testing as they look to automate more of their test cases.

What is Automated Testing?

You may be wondering, what is test automation? To alleviate the time requirements of manual testing, automated testing was developed. Automated testing involves testers writing test scripts that automate test execution. A test script is a set of instructions to be performed on target platforms to validate a feature or expected outcome.

Test scripts are written in code like Java, JavaScript, Python, or C#. Writing test scripts can be complex, so in automated testing, specialized tools help testers develop code and test scripts. With the help of automation testing tools, test execution can be completed faster. 

Despite some challenges in automation testing, there are plenty of positives. The main benefit of automated testing is that it reduces repetitive manual tasks during the testing phase. However, automated testing does require some manual work during the implementation stage as testers manually create the baseline testing scripts. 

What is Continuous Testing?

Beyond automated testing is the most advanced and effective form of software testing: continuous testing. Continuous testing is the process of executing automated tests as part of the holistic software delivery pipeline in order to obtain feedback as rapidly as possible.

At first glance, “automated testing” and “continuous testing” might seem very similar. However, continuous testing isn’t primarily about automation; it’s about minimizing business risk. Software functionality and quality is now inextricably linked to customer experience. When software does not perform for customers, businesses risk of losing a competitive advantage and loyal customer base. 

Manual vs. Automation Testing: The Main Differences

The difference between manual and automation testing or continuous testing is easy to distinguish. Manual testing is very hands-on. It requires analysts and QA engineers to be highly involved and focused in all aspects of testing from test case creation to actual test execution. There are certainly tools that can help manual testers with test creation, but overall the process is still a time-intensive approach.

Manual testing will always be a part of the software engineering process. However, as an organization matures, manual testing is reduced as automation and continuous testing rise. Furthermore, test automation tools have come a long way and can now automate even highly-advanced tests like Face ID, location mocking, fingerprint testing, network virtualization, and image and voice-related testing, thanks to real user simulation technology.

The Benefits of Manual vs. Automation Testing

A main benefit of manual testing over automation or continuous testing is its focused attention. When a tester is manually creating and executing tests, there is more ability to handle complex and nuanced test scenarios.

While automated testing has advanced dramatically in its ability to handle sophisticated testing, sometimes only manual testing can be used. Furthermore, when manual testing is utilized there is lower risk for false negatives, which can create extra work for DevOps teams to validate whether a reported error is true or false. 

Comparing Automated Testing vs. Manual Testing

Automated testing was developed because of the main drawback of manual testing: time. Manual testing is very time-consuming. As software engineering demands have grown, automated testing became a necessity to keep up with the pressure and go-to-market needs.

The obvious benefit of automated testing is time savings for testers. Additionally, automation testing can actually deliver better results because of its ability for increased test coverage. Where manual testing can only cover a certain number of device and OS permutations, automated testing can cover many more. This leads to better error detection. Automated testing is often more cost-effective in the long run because test scripts can be reused. 

Continuous Testing vs. Automated Testing 

The main benefit of continuous testing is that despite quicker release schedules, your brand’s reputation and the user experience are protected. Releasing sub-standard software is a risk to a business’s bottom line.

While automated testing dramatically improves upon the results of manual testing, continuous testing takes software testing to the ultimate finish line. A business that can implement continuous testing in a stable and scalable manner will enjoy the payoff of faster feedback, quick release turnaround, and high customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Fast-Track Automation and Continuous Testing 

Automating the entire software delivery process from development, through software build, testing, release, and production monitoring is the goal of DevOps. An organization that implements continuous testing has the strongest chance of thriving in the future digital era.

The journey from manual testing to fully-functional continuous testing takes intention, strategy, and time. Luckily there are modern solutions that help businesses overcome testing challenges and accelerate their journey to automation and continuous testing.

With the help of Perfecto’s cloud-based automated mobile and web application testing solution, you can empower your team with the tools needed to deliver better digital experiences. Try Perfecto for free today.

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