Is automation the new documentation?

Have automation tools become the new templates in software testing? The cornerstone on which all our testing hangs on? Its starting to look that way. Think about it.

The traditional method of testing was to use a software testing process identifiable by test templates. These templates were (and in many cases still are) the focal point of all testing.

Then some new thinkers introduced concepts such as Exploratory Testing and Context-Driven Testing, placing the tester central to the testing exercise. It rocked the testing world.

Then along came agile with its focus on automation. This has lead to a heavy emphasis on automation instead of  the individual behind the tool.

Traditionally the majority of time in testing was spent writing heavy onerous documents, instead now, we are writing automated test scripts. What has gone wrong?

I was suprised at the emphasis on tools in agile testing talk I went to, as I am suprised at the interest in automation tools by all testers.

My feelings about automation are best described by this post by Kevin Pang where he writes:

The difference between a good developer and a bad developer isn't whether they use duct tape, it's how well they can recognize whether a situation calls for it.

There is a similar problem in automation testing.  Automation in itself is not a good or bad thing, its knowing when to use it. That's whats been overlooked in this whole agile testing excitement.

The skills required to be a good tester are being overlooked in favour of good automation skills.  Instead of "are you a good tester", you are being asked "what automation tools you know".

I can understand why, its easier to quantify automation tool experience than quantifying what makes a good tester.

We need take more care about what we discuss in Agile testing. The emphasis on what tools is  too heavy and a rebalance is overdue.

More emphasis needs to be put on how a testers creates a strategy for automation, not just the type of tool they use.

It's time to reset the balance and put the tester centric to the testing effort.