September 19, 2008

GUI Test Automation Considered Harmful

I have been saying this for years, and Alan Page finally posted about it:

GUI Schmooey
"The point is that I think testers, in general, spend too much time trying to automate GUIs. I’m not against automation – just write automation starting at a level below the GUI and move down from there."

The GUI tends to be the most fragile layer of an application. It also tends to be the layer where a lot of automated test infrastructure is built. I don't like this style of "black box automation". It is tempting to automate a regular user's UI experience; and indeed this can be useful. However, in most cases, you are not being as productive as you could be by taking a manual/unscripted approach to your GUI functional testing.

Manual and Exploratory testing seems like a good fit for GUI testing, while lower layers can benefit most from test automation.

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