Again this week I’ve been reading blogs, forums and tweets from people dismissing record and playback as a viable automation option. Which is fine, providing reasons and justifications can be cited for not using it. But empty statements and re-iterations of other peoples reasons don’t wash too well, especially in the complicated world of testing where context appears to be king.
Sure, it should probably never be used as a long term automation strategy, but I’ve done a couple of projects recently where simple, low tech, “dirty” record and playback has been the perfect choice. And here’s why:
- The project had incredibly tight timescales
- The project, in the same guise, was unlikely to be re-run in the same way meaning a full considered automation strategy could have been a waste of money
- The testers didn’t have time to plan, build and utilise a full automation strategy
- The appropriate skills weren’t available
- Quick feedback and regression was needed
Given that time was of the essense I needed a quick and dirty way of smoke testing the UI and using automation to load data. I didn’t need long term, dynamic, flexible and wide covering automation otherwise I would have adopted a different strategy.
I needed a simple and quick smoke test that hit some key acceptance criteria, gave me confidence core functionality was still working and loaded some data at the same time.
It was right for me. It gave me confidence. It showed up basic functionality that was no longer working. It wasn’t time consuming or difficult to maintain. It took only 5 minutes to run. It did the job.
Think of record and playback as a tool the manual tester can use to help them achieve their testing goal. In essense, it was a project that had no automation with a manual tester who used record and playback to lower the regression burden and load states. Does that make it sound more viable and appealing? The tester was using it lower burden and make their testing efficient, not as an automation strategy or plan. Far more appealing now.
So when someone says that record and playback is wrong, costly and pointless ask them to qualify why that’s so and under what circumstances. It’s always best to have a balanced view of these things. There’s a time and a place for all types of automation. And if that person has never used it, never worked under the conditions it can be suitable for or simply prefers to spend time manually checking basic tests that a computer could be doing – then maybe their point of view should be taken with a pinch of salt. My guess is, that point of view may also contain the words ‘best’ and ‘practice’.
Long term automation with a framework and key skillset is the way forward for most projects. However record and playback still has its place, so don’t dismiss it just yet.