The Software Industry

The software industry is changing by the second. Along with this development, we can also see more changes being introduced in the software testing field. Software testing is a process of evaluating the software and ensuring it is free of errors. In Layman's terms, it refers to ensuring the software is built correctly.

Types of Testing

Quality Assurance (QA) testers use different testing methods as they deem fit according to the requirement and available resources. Smoke testing, exploratory testing, GUI testing, regression testing, load testing, performance testing and many more are a few methods that QA uses to ensure the quality of the software.

With the current trend and scenario, testers are gradually shifting towards automation testing. Automation and manual testing have their own roles and purposes, yet 'Automation Testing vs Manual Testing' is a common question debated among testers around the globe.

Before diving into the battlefield to choose which is better, let's know a little about automation and manual testing.

Automation Testing

Automation testing is a new way to reduce the old manual/labour-intensive testing. Instead of the tester manually testing every possible scenario, they use scripts and codes to automate the testing process. These scripts can be reused, which is a big advantage compared to manual testing, where one can neither record nor reuse the tests.

Automation testing has become the new trend in the testing community, and more people are drawn to it daily. Arising this interest, various automation tools such as Selenium, UFT, Cypress, K6 and Appium have gained popularity respectively in their field of expertise.

Manual Testing

Manual testing is the classic analysis method that involves a tester individually performing tests and keeping records of the test scenarios and results. It doesn't require any coding or programming skills. You just play along with the software and see if you can find any bugs.

Although manual testing consumes significant time compared to automation testing, it involves an invaluable and inseparable element, i.e. a human element, to properly test the developing software. It provides insights into the design as well as the user experience of the software product, in addition to testing for unexpected errors and scenarios.

Which is Better?

To know who wins the battle, we must first weigh them from different perspectives.

Manual testing leans towards a proactive approach as testers walk through the software and detect errors and flaws. Automation testing takes on the approach that is more of a "This should not be here" or "It should not do this" concept. Manual testing lays down the foundation of the process, which later gets automated.

Although automation testing uses scripts that take significant time and effort in the initial phase, it helps to save time and money in the long run. Automation becomes complicated if the software has frequent changes. On the other hand, getting the same results with similar efficiency for load testing is nearly impossible with manual testing.

In a nutshell, manual testing is preferred for exploratory, ad-hoc, non-functional and UI testing, whereas automation testing is preferred for load, performance, data-driven and regression testing, along with functional test cases that are more frequent across the software.  

Even though automation and manual testing are different in nature, they are a comprehensive package when used together. The blend of automation and manual testing allows the tester to cover all aspects of the software when evaluating.

Can Automation Completely Replace Manual Testing?

Some people wonder if automation testing will completely take over manual testing and are hesitant to explore more areas of manual testing. But in reality, manual testing helps to detect unanticipated bugs and UI issues and plays a crucial role in testing 'out of the box' scenarios. In addition, manual testing is more efficient for smaller projects with frequent changes. Exploratory testing can be done manually only.

It is difficult to identify flaws in user experience through automation as test scripts need to be programmed to detect even minor errors. Moreover, usability and localization tests are harder to automate. Thus, automation testing cannot completely take over manual testing.

Final Say

Choosing between automation and manual testing is not as easy as differentiating between white and black. If implemented correctly, they hold the key to complement one another when the other seems to lack. The combination of both worlds will lead to a software product that is satisfactory to the user and efficient in terms of performance and execution of the test cases.

Automation vs Manual testing may seem like a dichotomy [an either-or decision], but it is more like a spectrum. The testing approach should always be chosen depending on the needs and available resources. However, the better approach would be to take advantage of both approaches and integrate them into the software cycle that accompanies each other.

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