Last October, Uber had one of its self-driving trucks make a beer run, traveling 200 kilometers down the interstate to deliver a cargo of Budweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. A person rode in the truck but spent most of the trip in the sleeper berth, monitoring the automated system. (The test came just a few weeks after Uber had announced its driverless car service in Pittsburgh.) The self-driving truck developed by Uber’s recently acquired Otto unit reflects remarkable technological achievements. It also provides yet another indicator of a looming shift in the economy that could have deep political consequences.
Another term for this kind of automation is something Michael Bolton and James Bach call checking, a decision rule that can be interpreted by an algorithm as pass or fail. Computers can do this kind of work, and do it well. Having check automation run at the code level -- unit tests -- or user interface level can vastly improve quality and catch obvious errors quickly before a human even looks at the software.
Many people have tried to make this point in different ways (e.g. this is also the quintessence of the discussion about testing vs. checking, started by James Bach and Michael Bolton). But the emotionally loaded discussions (because it is about peoples self-image and their jobs) often split discussants into two broad camps: those that think test automation is “snake oil” and should be used sparsely and with caution, and those that think it is a silver bullet and the solution to all of our quality problems. Test automation is an indispensable tool of today’s quality assurance but as every tool it can also be misused.
Take the test automation pyramid diagram and put it on your wall. It should serve as a reminder that the majority of automation tests should be at the unit test level, followed by those that can be executed at the API or service level. Finally, with strong test design, you can write a minimum set of automated UI tests to complete your automation test suite. Once you have this solid set of automation tests at your disposal, regression testing will be a breeze.
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It’s a story the Democratic National Committee has, until recently, utterly failed to tell. Until recently, the DNC was focused almost exclusively on the battle for Congress. I’m glad it has finally taken notice of the fact that 36 states are holding gubernatorial contests this year and that Democrats are likely to flip many of the most important state houses from red to blue. But from a strategic standpoint, it’s been very late to the game—although it’s better to be late than sorry.
ISA awarded me a 2013-2014 scholarship to help fund my education. I would not have been able to keep going to school if I had not received it. So, I want to give thanks to the many people of the ISA who work on securing the future of the organization just as the original founders had. ISA was and is forged and founded from true honesty and integrity that you will not find in to many other professions.
Home automation is nothing new, but a recent boom in smart home tech has thrust it straight into the spotlight. Smart home kits, sensors and gadgets have been a dominating presence at CES for the past two years, with big names like Apple, Google, GE and Microsoft right there in the thick of it. That's not surprising, given that market experts predict that the smart home's market share will be worth tens of billions within the next few years.
Home automation gets you involved. Set your personal preferences and actions, then sit back and enjoy using the latest in home automation technology. Though such technology might seem complex, it remains completely flexible and user-friendly making for a fun experience. Whether viewing visitors at your front door on your TV or tuning your stereo by using voice recognition, you'll find home automation surprisingly enjoyable. When it comes to impressing the friends, you'll be happy to show off your newfound applications.
Ashok Gudibandla, CEO at Automate.io, notes, “Automation of business processes is of course constantly evolving. It requires alignment of people, processes, and technology. Each part is a challenge. We are experts at the last part, technology (software/systems/AI). The big challenge here is that with more and more systems (email, marketing, sales, customer service, payments) moving to the cloud, there is a fragmentation of data and processes, with each department using their own siloed tools. Automating processes across departments is a big challenge.
In this article, I'll discuss some of the best practices I discovered through on my own journey toward automation. These are practices you should consider when automating your testing cycles to make sure you build a suite of tests that work well and can be maintained throughout the life of your application. (This article is based on a presentation that can be viewed in full here.)
A test automation framework is an integrated system that sets the rules of automation of a specific product. This system integrates the function libraries, test data sources, object details and various reusable modules. These components act as small building blocks which need to be assembled to represent a business process. The framework provides the basis of test automation and simplifies the automation effort.
Likewise, a Feedback Control System is a system which tends to maintain a prescribed relationship of one system variable to another by comparing functions of these variables and using the difference as a means of control. The advanced type of automation that revolutionized manufacturing, aircraft, communications and other industries, is feedback control, which is usually continuous and involves taking measurements using a sensor and making calculated adjustments to keep the measured variable within a set range. The theoretical basis of closed loop automation is control theory.
IT and process management participation is important too. “While not statistically significant, organizations need to ensure both IT and process management are equally involved in RPA efforts,” says Lyke-Ho-Gland. “IT ensures that bots are integrated smoothly with existing systems and process management helps reduce costly, post-production rework by re-engineering processes for digital execution and ensuring all process variants and exceptions are captured and understood.”
“We have introduced the Plustek eScan stand-alone scanning kiosk to several companies where people need to quickly convert paper documents into digital ones. This scanner allows them to log in and send the information to preset locations at the touch of a button. This not only saves a ton of time, but also provides the ultimate secure solution because the user cannot send the files to another location, either intentionally or by accident.
The UTF's supplies a toolbox of testing tools to ease creation and maintenance of test programs and provide a uniform error reporting mechanism. The toolbox supplied in most part in a form of macro and function declarations. While the functions can be called directly, the usual way to use testing tools is via convenience macros. All macros arguments are calculated once, so it's safe to pass complex expressions in their place. All tools automatically supply an error location: a file name and a line number. The testing tools are intended for unit test code rather than library or production code, where throwing exceptions, using assert(), boost::concept_check or BOOST_STATIC_ASSERT() may be more suitable ways to detect and report errors. For list of all supplied testing tools and usage examples see the reference.
During my three years at Socialtext, I helped maintain a test tooling system through a user interface that was advanced for its time. O'Reilly took it as a case study in the book Beautiful Testing. The team at Socialtext uses the same framework today, although it now has several tests running at one time on Amazon's Electric Compute Cloud. Although we had a great deal of GUI-driving tests, we also had developer-facing (unit) and web services (integration) tests, a visual slideshow that testers could watch for every browser, and a strategy to explore by hand for each release. This combination of methods to reduce risk meant we found problems early.
A business process management system is quite different from BPA. However, it is possible to build automation on the back of a BPM implementation. The actual tools to achieve this vary, from writing custom application code to using specialist BPA tools. The advantages and disadvantages of this approach are inextricably linked – the BPM implementation provides an architecture for all processes in the business to be mapped, but this in itself delays the automation of individual processes and so benefits may be lost in the meantime.