Manual vs. automated testing with Keysight Eggplant

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Keysight Eggplant is a test design automation platform that leverages AI and other technologies to test “through the eyes of the user”. It has many significant qualities (some of which I have discussed in previous articles) but in this blog I’m going to talk about the advantages its automated testing provides over a more manual testing process.

For starters, let’s just get this out of the way: manual testing isn’t great. While it’s certainly better than no testing, it is always going to be slow, expensive, and prone to errors. Moreover, these factors combine to mean that manual tests can only cover a very limited number of paths through your system (they have poor test coverage, in other words) since it is either impractically expensive, impractically slow, or both, to consistently address even a significant fraction of them with manual tests. Even if you have a frankly unrealistically narrow set of test cases to consider (or an unrealistically large wallet to pay for legions of manual testers, for that matter), it is unfortunately quite easy for manual testers to make mistakes or otherwise fail to test consistently during the testing process. This is hardly surprising when they’re asked to perform dozens of rote test executions. Boredom, tiredness, and repetition can be huge demotivators, after all. The long and short of it is that manual testing is simply incapable of truly comprehensive, reliable testing in virtually any large-scale real-world scenario.

In contrast, these fatal issues for manual testing are largely solved by automated testing. Automated tests are, by their nature, entirely consistent, no matter how many times you run them; they are much faster to run than manual tests, to the point that you can run them both more frequently and in far greater quantities, covering most or even all of the paths through your system on a regular basis; and they are far cheaper, because unlike humans, computers don’t take salaries. On the latter point, automated testing offers additional staffing benefits, in that previously manual testers can be assigned elsewhere, or spend their time on additional testing tasks (stress testing, for instance) they would otherwise not have time for.

Automated tests are not without their challenges, however. Most prominently, they require you to design and build an automated test suite that is optimised for test coverage. Keysight Eggplant excels at this. It automates every part of your testing process, from the design of your test suite through to executing your tests, all while covering as many paths through your system as possible. This is, in fact, why I refer to it as a solution for test design automation, rather than merely test automation: because it covers everything from design on down. The result is a highly comprehensive set of automated, holistic tests that can span all your systems and processes as well as various types of functional and non-functional testing.

What’s more, Eggplant uses image-based testing that accesses (and thereby tests) your systems just as a user would. This means that it is inherently non-invasive: it won’t need to access anything below the visual layer or to send anything out to some central location. As a result, it can happily be deployed in closed networks and other secure environments. Its visual approach also makes Eggplant device and operating system agnostic, meaning that it can test on practically anything, including obscure or legacy systems.

At the end of the day, Eggplant is very good at what it does, and what it does is test automation. Whichever stage you’re at in your testing journey, it should at least be on your radar.