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Pattern summary

Automated tests should start automatically and run unattended.

Category

Execution

Context

This pattern is appropriate when your automated tests will be around for a long time.
This pattern is not appropriate for one-off or disposable scripts.

Description

Automated tests bring the most Return on Investment when they are scheduled to start automatically and run unattended. Results should be presented so that testers only have to check for failures (for instance colour coded).

Implementation

In order to support unattended test execution you must set up a supporting infrastructure. Some suggestions:
  • DEDICATED RESOURCES: run your tests on dedicated machines to avoid disruptions by other users.
  • GET ON THE CLOUD: in the cloud you can easily (and cheaply) simulate as many environments as you need.
  • Set up the “Planned Task” feature to start your tests automatically at a given date and time.
  • Design INDEPENDENT TEST CASES so that tests don’t disrupt each other.
  • FAIL GRACEFULLY so that failed tests don’t compromise a whole test suite.
  • VISUALIZE EXECUTION so that you can peek in at any time to find out how far the execution has got.
  • Produce READABLE REPORTS that enable testers to see at a glance if and where there has been a failure.
  • THINK OUT-OF-THE-BOX to find tasks that can be automated around the test execution, for example in pre-processing (set-up) or post-processing (analytical tools for test results).

Potential problems

People looking for whether the tests passed (green) or failed (red) may be colour-blind! (Yes it has happened.)
The tests need to be able to recover from catastrophic failures, and this does take effort to build in.

Issues addressed by this pattern

INEFFICIENT EXECUTION
INFLEXIBLE AUTOMATION
MANUAL INTERVENTIONS
NO PREVIOUS TEST AUTOMATION

Experiences
If you have used this pattern, please add your name and a brief story of how you used this pattern: your context, what you did, and how well it worked - or how it didn't work!

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