“Manual” and “Automated” Testing (2022)

The categories “manual testing” and “automated testing” (and their even less helpful byproducts, “manual tester” and “automated tester”) were arguably never meaningful, but they’ve definitely outlived their sell-by date. Can we please put them in the compost bin now? Thank you.

Here’s a long and excellent rant by pilot Patrick Smith, who for years has been trying to address a similar problem in the way people talk (and worse, think) about “manual” and “automated” in commercial aviation.

When it comes to software, there is no manual testing. My trusty Chambers dictionary says manual means “of the hand or hands”; “done, worked or used by the hand(s), as opposed to automatic, computer-operated, etc.”; “working with the hands”. It’s true that sometimes we use our hands to tap keys on a keyboard, but thinking of that as “manual testing” is no more helpful than thinking of using your hands on the steering wheel as “manual driving”.

We don’t say that Itzhak Perlman, using his hands, is performing “manual music”, even though his hands play a far more important role in his music than our hands play in our testing. If you’re describing a complex, cognitive, value-laden activity, at least please focus on the brain.

We might choose to automate the exercise of some functions in a program, and then automatically compare the output of that program with some value obtained by another program or process. I’d call that a check. (So did McCracken (1957), and so did Alan Turing.) But whatever you call the automated activity, it’s not really the interesting part.

(Video) Automation Testing vs Manual Testing | Manual vs Automation Testing | Intellipaat

It’s cool to know that the machine can perform a check very precisely, or buhzillions of checks really quickly. But the risk analysis, the design of the check, the programming of the check, the choices about what to observe and how to observe it, the critical interpretation of the result and other aspects of the outcome—those are the parts that actually matter, the parts that are actually testing. And those are exactly the parts that are not automated.

A machine producing a bit is not doing the testing; the machine, by performing checks, is accelerating and extending our capacity to perform some action that happens as part of the testing that we humans do. The machinery is invaluable, but it’s important not to be dazzled by it. Instead, pay attention to the purpose that it helps us to fulfill, and to developing the skills required to use tools wisely and effectively. Otherwise, the outcome will be like giving a 17-year-old fan of Top Gear the keys to the Ferrari: it will not end well.

People often get excited when they develop or encounter something that helps them to extend their capabilities in some way. Marshall McLuhan used “media” to describe tools and technologies—anything that humans use to effect change—as extensions of man, things that enhance, extend, enable, accelerate or intensify what we do.

He also emphasized that media are agnostic about our capabilities and our purposes. Tools not only accelerate what we do, they intensify what we are. The tool also changes the nature of the test that we’re performing, sometimes in ways that may escape our notice. Tools can extend or enhance or enable fabulous testing. But by accelerating some action, tools can enable us to do bad testing faster than ever, far worse than we could possibly do it without using the tool.

As Cem Kaner so perfectly puts it, “When we’re testing, we’re not talking about something you’re doing with your hands, we’re talking about something you do with your head.” Besides, as he and others have also pointed out, it’s exceedingly rare that we don’t use machinery and tools in “manual” testing.

(Video) The Debate: Manual Testing vs Automated Testing

Even in review—when we’re not operating the product—we’re often looking at requirement documents or source code on a screen; using a keyboard and mouse as input mechanisms for our notes; using the computer to help us find and sift information; using software and hardware to communicate with other people; comparing ideas in our head with the output from a printer. Is this stuff manual? I prefer to think of it as sapient, something that by definition can’t be performed by a machine (or, using a word coined by our friend Pradeep Soundararajan, “brainual”), and assisted by tools. But if you want to call that stuff “manual” testing, how do you characterize the act of creating automated checks? I imagine you would call that writing, or programming, not typing. Through macros, computers can effectively type, and save us time in typing; it takes people to write or to program. See the difference?

Several years ago, I used Excel to construct an automated oracle to model functional aspects in a teller workstation application, and identify which general ledger accounts should be credited or debited. Building the oracle took three weeks of solid analysis and programming work. As I was doing that work, I was learning about the system, performing tests, revealing problems, feeding back learning in the the development of my oracle. During this process, I also found lots of bugs. Sometimes my oracle helped me find a bug; sometimes tests that I performed interactively while developing the oracle helped me find a bug. Was I doing “automated” or “manual” testing?

I worked at another financial institution, where part of the task was to create tables of inputs and actions for functional integration checks, using FITnesse as the tool to help me select the functions, organize the data, and execute the checks. I identified risks. I designed checks to probe those risks. I entered those checks manually, via the keyboard.

The tool executed the checks, but I triggered its execution “manually”, by clicking on a button. I reviewed the output by eye, but the tool helped by allowing me to see unexpected results easily. I revisited our assumptions frequently, considering what the checks appeared to be telling us and what they might be leaving out. When we realized a lapse in our check coverage, I’d enter new checks by typing them in (although sometimes I laid them out in Excel first, and copied and pasted them in). So was I doing automated testing, or not?

Why is this a big deal to me? To me, there are two dominating reasons, and they complement each other.

(Video) What is the difference between Manual and Automation Testing?

When we think in terms of “automated testing”, we run the risk that we will narrow our notion of testing to automated checking, and focus our testing effort on the development and execution of automated checks. Checking is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing, and an important thing. But there are more aspects to the quality of a product than those that can be made subject to binary evaluation, which is what checks produce.

I’ve had the experience of being fascinated by checking to the point of distraction from a broader and deeper analysis of the product I was working on, which meant that I missed some important problems (thankfully, other testers found those problems before they reached the customer). Qualitative analysis of a product isn’t about bits; it’s about developing a story. Yet investigating qualitative aspects can be aided by tools, which brings us to the second point.

Talk of “manual testing” often slides into talk of “manual exploratory testing”, as though exploration doesn’t make use of tools, or as though tools could not used in an exploratory way. This slipping limits our ideas about exploration and our ideas about tools. Exploratory testing is not tool-free. When we think in terms of “manual testing”, we run the risk of underestimating the role that tools can play in our interactions with the product and in the testing effort.

As a consequence, we may also ignore myriad ways in which automation can assist and amplify and accelerate and enable all kinds of testing tasks: collecting data, setting up the product or the test suite, reconfiguring the product, installing the product, monitoring its behaviour, logging, overwhelming the product, fuzzing, parsing reports, visualizing output, generating data, randomizing input, automating repetitive tasks that are not checks, preparing comparable algorithms, comparing versions—and this list isn’t even really scratching the surface. I’ve had experience of not pausing to think about how tools could help me, of neglecting to use them, and of using them unskillfully, and that compromised the quality of my work too.

To sum up: “Manual testing” vs. “automated testing” is a false dichotomy, like “manual statistical analysis” vs. “automated statistical analysis”, or like “manual book editing” vs. “automated book editing”. In the sense that most people seem to use them, “manual” and “automated” refer to an input mechanism. People probably started saying “manual test” as a contrast to “automated test”, but just as testing isn’t manual, there’s no such thing as an automated test, either—except of the kind that we call a check, which still requires significant testing skill to design, prepare, interpret, and analyze.

(Video) Manual and automated testing of intraoral 3D scanners

The check might be automated—performed by a machine—but the testing that surrounds the check is neither manual nor automated. The person who performs the testing is neither an “automated tester” nor a “manual tester”. Tools can aid testing powerfully, and in all kinds of ways, but they can also lead to distortion or dysfunction, so practice and develop skill to use them effectively.

If you think that all this is a silly quibble, take a page from my colleague James Bach: you don’t talk about compiling and linking as “automated programming”, do you?—nor do you talk about writing code as “manual programming”, do you?

Further reading:

The End of Manual Testing
The Honest Manual Writer Heuristic (a kind of”manual testing” I could endorse—but probably not the kind you think)

(Video) Manual Vs Automated Testing


Want to know more? Learn about upcoming Rapid Software Testing classes here.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 24th, 2013 at 10:20 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


Is manual testing enough? ›

Manual Testing will never die, automated testing won't replace manual testing in all aspects. Several reasons why Automated Testing is not Replacing Manual Testing: 1. Usability testing can't be automated, manual testing is only possible for usability testing.

Is manual testing and automation testing easy? ›

Manual Testing needs time when testing is needed at a large scale. Automation Testing easily performs testing at a large scale with the utmost efficiency. Manual Testing takes more time to complete a cycle of testing, and thus the turnaround time is higher.

Which is best manual testing or automation testing? ›

Automation testing can actually deliver better results because of its ability for increased test coverage. Manual testing can only cover a certain number of device and OS permutations. But automated testing can cover many more. This leads to better error detection.

Can you achieve 100% automation Mcq? ›

Q #6) Can you achieve 100% automation? Answer: 100% automation would be difficult to achieve because there would be many edge test cases and some cases that are executed seldom. Automating these cases which are not executed that often will not add value to the automated suite.

Do manual testers have future? ›

Well, the future of manual testing tends to bit closer and closer to Software Development in functioning and requirements. The modification and operational developments in manual testing prove that it is necessary for manual testers for improving their skills and daily working styles.

Is automation testing stressful job? ›

100% Yes. It's a much worse job. I've done both.

Is automation testing tough? ›

Automated testing might seem intimidating when you're first getting into it, but all it really takes is time and patience to learn the craft. Also, no matter how good an automation engineer you are, there's always more to learn, so take comfort in knowing even the experts don't know it all.

Is manual testing is hard? ›

Manual testing is not an easy task to do. It requires proper knowledge and moreover patience to detect the bugs and figure out a way to correct them. The beginners can also use the guides, Manual testing for beginners that includes manual testing basics and information.

Is automation testing boring? ›

QA Automation testing is a repetitive task. If you are passionate about software testing you will be less likely to find this as a boring job. Being a tester you must have new ways to make the testing job interesting. QA manual testing online training helps to learn the techniques for the testers.

Can a manual tester become automation tester? ›

Manual testers can build on existing testing techniques — they will definitely come in handy for automation testing. There are several advantages to automation testing. Performing tests manually is time-consuming, and this is the main reason why testers are moving to automated testing.

Can I learn automation testing without manual testing? ›

Yes you can learn Automated Testing without Manual Testing, but not efficiently, if you the Manual Testing then you can easily understand Software Test Life Cycle, Bug Life Cycle, and Test Closure activities, etc.

Does automation testing require coding? ›

In automation testing or White box testing, testers need to have proper coding knowledge because they involve statement coverage, code coverage, cyclomatic complexity, etc. These concepts require proper programming and database knowledge and skills.

How do I prepare for automation testing? ›

How to prepare for your next test automation interview
  1. Know how language versions differ.
  2. Understand the basics of programming.
  3. Eliminate uncertainty.

How many test cases can you execute in a day? ›

How Many Test Cases Do You Execute Per Day? How many test cases do you execute per day? Ans: The test cases that is execute per day is around 50.

How do you introduce yourself in automation testing? ›

How to Explain myself as a selenium Automation Tester in The Interview

Is manual testing dead end? ›

No, Manual testing will never die, not untill every decision making is automated and even if it is, then to test that you would need manual testing.

Is manual testing going to end? ›

Manual testing isn't dying, but it is evolving. We have seen, and will continue to see, a shift toward more social-based and exploratory testing. That translates into less working on your own and more working in groups, as well as fewer repeatable test cases and more testing in uncharted territory.

Which testing tool is in demand 2022? ›

AI and Machine learning-based testing

Another software testing trend to watch out for in 2022 is artificial intelligence(AI) and machine learning(ML). AI and ML are no new words today. From mobile applications to chatbots to predictive systems, AI is growing its foot in every direction.

Which testing is easy? ›

Software assurance QA testing is easy to learn and not code intensive.

Are software testers happy? ›

Software Testing is a Decent Job

That software testing is such a happy experience may have come as a surprise to you since testing is still no walk in the park. One unfortunate fact of life is if it is fun all the time then you have to pay to do it.

Is testing easy than development? ›

Being outnumbered naturally means that testing has less of a voice. That doesn't need to be a problem though, we just need to shout twice as loud. So there you have it, its official, testing is harder than development!

Can QA be fully automated? ›

The manual testing process cannot be recorded, but automation test scripts are reusable—so automated QA is a boon for repeated execution testing and successive development cycles. Automated tests can be run 24/7 without the need for manual input, although manual testing procedures can be used to cross-check results.

How many days it will take to learn automation testing? ›

You can learn basic website automation in a couple of days only. But for complete Selenium features and test automation framework knowledge. It will take you about 2-3 weeks of consistent study and practice.

How many days it will take to learn manual testing? ›

Further, to become a manual tester in just 30 days, you should consider getting a certification as needed by top industries. To clear the certification, you have to gain the necessary skills and knowledge.

Is manual testing good for freshers? ›

Being a fresher, a combination of Java, Selenium, Manual Testing and SOA knowledge will give you an edge over the other fresher applicants. Recruiters will definitely approach you first if you have this skill set.

Is manual testing a good career in 2022? ›

With such high demand, competitive salaries, and different perks, software tester as a job profile is really popular, and therefore, becoming a data science professional in 2022 is definitely a good choice for both now and in the future.

Can I learn software testing in a month? ›

You can join any 4-month duration Software Testing course or can do a diploma in Software Testing, which is probably 6 months to 1 year.

What is the salary of automation tester? ›

Automation Tester salary in India ranges between ₹ 3.0 Lakhs to ₹ 8.9 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.8 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on 1.7k salaries received from Automation Testers.

Is manual testing a boring job? ›

The answer is a resounding NO! Testing is not a boring job at all. Actually, it can stress you to your limitations.

Is Selenium automation testing Easy? ›

Learning Selenium is not really tough, however, it requires a good disciple and strategic road map to learn it fast. Therefore, in order to gain better understanding and familiarity, one should target four things: Java, Selenium Webdriver, TestNg and Frameworks to learn automation testing with Selenium.

Is manual testing a good career in 2022? ›

With such high demand, competitive salaries, and different perks, software tester as a job profile is really popular, and therefore, becoming a data science professional in 2022 is definitely a good choice for both now and in the future.

Are manual testers in demand? ›

Manual testing doesn't require programming knowledge.

But their proficiencies in other areas are very much in demand, given today's collaboration-intensive DevOps and Agile frameworks.

Is manual testing dead? ›

While manual testing isn't dead or dying its scope is reduced and progressively augmented by automation tools. Working to learn new skills and knowledge is always a good practice in the fast-paced, ever changing world of technology.

Is manual testing good for freshers? ›

Being a fresher, a combination of Java, Selenium, Manual Testing and SOA knowledge will give you an edge over the other fresher applicants. Recruiters will definitely approach you first if you have this skill set.

Which testing is high in demand? ›

We observed that Agile and DevOps, test automation, artificial intelligence for testing, and API test automation are the most noticeable trends in 2022 and over the next few years too.

Is there no scope in manual testing? ›

Scope of manual testing in the future

The prime objective of manual testing is to ensure that the app works extraordinarily and fine without any sort of bugs and functional defects and also as per the requirement specification documents.

What is the salary of automation tester? ›

Automation Tester salary in India ranges between ₹ 3.0 Lakhs to ₹ 8.9 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.8 Lakhs. Salary estimates are based on 1.7k salaries received from Automation Testers.

Can a manual tester become business analyst? ›

They have to work independently using their analytical and strategic skills, hence it is often said that a good tester has all the potential to become a successful business analyst.

What is the package for manual tester? ›

Manual Testing salary in India ranges between ₹ 1.7 Lakhs to ₹ 16.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 4.5 Lakhs.

What is the future of software tester? ›

We as software testers need to shift even more to the left than ever before. The systems are already complex and will get more complex in the future. Therefore, it's important as a software tester to be part of every product discovery phase of a new system or product to give feedback on the planned features.

Is manual testing boring? ›

Testing is not a boring job at all. Actually, it can stress you to your limitations. As quoted by Michael Bolton, “Testing is a continuous learning process by exploring, discovering and investigating the information you have”.

Is software testing easy? ›

Software assurance QA testing is easy to learn and not code intensive. You will have to learn some coding, but not to the same extent as a software or web developer. Software QA test training typically takes six to ten weeks, whereas web development training takes anywhere from 12-26 weeks.

Why do we need manual testing? ›

Manual testing enables QA teams to act on instinct and work on elements immediately. Users can simply look at the code and include an element on an experimental basis. For this case, manual is not only less costly to implement, it could also provide quicker feedback than an automated test.

Is QA testing stressful? ›

Unlike other office jobs that are often exhausting and can lead to professional burnout. Plus QA engineers rarely have overtime. The work is not stressful and the deadlines are hardly ever-pressing – which in turn can limit the amount of stress experienced by the QA engineers.

Does testing have future? ›

In recent times, software testing has become a very flourishing career for many people. The career options available in software testing is very vast and diverse. Like, you can choose to become a test manager, senior testing manager, QA manager, and many more.

Is QA tester a good career? ›

After analyzing hundreds of thousands of employee-generated reviews, CareerBliss found that QA analyst was ranked #2 on their list of happiest jobs.


1. What is Manual and Automated Testing
2. Database Testing Manual and Automated Testing-CodingDogo&SDA
(Wardah AlMalki)
3. PractiTest test management tool - manage your manual and automated testing in real-time.
4. Difference between manual and automation testing
(kiran testing academy)
5. Combining manual and automated testing: process and tools — Jan Jaap Cannegieter
6. What is Automated Testing?
(The Startup Lab)

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