I would say begin with: "Do I need an automated test tool?" This may sound silly but there are many times that I have seen automation be force-fit into a test where there was either no support, no resources, or no methodology.
Above and beyond all I think you should have a firm testing methodology in place to begin with. Automation is going to supplement your manual testing, not replace it. If there is not a testing methodology for your current testing, automating it will not make sense. If there is no current testing it will still behoove you to have a testing methodology (or establish one) because automation is not going to be the only form of testing you do (or, at least, I hope not).
Anyway, this methodology will in large part be determined by business, staffing, and resource realities but also by the environment that you are testing within - meaning Web-based, ERP solution, desktop apps, etc. Within the basic environment you will have many variables as well. For example, for Web-based environments, what is your site architecture from a hardware perspective (for performance issues) and how do the sites work and with what technology (for functional issues). Your environment can also cover the types of testing you will do. For example, are you responsible for unit testing? How about performance testing? Or are you simply going to be doing regression testing between builds of your software/Web site?
Knowing your methodology and your environment will help determine if you can/should implement automation. At this point you can work out a needs analysis for the automation effort itself to determine what tool would best fit your needs. This evaluation is critical because your automation effort will be bounded by the nature of the tool.
I need your advice. I am a beginner in testing. I want to be a professional. I have never worked with automated tools before. What should I begin with?
Thank you, JeffNyman.
"If there is not a testing methodology for your current testing, automating it will not make sense. "
You are 100% right. I work for the company, where QA Department 2 weeks old and nobody in this department have ever done testing. Now we are manualy testing desktop apps and we need methdology. Where can I get more information about it?
Well, a lot of this can depend on your department setup. It sounds a little new (and possibly ad hoc) at this point. There are, of course, methodologies out there that have supposedly proven the test of time. I tend to work out my own methodologies for any departments I work in because I find this lets me be a little more fluid and responsive (as well as change-tolerant). However, I do keep a firm eye on standards as well as the work of others to be sure that I am grounded in reality.
Five books that have really helped me in this regard (in no particular order):
"Managing the Testing Process" by Rex Black.
"The Complete Guide to Software Testing" by William Hetzel.
"Software Test Automation: Effective Use of Test Execution Tools" by Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster.
"Client Server Software Testing on the Desk Top and the Web" by Daniel Mosley.
"Automated Software Testing: Introduction, Management, and Performance" by Elfriede Dustin, Jeff Rashka, and John Paul.
All of these are available from Amazon.com or Barnes&Noble.com, or Borders.com - whatever your choice of online book shopping is.
[This message has been edited by JeffNyman (edited 04-12-2000).]
"Testing Computer Software" by Cem Kaner, etc. is the best reading for novices.
You may reply to "yurym at hotmail com" also.
Testing, Performance Testing, Performance Engineering
I would like to compliment the advice for the recommended books. It is an excellent way to learn about software testing and gives you good insight into most of the needed areas of this profession. It will be up to you and your team to implement and integrate them into your company though. But do remember to stage your approach as it may take time for the growth and acceptance to having a QA group.
You may also consider joining user groups in your area to network with people who could help you with sharing their experiences. That is another great way to gain knowledge from other QA people in the industry.
Good luck and have fun!
[This message has been edited by bman (edited 04-12-2000).]