Test ideas that come from test automation

I know it's not fashionable to like GUI-level test automation any longer. But whatever, I still like it. I'm unfashionable in more ways than one. I still like GUI-level automation for reproducing bugs, automated acceptance testing, and to support my performance and exploratory testing. I also like non-GUI tests, but I've never disliked GUI automation.

One reason I still write GUI-level test automation is because it helps me learn about the product. I'm still amazed at how many times I say "Wow, really?" when I'm writing my tests. Because I'm always picking at the GUI with tools like FireBug and Web Developer while I'm testing, I'm seeing things I don't normally see when I'm just clicking around.

For example, today I noticed:

  • One of the applications I'm testing doesn't remove fields from the screen when they aren't active, it just hides them. I had never noticed until I counted on it not being there in my code.

  • One of the applications I'm testing sometimes shows a parent child relationship using icons, and sometime doesn't.  I had never noticed until I coded a rule expecting it to always be there.

  • One of the applications I'm testing appears to have a relationship between fields that I wouldn't have expected. I discovered this based on field naming conventions.

All of these give me new test ideas completely unrelated to my automated tests. Anytime I'm surprised, I use that as an indicator that I have more tests to run. When I automate at the GUI-level, I often get surprised. I rarely get surprised when I'm automating against an API.