Automated functional testing is the term used for describing the process of creating automated test scripts from manual functional tests for software applications. Functional testing in the process by which software is evaluated to ensure that it meets all of its specified requirements. This testing procedure is normally accomplished using software that is designed to capture and monitor software testing. Prior to the development of the automated functional testing approach, software developers relied on human testing of software applications.
The manual testing approach has inherent risks and costs associated with it, as it relies on humans to verify the validity of functionality within an application. In addition, most software applications have a long life span that will require the insertion of several software patches to the underlying operating system. By having an automated functional testing process, owners of software applications can be assured that regression testing can be completed in a more cost effective manner with fewer errors.
The automated functional testing approach is not a new idea, as it was created with the first software application. In the past, this testing was completed by the developers who created the application. Today, automated functional testing is designed, developed, and tested by testing engineers with a skill set specializing in testing. This paradigm shift has ensured that the developer of an application is verified by an independent verification and validation process to ensure functional requirements of a software application are complete and precise.
One of the key benefits of this testing approach is that it allows the reuse of a test program. During the creation of an automated test, testing engineers create scripts that complete the desired functional test. This test programming allows future testing of the application and the results of those tests to be delivered in an automated manner to the managers of the software organization. Each test is created as in individual unit of work and chained together to create an entire test suite of a software application. The results of these tests are summarized and delivered to software managers in a robust manner to enable more real-time validation of the ongoing system development effort.
Automated functional testing cannot reproduce the logic behind human thinking to conceive of tests and evaluate the overall satisfaction of a product. It can be used to test repetitive procedures or controls within a software application, however. Though this is not the panacea for all testing, a good combination of unit testing, integration testing, and automated functional testing ensures a more elegant approach to software application development as a whole.