Awareness and Observation in Life and Testing
Some actions/events are so natural that we do not realise if we are in the moment or not!
While repeatedly working on the same thing, that walk to the grocery store or brushing the teeth maybe or making the bed for that matter.
Does this kill awareness or observation power?
What happens once we automate the test cases/scenarios/ideas?
- Do we look back?
- Do we regularly go through with our eyes at least once just to make sure there is nothing extra we should add even if asserts are passing?
- OR do we simply not review just because something is automated?
- E.g., What if a Dev mistakenly applied that text padding to all the screens instead of just one button?
The test assertions may have been passing, but again - what if we are not investigating some extra detail on the screen? It could be text/symbol/crunching of text, anything which we assumed had no place on that screen and thus did not or cannot verify via an automated test.
But because we automated a check, it succeeded in finding out what should be present on the screen but failed to prompt us for something which should not be present!
Automation is programmed behaviour. It is just a repetition of what we are used to doing.
The awareness and the potential to observe is undoubtedly essential while everything is becoming automated in life and in testing.
If you are not aware that you do not observe, how will you capture in your automated scripts for the missing or new behaviours for the old journey? Are you going to delay till that production bug appears or till your customer gives you low star rating in the stores!
Leave the automated scripts aside for the time being.
Let’s look at the daily life:
In our day-to-day life, when we perform the actions we have been doing daily for the past 10-15 years; we are not present at that moment. Our brains automatically do everything related to that activity without us requiring to direct our actions.
When you drive the same road to work, you multitask. You have the radio playing, or you are talking to the person sitting beside you, or those never-ending lists of thoughts in mind. You don’t even look at the map because the road is printed in your mind. We don’t give attention to the trees on the roads or the shops around. This state is where we stop being aware while we are driving. You stop observing around because your mind is somewhere else, but you reach the work. Because the mind has automated this ride, even with thousands of thoughts, you know which turn to take.
While on this automated ride, you miss that new shop opened a few days ago, those new trees planted, the other part of the road repaired, or even the shortcut you didn’t know was available for you. If you take the same road without being in the moment of a ride, just automatically driving, you won’t see the change, as good as self-driving cars. But you are not a Robot!
Let’s see how this relates to Testing:
While looking for a specific text/button/colour, you may not notice the events/changes happening at the same time on the same screen. Often, this is because you were never looking for them in the first place, just like those new shops, new trees, or the repaired area of the road!
This blindness to or unplanned ignoring of one’s surroundings in real life as well as when testing is a very profound point. I suggest that you pause here, re-read the above paragraphs and think about it a bit.
If you are in the moment while you are testing, you observe more; you learn about more of how that screen looks. With the repetition of being in the moment and being observant, you notice differences if any besides the similarities which should be there - even if they were already covered as part of the automated suite. The benefits of being in the moment can become true for the same journey you have been executing daily, too.
And when you are not in the moment when you are doing the automated checks, you miss noticing what automation is doing or something you missed automating.
Even if your checks are automated, always revisit your scripts. Watch them run with your observant eyes and an aware mind. See if there’s something that wasn’t covered - perhaps only because you had never looked for it!