I meet more and more teams, both within my company and externally, who are getting really good at agile testing. They’ve adopted a Whole Team approach, they write tests first, they collaborate and communicate well, they use feedback to improve. Agile teams are functioning much better overall than what I was seeing a couple of years ago.

One perennial issue – and this isn’t new with agile – is that testers and teams still struggle with how to design and write automated tests that have a good return on investment. That is, the tests are reliable, stable, maintainable, and provide good value for the amount of work that goes into them. We also all struggle with how much to automate, what to not automate, what to keep in our regression suite.

Janet and I devoted a section of our book to automation, and we presented principles, techniques and strategies that will help. We also include this in our Agile Testing course, and we both do conference tutorials on how to succeed with automation in agile projects. I think in addition to that, a lot of people need some practical hands-on experience. They need to be guided through an example of automating tests for a story, then they need to try it for themselves.

I’m developing an internal class for people at my company, and we also have ideas for workshops and other ways for teams who have solved some automation problems and developed good practices to share with other teams. I just mind mapped the ideas we have so far. At Adam Goucher’s suggestion, I’m posting my first draft here.

It’s my hope that I could extend this to a more generic class that would be appropriate for a conference tutorial. I’ve talked with some folks about collaborating on something like this and kind of making it open source, with several of us who could teach it, like the Watir tutorial that Bret Pettichord, Charley Baker and others have taught. But, others better than I have tried to teach hands-on courses like this and run into issues. What tools would we use that can easily be installed on all participants’ laptops? What if the participants have different skill levels? So, I don’t know if this is really possible. I’m interested in ideas, or if anyone has done this successfully.

Actually I’m sure this has been done successfully by people like Elfriede Dustin who have been specializing in test automation for years – I need to get her book out and re-read it. I’m not trying to steal anyone’s idea or say that this is a new original idea I thought up. I just see a gap in many teams’ ability to create the ‘right’ automated regression tests.

So, here is the mind map, you’ll have to open it in a new window (I’m sure there’s a better way to do this but I have to catch a plane), feedback welcomed.